In memoriam

Private Alexander Watt

 

 

Alexander Watt was born at Georges Street, Dungannon, on 22 January 1897, the fourteenth of sixteen children (including four sets of twins) of car-proprietor Joseph Watt and his wife Eliza Anne (nee Buchanan).

Watt enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron in November 1914 (No. UD/101). His departure from Dungannon to join the squadron at Enniskillen was mentioned in the Mid-Ulster Mail of 7 November:

Enthusiastic scenes were witnessed at Dungannon railway station on Monday morning, when six local members of the Ulster Volunteer Force left for Enniskillen to join the extra service squadron of the Royal Inniskilling Dragoons. They were Messrs. Jack Newell, Randall McManus, and Sandy Williamson, A Company, Dungannon Battalion U.V.F., and Messrs. W.J. Armstrong, Garnet Irwin, and Alexander Watt, of B Company. A very large crowd of friends and well-wishers had assembled to give them a hearty send-off, and as the train left the station loud cheers were raised and detonators exploded.

Watt embarked for France with his squadron on 6 October 1915. It was at the time serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division. In June 1916 the squadron joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment.

On 3 July 1916 Watt was killed by shellfire on the Somme front. Ten days later the Tyrone Courier reported:

A letter from the Chaplain states that the gallant soldier met his death wound when bringing in wounded from the trenches.

The Mid-Ulster Mail of 15 July stated that he was:

... killed by shell-fire while attending to [the] wounded.

As Private Watt has no known grave, he is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 1A.

 

Watt's twin brother George enlisted in the North Irish Horse at the beginning of January 1916 (No.2068). He was sent to France as a reinforcement for the regiment and on 20 September 1917 was transferred to the 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, when the 2nd NIH Regiment was dismounted and absorbed into that battalion.

Another brother, William, had emigrated to Canada between 1911 and 1914. On 24 July 1915 the nineteen year-old enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In April 1916 he was serving with the Canadian Mounted Rifles when severely wounded in the side and thigh.

Two of Watt's sisters also served. Sarah, a nurse, worked in a V.A.D. hospital in Wiltshire and in France from August 1918. Alicia worked in the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps (No.33726), attached to the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, London Regiment. She died of pneumonia on 30 November 1918 and is buried at Aldershot Military Cemetery, Grave AF.2141.

 

(Tyrone Courier, 27 April 1916)

 

 

Memorial image kindly provided by Richard Evans (see his website Nelson, Glamorgan and the Great War http://www.nelson-ww1-memorial.org.uk). Press clipping and image of Alicia Watt's gravestone sourced from http://www.dungannonwardead.com.