Joseph Frederick Watson was a Yorkshireman who worked in a Moulsham Street pawnbrokers before the war. He was rejected several times from joining the army but was eventually successful by which time he was living and working in Folkestone, Kent. In July 1917 he died after an operation in Ireland and in accordance with his wishes his body was brought back to Chelmsford for burial at the Non Conformists’ Cemetery in New London Road. He was engaged to a Chelmsford girl when he died.

Joseph was born in Halifax, Yorkshire in 1888, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth A Watson. By 1891 he had moved with his family to 31 Egerton Street, Fransworth in Lancashire where his father was a watchmaker. A decade later the 1901 census listed 13 year-old Joseph with his parents and five siblings at 65 Brierley Street in Bury, Lancashire. At the time his father was a journeyman watchmaker.

The 1911 census recorded 22 year-old Joseph in the household of the pawnbroker James W. Dorward at 25 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, for whom Joseph worked as an assistant. Joseph was subsequently employed by the Chelmsford Co-operative Society in Chelmsford, afterwards becoming the manager of the Folkestone Co-operative Society's drapery department in Kent.

During the First World War Joseph joined the army at Folkestone served as Private 91645 in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Joseph was attached to the military hospital at Curragh Camp in Ireland where, on 2nd July 1917, he died aged 29 after a serious operation for cancer. He was well known and respected in Chelmsford.

His body was returned to England and he was buried in grave 3596 at the London Road Non Conformists' Cemetery in Chelmsford on 8th July 1917. The funeral service with full military honours was conducted by Rev, C, Buck, minister of Hall Street Primitive Methodist Church. The Yorkshire Regiment provided the band and firing party.


Private 91645, Royal Army Medical Corps

The Essex County Chronicle reported:

“Military Funeral—Pt. Frederick J. Watson, R.A.M.C., who died at Curragh Camp Hospital after a serious operation for cancer, was buried at the London Road Cemetery on Saturday with full military honours.

Deceased, who was 26 [sic] years of age, was for some years in the employ of Mr. W. J. Dorward, and was well known in Chelmsford. He was several times rejected for military service, but was finally accepted, and had been in training about 6 months. He was engaged to Miss Elsie Orrin, 7 Victoria Road, and, his father being in America, he wished to buried at Chelmsford. where he attended the Primitive Methodist Church.

The Rev. C. E. Buck officiated the funeral, and the mourners were Miss E. Orrin. Mr. and Mrs Orrin. Mr. T. Sarel, Mr. and Mrs. F. Eve. Mr. J. W. Brown, Mr. A. Hills, and Mr. Golding (Folkestone). Nearly a score of floral tributes were seht, including two from his unit, one from Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Dorward and another from his more recent fellow employees at Folkestone. Messrs. Andrews and Son carried out the funeral arrangements.