Distinguished Conduct Medal and Victory Medal
D.C.M. named to: 282444 CPL. B. A. WATSON. 2 / 4 LOND. R.
Victory Medal named to: 5399 SJT. B. A. WATSON. 4-LOND-R.
Distinguished Conduct Medal awarded for action during the Battle of Menin Road Bridge, 20th September 1917.
Citation reads as follows, taken from the London Gazette 6th February 1918 (page 1745).
282444 Cpl. B. A. Watson, Lon. R (Hackney).
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He took charge of three platoons which had lost their officers and senior N.C.Os. in an attack. He handled his men in the most able manner, consolidate his position, and sent in accurate reports. His courage and determination greatly contributed to the success of the company’s operation, and set a fine example to the whole battalion.”
He features in the book The War History of the 4th Battalion The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) 1914 – 1919, extract below.
Benjamin Albert Watson – 5399 / 282444 Serjeant 2 / 4th London Regiment (4th City of London Battalion). Born 1891 in Hackney. His service number 5399 suggests that he enlisted around Jan / Feb 1916. The unit renumbered in 1917. His DCM was awarded for action on the 20th September 1917, The Battle of Menin Road Bridge, the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendale). Summary from the Regimental History reads as follows:
” strong platoon of D Company with 2 tanks were to co-operate in an outflanking movement from the north to attack Schuler Farm. The tanks got stuck in mud and didn’t arrive. The platoon met unexpected resistance from a machine gun post about 150 yards in advance of the farm. The capture of this post, which produced 16 prisoners and gins, cost the lives of 2/Lieut Warren and the whole platoon except Sgt Watson and 6 men. The delay caused, moreover, was serious, and by the time the survivors of the platoon were able to continue their advance, the barrage had passed beyond Schuler Farm.
Sgt Watson, being of the opinion that the strength of his party was insufficient to justify an attack on the main position, sent back his prisoners and established himself with the captured machine-guns at a point about 250 yards south-east of Winnipeg crossroads.”
The Battalion was awarded 1 x DSO, 3 x MCS, 5 x DCMs, 4 x MMs for the action. He probably received riband from the Divisional Commander 19th October 1917 (from War Diary). Of 400 men who started out, 276 men were either killed, wounded or missing. When the 4th Regiment was reconstructed in 1920, Benjamin Albert Watson was appointed C. Q. M. Sgt. Of B Company.
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