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John Watkinson was born in Skelmersdale, Lancashire on 13th February 1880. His parents were Thomas and Ellen Watkinson. He was baptised at St Paul’s Church on 29th February 1880 and he was educated at the Wesleyan school, Liverpool Road, Skelmersdale where he eventually became a pupil teacher. John enlisted in the Loyal Lancashire Regiment on 26 March 1901, and is shown on that years census as being at Fulwood Barracks near Preston. John signed up for 3 years with the Colours, and 9 in the Reserve. His service number was 6511. On 9th September 1901 he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

After 2 years with the Colours, 26 March 1903, John was granted his Good Conduct pay, 1d. On 28 May 1903 John was then promoted to Corporal.

On 25 March 1904, having served his 3 years with the Colours he was transferred to the Reserve, in which capacity he remained until 25 March 1913.

During this time in the Reserve, John worked as a postman for the GPO.

John Watkinson married Elizabeth Roberts from Northop Hall, on the 6th June 1906. Their wedding was in Northop and was conducted by The Rev Clement Davies. They had two children – Fred Roberts Watkinson (born 1906) and Mildred (born 1908). The 1911 census lists this family of four living at 34, White Moss Road Skelmersdale. The form tells us that the house had four rooms and that Elizabeth had been born in Northop Hall in 1882. We know that by the time that John was recalled in 1914, Elizabeth and the children were living in ‘The Croft’, Northop Hall.

Military Career.

When war broke out in August 1914, John was immediately summoned by a letter from the West Lancashire Territorial Force Association telling him to present himself urgently at the Liverpool Regiment Depot, Seaforth Barracks – the next day if possible!

John re-enlisted on 31st August 1914 and joined the 10th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was promoted back to Corporal on the same day. He was given the service number 12152. John was described as 34 and a half years of age, 5 feet 5 and a half inches tall, weighed 113 pounds and he had brown hair, hazel eyes with a fresh complexion. His wife, Elizabeth in Northop Hall was his next of kin.

John spent a year in the UK, and landed with 112th Brigade in 37th Division in France (Boulogne) on 31 July 1915.

John received several promotions during the war:

5 Sept 1914 promoted to Sergeant
6 Oct 1914 promoted to Orderly Room Sergeant
11th June 1915 promoted to Acting RQMS
1st Mar 1916 promoted to Warrant Officer class 11 and appointed RQMS
5th June 1917 Discharged from the Loyal North Lancashires and promoted to a temporary commission as Qtr Mr and Lieutenant in The Royal Warwickshires.

He is noted as a patient on 31 Ambulance Trains with fractured ribs (acc) as Lieut QM J. Watkinson, 10th Loyal North Lancs, embarked Lillens disembarked Etaples on 12th June 1917,

The Warwickshire Regiment’s 11th Battalion War Diary records that John joined them at Dranoutre, Belgium at 1900 hrs on 2nd July 1917 and was posted into D Company.

The Military Cross

This was awarded for an event that appears to have taken place on 26th March 1918 east of Moreuil.

Citation from the London Gazette 16th September 1918

QM and Hon Lieutenant John Watkinson R War R
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during two days of severe fighting. Owing to heavy officer casualties in the battallion he volunteered to take command of a company and with the greatest courage and determination led them into action. His company was involved in very bitter fighting around a position, and it was only due to his coolness, utter disregard of personal danger and the capable way in which he kept his men together that the garrison of the position was not completely cut off. By rallying his men at a very critical moment and fighting a reargaurd action, he covered their retreat in the most able manner.

His Death

John Watkinson died on 10th December 1918 in No 14 hospital in France. On the afternoon of 14th August 1918 on duty, he had been riding to the Ration Dump when his horse tumbled and fell on top of him. His injuries were recorded as severe. The incident was an accident and no-one was to blame. The cause of his death was recorded as a fractured pubis and ruptured bladder. At the time of his death he was in the 11th Royal Warwickshires but attached to the 18th Highland Light Infantry.

Family Memories

John’s wife, Elizabeth, visited him in France between the accident and his death.

John Watkinson is remembered on the Northop Hall Village Memorial, Northop Parish Memorial, Skelmersdale War Memorial, Ormskirk Post Office Memorial and he is also named on the gravestone of his parents in St Paul’s Churchyard, Skelmersdale.

John was buried in the Terlincthun British Cemetery at Wimille near Pas-de Calais. The cemetery had been started in June 1918 having been designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

Rank: Lieutenant & Qmr
Date of Death: 10/12/1918
Age: 38
Regiment/Service: Highland Light Infantry, 18th Bn.
Awards: M C
Grave Reference: XII. C. 15.
Cemetery: TERLINCTHUN BRITISH CEMETERY, WIMILLE

Northop Parish Magazine January 1919

News has come of the death of Lieutenant Quartermaster John Watkinson MC of the 18th Highland Light Infantry and the beloved husband of Mrs Watkinson, The Croft, Northop Hall which took place on December 10th and was buried on the day following. He joined up in August 1914. In July 1917 he received his Commission. In March last year he was awarded the MC for conspicuous bravery on the field. Officers and men spoke of him in most glowing terms. He met with an accident in August when returning from the lines which eventually proved fatal. We deeply sympathise with the family in their sorrow.

Paul McCormick
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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
Paul McCormick
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One Response to QM & Lt. J. Watkinson M.C.

  1. Graham WALKER says:

    Good Day. We here in Eccles, are re-dedicating a WW1 memorial on which Cpl 11994 James WATKINSON (DCM) 1st Bn LNLR is remembered. We are aware he was killed on 15 July 1916. Would you have any specific history behind Cpl WATKINSON whilst he was at Gallipoli and indeed on the circumstances leading to his death. Many thanks. Graham Walker.

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