WW1 Alumni

Watsham, FE

F. E. Watsham

Frederick Ernest Watsham had a half-brother Frank Ernest Watsham. Since 1916, when Frederick was killed in action, there has been confusion in the School’s war memorials between Frederick and Frank.

Corporal Frederick Watsham never attended Alleyn’s School. At the start of WW1 in 1914 he became a corporal in the Royal Field Artillery, served in France and was killed in action on 7th October 1916 during the Battle of the Somme shortly after the launch of the Battle of the Ancre Heights in October 1916. Meanwhile his half-brother, Frank, was a pupil at Alleyn’s School from 1911-1915 and due to his age never fought in WW1.

Because of the brothers’ identical initials confusion began between the two brothers. When news of Frederick’s death reached the School it was reported in the December 1916 edition of the Edward Alleyn Magazine that F E Watsham had been killed in action. Because it was Frank E Watsham that had attended Alleyn’s it was then assumed, incorrectly, that it was Frank who had been killed in action and he has been remembered as such from 1916 onwards on the School’s war memorials.

Frederick is buried at Delville Wood, Longueval. Frank actually never served in any war, and died on 29th February 1944 in Grove Park Hospital, Mottingham, Kent.

With thanks to Noel Clark of the Watsham family for supplying and clarifying this information in 2008 and 2017.