Lieutenant Guy Watson


Guy Watson was born on 19 December 1891 at Corcreeny, Waringstown, County Down, the eighth of nine children of farmer James Watson and his wife Anna (nee Black). By 1911 he was living at Corcreeny with his parents, uncle and four siblings.

Watson enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Lurgan on 16 August 1910 (No.524). Promoted to lance corporal on 30 May 1914, he embarked for France with C Squadron on 20 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne. Further promotions followed – to acting corporal on 6 September 1914 and corporal a month later, lance sergeant on 23 July 1915 and sergeant on 30 September.

On 26 January 1917 Watson applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for the Royal Irish Rifles. He returned to the UK and after a period on leave, reported for duty at No.3 Officer Cadet Battalion at Bristol on 7 June 1917. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant on 26 September 1917 and posted to the 12th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

On 10 December 1917 Watson embarked for France, where he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – assigned to D Company. The battalion diary of 23 February 1918 lists him as one of the players in an officers vs sergeants football match – a "very interesting and amusing" game won 4-2 by the sergeants.

The 2nd Battalion was in the 'Forward Zone' on the St Quentin front when the German spring offensive began on 21 March 1918. They suffered severe losses, and by the end of the month their casualties were three officers wounded and 21 missing, and seven other ranks killed, 15 wounded and 646 missing.

Watson was one of the missing officers, captured on 21 March. After the war he described the day:

On the 21st March 1918 I was in Command of a Platoon in the Front line. Shortly after 4 am the Enemy commenced Bombarding our lines very heavily this continued till about 9.30 am. Then the enemy attacked my position under a very heavy fog. He was about 2 Coy's strong. At this time I had suffered very heavy by the Bombardment & had only about nine NCOs & men capable of fighting. The enemy forced his way into my position on all sides until I had no further hope of resisting & I had orders to hold on at all cost.

Watson was held as a prisoner of war until after the Armistice. He returned to the UK on 27 November 1918. His health had suffered while in Germany, and a medical board recommended two months leave. However a board held on 11 February 1919 found he "Has made good progress. He has gained in weight. His general health is good & he has nothing to complain of. Heart & lungs normal. He is now fit for general service."

Watson was promoted to lieutenant on 26 March 1919. He relinquished his commission on completion of his service on 16 September 1919.