Samuel Reginald Watts was born in 1897, the seventh of eight children of Samuel and Augusta Watts.
He followed his father and brothers into the main industry in the area – coal mining – and was certainly working down the pits by the time of the 1911 census.
Samuel enlisted on 21st April 1918, and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery, which focused on heavy, large-calibre guns and howitzers that were positioned some way behind the front line. He was 5’5″ (1.65m) tall and weighed 144lbs (65kg). According to his war records, he had brown hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion.
His service started the very next day, when he was transferred to the Citadel in Plymouth for training.
After feeling unwell, complaining of headaches and a sensitivity to light, Gunner Watts was admitted to the Netley Hospital in Southampton on 18th June 1918. He was diagnosed with cerebrospinal fever, more commonly known as meningitis, and was treated over the next week.
Sadly the treatment did not work, and Gunner Samuel Watts passed away on the evening of 26th June 1918. He had been in the army for a little over two months and had not seen active service.
Samuel Watts lies at peace in the graveyard of St John’s Church, Farrington Gurney.