William Harrington Edward Watson

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William Harrington Edward Watson
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Personal Information
Date of Birth 22 Oct 1862
Place of Birth Northcote, Victoria
Death 14 Dec 1920, aged 57
Place of Death South Fremantle
Age at Enlistment 49 years, 2 months (actual age 53)
Description 5' 7½"(1.71m) tall ; 143 lbs
64.864 kg
; sallow complexion ; blue eyes ; steel grey hair ; scar right forearm
Occupation Miner
Religion Church of England
Address Eighth avenue, Armadale, Western Australia
Next of Kin Wife , Mrs Hannah Elizabeth Watson
Military Information
Reg Number 1198
Date of Enlistment 30 Nov 1915
Rank Sapper
Unit/Formation Mining Corps, No 3 Company
Date of Embarkation 20 Feb 1916 ‒ 25 Apr 1916
Ship Embarked On HMAT A38 Ulysses
Date of Return 31 Aug 1916 ‒ 10 Oct 1916
Ship Returned On HMHS Marama
Fate Returned to Australia (medical)
Monument Armadale War Memorial (West Armadale panel)
Armadale and Districts Roll of Honour
Australian War Memorial
Medals British War Medal
Victory Medal




Pre War

William was married first to Elizabeth Ann Munday (1862-1890) in Northcote, Victoria on 27 Mar 1884. Following Elizabeth's death on 30 Jul 1890 in Northcote, Bill married Hannah Elizabeth Tuck (1970-1932) in Bendigo on 31 Dec 1895. Son Clarence Victor b. 1898 in Kalgoorlie, who married Winifred Mary Joslin in Fremantle 1932. Clarence died 13 Oct 1961 in Fremantle and Winifred on 15 Aug 1997 in Bentley. Son King Horace Leslie Thomas Watson (1 Apr 1909-1971), and a daughter Ethel Sheraz b. 1901 in E Coolgardie district. She married Harold Percy Calley in 1927, and died 3 Mar 1972 in Bateman. Harold died 7 Oct 1954 in Inglewood.

Electoral Roll entries - 1906 a labourer at Cardup; 1909 farmer in Jandakot; 1910 at 1030 Boulder road, Hannans (by himself, Hannah remained at Jandakot); 1912 - 1915 back farming at Jandakot; 1915 a brickmaker living at 8th Avenue, Armadale; 1917 at 51 Thomas street, South Fremantle.

War Service

Recruiting for the Miners’ Corp had circulated in the preceding months, accepting men of all ages up to 49 years with mining experience. At the Perth Recruiting Depot on November 27, 1915 William applied for Active Service abroad and passed the preliminary medical examination but subject to his teeth being attended too. Personal particulars from the application show Bill ignored a few birthdays stating he was forty-nine years and two months of age.

At Blackboy Hill camp, W.A. he commenced his basic training on 30 Nov 1915 with the 1st Battalion. Recruits were being allotted to the Mining Corps as from 1 December therefore Private Watson was to undergo basic training with the newly forming Corps at Blackboy Hill camp in Helena Vale, W.A. The Unit’s title was No. 3 Company, Mining Corps and was made up to strength with 1 Officer and 274 Other Ranks who embarked from Fremantle on 18 Dec 1915 sailing to Sydney, NSW on board the troopship SS Indara.

On Boxing Day (Dec 26th), 1915 the Unit arrived in Sydney and marched into Casula Camp, near Liverpool, NSW. There they were joined by the 4th Section of the Tasmanian Miners, bringing the establishment strength up to 15 officers and 349 Other Ranks under the command of 2nd Lieutenant L.J. Coulter. They joined the other companies from all states in final training for the front.

At a civic parade in the Domain, Sydney on Saturday 19 Feb 1916, a large crowd of relations and friends of the departing Miners lined the four sides of the parade ground. Sixty police and 100 Garrison Military Police were on hand to keep the crowds within bounds. The scene was an inspiriting one. On the extreme right flank, facing the saluting base, were companies of the Rifle Club School; next came a detachment of the 4th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, then the bands of the Light Horse, Liverpool Depot, and on the left, rank upon rank, of the Miners’ Battalion.

