Watchman: Alfred Ernest

Born on 3rd July 1891 to Isaac and Elizabeth Watchman at Coromandel Valley, South Australia, Alfred attended the local Coromandel Valley Public School and later was employed as a labourer

When he enlisted on 20th September 1915 he had been a member of the Blackwood Rifle Club for six years. At that time, Alfred stood 5’10” (178cm) tall, weighed 152lbs (69kg). His eyes were brown and his hair dark.

Alfred departed for overseas service on the HMAT Miltiades on 9th February 1916 as Private 3923, a member of the 9th re-inforcement for the 27th Battalion.

On arrival in Egypt, Alfred was transferred to the 50th Battalion. Then, after several months of training, he was sent to France from Alexandria on 5th June 1916, arriving at Marseilles a week later.

His battalion was sent north to the Somme where the Australian forces became heavily involved in the battle at Pozieres during July and August 1916.

It was the 50th’s first battle in France and it suffered many casualties, particularly at Mouquet Farm on 16th August 1916. Alfred was one of those casualties and he was listed as missing.

It was not until almost a year later on 1st July 1917, that a Court of Enquiry pronounced the 25yr old missing, presumed killed in action and confirmed this to his family. Alfred’s body was never found and he is listed amongst the missing of the 50th Battalion at the Australian National War Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France.

His Memorial plaque, medals and few possessions were sent to his parents in 1921-22.

Alfred Watchman’s name is listed on the Coromandel Valley Public School’s roll of Honour and the War Memorial. A photograph of him from the Coromandel Valley Methodist Church’s Roll of Honour is displayed at Blackwood RSL. The Australian War Memorial holds the same photograph ref. P 09291.054.

Research by Geoff Lock, 2015