Private William Watkins


The identity of this North Irish Horseman is unclear, other than that he was one of nine children of coastguard David Watkins and his wife Fanny (née Bell). The only one of the nine children named William died in 1906 while serving in the Royal Navy. William's service file gives his date of birth as November or December 1892, and his place of birth as Rosses Point, Sligo. One of the Watkins brothers, Walter Oliver, was born on 5 November 1890 at Magheraroarty, Dunfanaghy, County Donegal; another, David Ernest, was born on 30 December 1892 at Buncrana, Inishowen, County Donegal; Zachariah was born at Buncrana on 5 August 1894; and Cecil Stanley at Rosses Point on 1 September 1902. The family later moved to Belfast, where David Watkins, having retired from the coast guard, was employed as a liftman at the GPO. At the time of the 1911 Census the parents and three of the four surviving siblings were living at 187 Donegall Road.

William Watkins enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 5 May 1915 (No.1516). He gave his occupation as tram conductor and his address as 35 Pandora Street, Belfast. While in training at the regiment's reserve camp at Antrim, however, he fell ill. On 20 July a medical board recommended that he be discharged, being 'not likely to become an efficient soldier ... recruit within three months of enlistment considered unfit for service' (paragraph 392(iii)(c), King's Regulations).

Accordingly, on 3 September 1915 Watkins was discharged, his military character recorded as 'fair'.