Archive for October, 2009

Lt John Charles Watt

21 October, 2009

John Charles Watt (photo courtesy of his grandson John C. Watt).

One of the more important figures in the 56th’s history was a remarkable and brave young man named John Charles Watt.  Previously this post called for assistance in finding a photo of him and showed a blank silhouette of a man with a question mark on his face.  Happily, thanks to the assistant of a couple of readers of this blog (see comments below), contact was soon made with the Watt family and the photo shown at left made available.

John was born on 28 September 1896 at Stewart’s Brook near Scone, NSW, son of John Howard Watt and Eliza Jane Watt.  He later attended high school in Newcastle where he also completed four years of compulsory military service. At some stage the family (at least John Jr. and his mother) moved north to Emmaville, a tiny settlement in a tin mining area about 30 km north of Glen Innes.  There John became a miner.

When war broke out in 1914, John was not quite 18, but it wasn’t long before he enlisted in the AIF in Sydney the following July.  His father had recently died in Port Augusta, SA in March 1915.  At the time he enlisted, John stood 5’ 10” tall, weighed 156 pounds (71 kg), and had brown eyes and dark hair. His religion was Church of England. He was initially allotted to the 10th Reinforcement of 4th Battalion and embarked for service overseas in October, joining his unit in Egypt on 21 January 1916. Almost straight away he began his rise through the ranks, making lance corporal on 2 February.  (more…)

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