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Person Details
06 Oct 1895
Ilkeston, Derbyshire
Harold Watson was the son of John Henry Watson and Elizabeth Marriott who married at Nottingham in 1894. Their children included: Harold (b.1895); Sarah Ann (b.1897), Elsey (b.1899), William (b.1901), Elizabeth (b.1902), George (b.1906), Joseph (b.1910), Henry (b.1911) and Charles (b.1912). All bar Harold were born in Radford, Nottingham. The Watson family lived at: 3 Jones Yard, Prince Street, Radford [C.1901]; 22 Charter Street, Radford [C.1911]. The naval records gave his mother as next of kin and her address was stated to be 8 Harold Road, Old Radford. The post-war address given for his parents in the CWGC records was 207 Norton Street, Radford. His father, John Henry Watson, who had initially worked as a coal miner [C.1901] but later as a shopkeeper [C.1911], died at Nottingham, aged 70, in 1943. His mother, Elizabeth Watson, probably died at Nottingham, aged 81 in 1955.
Pit boy/pony driver (C. 1911)
03 May 1918
365776 - CWGC Website
Able Seaman
HMS Iris II Royal Navy
Harold Watson joined the Royal Navy on 10 June 1914; after service in various ships and shore establishments, including the battleships Agincourt and Hindustan, he joined the Q-ship HMS Cullist on 21 November 1917; he was on board this vessel when, on 11 February 1918, it was torpedoed without warning in the Irish Sea and sank in two minutes. Harold Watson was among those rescued by a patrol trawler. Harold Watson was ‘highly commended for his conduct’ on this occasion; he was later aboard the HMS Iris II, a River Mersey ferry, commandeered by the Royal Navy and used in the Zeebrugge Raid of 23 April 1918; the vessel was supposed to attach itself to a mole to allow storming parties to disembark; unable to achieve this and, under heavy machine gun fire, the vessel retreated and attempted to attach itself to the nearby HMS Vindictive and transfer men to this second vessel and so enable them to land; only a few men were able to do so before HMS Iris II was forced to retreat; after waiting for twenty minutes to pick up those still ashore, it backed off and made for home. The vessel was hit numerous times by enemy shells, one of which burst on the main deck killing about 100 men; Able Seaman Harold Watson was among those who had gone ashore: originally posted as ‘missing after operations against Zeebrugge, 23 April 1918’, he had in fact been mortally wounded and died on 3 May 1918. His service record confirms that he participated in the ballot by the men of the Vindictive, Iris II and Daffodil for the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant dated 29 January 1856, the honour eventually going to Able Seaman Albert Edward Mackenzie, belonging to B Company of the seaman storming party; Harold Watson’s body was subsequently recovered and buried in the Dover (St James's) Cemetery, Kent.
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