In memoriam

Private Alexander Watt

 

 

Alexander Watt was born on 22 January 1897 in George's Street, Dungannon, County Tyrone, the fourteenth of sixteen children (including four sets of twins) of car-proprietor Joseph Watt and his wife Eliza Anne (née Buchanan). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in George's Street with his parents and six of his nine surviving siblings.

Watt enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron in November 1914 (No. UD/101). His departure from Dungannon to join the squadron at Enniskillen was mentioned in the Mid-Ulster Mail of 7 November:

Enthusiastic scenes were witnessed at Dungannon railway station on Monday morning, when six local members of the Ulster Volunteer Force left for Enniskillen to join the extra service squadron of the Royal Inniskilling Dragoons. They were Messrs. Jack Newell, Randall McManus, and Sandy Williamson, A Company, Dungannon Battalion U.V.F., and Messrs. W.J. Armstrong, Garnet Irwin, and Alexander Watt, of B Company. A very large crowd of friends and well-wishers had assembled to give them a hearty send-off, and as the train left the station loud cheers were raised and detonators exploded.

Watt embarked for France with his squadron on 6 October 1915. It was at the time serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division. In June 1916 the squadron joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment.

On 3 July 1916 Watt was killed by shellfire on the Somme front. Ten days later the Tyrone Courier reported:

A letter from the Chaplain states that the gallant soldier met his death wound when bringing in wounded from the trenches.

The Mid-Ulster Mail of 15 July stated that he was:

... killed by shell-fire while attending to [the] wounded.

The Northern Whig of 20 July 1916 reported:

William Elliott, wounded, whilst assisting under a heavy shrapnel shell fire in carrying the wounded to the dressing station. He is now in the Beaufort War Hospital, Fishponds, Bristol, and is progressing favourably. Trooper Alexander Watt who assisted him was killed.

As Private Watt has no known grave, he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 1A.

 

Two of Watt's brothers and two of his sisters also served in the war. His twin brother George Watt, served in the North Irish Horse and the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. William Watt, serving in the Canadian Mounted Rifles, was severely wounded in the side and thigh in April 1916. Sarah Watt, a nurse, worked in a VAD hospital in Wiltshire and France. Alicia Watt worked in the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps, attached to the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, London Regiment. She died of pneumonia on 30 November 1918 and is buried in the Aldershot Military Cemetery. (Their sister Gertrude had died of pneumonia just three days earlier.)

 

(Tyrone Courier, 27 April 1916)

 

 

Memorial image kindly provided by Richard Evans (see his website Nelson, Glamorgan and the Great War http://www.nelson-ww1-memorial.org.uk). Press clipping and image of Alicia Watt's gravestone sourced from http://www.dungannonwardead.com.