Sapper Watson was one of 1,248 members of the Corps who boarded HMAT A38 Ulysses in Sydney, NSW on 20 Feb 1916 and sailed for the European theatre. Arriving in Melbourne, Victoria on 22 Feb the Miners camped at Broadmeadows for a stay of 7 days while further cargo was loaded. Another parade was held at the Broadmeadows camp on 1 Mar 1916, the Miners’ Corps being inspected by the Governor-General, as Commander-in-Chief of the Commonwealth Military forces.

Leaving Melbourne the same day, HMAT A38 Ulysses arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia on 7 March where a further 53 members were taken on board. On Wednesday 8 March 1916 the whole force, with their band and equipment, paraded at Fremantle prior to leaving Victoria Quay at 9.30 o’clock. The ship hit a reef when leaving Fremantle harbour, stripping the plates for 40 feet and, although there was a gap in the outside plate, the inner bilge plates were not punctured. The men on board nicknamed her ‘Useless’. The Miners were off-loaded and sent to the Blackboy Hill Camp where further training was conducted.

Finally departing Fremantle on 1 Apr 1916, the Ulysses voyaged via Suez, Port Said and Alexandria in Egypt. The Captain of the ship was reluctant to take Ulysses out of the Suez Canal because he felt the weight of the ship made it impossible to manoeuvre in the situation of a submarine attack. The troops were transhipped to HMT Ausonia (numbered B.1), then on to Valetta, Malta before disembarking at Marseilles, France on 5 May 1916. As a unit they moved by train from Marseilles on 7 May to Hazebrouck.

Soon after arrival, the Australian Mining Corps ceased to exist as it was then constituted and was redesignated into three Tunnelling Companies which were dispersed where the British Armies required them.

Willliam reported ill on 7 May 1916 and when the Company arrived in Hazebrouck, he spent 15 days with 12th Casualty Clearing Station before being transferred by Hospital Train No. 20, and admitted to the 26th General Hospital Étaples on 25 May 1916 for a fortnight where he was diagnosed with Angina Pectoris.

Invalided to England on 10 Jun 1916 from Calais on HS Stad Antwerpen and admitted to Fort Pitt Hospital, Chatham. On 5 Jul 1916 he was released to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital Harefield before being admitted to Chatham Military Hospital on 12 Jul 1916. On 31 Jul 1916 he was released to No 2 Command Depot Weymouth for return to Australia, declared to be PU (Permanently Unfit). Sailed with the New Zealand Hospital Ship HMHS Marama, and was allocated a hammock for the journey home.

Assessed at the 8th Australian General Hospital Fremantle between 10 and 12 Oct 1916, before being released to Details Camp to prepare for discharge.

Medical discharge granted on 16 Dec 1916 - dilated heart - present before service but aggravated by it. Real age discovered to be 54. Had suffered a heart attack in Sydney while running to fight a bush fire in camp, and another while in Broadmeadows.

"...Has returned incapacitated."[1]

Father of Clarence Victor Watson

Post War

While Bill's death occurred well after his return from Europe, as it occurred before the official cut off date, and was due to a condition caused or made worse by his service he is listed on the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.[2]

Following Bill's death Hannah relocated to 66 South street, South Fremantle till her death on 26 Nov 1932, aged 62.

[3]

Notes

As Bill died before the cut off date for deaths caused by war service, his name appears on the National Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra - Panel 27.

  1. "The Drill of the Foot-Hills" (PDF) (1917). Western Australia. Mar 1917. Retrieved 16 May 2017 – via State Library of Western Australia. 
  2. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1667313
  3. Details on training in Australia, voyage to England, and health supplied by 'tunnellers@bigpond.com'. For further details relating to the 3rd Tunnelling Company, visit their website http://www.tunnellers.net/pages/

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