Pioneer Henry Stirling Watson

Biography of Pioneer Henry Stirling Watson

Henry Stirling Watson was a very promising student who had just completed his first year at the University of Glasgow in 1916 when he responded to the country's call to arms. He was 19, the son of James and Janet (nee Stirling) Watson. His father was a well-known builder and stonemason in Kirkintilloch, where Henry was born and brought up in the family home at 111 Cowgate Street.

Henry attended Lenzie Academy. He was a star pupil and gained 13th place in the prestigious Glasgow University Bursary competition. When he matriculated to study for the degree of BSc in Pure Science in the autumn of 1915, he went as the holder of the Cuthbertson Bursary, worth GBP 35 per year and awarded for three years.

He did well at University. He enrolled for Professor George Gibson's class of Mathematics and Professor Andrew Gray's Natural Philosophy class, as well as the Ordinary class of Chemistry. He passed his three degree exams, and came top in Chemistry. In 1916, instead of returning full of confidence to enjoy a further two years of his bursary, he was mired in the mud of Flanders.

Henry joined the Royal Engineers as a Pioneer in 'N'Company. At Paaschendaele the Pioneering Corps had a vital role to play on difficult terrain. Special Brigade 'N', to which he belonged, had special responsibility for chemical, or gas warfare, on the Western Front. Casualties were high and Henry Watson was one of them. Caught by shell-fire he died on 14th November 1917. He was twenty years old. Lance-Corporal Henry Stirling Watson is buried at Steenkerke in Belgium and remembered on Kirkintilloch's War Memorial. In 1920 he was posthumously awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

Summary

Pioneer Henry Stirling Watson
Rank: Pioneer
Regiment: Royal Engineers
Degree: Student
Awards: N/A
Comments: Killed in action, 14 November 1917
Note/Press Clipping: CH 4/4/2/3/920
Photo ID: CH 4/4/2/2/298

Sources

University of Glasgow Registry, and Faculty Records

Information from Great Niece: Jan Shirley (nee Murrie)

University of Glasgow Roll of Honour Records (GUAS Ref: Ch 4/4/2/3920, Ch 4/4/2/2298)

Place of Burial: Commonwealth War Graves Commission ' Debt of Honour Register

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