Private Robert Watt


Robert Watt was born on 26 December 1895 at Frocess (Frosses) near Cloughmills, County Antrim, the fourth of ten children of farm labourer James Watt and his wife Maggie (née Orr). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Frocess with his parents and eight of his siblings and working as a farm labourer.

Watt enlisted in the North Irish Horse at some point following the declaration of war in August 1914 (regimental number unknown).

At the end of December 1916 he was one of forty North Irish Horsemen who volunteered to transfer to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The formal transfer took place on 9 January 1917, and on the same day they embarked for France, where they were posted to the 10th Battalion, joining it at Ploegsteert Wood on the Ypres front on 16 January. Watt was issued regimental number 40670.

The War Office Daily Casualty List of 11 September 1917 reported that Watt had been wounded. This most probably occurred on 8 August during the opening phase of the Third Battle of Ypres.

The 10th Battalion was disbanded in January 1918 and it is probable that Watt, having recovered from his wounds, was posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

He was captured near St Quentin on 21 March 1918, the first day of the German spring offensive. Losses for the 2nd Battalion from 21 to 30 March numbered three officers wounded and 21 missing, and seven other ranks killed, 15 wounded and 646 missing, most casualties taking place on the first day, when the battalion was overrun.

Watt was held as a prisoner of war until the end of the war. Following his repatriation and discharge he returned to Frocess, On 3 March 1920 he married Jeanie Marrs in the Rasharkin Presbyterian Church.


A least one of Watt's brothers, William, also served in the war, in the 13th Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was captured at Ypres on 24 April 1915 and died of pneumonia and shrapnel wounds while a prisoner a few weeks later.


Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, 19 June 1915