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John Whitehead Watson was born at 13 Maudland Bank in Preston and baptised at St. Peter`s Church on the 5th February 1882 by his parents William Henry and Eleanor Watson (nee Whitehead). His parents married on the 3rd December 1873 at St. Peter`s Church, prior to the marriage his father was a bookkeeper living at Maudland Bank and his mother was a gold thread spinner living in Adelphi Place. John was the youngest of four and had one brother and two sisters although sadly both of his sisters died; William Ernest (1875), Florence (1877-1899) and Margaret Emily (1879-1882).
John and his family lived at 13 Maudland Bank for many years and in 1891 his father was employed as a cotton spinner`s clerk and his elder brother was a telegraph messenger. Sadly, William Henry Watson passed away two years later, his death registered in the first quarter of 1893.
By 1901 and still living at the same address with his mother and brother, John had started work as a railway engine cleaner while his brother was now a postman. Still at Maudland Bank in 1911, the Census shows that John had left the railway and was now working for Messrs. J. & S. Sellers as a shipping clerk.
According to later newspaper information John enlisted on the 11th February 1915 initially joining the 11th (Reserve) Battalion LNL, known locally as `Captain Hollins Company`. Prior to his enlistment he had been employed as a clerk in the offices of the Lancashire Insurance Committee. The same newspaper source also states that he went overseas to France at some point during 1915 and served for some considerable time before being invalided back home with trench fever and sciatica. Unfortunately none of John`s service papers have survived and the only Medal Index Card found does not have a date of embarkation which suggests that he went overseas after January 1916 and not in 1915. The Medal Index Card and the Medal Rolls only indicate that he received the British War and Victory Medals and not the 1915 Star which, if correct, would mean that the newspaper information is slightly misleading. The Medal Rolls only record John as serving with the 1st Battalion so presumably he joined them as a reinforcement and at some point during his service he rose to the rank of Sergeant.
After eventually recovering from his trench fever and sciatica John embarked for France again in March 1918, later re-joining the 1st Battalion LNL, his arrival in France coinciding with the start of the German Spring Offensive which began on the 21st March 1918. A month prior to John`s arrival the 1st Battalion had been transferred into the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division and when the Spring Offensive began on the 21st March the 1st Division was in the most northerly sector of the Ypres Salient but they played no part in the early operations of the Offensive.
At the end of August 1918 the 1st Division was sent to support an attack by the Canadian Corps on the Drocourt-Queant switch line which was due to take place on the 2nd September, as it turned out the attack by the Canadians was successful and the 1st Division was not required although they did sustain some casualties from bombs and machine-gun fire from low flying aeroplanes.
Sadly, on the night of the 3rd September 1918 John was seriously wounded and he passed away the following day at No. 1 CCS, his date of death recorded as 4th September 1918.
Extract from Battalion War Diary
3/9/18 – 7/9/18- Drocourt-Quent line – Very little of importance happened during this period. On the night of the 3rd a bomb was dropped on “D” Coys rations party causing 14 casualties, CQMS Stanway and Sgt. Watson later died from wounds received on this occasion.
The following notification of John`s death appeared later in the Preston Guardian;
John was laid to rest in Ligny-St.Flochel British Cemetery.
After the war John`s mother would have received his British War and Victory Medals together with his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.
John also left a will with Probate granted to Eleanor Watson of 13 Maudland Bank in Preston, his estate was valued at £112.10s 3d.
John`s name was later inscribed on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston. The panel bearing his name and the original form submitted by his family are pictured below.
His family also chose to have his name remembered on the Roll of Honour in St. Peter`s Church in Preston, the church where he had been baptised and where his parents had married.
Service No: 21089
Date of Death: 04/09/1918
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.
Cemetery: LIGNY-ST. FLOCHEL BRITISH CEMETERY, AVERDOINGT
Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
(This post has been visited 83 times in the last 90 days)
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