WATSON, William Davie
(Service number 6/2318)

Aliases Known as Willie
First Rank Private Last Rank Lance-Sergeant


Date 25 April 1886 Place of Birth Dunedin

Enlistment Information

Date 14 February 1915 Age 28 years 9 months
Address at Enlistment 54 Arthur Street, Dunedin
Occupation Schoolteacher
Previous Military Experience Officers Traing Corps (2 years)
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Emily WATSON (mother), 80 Dowling Street, Dunedin
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 6 inches. Weight 154 lbs. Chest measurement 34-37 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair brown. Sight normal. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin-disease. Vaccination mark. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects, fits, illness, distinctive marks indicating congenital peculiarities or previous disease.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 5th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Infantry Battalion
Date 13 June 1915
Transport Maunganui or Tahiti or Aparima
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkan - Gallipoli; Egyptian; Egyptian EF; Western European - France
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 26 November 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in Action.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

9 August 1915 admitted to Hospital Ship (Dardanelles); 12 August 1915 admitted to No. 2 General Hospital; 26 August transferred to Convalescent Hospital. 17 September 1916 wounded in action in France; admitted first to No. 45 Casualty Clearing Station; 19 September admitted to 4th General Hospital. 27 April 1917 admitted to NZ Convalescent section at Codford, UK, from Sling. 10 August 1917 discharged from Venereal Section. 6 February 1918 evacuated, sick, to hospital & dmitted to No. 3 NZ Field Ambulance. 27 March 1918 wounded - gunshot wounds to legs; admitted to hospital in France; embarked for England; 2 April admitted to Military Hospital at Bethnal Green; 12 April transferred to Convalescent Hospital at Brockenhurst on 12 April. 3 May 1918 classified unfit by Medical Board. May-June 1918 returned to NZ by Hospital Ship – cot case.

Post-war Occupations

Leather-worker; technical instructor; petrol vendor; milk bar proprietor; painter


Date 2 February 1979 Age 92 years
Place of Death George Manning Hospital, Christchurch
Notices Press, 3 & 5 February 1979
Memorial or Cemetery Canterbury Crematorium; ashes interred Bromley Cemetery
Memorial Reference Bromley - Block 33, Plot 60
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William Davie Watson was born on 25 April 1886 at Dunedin, the only son of Robert (Bob) and Emily (née Collins) Watson. William had an older sister, Charlotte (Lottie), and a younger sister, Janet Kate, who was born some months after her father died and herself died in 1891 at the age of 9 months. Robert and Emily married in 1883 in New Zealand. But in April 1890 tragedy struck this little family. Mr Robert Watson, a painter who lived at Wakari Road, went missing on 19 April. He had been painting the North Dunedin Presbyterian Church, and when he left about 3 o’clock, he indicated he was going to see the Rev. Mr Smith. But he did not call on Mr Smith and did not return to his home or his work. “He has not been in very good health of late, and has been somewhat depressed in spirits.” He had been a member and hon. secretary of the Leith Valley School Committee, which school young Lottie first attended. On 3 May his dead body was found by three boys in some scrub near the Dunedin Botanical Gardens. It bore no marks of violence but was much emaciated. His brother-in-law with whom he worked stated that Robert had been very melancholic since being knocked down by a heifer two months earlier. The verdict at the inquest was that he died from poison supposed to have been self-administered. His funeral left the residence of his brother-in-law (George Liddle) for the Northern Cemetery, where he was buried with his father-in-law, Thomas Collins.

After Robert’s death, Emily moved to Wakari. Her mother died in June 1890, the funeral leaving from Emily’s residence for the Northern Cemetery. Little Janet Kate, the infant daughter of Mrs E. Watson, died on 14 April 1891 at Kaikorai and was buried with her father and maternal grandparents. Willie started at Kaikorai School on 27 April 1891, two days after his fifth birthday. His sister Lottie transferred from George Street School to Kaikorai on the same day. In December 1899, Mrs R. Watson gave a medal or medals as special prizes at Kaikorai School. Emily Watson was a shopkeeper at Kaikorai Valley. She kept a small store in which she was residing in April 1895, when she was allegedly the victim of theft of money by a boy. The case was dismissed, although the same boy faced other theft charges. Mrs Watson was a good woman who had taken a neglected child in 1884. The court advised that she should apply to the child’s father to support the child.

