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William Watts was born in the parish of St Vincent, Liverpool.

William was married to Mary Ann, they lived at 144, Upper Frederick Street, Liverpool. They had a daughter named Elizabeth.

On 29th September 1908, William enlisted in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Old Haymarket, Liverpool. He had previous experience in the Militia (Volunteers, 8th Irish), and now signed up for 6 years Special Reserve service. He was given the service number 1214.

At his enlistment medical it was noted that he was 5ft 4in tall, weighed 114lbs and had grey eyes with fair hair.

On 3rd July 1910, William absented himself from the annual training camp that he as a reserve soldier was obliged to attend; he was apprehended on 1st June 1911 in Liverpool whilst then attempting to enlist in the Regular Army. In 1912 William then again failed to turn up to the annual training camp.

On 2nd August 1913 the Regiment received notification that William had been arrested for drunkenness in Liverpool. He was sentenced to, and served 14 days in prison.

In June 1914, having completed his six years engagement, William elected to re-engage for a further four years. This was approved by his CO.

William sailed to France on 22nd September 1914 to join the 1st Battalion.

In November 1914, his wife registered the death of their child, Elizabeth. She had died of measles, and pneumonia at Liverpool workhouse infirmary. Elizabeth was just 21 months old.

William was reported as missing on 24th December 1914 (two days after the Battle of Givenchy), his wife Mary was informed that this was the case. On this occasion William made it back to his lines, rejoining on 29th December.

Here followed a series of periods of unauthorised absences; each time he would appear days later and accept his punished of being confined to barracks.

On 20th November 1915, William deserted. On 28th March 1916 he rejoined the Battalion and was awaiting trial for desertion. The trial happened on 4th April 1916 at Les Brebis. William pleaded not guilty.

William was found guilty by court martial, and was sentenced ‘to suffer death by being shot’.

On 5th May 1916, at 04:40hrs, William was executed. His medals were forfeited, and his wife was not entitled to a pension.

William is buried in Maroc British cemetery.

National Arboretum, September 2016

National Arboretum, September 2016

Rank: Private
Service No: 1214
Date of Death: 05/05/1916
Age: 29
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, “B” Coy. 1st Bn.

Paul McCormick
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