Quorn WW1 Roll of Honour - Harry Webster
Died 26th November 1914, aged 37
Early years in Quorn
There were at least two unrelated Webster families living in Quorn in the early 1900s. Harry’s father, John William Webster, came to the village in the 1870s and married Mary Sharp from Quorn. They had nine children, including Harry, their second son. They originally lived on Freehold Street, before moving to 2 Nursery Lane in the 1890s. When he left school Harry first worked as a labourer.
Joining the Royal Marines before the war in the early 1900s
Most men from Quorn who joined the forces signed up for the Army, but Harry joined the Royal Marines in June 1896, and it was whilst based on the south coast that he met Jessie Louise House, from West Cowes on the Isle of Wight. They married on the island in 1906 and lived with Jessie’s parents. They had three children; John, Olive and Charles.
The destruction of HMS Bulwark
H.M.S. Bulwark was a 15,000 ton battleship, and in 1914 was part of the Channel Fleet guarding Britain against German invasion. On the morning of 26th November 1914 she was moored at Sheerness in Kent, on the River Medway, when there was a terrific explosion on board that was felt six miles away. Originally it was thought that the ship had been torpedoed by the enemy, but it was eventually ascertained that loose ammunition or cordite had detonated, and this had caused the vast amount of ammunition stored on the ship to explode.
Of the 750 men on board, only nine survived. The ship had disappeared completely, and twisted metal together with the crew’s personal possessions, were scattered across the Kent countryside. In terms of loss of life, this remains the second worst accidental explosion ever to take place in the UK.
What became of Jessie?
Harry and Jessie had been married for eight years when Harry was killed on 26th November 1914. Their youngest son Charles was not even two years old.
After Harry’s death, Jessie stayed on the Isle of Wight, but kept in touch with Harry’s family. There are postcards from the 1920s, from Harry’s brothers and sisters in Quorn, writing to Jessie and referring to recent visits. She never remarried and died in 1970 on the Isle of Wight, aged 87, having been a widow for 56 years.
1) A modern photograph of the Webster home at 2 Nursery Lane (on the left of the row).
2) The back of a postcard that Jessie House sent home to her mother, whilst visiting Harry’s family in Quorn in August 1905, before they were married. The card says:
Harry and I got here quite safe last night about half past 8. We are enjoying our self alright.
I remain your loving daughter Jessie and Harry”
3) A newspaper poster from when HMS Bulwark exploded.