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1879 –1917

Early Life

ERNEST EDWARD WATTS was born in October 1879 in Great Waltham, Essex, one of five children born to Joseph and Hannah Watts (née Burton). He was baptised in the Parish Church on the 2nd November 1879. Ernest had three brothers and one sister and was Joseph and Hannah’s second son.


Joseph and Hannah were married on the 7th November 1874 in St Mary’s Church, Mundon, Maldon. Joseph was a Painter and Glazier, and they were both living in Mundon.


In 1881, the family had moved to Great Waltham, living in the Village. Ernest was a year old.


In 1891, the family were living at Wisemans in the village, Ernest was at school and 11 years old.


On the 2nd August 1903, Ernest married Emily Florence Gilbert at Great Amwell in Hertfordshire. Their first son, Gilbert Ernest Victor was born on the 23rd April 1904 in Wimbledon. A year later in the same place, on the 26th April 1905 their second son, Edward Arthur Herbert was born.


By 1911 the Census shows the family had moved to 19 Argyle Road, West Hendon, Middlesex and Ernest was now a Case maker at a Mineral Water Factory and Emily was a Dressmaker. Their third son, Frederick Cecil Vincent was born on the 5th February 1912 at Hendon.

Military Life

Ernest possibly enlisted as a Reserve in about 1903 at Warley. He later joined the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, as a Sergeant, a more senior role of responsibility, Regimental No. 3/8246, setting foot in France on the 30th August 1915.

In 1915 the Regiment were engaged in the Battle of Neuvre Chapelle in March, the Battle of Festubert in May, the Second Action at Givenchy in June and the Battle of Loos in September.


In 1916 they were engaged in several phases of The Battle of the Somme, namely the Battle of Albert (including during the opening day when their division broke the German lines and their assault on Trônes Wood on 11 July) and the Battle of Delville Wood in July, as well as the Battle of Le Transloy in October.


In 1917 they were involved in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in March, the Battle of Arras (specifically in the First Battle of the Scarpe) in April. During the Battles of Ypres 1917 (known as the Third Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele), the battalion were engaged in the Battle of Pilkem in July.

Death and Memorial

On the 29th July 1917, Ernest, aged 38 years died of wounds received in action.


Ernest is also remembered on the War Memorial in Great Waltham.

He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. Part VI. UK S-Z

Soldiers Effects.jpg

UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929


Emily, his widow, received the total sum of 16s. on the 24th November 1917 and a further 7s.4d on the 2nd April 1918.

She received a Gratuity payment of £16.10s on the 28th October 1919.


Ernest was awarded the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the 1915 Star.

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Medal Card Ernest Watts

Emily continued to live in Hertfordshire and died in September 1947 at Broxbourne. Her sister, Ellen Maria Gilbert married Albert, Ernest’s younger brother.

Ernest and Emily’s three sons all married and Edward Arthur Herbert, their second son, a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy, was killed aboard HMS Hood when it was sunk during combat with the German battleship Bismarck on the 24th May 1941 in the Second World War, aged 36 years.

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