Soldiers and veterans unite to mark death of Portsmouth’s forgotten D-Day hero
SOLDIERS and military veterans united to honour a ‘forgotten hero’ of D-Day at a poignant service marking the anniversary of his death.
Veterans from the former Royal Hampshire Regiment joined forces with reserve soldiers from 4th Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (4PWRR) and members of the public to pay tribute to Lance Corporal Leslie Webb.
L/Cpl Webb, of North End, was serving with the Hampshire Regiment and was part of the first wave to storm Gold Beach on D-Day, on June 6, 1944.
However, the courageous 27-year-old was mortally wounded storming a German bunker.
He died eight days later on June 14 at the Royal Haslar Hospital, Gosport, and was buried at his family’s plot in Milton Cemetery.
Poppies were laid on his headstone and standards of his regiment were raised during Friday’s intimate service.
Major Peter Emery, a Royal Hampshire veteran, organised the event. He said: ‘The Hampshire Regiment was the leading assault battalion and took the highest number of casualties on D-Day.
‘Those men are remembered at the Bayeux memorial. But one forgotten hero was Lance Corporal Leslie Webb. He never even knew he earned the Military Medal for his actions on the beaches, taking out the German bunker.
‘His comrades would have been mortified if his grave was not honoured on the anniversary of his death.’
David Yates, of Cosham, marked his 78th birthday honouring L/Cpl Webb. The Royal Navy veteran, who was a former sickbay attendant at Haslar in 1959, said: ‘I wanted to pay my respects because he put his life on the line for us.’
Second Lieutenant Edward Coleman, platoon commander of Cosham-based C Company, 4 PWRR, was ‘honoured’ to attend the day with fellow reservist, Private James Toogood.
2Lt Coleman said: ‘Lance Corporal Webb's actions demonstrated all the values and standards we now uphold in the British Army.
‘It makes me very proud to be part of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment knowing there were soldiers like him who made the ultimate sacrifice.’
After the service, tributes were also paid to Private Alan Watkins, 20, of Portsmouth, who was murdered by the IRA in Northern Ireland while serving with the Royal Hampshires in 1976. His grave is close to L/Cpl Webb’s.