1. Memorial:Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, LonguevalI.19
2. Book:The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918Pg.138
3. Memorial:The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour18A GQS

Awards & Titles:


Early Life :

Harold Oswald Townshend Webb was born at Melbourne, Australia on the 11th of June 1887 the son of Charles Stephen Webb, a gentleman, and Adele Alma Albertina (nee Graefe) Webb. He was christened at Boulogne on the 21st of August 1889.

Education & Career :

He was educated at Lancing College where he was in Olds House from September 1902 to April 1905 and where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps for three years.

On leaving school he worked as an accountant for a bank and lived at 6 St Alma Square, St John's Wood in London. He moved to Egypt where became a Freemason and was accepted as a member of the Star of the East Lodge at Cairo on the 8th of March 1912; he became a member of Grecia Lodge 1105 on the 3rd of December 1912.

He was married to Maria (nee Parmigiani) at the British Consulate in Cairo on the 11th of July 1914 and they had a daughter, Violet, born on the 21st of September 1915.

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: 8th Battalion London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) 

1/8th (City of London) Battalion (Post Office Rifles) August 1914 : at 130 Bunhill Row. Record same as 1/6th Bn. Moved on mobilisation to Bisley, going on in September to Crowborough. 5 November 1914 : moved to Watford and transferred to 4th London Brigade in 2nd London Division. 18 March 1915 : landed at Le Havre. 11 May 1915 : formation renamed 140th Brigade in 47th (2nd London) Division. 2 February 1918 : transferred to 174th Brigade in 58th (2/1st London) Division, absorbed the disbanded 2/8th Bn and renamed 8th Bn.

Action : The Battles of the Somme 1916 

The Battle of the Somme 1st July - 18th November 1916 is inevitably characterised by the appalling casualties (60,000) on the first day, July 1st 1916. Having failed to break through the German lines in force, and also failed to maximise opportunities where success was achieved, the battle became a series of attritional assaults on well defended defence in depth. The battle continued officially until 18th November 1916 costing almost 500,000 British casualties. German casualties were about the same, and French about 200,000. The Somme could not be counted a success in terms of ground gained or the cost, but it had a strategic impact as it marked the start of the decline of the German Army. Never again would it be as effective whilst the British Army, learning from its experience eventually grew stronger to become a war winning army. The German High Command recognised that it could never again fight another Somme, a view that advanced the decision to invoke unrestricted submarine warfare in an attempt to starve Britain of food and material, and in doing so accelerated the United States declaration of war thus guaranteeing the eventual outcome. 287 Brethren were killed on the Somme in 1916.

On the outbreak of war he returned to England where he enlisted at Westminster as Private 2216 in the 18th (Service) Battalion Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) (1st Public Schools) on the 2nd of September 1914.

At a medical examination, which was held on the same day, it was recorded that he was five feet eight and one half inches tall and that he weighed 154lbs.

He was posted to A Company and was promoted to Corporal on the 8th of December 1914. He was promoted to Sergeant on the 18th of March 1915. He reverted to the rank of Private at his own request on the 2nd of May 1915.

He applied for a commission on the 25th of April 1915 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3/8th (City of London) Battalion (Post Office Rifles) on the 8th of June 1915. He embarked for France on the 28th of December 1915 where he was attached to the 1/8th Battalion of his regiment. He was promoted to Temporary Captain on the 16th of April 1916.

He commanded No. 3 Company, 1/8th (City of London) Battalion (Post Office Rifles)

Detail :

On the 14th of September 1916 the 1/8th (City of London) Battalion (Post Office Rifles) assembled at High Wood for an attack there the following morning. At 7.20am the whistles blew and they advanced on the right of the assault, half in and half out of the wood itself, and entered Flag Lane which was the second objective of 140th Brigade.

During the attack on High Wood Rifleman "Porky" Knight of A Company, Post Office Rifles, had come under heavy fire and seen his Company Commander and two of his Lieutenants fall. As the survivors scattered, he ran to some fallen trees and took cover. The machine gun fire continued to be fierce and he glanced over his shoulder to see Captain Webb approaching from the rear, with a revolver in his hand at about 9am. Webb said "Up Knight and at them". Together they rushed the enemy machine gun post but Oswald Webb was killed and Knight was wounded in the right thigh. The wood fell at around 1pm after two months of bitter fighting.

His brother, Private Stanley Jules Webb 11th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in action on the 24th of March 1918.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Star in the East No. 1355 E.C.Egypt
Joined : Grecia No. 1105 E.C. London

8th March 1912
10th May 1912
8th June 1912

Webb became a Freemason being initiated into the Star of the East Lodge at Cairo on the 8th of March 1912;

He became a joining member of Grecia Lodge 1105 on the 3rd of December 1912.

Source :

The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:

Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2020-04-08 11:43:53