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Henry Percy WATT

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 14353 24y6m 29 Sep 1916 10 Sep 1919 6

Private Henry Percy Watt  (1892 - 1958)


Family background and early life

Henry Percy Watt’s parents were Henry Watt (1858 – 1920) and Mary Stewart née Gebbie (1858 – 1938).  Mr Henry Watt from Scotland and Miss Gebbie from Liverpool, England married in Brisbane in 1889 and they had four children.  Members of Wharf Street Congregational Church, the Watt family lived at Alfred Street, Fortitude Valley, later at Brunswick Street, New Farm.  Henry Watt was a draper.  When he died in 1920 the church recorded: 

 “His quiet and well-ordered life and constant attendance at Divine Service testified to the sincerity of his faith in the Gospel of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”1

Mrs Mary Watt died in 1938, outliving her two youngest children who with their father were buried at the Toowong Cemetery, Gordon Gebbie Watt in 1925 and Alice Stewart Watt in 1928.

Enlistment and service

Henry Percy Watt (known as Percy Watt) was the second child and elder son in the Watt family, born in Brisbane on 29 October 1892.  When he enlisted in Brisbane to serve overseas in the AIF on 29 September 1916, he was 24 years old and was working as a cinematograph operator.  Appointed to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance, Private H. P. Watt trained at Enoggera and sailed with reinforcements from Sydney on board HMAT2 Port Sydney on 8 May 1917.

The troops disembarked at Suez on 20 June and commenced field ambulance duties based at Moascar at the end of July 1917.  There he remained throughout the war, treating the sick and wounded while Australian soldiers were involved in the defence of Egypt.  The 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance nominally supported the 2nd Light Horse Brigade but was under the command of the ANZ Mounted Division.  Its role was to provide 2nd line casualty evacuation.

This meant extracting casualties from the immediate battle area to advanced dressing stations and other facilities to the rear, using horse drawn carts.  Private Watt survived this dangerous work and would have welcomed a short period of leave in March 1919 when he was attached to the 2nd Australian General Hospital at the former Ghezireh Palace in Cairo.

He returned to Australia in July 1919 aboard the ship Malta and was discharged from the AIF on 10 September 1919.  He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Return to Australian and civilian life

Percy Watt’s first employment on his return to civilian life was at Gunalda as an orchardist.  He continued in this occupation when he returned to Brisbane and stayed with his mother at Keswick in Amelia Street, Albion.  Following his mother’s death in 1938, Percy moved first to the Brisbane suburb of Hamilton then to Hudson Road Albion while he worked as a postal official.  He retired to live at Sandgate in 1958 but his death occurred at the age of 65 years on 16 March of that year.

1. Year Book, Wharf Street Congregational Church, 1921, page 7
2. His Majesty’s Australian Transport

• National Archives of Australia, World War 1 records
• Australian War Memorial, World War 1 Embarkation Rolls
• Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church Archives, 1913-1927 Year Books, Wharf Street Congregational Church
• Queensland Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths
• Ancestry, on line
• Brisbane City Council, cemetery records

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane, August 2016 ©



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