WATSON, Eric Harold
(Service number 8/975)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 15 August 1896 Place of Birth Riccarton, Christchurch

Enlistment Information

Date 29 August 1914 Age 18 years
Address at Enlistment Ngapara, Oamaru
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience 10th Infantry - serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Henry WATSON (father), Ngapara, via Oamaru; Otipua Road, Timaru; High Street, Waimate
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation (1) Main Body; (2) New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship (1) Otago Infantry Battalion; (2) 10th Reinforcements, Otago Infantry Battalion, D Company
Date (1) 16 October 1914; (2) 4 March 1916
Transport (1) Ruapehu or Hawkes Bay; (2) Willochra of Tofua
Embarked From (1) Port Chalmers, Dunedin; (2) Wellington Destination (1) Suez, Egypt; (2) Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Otago Infantry

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkan (Gallipoli); Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; 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 13 April 1919 Reason On termination of period of engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Milk vendor; gardener


Date 27 October 1960 Age 64 years
Place of Death Oamaru
Memorial or Cemetery Oamaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference Block 218, Plot 34
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Eric Harold Watson was born on 15 August 1896 at Christchurch (or Waimate), the third son of Henry (Harry) Watson and his first wife, Fanny Jane née Herrick. Eric was educated at Ngapara and Ngapara schools, as were his siblings at various times. It was immediately after his mother’s death that he spent about 15 months at Riccarton School, before returning to Ngapara. Fanny Jane Watson died on 13 September 1904 at Christchurch, of Queens Flat, Ngapara, after a short illness. The youngest of their six children was only five at this time. Their eldest, Nellie Frances Watson, died in October 1905, aged 16, and was buried with her mother. In 1906 Henry Watson married Margaret Ellen Crawford, by whom he had four children, the youngest dying at 3 years.

Eric Harold Watson enlisted on 29 August 1914 at Dunedin, just eighteen years of age. A labourer at Ngapara, single and Presbyterian, he named his father as next-of-kin – Henry Watson, Ngapara, via Oamaru. Henry was soon to be found in Otipua Road, Timaru, and by 18 June 1918 in High Street, Waimate. Eric was serving with the 10th Infantry. Private H. Watson embarked with the Otago Infantry Battalion of the Main Body, departing from Port Chalmers, Dunedin, for Suez, Egypt. 8/975 Pte E. H. Watson, a returned soldier, was back in camp at Trentham in February 1916. He was to embark again, with the Otago Infantry Battalion of the 10th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for Suez on 4 March 1916, still not twenty years old.

Lance-Corporal E. H. Watson, 8/975, of Waimate, returned to New Zealand by the “Hororata”, embarking at London on 1 February 1919 and arriving on 15 March 1919. Returning Draft No. 221 brought home 1500 survivors of the Main Body and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Reinforcements. His intended address was Glenavy, South Canterbury. He was discharged on 13 April 1919 on the termination of his term of engagement. He had given over four years of overseas service in all theatres of war and was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Eric Harold Watson, second son of Mr Henry Watson, Waimate, married Elizabeth Rennie Cochrane on 21 July 1920 at St Paul’s Church, Oamaru. Why now the second son? Eric’s brother, Leslie Morgan Watson, was the second son of Harry Watson. He had embarked with Eric at Port Chalmers on 16 October 1914. 8/123 Private Leslie Morgan Watson – second son of Mrs and Mrs Henry Watson, of Waimate - was killed in action on 18 September 1916 at the Somme, France. He had earlier been wounded at Gallipoli. Just 22 years, he is remembered on the Caterpillar Valley Memorial. At this time, Eric was on active service in France. Gerald Collinson Watson, the youngest of the family, died on 23 July 1918 at Waimate, aged 19 years. Henry Watson was in Timaru in 1917, when his children of his second marriage attended school here and he was appointed agent for the Wizard lighting systems. By August 1918 he was a commission agent at Waimate. Mr Henry Watson, a highly respected tradesman and well-known resident of Waimate, died on 23 June 1922. He had a small farm and had been a milk vendor at Waimate for many years.

Eric Harold Watson was a milk vendor at Waimate in November 1923 when he was fined for selling under-grade milk. He was at Glenavy in June 1924 when he was a victim of false pretences. He died on 27 October 1960 at Oamaru, aged 64 years, and was buried there. Elizabeth had died in 1956. He was survived by his son Harold Henry Watson and his daughter Ailsa Cochrane Johnston.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [20 July 2023]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [20 July 2023]; School Admission records (Oamaru & Canterbury branches NZSG) [21 July 2023]; Oamaru Mail, 13, 14 & 15 September 1904, 7 October 1916, North Otago Times, 14 & 15 September 1904, Timaru Herald, 3 April 1917, 5 March 1919, 26 June 1922, 21 November 1923, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 20 August 1918, 24 June 1922, 20 November 1923, 1 July 1924, Otago Daily Times, 25 August 1920, Otago Witness, 31 August 1920 (Papers Past) [18 & 21 July 2023]; Oamaru Cemetery headstone transcription South Canterbury Branch cemetery records) [21 July 2023]

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