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Erwin Wentworth Webster [we.2.4.5]

Erwin Wentworth Webster was the son of Wentworth Webster & Thekla Laura Knipping born c1880 in France.

Erwin Wentworth went up to Wadham College, Oxford as a Scholar in 1898. He obtained First Classes
of unusual brilliance in Classical Moderations and in Literae Humaniores & won the Taylorian Scholarship for German and the John Locke Scholarship for Mental Philosophy. He attended the British School at Athens which was opened in 1886 for promoting British-based research into Classical Studies & Archaeology.

At the time of the 1901census Erwin was visiting the Hostel at Howarden, Flintshire & was described as an undergraduate student. His birthplace was given as France but he was a British Subject. The Hostel was acquired by Prime Minister William Gladstone to provide inexpensive lodgings for students who wished to study at the adjoining Deiniol's Library founded by him in 1889. He established the library as a repository for his vast collection of books to provide a study centre for students of divinity & humanity. Mr Gladstone was a visitor to Erwin's father who lived in the south west of France.

In 1911 Erwin was listed as a boarder with Arthur Cann & Family at 6 Crooklets, Bude, Cornwall.  Erwin was a lecturer at Wadham College, Oxford.

The following extract from a Preface of a publication ‘The Works of Aristotle’ translated into English under the Editorship of W.D. Ross, Provost of Oriel College was published by Clarendon Press, Oxford University in 1931. This extract refers to Erwin:

The translation of the Meteorologica which follows is the work of a scholar whose death was one of the severest losses which the University of Oxford suffered through the Great War. Shortly after taking his degree he was elected to a Fellowship of his own College, and undertook tutorial work in philosophy, to which he devoted himself with immense energy and great success. He was (in addition to his general philosophical interests) a keen student of Aristotle…… He took up the Meteorologica fairly early as a special study. His notes, apart from the translation, are unfortunately not in a suitable form for publication, but show how wide and how deep was his study of all that bore on the subject, and how valuable a contribution he would have made, if he had been spared, to our knowledge of it. But things were otherwise ordained. On the outbreak of war he offered himself for service in the Royal Flying Corps. An accident during his training compelled him to give up this prospect ; and he thereupon applied for and received a commission in the 13th King's Royal Rifle Corps, in which he later became a Captain. He went to France in July, 1915, and saw much hard service there. He was more than once practically ordered home to hospital, but insisted on remaining with his battalion….. All who knew Webster will remember the modesty which was one of the leading features of a most attractive personality. Even if he had lived to give the finishing touches to his translation, he would have been the first to depreciate its merits, and I cannot hope that, lacking as it does his final correction, it will be found free from error.


Erwin survived the Battle of the Somme in 1916 but was killed at Monchy-le-Preux, near Arras, leading his company into action on the first day of battle at Arras (first Battle of the Scarpe) on April 9th, 1917. He was 37 years old. Erwin is buried in Bay 7 at the Arras Memorial.

The following obituary came from 'Aviation History - 1917':

The death at the Front of Captain ERWIN WENTWORTH
WEBSTER, Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, is announced.
As soon as war broke out he joined the R.F.C., but after a
serious accident, due to his defective eyesight, was obliged to
give up. He then obtained a commission in the King's
Royal Rifles. He had been wounded in 1916, and was ill
in hospital at the end of the year. He fell on April 9th, the
first day of the victorious British advance. Captain Webster's
death is a severe loss not only to his college and many private
friends, but to scholarship generally. The only son of that
distinguished Spanish scholar, the late Rev. Wentworth
Webster, he won a scholarship at Wadham, where he soon
distinguished himself as a player of Rugby football and
other games. He took a First in Moderations and a brilliant
First in Greats, and was at once offered a Fellowship by his
college. He possessed a greater knowledge of Basque and of
German than perhaps any other Englishman, and was also
acquainted with Old German and Old French. He had
made a profound study of Aristotle, some of whose more
difficult and less familiar treatises he would probably have
edited.

 

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