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Name: WATSON, Frederick William (Serjeant)

Birth Date: 1886

Death Date: 20 July 1940 Nairobi

First Date: 1915

Last Date: 1940

Profession: 1915 working in office of The Leader newspaper, Nairobi. East African Engineers. 1937 Kenya Gold Mining Syndicate

Area: 1922 Gilgil, Timboroa, 1919 Njoro, 1937 Kisumu

Book Reference: Red 25, Hut, CWGC, Red 22, Gazette, Barnes

War Service: East African Engineers

General Information:

Gazette - 7/4/15 - Liable for Jury service, Nairobi District - F.W. Watson, Leader Office
Nairobi Forest Road Cemetery - Frederick William Watson, British, age 54, died 20/7/40
Gazette - 3/12/1919 - Register of Voters - Rift Valley Area - F.W. Watson - Farmer - Gilgil
Serjeant EB/7032 East African Engineers, who died on Saturday, 20th July 1940. Nairobi, Forest Rd. Cemetery, Grave Ref: Block 12 Grave 55
Gazette 19 Jan 1937
CWGC no details
Tom Lawrence: The 5th West African Regt was in a position at Rusha, some 20 miles down the El Wak Road from Wajir from early July 1940. He appears to have been based there with the East African Reconnaissance Section and was driving a three-toner at the head of a patrol, and went across a minefield, J. Forrest MacDonald recounts “…I was inspecting arms in the left section post when I heard the distant throb of engines. This grew louder as I hurried across  the slope  towards the far side of the minefield. I heard a shout from our African sentry, then a louder, more urgent cry. A second later the ground under my feet shuddered and a rending explosion threw up acrid smoke and sand somewhere to my right front. What had happened was obvious, even before I saw a three-tonner lying on its side, engine heaved crazily out of alignment and erupting puffs of filthy black smoke, and the remains of front wheels and axle wrapped round the shatter cab. The other trucks were pulled up behind the wreck. The crews were busy with what looked like charred bundles of clothes lying on the sand. In the background stood my section of African troops, shocked and horrified, huddled in an apprehensive group, with Corporal Atang repeating sadly. “The master no fit hear us. Us go try stop him.” I led them briskly back to their weapon pits, asked them what would happen is the Italians suddenly appeared, and went over to the trucks. The sergeant who had been driving the first truck was dead. His clothing and much of his skin was charred. He looked a pitiful, misshapen thing, like a Velasquez dwarf violently bludgeoned to death. His companion in the cab was still alive, curled up on a blanket and emitting a feeble moan now and again. Over him the patrol commander was crouched, attempting without success to administer a morphine tablet. To his unspoken query I said “I think you’ll have to raise his head and shoulders if he is to get that over.” We raised him and placed the tablet on the red tip of his tongue encompassed with black. It slid over. We wrapped him in blankets and carried him to the second truck. The dead sergeant was placed in the third. “Poor devil,” said the patrol commander. “He was engaged to a girl in Nairobi and was going on weekend leave on Friday. Don’t suppose he was thinking of war, or minefields, or anything except getting back quickly. Didn’t seem to understand why you fellows were trying to stop him till it was too late. If he had braked five yards sooner he would have been safe”…                The CO of the Reconnaissance Unit responded with a thermos of cool lime juice. He was much upset by the loss of his excellent sergeant, not as a casualty of war, but as an avoidable casualty of war. “Why it should have happened to him, I can’t think. He was clear-headed and utterly reliable. He knew where the minefield was and the drill for being guided round the diversion. I’ve lots of the other kind -reckless and a bit foolhardy- who might have been expected to end up like this.” We of the infantry were unable to make these lines of distinction among the personnel of the Reconnaissance Unit. To us they were all reckless and foolhardy and their job suicidal (Abyssinian Adventure, by J.F. MacDonald, pp. 29-30).

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