Photo: Abbott Reed Webber before being deployed overseas, February 1943. From the archives of the Bedford Historical Society
On June 6 the nation observes the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy beaches by Allied forces in 1944 that ultimately led to the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Among those sent into battle that day was Bedford’s Abbott Reed Webber. He was a medic with the 101st Airborne Division that parachuted into enemy territory during the night. He was later wounded during the Battle of the Bulge in Ardennes forest. His widow, Doris “Mickey” Webber, died earlier this year.i
Don Corey, President
Special thanks to Joe Damery for sharing this memory of Abbott Reed Webber after reading the above blog entry:
“During WWII, Mr. Webber, dressed in combat uniform & wearing his parachute pack, visited us in Grades 5 thru 9 at the Center school – then located in the brick building, now our town hall. Standing on the stage after a brief introduction, he explained how his parachute operated. He actually pulled the rip-cord which ejected a small parachute – his pilot chute, which was designed to pull and deploy his main parachute out of its container.
Not many weeks later he was on the way to Europe, where he did indeed parachute right into the war zone. We pre-teenagers were totally impressed by seeing, first-hand, just a portion of what our men and women in uniform were doing . . . Always through the years I quietly admired Mr. Webber whose actual residence was only a few hundred feet from that school building, where he simply resumed being a civilian-veteran, as so many among us continued to do.”
On Monday May 27, Bedford’s Memorial Day ceremonies will occur at several locations. The Bedford Historical Society will participate in ceremonies at 8:45 AM at Shawsheen Cemetery, at 10:00 AM at the Old Burying Ground, at 11:00 AM at the World War I Memorial on the Common, and finally in the march to Veterans Memorial Park for the main ceremonies. Click here for a full schedule of activities.
From the Concord Enterprise newspaper, March 12, 1913 “J. H. Brown, Springs Rd, while cutting ice on his pond one day last week, had a narrow escape from drowning. He stepped on a loose piece of ice and touched bottom in seven feet of water. Eddie Temple, who was with him at the time, with great presence of mind, rushed to the spot where he had last seen Mr. Brown and when he arose to the surface, grabbed him by the coat collar and dragged him to safety. Mr. Brown is a Civil War veteran and the spryest man of his age in this town. He states that he suffered nothing from his involuntary bath in the icy waters.”
John Henry Brown (1844-1918) was a life-long resident of Bedford who served in the Civil War; he enlisted in 1864 and was assigned to the 6th Regiment of Company D. The United States Census lists Brown as a butcher in 1870 and 1880 and as a dairy farmer in 1900 and 1910. John’s younger brother was Abram English Brown, author of the History of the Town of Bedford (1891).
Brown may have used ice tongs like the ones pictures above to harvest ice; these tongs and other ice harvesting tools are part of the Bedford Historical Society collection. The postcard below is also from our collection and shows the Ice House on Wilson Mill Pond and the Shawsheen Meadows, c.1900.
Thanks to member Brian Oulighan for locating this newspaper article. Brian grew up in Bedford and now lives in Hudson, NH. Brian combs through old newspapers online for items related to Bedford history and sends them along to the Bedford Historical Society for our archives.