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61862 Private Charles William (Will) Webster – Wellington Infantry Regiment

Charles William Webster was born on 28th September 1894[i]  in Leicestershire the only son of Emily Elizabeth and
Charles Webster.

The Webster family, including two or three[ii] married daughters,  immigrated to New Zealand in 1912 / 1913 settling in the Lower Hutt area of Wellington. The 1914 Electoral Roll for Hutt list Charles Webster as a dock worker and his son Charles William, know by his siblings as Will, as a storeman, both living in Pretoria Street, Lower Hutt.
Charles was selected in the Military Service Ballot, on 15th April 1917 he underwent a
military medical examination and passed as B2. The classification of B2 meant that
Charles was fit for service overseas but required treatment.

On 18th April 1917 61862 Private Charles William Webster entered Trentham Military
Camp with the 30th Reinforcements. Private Webster lists his mother Mrs E. E.  Webster
of Pretoria Street , Lower Hutt as his next of kin and also that his father and mother were
partially dependant on him.  Private Webster had been working as a grocery assistant ,
T Burt Ltd, prior to enlistment . Following basic training Private Webster left for overseas
service on 12th October 1917[iii].

                                                             61862 Private Charles William Webster        

Private Webster was marched into Sling Military Training Camp on 9th December 1917
and allocated to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment while training.  
Private Webster spent time in hospital with anemia and other complaints so it was not
until 18th August 1918 that he left for France. In France Private Webster was posted on
24th September 1918 to the 17th (Ruahine) Company, 2nd Battalion, Wellington Infantry
Regiment. The 2nd Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment, as part of the New Zealand Division was preparing to cross
the St Quentin Canal between Vaucelles and Creveouers and establishing beachheads for follow up action.

The first assaults were not successful so a renewal of the attack on the 1st October 1918 by the 2nd Wellington and
1st Auckland were planned.[iv] The assault at 6 a.m. meet with success capturing Creveouers with 150 prisoners but
were then hit with machine-gun and shell fire which caused heavy casualties. Against heavy counterattacks by the
Germans the 1st Auckland were forced to give ground but the 2nd Wellington,  Ruahine Company held on stubbornly, despite the lost of fifty percent in casualties. For some time the whole area to a considerable depth was subjected to heavy shell fire and the position was most critical. The splendid stand by Ruahine Company commanded by
                                                                Temp Captain W.R. Burge, M.C., there is no doubt, saved the whole First Brigade
                                                                 front that day.

                                                                 The day’s casualties in the 2nd Battalion were 4 Officers and 142 ranks of which
                                                                 twenty five men were killed or died of wounds, 61862 Private Charles William Webster                                                                   was one of those killed, he is buried in the Anneux British Cemetery, Nord, France.

                                                                 Webster Grave - Porirua Cemetery 

                                                                 On 11th April 1919 Charle’s mother Emily Elizabeth Webster died and was buried
                                                                 in the old Porirua Cemetery when her memorial plaque was later added to the grave
                                                                 it also included a memorial to her son.  Charles’ father was interred in the grave in                                                                          1940.

                                                                        References
                                                                        NZ BDM
                                                                       Paperspast Online
                                                                       Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
                                                                       The Wellington Regiment (NZEF) 1914 – 1919

Photos 
Private Charfles William Webster: Paperspast Online
​Webster Grave: Porirua Cemetery Records Online 
Crevecoeur Village Oct 1918: NZ War Art Archives New Zealand 

[i]    Archway Achieves New Zealand Military Files: 61862 Private Charles William Webster
[ii]   Roll of Honour, 1st October 1919, Evening Post
[iiI]  Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 61862 Private Charles William Webster 
[iv]  Chapter XLVIII : The Wellington Regiment (NZEF) 1914 - 1919
Creveouer Village - October 1918