Private William Watson
Born. Helmsley, North Yorks, 2/12/1897.
Died. New Zealand, 27/7/1998, Aged 100.
William Watson was the son of Thomas and Eva Watson of Huddersfield, West Yorks. He spent his early years living in Balne and later moved to Huddersfield. Like so many working class families at the time the family moved around the country following whatever work the Father was employed in.
After very basic schooling he took employment as a Clerk in a local office, on the outbreak of the War he travelled to Leeds to enlist, joining the "Pals" on 9/11/1914, it appears that is enlistment was deferred at the time, but because he had studied and passed all tests on Signalling in the Boy Scouts he was sent for and re accepted into the "Pals" His age of 16 being overlooked because of the "pals need for experienced Signallers.
He served as a signaller with 11 section; No 3 platoon A Company, Leeds Pals throughout their stay at Colsterdale, Egypt and France.
On the 1st of July 1916 William was Blinded and deafened, and had to be led back to a casualty clearing station by a wounded comrade, after evacuation to England and recovery he was posted to the Labour Corps back in France, he served with this unit until the war ended, demobilised in 1919, he returned to Huddersfield, but unable to settle he travelled to New Zealand where he found peace and employment, after travelling around the country doing odd jobs he finally settled down into perminant employment as a School caretaker. In the late 1940s he returned to visit his family and although his mother begged him to stay he returned to New Zealand settling in a small town called Thames where he worked as caretaker at the local school, it was there in 1953 that he married Nora Baxter a teacher at the same school.
William became a life member of the New Zealand RSA and although suffering from deafness all his life was never heard to complain neither would he freely discuss his experiences in the War. When Nora died in 1988 William resided in the Tararu rest home until in 1997 needing 24 hour care he was moved to Totara Heights where he died aged 100, on the 27/7 1998.
ON HIS DEATH WILLIAM WASON WAS THE LAST KNOWN SURVIVING MEMBER OF THE LEEDS PALS
The Leeds Pals Memorial site is indebted to Tracey Spence, Mike and Sue Watson in New Zealand, and Edith Watson of Fellbeck, Yorkshire, for donating Photographs, documents and family background information.