Published By Joan Zorn
William Watkins was born in Pant in 1889. His parents, Edward and Sarah would have 13 children of which 10 would survive childhood. He was their second boy. His father was a carpenter by trade but by 1891 was working as a railway wagon examiner. By 1901 they had moved to Oswestry and were living at 21 Orchard Street. The father was now working again as a carpenter. By 1911 they had moved again to 31 Llwyn Road, William was working as a porter. By the end of the war they were living at 37 Gate Street. (on CWGC web site this is given as Galt Street). He enlisted at Shrewsbury joining 6 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, Oswestry Pals, and went over to France in July 1915. He was KIA on 7 April 1916 near La Belle Alliance in the Ypres Salient. The battalion was on a tour of duty in the front line. It is possible that he was killed by the same sniper as accounted for Lieutenant Richard AM Lutener shot the previous day. William is buried at Essex Cemetery near Ypres. His mother chose the inscription ‘He died that we might live’ for his headstone.
Two of his brothers also served. The Border Counties Advertiser of 23 January 1918 records “Private Watkins, Thomas:- Mrs Sarah Watkins, 37 Gate Street, Oswestry, received official confirmation on Sunday that her second son was wounded in the right arm in action in France on December 30 and is now in a Lincolnshire Hospital. He was mobilised when war broke out and has served in China, India and Singapore. He returned home and was drafted to France in July. He was home on leave in September. Before the war he was in the employ of Mr Ellis, Gobowen. His brother, Pte Richard Watkins has been wounded recently and his eldest brother, Pte William Edward Watkins was killed in action in April 1916”