Corporal William Watt



William Watt was born on 1 February 1893 at Brickland, Rathfriland, County Down, one of at least eight children of farm labourer David Watt and his wife Essie Jane (nee Pollock). His mother died when he was just 7 years old.

Watt enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 13 August 1914 (No.1001 – later Corps of Hussars No.71193).

He embarked for France on 1 May 1915 with D Squadron. In November 1917 he was awarded a Military Medal for gallantry, making him the first North Irish Horseman to win that medal while serving with the regiment.

On 7 January 1918 Watt was one of thirteen men from the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment who transferred to the Tank Corps. He was issued a new regimental number – 305509 – and posted to the 12th Battalion.

Watt was wounded during the Advance to Victory offensive from August to November 1918. He was discharged on 16 February 1919.


At least two of Watt's brothers also served in the war – John in the Royal Irish Rifles and James as a driver in the Army Service Corps. James went to France in August 1915. He was accidentally killed on 26 July 1917, while attached to XVIII Corps Heavy Artillery, leaving a widow, Marion, and child, Mary Elizabeth.


Image, from Belfast Evening Telegraph, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (