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Remembered Today:

B. G. Webb Binoculars


gregory128
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Hello, i am doing some research on B.G Webb as I have acquired his 1917 No3 Mk2 Binoculars by London and Highgate. Unfortunately i am struggling to narrow down this guys name. As I understand on June the 21st 1917 a contract was made for No3 Mk2 Prismatic binoculars. On December the 29th 55 had arrived and 830 were shown as due. This means that this guys service enlistment cannot be any later the 29th of December 1917. Although I suspect he went in with the 351 Siege Battery RGA on the 30th of April 1917. My dating is based on the presumption that this is one of the batch of 55 binoculars which were shipped out. As written on the case and binoculars themselves however do confirm he is a member of the 351 Artillery Battery at some date. Considering these binoculars at the earliest arrived on the 29th of December 1917 he must have been part of the 48th Artillery Brigade, RGA because the 351 Siege Battery transferred to that brigade on the 9th of September 1917. I have found a B G Webb who enlisted on the 08/01/1917 in a 1918 RAF muster roll with the service number 236842 however his previous service is that of the Navy. I was wondering is anyone may have better luck then me at finding out this guys history and full name? Also what is the likelihood of a 1917 document being burn't one of the burn't ones World War II?

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Binoculars would not have been issued to every Gunner - more likely senior NCO's and Officers. As such they could have joined at any time - manufacture date of the binoculars would be irrelevant as they could be a replacement or issued following a promotion \ commission from the ranks, etc.

I can't see a Medal Index Card for a B.G or B.S Webb with an Artillery association, so possibly the individual they were issued to was home service only.

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Bertie Stanley Webb gazetted 2nd Lt., Royal Garrison Artillery 17.12.1917

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/30446/page/13501 (heading is on previous page)

Relinquished his commission, as Lieutenant, 1.4.1920

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/32158/supplement/12163 (heading is on previous page)

Edit: I assume you are looking for B.S. Webb as in the title of your post rather than B. G. Webb in the text of the post.

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HI Harry, thats my error sorry. The lettering is hard to identify but its B G Webb sorry. I misread it the first time. I also suspect this guy is a other ranks due to the binoculars being war department issue rather then private purchase. WD stamps can be seen.

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HI Harry, thats my error sorry. The lettering is hard to identify but its B G Webb sorry. I misread it the first time. I also suspect this guy is a other ranks due to the binoculars being war department issue rather then private purchase. WD stamps can be seen.

An 'other rank' (below commissioned officer) would not be permitted to inscribe binoculars with his name.

Service binoculars belonged to the unit and as such were 'on charge' to the Brigade (in the case of RA) quartermaster and, through him the battery quartermaster sergeant (BQMS), who in turn may have signed them out via AF1033 (a voucher) to a member of the battery, usually an NCO.

Expensive publicly funded items, such as binoculars, were in a special category known as 'war office, controlled stores' (WOCS) and very stringently controlled. Their loss via theft or other cause became the subject of a regimental board of enquiry which had to be signed off by the commanding officer before the loss to the public purse could be authorised. As such losses implied a slackly run unit, they carried a very great stigma, even in wartime, and a CO would not sign off the loss without very good cause. Materiel Regulations (MATREGS) refer.

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Thanks for the help Frogsmile. I have a lead on a Sergeant in the Garrison Artillery named B? Webb. Only initials sadly. Frogsmile what are the chances of a Sergeant being allowed to draw on a set of binoculars. His service record sadly gives no more description other then what is said. Although a other rank as you say may not be authorized to write on such equipment, would some leniency be allowed if he is friends with the local Quartermaster Sergeant perhaps?

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Thanks for the help Frogsmile. I have a lead on a Sergeant in the Garrison Artillery named B? Webb. Only initials sadly. Frogsmile what are the chances of a Sergeant being allowed to draw on a set of binoculars. His service record sadly gives no more description other then what is said. Although a other rank as you say may not be authorized to write on such equipment, would some leniency be allowed if he is friends with the local Quartermaster Sergeant perhaps?

The only way would be if the binoculars were 'lost' and written off as such (effectively theft). If he was then caught in their possession (all WOCS had a unique 'serial number' so that they could be tracked) he would be charged with theft of government property with a minimum punishment of reduction to the ranks, a big risk for him given that he would have known all this. It seems extremely unlikely to me.

As a sergeant he would be perfectly entitled to draw the binoculars from the BQMS and hold them for as long as he needed them. However, because he had to return them whenever demanded so that they could be used by any other NCO who had cause to require them (usually a forward observation officer's assistant), marking them with his name would have been in direct breach of regulations.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the late reply, just got back from holiday. Looks like a bit more research is required then. I will have another look through military army lists and see what i come up with then. As you say it seems unlikely that these binoculars to have been stolen and surely if this man did breach regulations, he would of been a bit more discreet on where he put his name and regt.

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Sorry for the late reply, just got back from holiday. Looks like a bit more research is required then. I will have another look through military army lists and see what i come up with then. As you say it seems unlikely that these binoculars to have been stolen and surely if this man did breach regulations, he would of been a bit more discreet on where he put his name and regt.

Yes I think it unlikely that he would have stolen them and marked them with his name. Usually only an officer could afford to possess personal binoculars.

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Could have been sold off as War Surplus or followed the usual route for older equipment of being passed on to Territorials and then the likes of Cadet Forces and the Royal Observer Corps, (not forgetting the Home Guard and the other ancillary forces and Civil Defence Units in WW2) where War Office discipline would not have been so tightly maintained. Unless there is a specific paper trail showing they went straight to this man on first issue then there may be no Great War connection between the name and the glasses.

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Yes these last two posts make good points and I agree that the scenarios that they have posited are feasible.

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I have posted this before in the Gallipoli section of the Forum, but the use of binoculars on the peninsular were of concern. It confirms the comments of earlier posts by PRC and Frogsmile.

From the 1-4 East Lancs Brigade RFA War Diary

VIII Army Corps Routine Order No.5 dated 3rd August 1915.

BINOCULARS.

A large number of N.C.O’s and men are wearing

binoculars other than their own or those issued by

Government to their own unit.

G.O.C. Divisions will take steps to see that

no binoculars (either Government property marked with

a broad arrow or Government property issued on payment

and marked with a double board arrow) are in possession

of N.C.O’s and men to whom they do not rightly belong.

These, together with all unowned private binoculars

found in the trenches are to be collected and handed in to

ordnance.

------------------

Officer Commanding, 4th East Lancs (H) Brigade

------------------

For your information and necessary action.

[signed]

Captain R.A.

Staff Captain R.A.

29th Divl. Arty.

5-8-15

Regards

Alan

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