Wikipedia on Kate Webb




(Kate Webb, from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia)

Webb (March 24, 1943 -- May 13, 2007) was a New Zealand-born Australian war correspondent for United Press International and Agence France-Presse.

Born Catherine Merrial Webb in Christchurch, New Zealand, Webb moved to Canberra, Australia, with her family while she was still a child. Her father, Leicester Chisholm Webb, was professor of political science at the Australian National University, and her mother, Caroline Webb, was active in women's organisations. Both her parents were killed in an automobile accident when Kate was 18.

On March 30, 1958, at age 15, Webb was charged with the murder of Victoria Fenner, the adopted daughter of Frank Fenner in Canberra. She supplied a rifle and bullets to Fenner and was present when Fenner shot herself. Webb told authorities she thought it was a joke. After a Children's Court hearing the charge was dropped.

She graduated from the University of Melbourne, then left to work for the Sydney Daily Mirror. In 1967 she quit the paper and travelled to Vietnam to cover the escalating war. Webb was soon hired by UPI and earned a reputation as a hard-drinking, chain-smoking war correspondent. She was the first wire correspondent to reach the U.S. Embassy in Saigon during the Tet offensive.

With the death of UPI's Phnom Penh bureau chief Frank Frosch in 1970, Webb was selected to fill his position. She later said her selection was largely based on the fact that she was fluent in French.

In 1971, she made news herself when she was captured by North Vietnamese troops operating in Cambodia. Premature official reports claimed that a body discovered was Webb's, and The New York Times published an obituary.

Webb emerged from captivity 23 days after she was captured, after having endured forced marches, interrogations, and malaria. She described her experiences in a book, On the Other Side, and in War Torn, a collection of reminiscences by women correspondents in the Vietnam War.

After her release from captivity and because of her sudden fame, UPI sent her to Washington, D.C., as their show piece. Soon thereafter she threatened to resign if she did not get a "real job". She was reassigned to the Philippines as the UPI bureau chief in Manila.

After the war, she continued to work as a foreign correspondent for UPI and later for Agence France-Presse, later serving as a correspondent in Iraq during the Gulf War, in Indonesia as Timor-Leste gained independence, and in South Korea, where she was the first to report the death of Kim Il-Song.

She also reported from Afghanistan, and later described an incident in Kabul as the most frightening in her career. Following the collapse of Mohammad Najibullah's communist regime, she was captured by a local warlord and brought to a hotel, where she was brutally beaten and dragged up a flight of stairs by her hair. She finally escaped with the help of two fellow journalists, and hid out on a window ledge in the freezing Afghan winter, while the warlord and his men searched the building for her.

Webb retired to the Hunter Region in Australia in 2001. She died of bowel cancer on May 13, 2007. AFP established the Kate Webb Journalism Award with a €3,000 to €5,000 prize, awarded annually to a correspondent or agency that best exemplified the spirit of Kate Webb.

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