Francis Edward Watson
Date of death: 01/07/1916
Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment: London Regiment (London Scottish)
Service Number: '510450'
Cemetery Memorial: Thiepval Memorial
Francis Edward Watson was the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Watson who lived on 51 Chestnut Road in West Norwood. He later on became the husband of Ethel Ida Watson and lived at 128A, Sternhold Avenue, Streatham Hill, London.
11:00pm – "Battalion scouts examined wire in front of Farmyard Trench…. The Bangalore Torpedoes were successfully placed under it & exploded."
1st July – BOCQUOT
1:30am - Guns were asked for from Royal Field Artillery to clear the front thoroughly.
7:28am – "Right and right centre companies moved over to Tape which had been placed out on neutral ground over night to bring our line of men parallel to German lines."
8:00am - Pushed back German bombers.
9:10am - Enemy fires at Farmyard Trenches. There is "severe bombing" and they suffered severely from rifle fire even though progress was good.
10:00am – During an attempted advance, "Owing to German Barrage fire on our trenches on neutral ground and in farmyard trench, only 3 of these men reached the German lines. The others were hit".
2:00pm - One soldier "has been hit in neutral ground" and crawled on to German lines with his gun to attack. "About 40 Germans had been captured and had received instructions to go over to British lines through their own barrage."
There are a number of stages throughout the documented activities of this day that Watson could have been killed as it is known that he was a part of this regiment in this battle. It is unclear, from this account, what exact event caused his death but we can probably infer he was one of the soldiers who either died in the rifle fire at 9:10am or at 10:00am when the Germans attacked. From our own research, we managed to find out that he was part of the roll of honour of men of the 1st/14th London Regiment (London Scottish) who died in front of Gommecourt, 1st July 1916. It is evident; however, that there are a number of events during this day that may have caused his killing as it was the first day of the tragic Battle of the Somme.
The National Archives’ reference: WO 95/2956/1
By Andrea and Ashleigh, Year 12