Private James Watson


It is probable that this man was the James Elliott Watson born on 2 September 1897 at Ballyreagh, Tempo, County Fermanagh, the first of eight children of farmer Edward Watson and his wife Susan (née Elliott). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ballyreagh with his parents and siblings.

Watson enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron on 3 March 1915 (No. UD/224). On 6 October 1915 the squadron embarked for France, serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division. Watson, however, remained at the squadron's reserve camp at Enniskillen. He was sent to join the squadron as a reinforcement in late 1916 or early 1917.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron had joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps. In August-September 1917 the Regiment was disbanded and its men, following training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Watson, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Watson was issued regimental number 41111.

Watson was wounded during the Battle of Cambrai, probably in the fighting for the village of Moeuvres on 22 and 23 November 1917, and on 20 December he was treated in the 2nd General Hospital for trench fever.

Later in 1918 he rejoined his battalion, taking part in fighting in Belgium during the Advance to Victory offensive. He was wounded in the leg, probably on 11 October 1918 during the fighting for Hill 41 near Dadizeele.

Evacuated to the UK for treatment, Watson was discharged from the army on 16 July 1919, being 'not longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). He was awarded a pension due to his wound, his level of disability assessed at 50 per cent on 1 January 1920.

On 12 September 1922 Watson married Mary Elizabeth Courtney in the Regent Street Methodist Church, Newtownards, County Down. He emigrated to Canada in September 1924, his wife and son joining him at Hamilton, Ontario, two years later. He died in Ontatio in 1975.



Watson's son, Pilot Officer (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) Elliott Courtney Watson, of 162 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force, died on 29 July 1944 while on an anti-submarine patrol. Flying in bad weather, his aircraft flew into a hill and crashed on Foula Island north-west of Scotland. He is buried in the Lerwick New Cemetery, Shetland Islands, Scotland.


Image sourced from Public Member Trees - contributor 'dkersa'.


This page last updated 7 February 2023.