The Jack Webb 1914 Star Collection
Jack Webb (1923 - 2019)
John Vernon ‘Jack’ Webb was always destined to be a collector of medals and militaria. On 5 June 1944 he was on a troop ship preparing to take part in the D-Day landings. As the soldiers around him were ordered to remove their regimental badges Jack hurried around picking up one of each regiment. Even on the eve of the greatest military invasion of Europe, Jack was not going to miss a chance to add to his collection.
From an early age Jack had a deep love of the military; his father and uncles had all fought during the Great War, and he volunteered as soon as he was old enough in 1942, initially in the Essex Regiment, before joining the Royal Berkshire Regiment for their landing on Juno beach on D-Day. Later he was transferred to the 5th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, and took part in their disastrous assault crossing of the River Seine. Jack set off with 60 members of ‘A’ Company but, after a night of bloody fighting, dawn broke to reveal only 20 men still alive, of which only four were not wounded.
After the Second War Jack followed his dream of becoming an antiques dealer, setting up his first shop in Hornsey, before moving on to Camden Passage. During a long and successful career Jack always bought antiques that intrigued or delighted him. He never specialised and always had an eye for the unusual or exquisitely made. In the early years Jack would attend all the auctions around London. Still fascinated by all things military he started to collect medals which at the time were poorly regarded and often destined for the scrap bin. He quickly started to build themed collections: the Egypt and Sudan Medal, particularly those with the clasp Abu Klea (which was sold at Dix Noonan Webb in 2008); medals to the Middlesex and Essex regiments; and his most loved collection, medals to the City of London Imperial Volunteers. Alongside his collecting Jack loved military research. He was never happier than when he was at the Records Office poring over regimental diaries, researching the medals of his collection. This research led to him writing several books including The Abu Klea Rolls and Recipients of Bars to the Military Cross, as well as co-authoring a history of the Royal Flying Corps, with particular emphasis on the non commissioned officers and airmen.
Jack lived through the most amazing times for medal and militaria collecting. He never missed a chance to add to his spectacular collection but was always happy to sit with friends talking medals, producing wonderfully rare medals every time he wanted to illustrate a point. Many of the medals that he bought were acquired directly from the recipient’s family, and a significant percentage of his collection has never appeared on the open market before, including his much coveted Napoleonic Eagle.
His family would like to thank Dix Noonan Webb, and especially Chris Webb, for all their work in preparing Jack’s lifelong collection to be passed on to new homes. We hope you will enjoy them as much as Jack did.