Emily and her two children, Lottie and Willie, remained in Dunedin – at Kaikorai Valley, then Roslyn - until about 1912-1913. William was awarded a First Class Certificate in Physics at the Dunedin Technical School in November 1905. He gained Third Class passes in Junior Latin, Junior English and Junior Mathematics at the University of Otago in November 1910. Third Class pass in Mental Science (Junior) in November 1912. He embarked on a teaching career. By 1914, Emily, William, a schoolteacher, and Charlotte were at Glenavy. On 26 January 1915, Mr W. D. Watson, the sole teacher at Tawai School, was granted leave of absence by the South Canterbury Education board to join the 5th Reinforcements to the Expeditionary Force. It was thought that he was going in the Ambulance Division. So, on 12 February, a gathering was held in the Tawai schoolroom to bid farewell to Mr W. D. Watson, who was leaving for the front, and his mother, who was leaving for Dunedin. After a couple of hours spent in dancing, he was presented with a handsome pair of binoculars from the residents and military brushes from the children. Mention was made of Mrs Watson, who had been very kind to the children in times of sickness or an accident in the locality of the water-race, and by supplying tea for their lunches she was presented with a very nice silver butterdish and knife. “Mr Watson feelingly replied on his own and his mother’s behalf.” Songs were sung and a delicious supper was handed round. “The very enjoyable social evening ended by the company heartily singing “Auld Lang Syne,” and “They are Jolly Good Fellows,” followed by three ringing cheers for the Departing soldier.” As that had also been his last afternoon with his pupils “for an indefinite period”, study books were put away, and a musical programme was much enjoyed. He then shook hands with each pupil and bade them farewell.

Mr Watson left Timaru the next day by the special troop train en route for Trentham, where he enlisted on 14 February 1915. He stood at 5 feet 6 inches, weighed 154 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 34-37 inches, fair complexion, blue eyes blue, and brown hair. His sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed, and his teeth good. Free from diseases, slight defects, fits, illness and distinctive marks indicating congenital peculiarities or previous disease, he was in good bodily and mental health. He had served in the Officers Training Corps for two years. Single and Presbyterian, he named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs Emily Watson, 80 Dowling Street, Dunedin. Various addresses followed for Mrs Watson – C/o Mrs Harrison, Caroline Bay, Timaru. While he was a schoolteacher employed by the South Canterbury Education Board (Timaru), he gave his address as 54 Arthur Street, Dunedin. Private W. D. Watson embarked on 13 June 1915 at Wellington for Suez, Egypt, with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion of the 5th Reinforcements. In early June 1915, the Waimate Daily Advertiser noted under Tawai Notes that three fine young soldiers had gone from the district to “take part in the noblest of duties, to fight for their King and Country and to retain our Honour and Freedom”, one of them being Private Watson who left with the 5th Reinforcements. Among South Canterbury’s representatives at the front in a list published in the New Zealand Journal of Education in October 1915 was W. Watson (Tawai).

After joining his battalion at the Dardanelles on 9 August 1915, he was admitted to the Hospital Ship on that day and to No. 2 General Hospital three days later. He was transferred to the Convalescent Hospital on 26 August. It was 16 September when he re-joined his unit at the Dardanelles. He disembarked at Alexandria on 30 December 1915 and embarked per “Franconia” at Port Said for France on 6 April 1916. The Tawai Notes of 5 June 1916 read – “School. — When last heard of our schoolmaster (Private W. D. Watson) was “somewhere in France,” well and happy, while his scholars are progressing under Mr J. Reid, a teacher well-known in North Otago.” He was appointed Temporary Lance-Corporal on 6 September 1916 but, on being wounded he relinquished the appointment. In a heavy list of casualties, Lance-corporal Wm. D. Watson, 6/2318 (Mrs Emily Watson, Cargill Street, Dunedin; mother) was reported wounded in action in France on 17 September 1916. Admitted first to No. 45 Casualty Clearing Station, he was admitted to the 4th General Hospital on 19 September 1916, being attached to Strength on 5 October at the Etaples depot. Re-joining his battalion in the Field, he was again appointed Temporary Lance-Corporal on 25 October and yet again on 6 November.

Shortly after his promotion to Corporal on 25 March 1917, he was nominated for training for NZEF Commission and left for England via Boulogne. But on 27 April 1917 he was admitted to the New Zealand Convalescent section at Codford, UK, from Sling. He was discharged from the Venereal Section on 10 August and marched into camp at Sling on 4 September. Back in France by mid-November, it was 5 January 1918 when he re-joined his unit. He had been appointed Lance-Sergeant back on 15 December. The following day he was punished for neglect of duty in the Field – having a dirty tent! On 6 February 1918 he was evacuated, sick, to hospital and admitted to No. 3 NZ Field Ambulance, re-joining his battalion on 18 February. Lance-sergeant William Davie Watson (Mrs Emily Watson, London Street, Dunedin; mother), Canterbury Infantry, was reported wounded on 27 March 1918, not six weeks after re-joining his unit. Suffering gunshot wounds to the legs, he was admitted to hospital in France. He then embarked for England, was admitted to the Military Hospital at Bethnal Green on 2 April and transferred to the Convalescent Hospital at Brockenhurst on 12 April. He was classified unfit by the Medical Board on 3 May.

