250426 Sergeant Harold WATSHAM, D.C.M.

Served in Gallipoli and Palestine Campaigns and survived the War

Ian Valentine based on research by John Stewart, Peter Hill and Essex Regiment, Essex County Standard & Essex County Telegraph records

Harold was born in Elmstead in about 1896, the eldest of 7 children of Frederick (Farmer) and Emma Watsham. In the 1911 Census he is described as at School and living at Vine Farm.

He joined the Territorials, and so was called to fight early on. He went out to Gallipoli with the 5th Bn Essex Regiment, landing at Sulva Bay. He was promoted to Lance Corporal by 7th September 1915, and then Corporal and Sergeant.

He was awarded the D.C.M. for bravery on some rescue mission in which he “greatly distinguished” himself, but lost two fingers in the process. The citation was published in the London Gazette on 3rd September 1918.  Burrows on p. 223 says that at 3rd Battle of Gaza “he took charge of the first wave of his company (against the Turks) when his officer fell wounded, and then bombed and cleared a communication trench.  He started upon another, but was wounded in several places”.

At some point it was reported that he was in Netley Hospital after contracting enteric fever in the Dardenelles. On 17th November 1917, the Essex County Standard reported that “ Official news has been received that Sergt. Watsham, who joined up at the outbreak of war, saw service at Gallipoli, and soon after fell victim to enteric fever, from which he has happily recovered, has been wounded (on 2 November 1917 Gibbons) in the recent fighting in Egypt.”

Finally, on 24th August 1918, the Essex County Standard reported: “He has been discharged”.  It is unclear if this means just from hospital or from the Army.

Read about his brother Claude Watsham who also survived the War – click here

This page was added on 10/02/2017.

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