Driver Uridge Broughton Webb 36681
8th Field Artillery Brigade
Uridge Webb was a member of one of the pioneering families of Mittagong. His grandparents, immigrants from Kent, England, had settled at Nattai in the early 1840s and were soon a well-established farming family in the district. He grew up at Woodbine in Mittagong with his parents, Phillip and Clara, but was working as a grocer in Coolamon in the Riverina when he enlisted in February 1917 at the age of 23.
Uridge arrived in England in January 1918 and in March was sent to France where he managed to survive unscathed for the next twelve months. His luck ran out well after the Armistice, when on 11th April 1919 an ammunition dump exploded, inflicting severe cordite burns to his face, neck and hands. He was first treated at the RAMC Casualty Clearing Station at Charleroi, Belgium where the surgeons considered amputating his hands, but Uridge was adamant that he would keep them and although he would suffer lifelong disability, it proved to be the right decision. He was evacuated to England where he spent the next twelve weeks convalescing at the Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Dartford. At the end of August 1919, he sailed for Australia on the hospital ship Kanowna.
Uridge had corresponded with his sweetheart, Lilian Hespe, throughout the war. He wrote to Lil from France on a photo of his ‘old cobber’ from the 8th FAB, George Bowra – “Not half a bad chap either. Two scoundrels together when we meet”. In 1922, Uridge and Lilian married in Sydney, with ‘old cobber’ George as best man. The Webbs ran a grocery store in Lidcombe for ten years after their marriage, but in 1932 returned to Mittagong and settled on the property which had been in the family for nearly a century. Fiercely independent, Uridge overcame medical predictions to the contrary and was able to use his hands for the rest of his working life. He died in 1985 at the age of 93.