© Helvellyn Consulting 2023
Gunner Thomas A Watson
12365 (?), Royal Garrison Artillery
Born about 1890 Threlkeld. Died November 1918 Dacre Aged 29
Son of William Alexander and Mary Jane (nee Dixon) Watson, Threlkeld and Flusco Cottage Dacre
Player for Ullswater Football Club
Thomas A Watson was born around 1890 in Threlkeld, the only son of William and Mary (nee Dixon) Watson. William was born In Ayrshire and his mother in Keswick and by the time Thomas was born were living in the Post Office in Threlkeld. William was working as a joiner at the local Lead Mine and Mary was working as a clerk to the postmaster. Thomas had an older sister Janet (born c.1889) and two younger sisters Mary Ann (c.1892) and Kathleen (1896).
By 1901 the family had moved to Rose Cottage in Threlkeld where Mary continued to work at the post office. William was now a Crane Engine Driver at the local stone quarry. By 1911 the three eldest children, including Thomas, had left home and William (now a stationary engine driver at the lime works) and Mary lived in Town Gate Threlkeld with their youngest daughter Katheleen.
So far we haven’t been able to trace Bernard in 1911 but we do know that he was a keen footballer, and was playing for Ullswater Rovers Football Club when they triumphed in the replay against Appleby in the Penrith and District Cup of April 1914, which Ullswater won 3-
We do not know exactly when Thomas joined the army but it was likely to be around the same time as his friends early on in the war. We do know he joined the Royal Garrison Artillery and did his original training in Ireland. Rather oddly when his death was reported in The Herald in 1918 it was said that after his training “he was sent to Cumberland to work on the land, and was allocated to Mr Hetherington, Skelton”. So far we have not found a copy of his service record so have been unable to find out why this was.
In the winter of 1918, at some point in November, Thomas, along with many other unfortunate souls, caught influenza (or Spanish Flu). We went home to Flusco Cottage in Dacre, which we assume is where his parents lived. There he sadly died a week later.
We have so far been unable to find out what happened to the rest of Thomas’ family although it is possible that some of them succumbed to Spanish Flu as well, as when his death was reported in The Herald on the 7th December 1918 it was reported that “Seven other persons were lying ill in the house at the same time, all suffering from influenza”. We cannot be certain but it seems possible from studying the burial records for Penrith from December 1918 in Penrith that both his mother and father died at the same time. The influenza pandemic of 1918-
We believe his sister Mary Ann married Thomas William Holmes on the 4th July 1917 and his younger sister Kathleen may have married Francis T Moore in Penrith in 1916, however if you can add more details to Thomas’ story please contact us.
What we think is Thomas’ Medal Card.
The Ullswater Rovers Football Team in 1914. Thomas in on the floor to the right of William Stockdale with the cup. The other team members are named on our Ullswater Football Team page.