George Isaac Watts

Essex Regiment
Date of death 
21 March 1918
Age of death 
Gate Cottage
Snakes Lane
Woodford Green
Address source 
1911 Census
Cemetery / Memorial 

Born in 1893 at Woodford, son of Isaac (Great Eastern Railway Porter) and Annie M. Watts. 1901: A Scholar with his family at Gate Cottage Snakes Lane, Woodford Green. 1911: An Estate Agents Clerk, still living with his family at Gate Cottage. The family home was later at Station Cottage Snakes Lane, and 42, Queen's Avenue, Woodford Green. He belonged to the Woodford Green Men’s Club.

He enlisted at Epping. After service with 1/1 Essex Yeomanry, he transferred to 11 Essex.

During March 1918 the allies were expecting a German attack, but its scale and speed quickly overwhelmed the allied front lines. This was the German Spring Offensive of 21st March 1918, or the Battle of St Quentin.

The Division which included 11 Essex was at the front on a forward slope opposite the villages of Queant and Pronville, while the Essex men were holding reserve trenches to the rear. At 05.00 on 21st March 1918 a German artillery barrage began, which included a large number of gas shells. Fast moving German “Storm Trooper” infantry units soon overcame the front lines, and bore down on the reserve trenches held by 11 Essex and 2 West Yorkshire. In fierce fighting, the Essex men repelled three German attacks during the course of the day and held their line.

The German plan was not to delay their advance by struggling to overcome difficult defences, but to go around them, leaving them isolated to be tackled later. 11 Essex were clearly “difficult”.

When they were withdrawn during that evening, only 210 exhausted men were left to make their way to the rear. George Watts was one of those lost during that days fighting.  Unlike his brother Sidney, George was found with others after the war at map reference 57 CD 2b c 1.1, identified through his identity disc and recovered. His mother Annie chose the inscription “Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee” for his gravestone.

X/R:  Private Sidney John Watts (Brother)

Research by Adrian Lee, Local Historian


Regimental History