Harry Watson was born on the 28th February 1896 at Madeley, Staffordshire and baptised on the 12th April 1896 at All Saints Church, Madeley.
His father, Elijah Bailey Watson was born on the 5th July 1868 at Madeley and he married Jessie Warham, who was born on the 26th July 1867 at Madeley, on the 5th August 1891 at All Saints Church, Madeley. They had 5 children:
- Arthur born on the 2nd September 1892 at Madeley.
- Frank born on the 3rd February 1894 at Madeley.
- Herbert born on the 21st September 1900 at Madeley.
- Mabel born on 6th February 1906 at Madeley.
During the 1901 census the family were recorded as living at Spotted Bank, Little Madeley, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire. Harry’s father was shown as a Coal Miner Foreman and Harry as being at school. Harry’s father Elijah died on the 6th October 1910 at the North Stafford Infirmary, Hartshill. In the 1911 census the family are shown as living at Little Madeley. Harry’s mother was shown as a widow and Harry as a worker at a pit bottom.
Nothing further is known about Harry until after the outbreak of the First World War when he enlisted in the Army.
Army Service During The War.
Harry’s Army Service Record has survived and shows that he enlisted for Short Service for the duration of the war as Trooper 3487 in the 2nd Life Guards, Household Cavalry, on the 14th November 1914 at Newcastle (under Lyme), Staffordshire. The following information was recorded: He gave his address as Little Madeley, Newcastle, Staffs., his age as 19 years 1 month (in reality he was 18 years 9 months. He may have added a few months to his age as you had to be 19 years of age to serve overseas and he may have been worried that the war was all going to be over by Christmas and he didn’t want to miss it!), he said he was employed as a waggoner in a mine and had never been in the Military before.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent age 19 years 1 month, height six feet, chest 35 inches with 2 ¼ inches expansion. His Army Form B178 Medical Record shows that he was examined on the same day he enlisted at Newcastle. His description was recorded as before with the addition of his weight which was 133 lbs.
On enlistment he was posted to Windsor where he had three minor brushes with authority. The first on the 30th September 1915 was described as irregular conduct whilst on outpost duty which resulted in 3 days confined to barracks. Secondly on the 5th March 1916 he was absent from duty from 12 midnight to 8.45 a.m. on the 6th which earned him another 3 days confined to barracks. Lastly on the 26th June 1916 he neglected to obey an order which cost him 7 days confined to barracks.
He was also admitted to hospital on two occasions. The first time was on the 26th October 1915 when he suffered a wound to his right hand caused by a buckle whilst cleaning up the stables. After 11 days he was discharged on the 5th November. The second occasion he was admitted on the 11th March 1916 suffering from influenza and discharged 10 days later on the 20th March.
On the 3rd August 1916 he embarked at Southampton and arrived at Rouen, France on the 5th August with the British Expeditionary Force, joining his Regiment in the field on the 13th August.
Although not shown on his Service Record Harry was clearly granted at least two periods of leave back to the UK in 1917 as he married Lily Watts, who was born on the 23rd January 1894 and baptised on the 1st April 1894 at Aldbury, on the 6th October 1917 at Aldbury Parish Church, they had a son, Claude Watson Watts born on the 9th April 1917 at Tring.
On the 10th May 1918 he was compulsorily transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Guards Machine Gun Regiment but he was allowed to keep his rank of Trooper and the Household Cavalry rates of pay but he was given a new Service Number of 4906.
On the 10th June 1918, whilst in the field, he was taken by the 1/3 East Lancashire Field Ambulance and admitted to hospital suffering with diarrhoea. He re-joined his regiment on the 11th July 1918.
Awarded The Military Medal.
On the 17th October 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal by the General Officer Commanding 9th Corps. Published in the London Gazette issue 31338, Page 6021 on the 13th May 1919, His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Military Medal for bravery in the Field to the undermentioned Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men: Private 4906 H. Watson 2nd Battalion, Guards Machine Gun Regiment. Resided Town: Newcastle (under Lyme). The citation for his medal has not survived, although, as will be seen below, there are two references to Harry being a stretcher bearer and it is possible that he was recognised for saving lives whilst under fire.
On the 8th November 1918 he was granted 14 days leave to the UK which was then extended by the War Office to the 27th November 1918.
