Lt.Col. Andrew A Watson – Medical Officer to the Bantams

Lieutenant Colonel A A Watson CMG DSO VD RAMC

Andrew Alexander Watson had had many years’ experience as a medical officer prior to joining the Bantams in mid-1916.  He had joined the Army in 1885 and served in South Africa during the Boer War 1899-1902.

Andrew was born at Ladhope, Roxburgh in Scotland on 6th February 1856, the son of Andrew Watson and Isabella Watson née Smail.  He married Janet (Jessie) Mathew (1860-1947) in Scotland on 24th October 1882 and they had two children, Jessie Evelyn Watson (1888-1973) and Stuart Watson (1891-1914*).  In 1891 the family lived at Burnley, Lancashire and in the 1911 Census he was listed as Medical Superintendent at Stretton House, an Asylum, at 87 High Street, Church Stretton, Salop.

* KIA 1st November 1914.  Stuart Watson was Assistant Paymaster on HMS Good Hope which was a Drake-class armoured cruiser built around 1900.  At the beginning of the war in 1914, HMS Good Hope was sent to South America in search of German naval ships.  The Good Hope then moved further south to the Strait of Magellan to stop the Germans entering the South Atlantic.  On 1st November, off the coast of Chile, the British met a German squadron which was more powerful and outnumbered them and HMS Good Hope was sunk with the loss of all hands during the Battle of Coronel.  Stuart is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Andrew was educated at Galashiels Academy, the Institution School Edinburgh and the University and Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.  He commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Army Medical Services in 1885 and was promoted to Captain in 1888, Major in 1900, Lieutenant Colonel in 1905 and Temporary Colonel in 1918.  He was Surgeon Major to the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment during the South Africa War, during which he was Mentioned in Dispatches.  He had been with the Battalion since 1889 and in 1908 was a Lieutenant Colonel Surgeon as a Reserve Medical Officer with the Lancashire Volunteer Rifles based in Burnley.

In May 1914 he was serving with No 18 Field Ambulance RAMC in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (Honorary Major in the Army).  He is recorded as being the 17th Battalion’s Medical Officer in the War Diaries in which he regularly reported on the medical state of the troops and conditions they lived and fought in.  His final report in October 1916 read “Sanitary police had a good deal of work repairing latrines damaged by Trench Mortars.  Many of the men who reported sick had severe colds.”  A.A. Watson M.O. i/c 17th W. Yorks.

Andrew reverted to Lieutenant Colonel on 9th May 1919 when ceasing to be employed as Army Director of Medical Services (ADMS) of a Division.  He retired from the Army in 1922, although there was some confusion over his age as there was a ten-year variation in his Army records.  On retirement he lived at Stretton House, Church Stretton, Salop.  For his long and distinguished service he was awarded the CMG 1919, DSO 1917, VD, MID (three times 1915,16 & 17), Queen’s South Africa Medal with 2 Clasps, King’s South Africa Medal with 2 Clasps, 1914 Star with Clasp, British War Medal and Victory Medal.  He was later Surgeon and then Honorary Consultant Surgeon to the Victoria Hospital at Burnley.  Andrew died at the Salop Nursing Institution Shrewsbury, Shropshire on 28th August 1931, at the age of 75.

Sources:

The National Archives – Service Record, Army Lists, Medal Rolls and Medal Index Card

British Medical Association (BMA) – Obituary 1931

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Memorial Register, Stuart Watson

Ancestry – Birth, Marriage and Death Registers

War Diary – 17th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment

London Gazette – Promotions and awards

Researcher: David J Owen

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.
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