Edward George Watling was born and grew up in Chelmsford, and after leaving school served an apprenticeship with, and then worked for the Essex County Chronicle. During the war he served in the army. In January 1918 he killed near Ypres by an exploding shell. His home was in Cooper’s Row.
WATLING, EDWARD GEORGE,
Sergeant, 11th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
A week later the paper carried a family announcement regarding Edward:
“Watling. - Killed in action on the 10th Jan., in France, Signaller E.G. Watling, Royal Fusiliers, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Watling, of Broomfield Road, Chelmsford, aged 26 years.”
The same day’s edition of the Essex Weekly News reported:
“Signaller E. G. Watling, Royal Fusiliers, son of Mr. and Mrs. Watling, Broomfield-rd., Chelmsford, was killed in action in France on Jan. 10. He was home on leave in December.”
On 8th February 1918 the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“In reference to the death in action of Signaller F.G. Watling, 26, Royal Fusiliers, son of Mr. F. Watling, of Broomfield Road, Chelmsford, his captain writes that he was on his way to the Co. headquarters to establish communications when a shell burst near the party and killed one whom they had all learnt to admire very much.
Another comrade writes that he was killed instantly, to the sorrow of all who knew him, but they send thoughts of love and cheer to him to the happier life he has now entered, and to those who are left thoughts of sympathy and strength to bear their great loss.
Pt. Watling, who is further described as ‘one of the very best signallers’ was until he went to the war a popular and highly skilled member of the staff of the Essex County Chronicle at Chelmsford.”
Edward has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, nine kilometres north-east of Ypres in Belgium. The memorial bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are not known
Edward was born in Chelmsford on 19th April 1891, the youngest son of Frederick Allen Watling and Rebecca Elizabeth Watling (nee Bennion). His father had been born in 1855 in Ipswich, Suffolk; his mother c1856 in Limehouse, London.
The couple had married in Ipswich in 1883 and eight years later had been resident at 11 Cooper’s Row, off the western side
of Broomfield Road, Chelmsford.
Edward’s seven siblings, were Frederick William Watling (1884-1938), Rose Mary Watling (born in 1885), Mabel Elsie Watling (1887-1923), Ellen Elizabeth (1885-1959), Herbert Allen Watling (1889-1958), Jessie Kate Watling (1893-1979) and Elsie Annie Watling (born in 1895) - all were Chelmsford-born.
The 1901 census recorded Edward, his parents and five siblings at 11 Cooper’s Row. His father was a mechanical engineer; his eldest brother, a house painter.
A decade later the 1911 census listed 19 year-old Edward, his parents and four siblings still at 11 Cooper’s Row. Edward was a printer’s compositor, probably at the Essex Chronicle. His 56 year-old father was a journeyman millwright at an iron and brass foundry. Brother Frederick was an electrical engineer, brother Herbert was an iron fitter and turner at an iron and brass foundry, while sister Elsie was a clerk at the Chelmsford ball-bearing company Hoffmann’s.
Edward lived and enlisted at Chelmsford, seeing service as 2574 in the 27th (Reserve) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He later transferred to become Private 51856 in the 11th (Service) Battalion Royal Fusiliers. The battalion was part of the New Armies and had been formed in Hounslow, Middlesex in September 1914 and gone to France the following summer, attached to 54th Brigade of the 18th (Eastern) Division.
Edward was killed in action by an exploding shell on 10th January 1918. He was aged 26.
On 25th January 1918 the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“We regret to say that Signaller E.G. Watling, of the Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action in France, on Jan. 10th. Mr. Watling was a member of the staff of the Essex County Chronicle before joining up, at which office he served his apprenticeship. He was a very capable man and greatly esteemed by his employers and his colleagues. Much sympathy will be felt with his parents, who live on Broomfield Road, Chelmsford. Signaller Watling was home on leave last month. Mr. and Mrs. Watling have one other son serving.”
He is also remembered by the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and by the Chelmsford Parish Great War Memorial in Chelmsford Cathedral. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed Edward’s parents still at 11 Cooper’s Row, Chelmsford. His mother died in 1924, aged 68. His father died in 1941, aged 86.
Cooper’s Row was demolished in 1960.