William Watson Hillier
Contributed by: Barry Hillier, on 2008-11-10
|First Name||William Watson|
|Year of Birth||1891|
|Year of Death||1966|
|Regiment||Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment|
|Place of Wartime Residence||London but originally from Witham Friary, Somerset|
William Watson's Story
William was working as a dairyman in London when he volunteered as part of Kitchener's K3 New Army. His battalion was attached to 24 Division that landed at Boulogne on the 30 August 1915. After three weeks of training the battalion moved towards the front heading for Loos. He was involved in the second day of the Battle of Loos (26 September 1915) after 4 nights of marching. As part of the reserve they were to be sent forward to consolidate the gains made on the first day. Unfortunately they were delayed by various factors and when they went forward, inexperienced, tired and hungry, the German army was more prepared and widespread slaughter ensued. William survived but out of 24 officers and 800 men only one lieutenant and about 250 men remained unaffected.
As a company runner I dodged the bullets because I was small and able to run fast.
William went on to take part in the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme. He was wounded by shrapnel towards the end of August 1916 in the area of Trones Wood. He was invalided back to the UK but later returned as part of the Labour Corps (589661). Whilst he was recuperating in London he met my Grandmother Dorothy (nee Whiting) when she was delivering milk.
After the war William and Dorothy married and settled in Kemsing in Kent where he was a railway signalman and where they raised five children including four sons who all fought in and survived WWII, one in the army and three in the Royal Navy. William continued to suffer from his wounds and the effects of gassing throughout his life.