Lance Corporal Joseph Henry Watson


Joseph Henry (Harry) Watson was born on 16 November 1897 in Castleblayney, County Monaghan, the last of ten children of shopkeeper (later contractor and builder) Robert Watson and his wife Matilda (née McClelland). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Little Muckno Street, Castleblayney, with his parents and four of his surviving seven siblings. Soon after, he commenced an apprenticeship as a shop assistant at Carson & Sons of Ballybay.

Watson enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 30 December 1914 (No.1369). He stated his age as 19, two years older than his true age. He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp, where on 13 February 1915 he was promoted to lance corporal. He reverted to the ranks at his own request three months later. On 17 November 1915 he embarked for France with with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division.

In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men 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 five days later. Watson was issued regimental number 41227 and posted to A Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917, and perhaps also during the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918.

In April 1918 Watson fell ill with lumbago and influenza. He was admitted to the 7th Canadian General Hospital at Etaples. Following his recovery, on 26 June 1918 he was transferred to the Army Ordnance Corps (No.043328).

On 9 December 1918 he was deprived of 10 days' pay for 'when on active service [being] absent from work from 13.30 till 17.30, breaking out of camp when under open arrest, and [being] absent from 21 00 till 21.15.' On 25 February the following year he was confined to barracks for a week for being absent without leave from roll call.

On 14 May 1919 Watson was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

Around 1921 Watson emigrated to the United States. He married Mabel Catherine Partick in Almeda, California, on 27 May 1922. He died there on 5 August 1970.