SKELTON - IN - CLEVELAND
"WE WILL REMEMBER THEM" |
Private WILLIAM WATSON.
201062 4th Bn, Yorkshire Regiment.
who died, aged 27, on the 15th September 1916.
Son of Elizabeth Watson of 38 Back Lane, Skelton in Cleveland, N Yorkshire.
At the census of 1901 William, aged 12, was living at 38 Back Lane and had been born in Skelton.
His father, from Philadelphia Durham, was an undermanager at Park Pit.
His mother, Elizabeth, came from Wylam, Durham and was the sister of Tommy Varty, the manager of
The family first lived at Shaft Cottages when they first came to Skelton for work at Shaft Pit.
They had 12 children, but not all survived.
In 1901 William had three sisters still at home, Elizabeth 23, Esther 17 and Dora 14.
In 1940 Dora was to lose her own 18 year old son, Harold Smith, at Dunkirk.
Will Watson also had two elder brothers at home, Armstrong 22, an Engine fitter and George, Ironstone Clerk.
The 4th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment were formed in August 1914 in Northallerton.
They became part of the 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division.
After landing at Boulogne on the 14th May 1915, the Division took part in most of the actions on the Western Front.
The Battle of the Somme began with a massive bombardment at the end of June 1916 and
a series of offensives were continued into the winter of that year.
Will Watson appears to have lost his life in one of these, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, which commenced
on the 15th September and lasted until it was called off on the 22nd of that month.
It was notable for the introduction of tanks, 49 in all, by the British.
Only 15 made it to No Mans Land, but they were considered to have had a devastating effect on German
The British forces made initial gains of some 2 km within the first three days, something of an achievement at the time,
and particularly during the Battle of the Somme.
Led by tanks the villages of Martinpuich, Flers and Courcelette fell to the Allies, as did the much sought-after High
Nevertheless, a combination of poor weather and extensive German reinforcements halted the British and Canadian advance
on 17 September; the Allies had again suffered heavy casualties, including Raymond Asquith, the son of the British Prime
Minister Herbert Asquith.
The Thiepval Memorial commemorates more than 72,000 missing men of the United Kingdom and South
African forces who died on the Somme battlefields before 20th March 1918 and have no known grave.
Most were killed between July and November 1916.