Tuesday 17 January 2023

Percy Webb, 1920 - 2022

This morning I went to the funeral and burial of Percy Webb. He died on Christmas Day aged 102 years. He would have been 103 in a few weeks time. I often chat to his son Stuart who farms the land within which our own smallholding is entirely encircled, except for a dissecting road in front of our property. 

I last spoke to Percy the Summer following his 100th birthday. From time to time I would bump into him as I walked our large enthusiastic golden retriever and he was slowly driving around the fields in his old Volvo. We made the same joke every time. Percy would ask if the dog was taking me for a walk and I would ask if he was checking up on 'young Stuart' (now in his seventies). 

Percy's mental faculties remained sharp to the last. He was a mine of local historical information and he shared with me some of the history of our own property as well as that of the farm, especially during the war years and the help received from the county War Agricultural Executive Committee ('War Ag'). As a farmer he was in a reserved occupation so was not called up, although he was a corporal in the local Home Guard. He married a young lady from the Land Army who was working on the local farms during the war. She hailed from Long Melford, to the south of the county. 

One poignant aspect of Percy's local historical knowledge has been evident in a recent series of articles in the parish magazine. Each issue has been attempting to flesh out the stories of the names listed on the parish war memorial: those who lost their lives in WW2, mostly when aged in their early twenties. These, of course, were all village contemporaries of Percy and with whom he grew up with and went to school with. These articles include Percy's personal memories of each of the individuals, some he knew better than others. 

Percy's own farming history is as interesting as the great age he reached. His mother died when he was 10 years old and his father died when he was only 15. The farm was left in the hands of Percy and his brother who was two years older. Their uncle, also a farmer, helped out but by the time Percy was 19 they ran the farm themselves. Percy's brother died when he was only 45. Percy was still driving tractors and helping Stuart out a bit into his nineties. Having farmed for so many years he had a profound knowledge of the land and particular growing conditions associated with each part of the farm, knowledge which son Stuart has inherited.

Not surprisingly there was a large turnout for today's funeral. Many of the now elderly friends, neighbours and farming fraternity attending had known Percy since they were children. I was glad to have been acquainted with him and pleased to have been part of today's events.


  1. I am so glad that he got to share so many memories - I'm sure he will be long remembered. RIP Percy