Remembering The Great War

St Andrew's Church
Ombersley, Worcestershire


The work of pioneering architect Thomas Rickman, FSA, St. Andrew's was completed in 1829, and just after the First World War, Ombersley, three miles west of Droitwich, remembered it dead with the installation at the church of an oak reredos. Carved into two of the upper panels are the names and ranks of forty men highlighted in gold and preceded by the dedication -

In Proud & Thankful Memory Of These Men Who Gave Their Lives For God & Their Country In The Great War 1914-18.


Arranged by order of rank, the names include one Company Quarter Master Sergeant, William Burgess of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, killed on the Somme during the 12 October, 1916 attack towards Le Transloy, two Corporals and thirty-five Privates. These being proceeded by two officers.

Second-Lieutenant John William Hinckesman

Formed in February, 1915 at New Westminster, British Columbia, the 47th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force sailed in the following November for England. Subsequently landing in France in August, 1916 and in time for the closing October and November Somme battles. After action at Vimy, Lens and the affairs south of the Souchez River, the 47th Battalion took part in the June, 1917 capture of Avion, the fighting at Hill 70 during the following month, and then, commencing on 26 October, the Second Battle of Passchendaele. Second-Lieutenant John William Hinckesman, the first name on the St. Andrew`s memorial, being killed in action on the second day of the battle. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the missing of Ypres.

Second-Lieutenant Aubrey Herbert Bower Webster

The other officer, Aubrey Webster, also appears on a brass plaque in the chancel.

To The Glory Of God And In Loving Memory Of Aubrey Herbert Bower Webster, B.A. 2nd Lieut. Northamptonshire Regt. Only Son Of Rev. J. Webster, Vicar Of This Parish, And Edith His Wife. Killed While On Active Service In France, April 25th 1916, Aged 27. Buried At Bray-sur-Somme.

Commissioned on 26 January, 1915, Aubrey Webster served with the 6th Northamptonshire Regiment, a battalion of Kitchener`s "New Army" which, having been raised during the early weeks of the war, sailed for France on 26 July, 1915. As part of the 54th Brigade, 18th Division, the Battalion moved straight to the Somme, where it was soon holding trenches opposite Fricourt. From records of the 54th Brigade published privately c1919, we learn that all through the Autumn of 1915 a Brigade Bombing School was conducting experiments. The first Bombing Course being carried out at Meaulte on 3 January, 1916. It was while attending such a course that Aubrey Webster was accidently killed.


In the churchyard at St. Andrew`s there are five War Graves. Those of Sergeant J. Butler, 8th Worcestershire Regiment; Private R.T. Knight, who served with the Hampshires; Gunner A. Passey, Royal Field Artillery; Private Joseph Henry Weston, 7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment and Private H.E. Webster, another member of the Worcestershire Regiment.

[Image] Outside, a sandstone cross situated on the edge of the main road running through the village, and close to the entrance to the church, once again records the names of those that died. On this occasion, however, no ranks are given, and an additional three names have been added. The dedication and names are carved into the eight-sided pedestal. Five bearing the names of those killed in the First World War, two for the Second.

Copyright © Ray February, 2002

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