In Draft 166 of soldiers returning to New Zealand in June 1918 was 6/2318 Sergeant William Davie Watson, of the Fifth Reinforcements, suffering from a gunshot wound - a cot case. Having embarked per Hospital Ship “Maheno” at Avonmouth on 3 May 1918, he reached Port Chalmers in the early morning of 17 June. “The cot cases were brought to Dunedin in the Red Cross van attached to the train leaving Port Chalmers at 11.50. Captain Myers came up with them, and Captain Bone, of the Field Ambulance, was in attendance to look after the invalids on the way and get them carried into the ambulance vans, which were waiting at Dunedin to take them to the Hospital.”

William Davie Watson, who had served for three years overseas in all theatres of war, was discharged on 26 November 1918, no longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in action. He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Residing at 682 Colombo Street, Christchurch, on 1 October 1919, William Davie Watson made application for Overseas War Service Gratuity. His period in hospital from 27 April till 10 August 1917 was to be deducted. He signed that he wished to receive the 1914-1915 Star on 13 July 1920 and acknowledged receipt of same on 15 August 1920. Tawai Notes of 29 August 1918 – “Sergt. W. D. Watson, our local school teacher, is now at the Montecillo Convalescent Home (Dunedin), and has made a wonderful recovery considering he returned as a cot case on the Maheno’s last trip. Mr Watson left with the 5th reinforcements and saw service on Gallipoli and in France. He was slightly wounded at the Somme and again in March of this year, and as the result of the latter wounds was invalided home. We are all glad to know he is making good recovery and look forward to his visit to Tawai.”

As of 23 June 1920, his nominated next-of-kin – his mother, Mrs E. Watson, was of Cottage Hospital, Port Chalmers, and his legal next-of-kin was his wife, Mrs Emma Watson, 20 Naylor Street, Sumner, Christchurch. William had married Emma Cooke on 28 March 1919. Sadly, Emma died on 4 June 1920 at their Christchurch residence. She was buried at Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch. On 11 July 1922 at Dunedin, William married Charlotte Amelia Smith. They lived the rest of their lives in Christchurch, William engaging in a range of occupations. His mother Emily remained in Dunedin for many years, moving later to Wellington to live with her daughter Charlotte (Mrs Dunlop) and dying there in 1948. In 1923 Mrs E. Watson of Port Chalmers was a guest at a wedding at Willowbank, Glenavy. On 6 February 1942, William Davie Watson, Christchurch, was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the Dominion of New Zealand.

William Davie Watson died on 2 February 1979 at George Manning Hospital, Christchurch, aged 92 years. He was cremated at the Canterbury Crematorium, his ashes being interred with his first wife, Emma, at Bromley. By his Will (dated 1974), William gave specific instructions that his remains after death be cremated and his ashes buried in his first wife’s grave. He requested that his funeral service be conducted by the Reverend Stevens of the Union Church, Halfway Bush, Dunedin. He made bequests to the Otago Settlers Association, Dunedin, to the North Canterbury Centre of the New Zealand Red Cross Society, to the Nurse Maude District Nursing Association Trust Board, and to a World Vision nominee. The remainder of his estate was to be shared by his daughters, and he requested that they distribute “my chattels in accordance with my known wishes.” William was survived by his two daughters Constance (Connie) and Helen, by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Charlotte had died in July 1968 and was buried with her parents at Coalgate-South Malvern Cemetery.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [28 April 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Collections Record number 0119785) [01 May 2023]; Evening Star, 16 July 1885, 29 April 1890, 5 May 1890, 26 June 1890, 15 April 1891, 29 & 30 April 1895, 20 December 1899, 2 November 1905, 5 November 1910, 7 October 1916, 12 April 1918, 14 & 17 June 1918, Otago Daily Times, 22 April 1890, 5 & 6 May 1890, 2 November 1912, 14 & 18 June 1918, Auckland Star, 5 May 1890, Oamaru Mail, 5 May 1890, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 27 January 1915, 18 February 1915, 4 June 1915, 5 June 1916, 7 October 1916, 29 August 1918, Timaru Herald, 27 January 1915, 23 October 1915, 7 February 1942, North Otago Times, 4 February 1915, NZ Times, 12 April 1918, 1 June 1918, Press, 8 June 1920, 18 July 1968, 3 & 5 February 1979, Lyttelton Times, 8 June 1920, Otago Witness, 1 May 1923 (Papers Past) [03 May 2016; 01 & 02 May 2023]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [01 May 2023]; School Admission records (Dunedin Branch NZSG) [02 May 2023]; northern Cemetery, Dunedin, burial records [02 May 2023]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [02 May 2023]; Bromley Cemetery headstone image (Find a Grave) [02 May 2023]; Bromley Cemetery burial records (Christchurch City Council) [2 May 2023]; Probate record (Archives NZ Collections – Record number CH256/1979) [04 May 2023]

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