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Charles Watson was born in Holman Street in Preston and baptised in St. Luke`s Church in the town on the 11th September 1895. His parents were William Bannister Watson and Annie Mary Crabtree and they married in the same church on the 3rd October 1893. This was William Bannister Watson`s second marriage, his first was to Dorothy Ellen Taylor in 1885 but sadly Dorothy Ellen died in 1892 aged 37 years. William and Dorothy did not have any children together before she passed away.

Charles had an older sister Louisa who was born in 1894 and a younger brother John born in 1898. In 1901 the Watson family home was at 2 Wignall Street in Preston where Charles` father was labouring in a cotton mill and his mother was employed as a cotton warper. By 1911 all the family with the exception of Mrs. Watson was engaged in mill work and the family had moved to 9 Holman Street which was about a five minute walk away from their previous address. They also had a lodger, a single Irish lady named Rachel Sampson who was aged 46 years and a costumier and dressmaker.

Later information states that Charles enlisted in January 1915 but was apparently rejected on medical grounds (no further information). He then attested under the Derby Group Scheme on the 25th April 1916 and was issued with the service number 23963. Prior to his enlistment Charles was in the employ of Messrs. Wilding Bros. at their Alexandria Mill on Skeffington Road in Preston where he was an assistant overlooker.

As there are no service papers for Charles the exact date of his departure to France is unknown but after his arrival in France he would have spent a couple of weeks at the Base Depot before being posted to the 8th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment who were part of the 7th Brigade in the 25th Division.

During the first three weeks of September 1916 the 25th Division had remained in a rest camp near Abbeville on the Somme but on the 25th September they started to move back to the forward area. Thiepval itself had been captured in the previous fortnight and our troops held a line approximately east and west along the Thiepval Spur; from the right of the divisional front they had observation over the Grandcourt valley, but on the left, from Stuff Redoubt westwards, the Germans held the crest of the ridge. Several minor operations were undertaken in an attempt to capture the high ground north of Stuff Redoubt and to push forward posts to obtain fuller observation over the Grandcourt valley.

On the 9th October one attack was made by the 10th Cheshire Regiment of the 7th Brigade and on the following day they were relieved by the 8th Battalion LNL.

Preparations were then made for a further attack on the high ground known as “The Mounds” immediately north of the Stuff Redoubt. However, before this attack was launched, the Germans made a very determined attempt at recapturing Stuff Redoubt on the evening of the 12th October using special `Storm Troops`. They managed to gain a footing at one point of the line but after suffering many casualties they were finally ejected. Sadly, the 8th Battalion had also incurred many casualties in this action; Captain E.S. Underhill was killed, 2/Lt J.F. Holden died of wounds, Captain H.D. Copeman M.C. and Lieutenant L.B. Panchard were wounded, and eighty eight other ranks were killed or wounded.

On the following day, the 14th October, the attack was finally carried out by `A` and `B` Companies of the 8th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. During this attack the Battalion lost more men, eight men died while Lieutenant P.L. Bolton and twenty other ranks were wounded.

Sadly, Charles Watson died of wounds at the 11th Stationary Hospital at Rouen on the 16th October 1916, it`s very likely that his wounds were sustained at some point on either the 12th or the 14th October 1916.

When news of his death reached his family they notified the Preston Guardian who later published the following information;23963 Private Charles Watson 8th Battalion

There is no information to say whether any of Charles` personal effects were ever returned to his family in Preston.

After his death Charles was buried in St. Sever Cemetery in Rouen. As well as his Memorial Plaque and Scroll his parents would also later receive their sons` British War and Victory Medals.

The name of Charles Watson is also recorded on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 23963
Date of Death: 16/10/1916
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.

Janet Davis
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One Response to 23963 PTE. C. WATSON. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. D Forshaw says:

    thank you for this, it fills gaps in understanding. I had assumed having been wounded Charles may have died of flu or infection, having been wounded earlier. My grand mother lost both her brothers, sadly John mentioned in the clipping was killed in August ’18, and is buried in Crouy sur Somme Cemetery. I have visited his grave but not that of his elder brother, Charles.

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