His Statement as to Disability Army Form Z22 records: Unit: 2nd Life Guards. Regiment: Guards Machine Gun Regt. No.: 4906. Rank: Trooper. Name: Harry Watson. Address: Aldbury, Tring, Herts. Age last birthday: 22. Date first joined: 13th August 1918. Medical category: A1. I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my military service Signed: H. Watson. Examined: 13th December 1918.
On the 19th December 1918 he was sent home from France to Shorncliffe Dispersal Camp for demobilisation.
His Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity Army Form Z11 records: Name: Harry Watson. Regt. No.: 4906. Rank: Trooper. Record office: Buckingham. Unit: 2nd Machine Gun Battery. Regt.: Life Guards. Pay office: 168 Regent Street. Address: Aldbury, Tring, Herts. Theatre of war: France. Year born: 1896. Medical category: A1. Place for re-joining in case of emergency: Pirbright. Specialist Military Qualification: Stretcher Bearer. 28 day furlough granted. Issued: 19th December 1918 at Crystal Shorncliffe.
On the 16th January 1919 he was transferred to Class Z Army Reserve.
As well as the Military Medal he was awarded the British War and Victory medals.
Like every other soldier Harry was granted 28 days leave prior to his discharge. It is apparent that he used this time to arrange to join the Police.
Harry’s Police Service Record has not survived but from other sources it is known that he was Appointed as Police Constable 123 in the Hertford County Constabulary on the 30th January 1919 on £2/3/0 a week.
As part of his application he would have undergone a Medical with the Force Surgeon at Police Headquarters at Hatfield. After his Appointment he would have completed his Probationary Training at Police Headquarters.
On the 1st April 1919, as part of a national pay increase, he received an increase in his pay to £3/10/0 per week.
General Order 93 of 13th April 1919 announced the postings of eight recruit Constables who were being brought on the Roster for duty and were being transferred from Headquarters to Divisions. Police Constable 123 H. Watson was posted to C Division at Watford from the 11th April 1919. Each officer had to be Attested and the Superintendents concerned had to report to the Chief Constable when this had been done showing date and place of Attestation and before whom taken.
The Electoral Rolls of 1920 and 1921 record Harry and Lily Watson as living at 84, Brightwell Road, Watford.
Harry would have received an increase of pay from £3/10/0 to £3/12/0 per week on the 30th January 1920.
A Minor Blemish.
General Order 1 of the 3rd January 1921 announced that the Chief Constable had severely reprimanded Harry for failing to work his Beat in accordance with orders by missing his 3.30 a.m. Conference Point at Wiggenhall Bridge, Watford on the night of the 26th – 27th December 1920.
General Order 21 of the 9th February 1921 announced that Harry had been Commended as follows: Rex – v – Joseph Harding or Israel Philip Harris, Larceny Bicycle. At Watford Petty Sessions held on the 1st February 1921 the Chairman commended Police Constable 123 Harry Watson for his action in effecting the apprehension of the prisoner and the recovery of the stolen property. The Chief Constable endorses this commendation and directs that an appropriate entry shall be made on the Constable’s record sheet.
General Order 32 of the 25th February 1921 informed Harry that he would receive an increase of pay from £3/12/0 to £/14/0 per week from the 13th February 1921.
Harry resigned from the Police on the 23rd March 1921. His reason for doing so has not survived but the information below tends to suggest that whatever the reason was he clearly felt he had no other option than to leave. It evidently caused him to have a major disagreement with a Sergeant which resulted in the following: General Order 37 of the 20th March 1921 announced that the Chief Constable had held an enquiry into an allegation that Police Constable 123 Harry Watson C Division was insubordinate in his conduct in that he at Watford on the 22nd March 1921 did wilfully make false statements to the prejudice of a superior office, viz: Police Sergeant 185 Goodship, such statements being subversive to Discipline and likely to bring discredit on the reputation of the Force.
Harry denied this but the Chief Constable found the case proved. However, as Harry had already submitted an application to resign his Appointment on the 7th March, his resignation was accepted and took effect on the 23rd March 1921 and no further action was taken.
Life After The Police.
In the 1939 Register living at 18, Derwent Avenue, Mill Hill, Hendon is Harry Watson who is shown as an Animal Hospital Proprietor retired and an ARP stretcher bearer at Hendon full time.