Story of a Photograph: The Watsons (Part Three)

To finish our story of the 8 Watson brothers, in this post we find out what happened to the youngest four Watson brothers. Read about the elder four brothers or read about the photograph that started this story off.

William Clark Watson

William, born on 7th June 1891, was an Insurance Clerk in 1911. During the First World War he enlisted as a Lieutenant in the 64th Highland Division Cyclist Corps.

Watson, William Charles Cyclist Corps 1
William Clark Watson (left) and some of his fellow Cyclist Corps soldiers

In 1917 he transferred to the Flying Corps, and trained at Sedgefield Air Base to fly Maurice Farman Bi-planes. He married and was living in London in 1950. We don’t know what happened to him after that.

James Paton Watson

James and David were twins born on 14th January 1898. James was a civil engineer and in 1914 he started working at the City Engineers Office, under James Thomson. During the war he was a 2nd Lt in the Royal Engineers. Back in civilian life, he was promoted to an Engineering Assistant in 1918 and was elected to the Institute of Civil Engineers in 1923. He remained at the City Engineers until 1928 when he became Borough Engineer in South Shields. 5 years later in 1933 he was appointed Borough Engineer in Scarborough. In the same year he married Dr Rose M B Lee of Perth.

In 1936 he moved on to Plymouth. It is perhaps here that his work was most well known. Plymouth was obliterated by the Blitz and needed to rebuild. James along with Sir Patrick Abercrombie came up with a “Plan for Plymouth” to radically redesign and rebuild the City. He was awarded a CBE for services to civil defence in the 1946 New Year’s Honours list. He died in Plymouth in 1979.

Watson, James Paton and David McEwan
The Watson Twins

David McEwan Watson

James’s twin David, like his elder brother Albert, was an accountant. On 23rd June 1916 he joined the Seaforth Highlanders. We have photographs of him at 44 Faringdon Street in his uniform, presumably taken around this time. He trained with the Seaforths at Fort George but on 25 Jan 1917 he was transferred to the 5th Bn. Cameron Highlanders and sent to Salonica. He returned to the UK in January 1919 and was demobbed on 27th September 1919.

Watson, David McEwan emigrating
David McEwan Watson leaving for America

In 1922 he emigrated to the US. The above photograph, from the family collection shows him boarding an aeroplane bound for the USA, however it seems likely that this was him leaving after a visit at a later date – Imperial Airways didn’t exist in 1922! He moved around quite a bit, he was in Michigan in 1926, Buffalo in 1927 (where he married Annie Rae), Kanas City in 1928 (where his daughter Margaret was born) and Denver in 1930 (where he applied for US citizenship). He stayed in Denver, and in 1942 he was registered for the US Army Draft as he was only 44 at this time. His Draft Card notes that he worked for Peat Marwick Mitchell and Co, in fact he was a senior partner between 1947 and 1960. The company was one of the formative companies of KPMG.

Alfred Watson

Alfred, the youngest of the 10 children, was born on 30th April 1900. He went to the High School of Dundee between 1906 and 1917. He did one year of studies at the University of St Andrews before joining the RAF Naval Section on 29th July 1918. He returned to his studies in 1919 and graduated 2 years later. He had work experience at the City Engineer’s office in 1921-22 (presumably arranged by his brother James), and completed his apprenticeship at the English Electric Company at the Dick Kerr Works in Preston. In 1924 he became a senior testing engineer and was promoted the next year to Assistant Resident Engineer. He worked on the electrification of the Southern Railway, the Post Office Underground Railway and the Lanarkshire Hydro Electric Power Scheme at the Falls of Clyde.

In 1927 he moved to the Directorate of Works and Buildings in the Air Ministry at Kidbrooke as an Assistant Mechanic and Electrical Engineer. In 1928, still working for the Air Ministry he moved out to Cairo. In 1946 he was appointed Chief Mechanical and Electrical Engineer at the Air Ministry. He was awarded a CBE in 1955.

Do you know anything more about any of the Watson brothers? Are you related to them? If so we’d love to hear from you!

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