Corporal William Watson

Corporal William Alexander Watson, “D” Coy. 7th ( Service ) Battalion, Kings Own Scottish Borderers. He was killed in action in France on 25th September 1915 on the first day of the Battle of Loos aged 21. He had been born in Chirnside and was the son of George and Elizabeth Watson of Windsor Cottage, Chirnside and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, Dud Corner, Loos, France. 7th K.O.S.B. was part of the 15th ( Scottish ) Division and it was with this Battalion that Piper Daniel Laidlaw won the Victoria Cross by pulling up his gas hood and piping  the Battalion out of the trenches and into their attack on the Lens Road Redoubt amidst a storm of shot and shell. Casualties were very heavy with 611 killed wounded and missing out of 950 Other Ranks. 20 Officers became casualties. He had served his apprenticeship in the counting office of Messrs. Y. Trotter and Co. at Chirnside Mill but when war was declared he was working with the famous wool makers Messrs. Patons of Alloa. He was educated at the Berwickshire High School, Duns and is also commemorated on the Memorial Tablet placed in the new Berwickshire High School, Duns. The photograph shows an actual attack with the troops advancing into a ghostly cloud of gas and smoke. This day was the first time the British Army had used gas. The second photo shows the village of Loos after its capture and the third shows Piper Laidlaw in later years at an Armistice Day commemoration. The artist’s nightmarish illustration depicts an attack at Loos with the troops wearing their gas hoods and using primitive grenades.

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