Edgar Bruce WATKINS

WATKINS, Edgar Bruce

Service Number: 6105
Enlisted: 21 March 1916, Enlisted in Petersburg, South Australia
Last Rank: Lance Corporal
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Dawson, South Australia, November 1892
Home Town: Oodla Wirra, Peterborough, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Died of wounds, Belgium, United Kingdom, 23 September 1917
Cemetery: The Huts Cemetery, ​Dickebusch, Belgium
Plot V, Row D, Grave No 9, The Huts Cemetery, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium, Melcombe Regis Cemetery, Weymouth, Dorset, England, United Kingdom
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Oodla Wirra Roll of Honor WW1
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World War 1 Service

21 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 6105, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlisted in Petersburg, South Australia
12 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 6105, 10th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '10' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Ballarat embarkation_ship_number: A70 public_note: ''
12 Aug 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 6105, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ballarat, Adelaide
19 May 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 10th Infantry Battalion, Promoted from Private to Lance Corporal
21 Sep 1917: Wounded AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 6105, 10th Infantry Battalion, Polygon Wood, Shrapnel Wound to the Shoulder.

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

Edgar Bruce Watkins was born in Dawson, South Australia in about November 1892 and had two younger brothers. The elder of the two brothers was named Stanley – born circa 1894 [PROFILE (/explore/people/291608)] – and the younger Ewart – born circa 1898 [PROFILE (/explore/people/158282)]. Edgar attended the local public school in Dawson and later moved to Lilydale, Victoria and became a farmer. He returned to South Australia and enlisted in World War 1 on the 21st of March 1916 in Petersburg. Given how early in the war Edgar enlisted – he enlisted two years after the war had begun with Australia only fighting its first battle a year prior – and the fact that he was single and childless, it can be assumed that Edgar enlisted in order to see the world and have adventures, as many soldiers did before the horrors of war became known to the general public.

Both of Edgar’s brothers also enlisted in World War 1, with Stanley enlisting on the 18th of October 1915 – just under six months before Edgar – and Ewart on the 18th of June 1918 – over two years after Edgar. Unfortunately, Stanley was killed in action on the 16th of October 1917 while fighting in France. However, Ewart survived the war and was discharged, returning to Adelaide on the 10th of April 1919 and living to the age of 55 before dying on the 20th of October 1953. Regarding Ewart, the death of both his brothers during 1917 – there will be more information about Edgar’s death later in the biography – may have factored into his decision to join the War.

Edgar departed Adelaide aboard the HMAT Ballarat on the 21st of August 1916 with the 19th Reinforcements and arrived in Plymouth, England on the 30th of September of the same year. He stayed in England for some months, perhaps undergoing training. Then, Edgar was transferred to France and arrived at Étaples, a commune in France, on the 31st of December 1916. He joined the 10th Battalion in France almost a month later on the 27th of January 1917.  He was appointed to Lance Corporal on the 19th of May 1917, only four months after he began fighting.

Edgar ceased his fighting and was relocated to Pigeon Flying School on the 11th of July 1917, remaining there for a week before returning to battle and fighting in Belgium from the 18th of July 1917. In Belgium, he fought in the Third Battle of Ypres where the Australian troops attempted to take Broodseinde Ridge and Passchendaele – they succeeded in taking Broodseinde Ridge but not in taking Passchendaele – and was wounded in action on the 21st of September 1917. Edgar was admitted to the 1st Field Ambulance with a shrapnel wound to the shoulder that same day and died the next on the 22nd of September 1917, most likely due to blood loss from the wound or other internal bleeding – infection would take longer than a single day to kill a person. Edgar was buried in The Huts Cemetery (Plot V, Row D, Grave No 9) in Dickebusch, Belgium. He was awarded both a British War Medal and a Victory Medal.