Watson, Stanley Holm (Lieutenant Colonel, b.1887 - d.1985)

Accession Number MSS0760
Collection type Manuscript
Measurement Extent: 2.5 cm; Wallet/s: 1
Object type Manuscript
Maker Watson, Stanley Holm
Place made Australia, Belgium, France, Ottoman Empire
Date made 1914-1918
Access Open
Related File This file can be copied or viewed via the Memorial’s Reading Room. AWM371 95/0755
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copying Provisions Copying is permitted for the purposes of research and study, subject to physical condition

Collection relating to the First World War service of Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Holm Watson, 2nd Division Signal Company, Australian Imperial Forces, Gallipoli, France, and Belgium, 1914-1919.

Collection consists of one red-covered bound manuscript partially written by Watson, and partially compiled from accounts and diaries of two soldiers that served with him on Gallipoli as part of the 2nd Division Signal Company: Lieutenant Colonel Miles Fitzroy Beevor, and Lieutenant Howard Both.

The manuscript begins with an account written by Watson on the origins of sapper and the role of the engineers in the British military from the capture of Gibraltar in 1704 to the First World War. The account also includes details such as the origins of badges. Next, the manuscript goes on to provide a description of the establishment of Adelaide and the role that the military, in particular engineers and military surveyors played in the establishment of the colony. This history of South Australia then directly runs to describing Watson's enlistment at the very beginning of the First World War alongside the likes of Beevor and Both, with brief descriptions of their training and then movement to Gallipoli. From page 21, Watson describes in detail the landing plans at Gallipoli, including diagrams of the proposed fleet landing and maps of both the areas that they were meant to land at, and the area that they did land at. Within this are accounts of the displeasure of those in command of having to land at the wrong beach and criticism of the decisions made by those in charge.

Following a description of the landing, including the establishment of the pier that was named in Watson's honour, is an account of a dinner held to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Waterloo and a facsimile of the special illustrated menu that was created for the occasion.

Rounding out the section of the manuscript dedicated to Gallipoli is a selection of accounts taken from diaries and testimonies given by Both and Beevor describing the evacuation of Gallipoli. Watson, Both, and Beevor were aboard the last boat taking soldiers off Gallipoli. This includes detailed accounts of the winding down of the Australian presence at Gallipoli and the measures taken to convince Ottoman soldiers that Australian soldiers were still in the area. The diary includes diagrams of the communication systems wiring between the major machine gun posts that remained at Gallipoli.

The next section of the diary discusses boarding the SS Manitou for Lemnos, and the events of the following days, including mentions of the relief felt by all that they had left Gallipoli.

Next the manuscript features with two short stories about "forgotten heroes," the first being Lieutenant Dougal Neil Rentoul, documenting the story of his death, and the second about a Sergeant Tom Ryan who took control of his unit (possibly the 5 Brigade Signals) for some 5 days after his CO, Lt Lucas, was severely injured.

The manuscript then ends with a nominal roll of the 1st Division Signal Company that embarked the A10 Karroo transport ship from Melbourne on 20 October 2014, and two pages of facsimiles of various pieces of ephemera relating to 2nd Division Signal Company.