Richard Watson was born in Girton, Cambridgeshire, in 1886, fourth of the twelve children of Philip and Alice (nee Howe); he was my fourth cousin twice removed. In 1901 the family had moved to the nearby village of Histon and then back to Girton by 1911. As with many people in those villages he became one of the workers at the Chivers Jam factory.
The following article from The Cambridge Independent Press on 13 October 1916 gives a small amount of information: ROLL OF HONOUR: GIRTON - News has reached Girton that Pte. Richard (Dick) Watson, of the Suffolks, has been killed in action. The information was received in a letter written to his parents by one of his chums, Pte. Impey, of Dry Drayton. He appears to have been shot by a sniper. Pte. Watson was called up under the Derby Scheme, and had only been in France a short time. He was formerly employed at Messrs Chivers’ Works at Histon. He has four other brothers serving with the colours, one of whom joined the Royal Flying Corps during the past week.
(Note: The Derby Scheme was proposed by Lord Derby as an attempt to increase recruitment and avoid the need for conscription by allowing men to attest voluntarily for service at a later date. Men who signed up under the scheme would be paid one day’s wages, placed in the Class B Army reserve, and then released back into civilian life until required by the military.)
He was serving with the 8th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, when he died on 26 September 1916 in the Somme region. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
We will remember them.