1890 - 1st July 1916 (age 26)
2nd Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's Own)
Sadly, the Watson family lost two sons in the Great War (the other being Wilfred Percy Watson) and another returned disabled.
John Watson originated from Thirkleby, and his wife Jane was from Bilsdale. They had at least nine children born at Old Byland and Bagby, of which six sons and two daughters survived to adulthood. At the time of the 1911 census, John and Jane and their remaining children at home had moved to Hope Cottages in Sowerby. Cornelius was living near Easingwold at Dawney Farm, Crankley, giving his occupation as horseman on farm. For five years, he worked for Mr Bentley, a farmer at Sowerby Parks and spent a similar period with a Mr Grainger.
Cornelius enlisted at Easingwold into the West Yorkshire Regiment going overseas to the Balkans on 19th September 1915 and later moving to France. Cornelius was in the same battalion as John Hardy and was also lost on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Perhaps they fought side by side. Like John Hardy, he has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, pier and panels 2A, 2C & 2D.
Overlooking Mash Valley today is sited Ovillers British Military where lying together are a number of unidentified soldiers of the West Yorkshire Regiment and who died on 1st July 1916. It is comforting to imagine that John Hardy and Cornelius Watson may lie there side by side. We will of course never know. Using the words chosen by Rudyard Kipling and which are used for all unidentified soldiers, the headstones bear the simple inscription:
"KNOWN UNTO GOD"
Soldiers of the West Yorkshires at Ovillers - "Known Unto God"
The information on this page was compiled by Steve Billings.
Information about Cornelius Herbert Watson on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Information about Cornelius Herbert Watson on the War Graves Photographic Project website
Part of the St Oswald's Church website