Life of war veteran ‘Mr Horley’ brought to life new book

DM16130129a.jpg Memorial service in Horley to recognise the centenery of the death of First World War soldier Henry Webber who is the oldest man to die in active service. David Hall and great great great grandson Jamie Alpine. Photo by Derek Martin
DM16130129a.jpg Memorial service in Horley to recognise the centenery of the death of First World War soldier Henry Webber who is the oldest man to die in active service. David Hall and great great great grandson Jamie Alpine. Photo by Derek Martin

A Horley man has written a book outlining the life of one the town’s most celebrated war heroes, Lt Henry Webber.

When a friend suggested to he should write about the former Horley resident, David Hall, 89, knew little more than that was the oldest man to die on The Somme.

Internet research led him to his great-grandson Paul Bellinger, who helped him piece the family tree together. A trip to the national newspaper archives then revealed his true character.

Before going into the war, Lt Webber was involved in all areas of town life.

Mr Hall said: “It amazed me the way he got involved in Horley in so many things. I think as soon as he moved here after his marriage he must have signed up at the church at St Bart’s and the cricket club at the same time.

“What I found interesting when I was researching it, between 1875 when he moved here and 1915 when he moved to Bexhill-on-Sea, hardly a week went by when he wasn’t mentioned in the local paper. He was quite a guy. He was Mr Horley.”

Last week Horley Town Council unveiled a plaque to mark 100 years since Lt Webber died. Mr Hall presented his great-great-great grandson, Jamie Alpine, with a family tree.

The book entitled ‘Henry Webber’s Horley’ is £5 and is on sale at the Horley Bookshop, Victoria Road, and is available in Horley Library.