Leeds nostalgia: Yorkshire private who cheated death three times

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The war produced some remarkable stories, including many of courage, sacrifice and miraculous survival, one of which was printed on this day in 1915.

It related to one Private W Owen, of the 4th Leicestershire Regiment, who cheated death on three occasions, one in which he was allegedly “saved by his braces”.

He was at a camp in Bridlington wheh the war broke out but once he was drafted to the front lines, he was appointed ‘bomb thrower’.

It was during the course of his carrying out his duties as a bomb thrower that he experienced his first - and possibly most astonishing - brush with death after he was shot at, being slightly wounded in the left shoulder at Hooge.

What made the incident so remarkable was that the bullet struck the metal buckle of his braces, causing it to double up and preventing it from entering his shoulder.

Pvt Owen quickly recovered and within a few days was said to be back at the front chucking bombs again. So it was, he sustained a second injury after a piece of shrapnel lodged in his left thigh.

The report does not make clear whether the shrapnel was as a result of his own bombing activities or was inflicted by the Germans.

Nonetheless, Pvt Owen mustered his strength and managed, once again, to return to the front lines, to complete his duty.

However, it would seem that death had some sort of grudge against poor old Pvt Owen, because within a few days of returning to his position, he was shot by a sniper while on guard duty, this time through the shoulder.

The bullet was said to have entered through his right shoulder and gone clean through, no doubt taking him off his feet in the process.

But having cheated death a number of times already, Pvt Owen was not so easily put down - he stood up, found the bullet lodged in a sandbag directly behind him and kept it as a souvenir.

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