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Private Webb and his lucky black cat

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: February 24, 2014

By Gavin Jones

  • Harry Webb, fifth from the right in the standing row, with colleagues of the 7th Worcesters; many of whom may well have been Black Country lads

  • Harry Webb in Kidderminster, with the lucky black cat

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SO SMALL was he that the little black cat in this picture might even escape your notice at first glance, but the soldier pictured with him was convinced that the tiny feline saved his life.

He was Harry Webb of Dudley, who joined the 7th Worcestershire Regiment and fought at the Somme during the First World War, and we thank his son Alfred Webb, also of Dudley, for telling us his story.

Harry, who lived in the town centre on Gatehouse Fold (later subsumed by the bus station) was barracked at Kidderminster for training before being sent to the front, and while he was there stayed part of the time with a Kidderminster family. It was there, and with that family's cat, that he had his photograph taken in uniform before he went off to fight.

Like most men who went out there, Harry said very little about it when he got back, but Alfred does recall him saying that he survived a shell which exploded close to him, burying four of his colleagues alive, along with an officer who didn't survive. Harry dug them all out, and always believed that it was the lucky black cat in his photograph that had kept him safe.

He did nevertheless suffer while out at the front. He was gassed, and left with bronchial problems for the rest of his life, but recovered well enough to work in galvanising at Bullows in Tipton on his return to Blighty.

Harry Webb died in 1950, at the age of 63.

Do you have stories of your own family members' roles in the First World War? We'd love to share them; pay us a visit, give us a call, write in or send an email to gjones@blackcountrybugle.co.uk. If you can't get to us, call us, and we can come to you.

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