James H.'s Story.
James Henry Webster was born on 26 July and baptised on 2 October 1887 at St Thomas' Church, Henbury, the son of Sarah Ann and Ralph Webster, a carter of Park Lane, Macclesfield.
By 1891 the family had moved to 31-33 Byrons Street, Sutton, south Macclesfield, and Ralph was running a provisions and off-license store. Here, three-year-old James was living with his parents and brothers Ralph (6) and Albert (1). Ten years later the family was at the same address but James' father was working as a brewery carter and James had two sisters, Annie (8) and Elsie (6). James had left school and was working as a printer.
James later worked as a barman at the Park Tavern for four years, then lived in Birmingham for some time, and in early 1914 emigrated to Canada.
The family later lived at 23 Lord St, Macclesfield, Cheshire.
James enlisted at Niagara Camp, Ontario, Canada on 20 October 1915 and arrived in the UK on 11 December 1915, sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia on the SS Lapland. After training at Bramshott, Hampshire and Shorncliffe, Kent, Private Webster was drafted to France on 1 April 1916.
The death of Private Webster was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 27 October 1916:
ANOTHER CANADIAN KILLED: MACCLESFIELD PARENTS' LOSS - Another Macclesfield man serving with the Canadian Infantry has been killed in action. We refer to Private James Henry Webster, second son of Mr and Mrs Ralph Webster, 23 Lord St, who were informed on Friday of their son's death in France on October 1st. The deceased soldier, who was 29 years of age, was educated at the London Road School. He entered the employ of Messrs Heath Bros., printers, and afterwards became a barman at the Park Tavern, where he remained for four years. Subsequently he was engaged in a similar capacity in Birmingham, and two years last March he emigrated to Canada, where he was engaged in farming. As a lad he attended the Primitive Methodist Sunday School, Byron Street.
Private Webster enlisted in the Canadian Infantry in September 1915, and came to England in December, when he visited his parents at Macclesfield. After training at Shorncliffe, he was drafted out to France in February. In letters home he stated that he had been having a rough time and had obtained some interesting souvenirs, including some German helmets and a collection of six rings.
His father has been employed at Messrs Lonsdale & Adshead's brewery, Park Green, for over 35 years. A brother of the deceased, Private Albert Webster, has been serving in France with the Cheshire Regt for over 12 months. He enlisted two years ago, and was formerly employed at Messrs Smith's brewery, Bond Street.
Private James Webster has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial near Arras, France. The Vimy Memorial is the great memorial to all Canadians who served their country in battle during the First World War, and also bears the names of 11,000 Canadian servicemen who died in France - many of them in the fight for Vimy Ridge - who have no known grave.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private James Webster.
Locally, Private James Webster is not known to be commemorated on any war memorials.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers (Find My Past)
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901
Canadian Service Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 27 October 1916, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)
Research by Rosie Rowley, Macclesfield.