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Added 3.5.11. Minor edits 2.3.2014.

1504, Private Charles WATKINS - 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Ledbury, Herefordshire.


Enlisted at Westminster on the 3rd of November 1852.

Age: 21.

Height: 5' 8".

Trade: Labourer.

Appearance: Fresh complexion. Grey eyes. Brown hair.


From Private to Corporal: 1st of March 1858.

Corporal to Sergeant: 24th of April 1862.

Re-engaged at Aldershot for a further 12 years service on the 17th of June 1864.

Appointed to Troop Sergeant Major on the 17th of June 1868.

Discharge & pension

Discharged from Colchester on the 20th of December 1873 at "Own request, after 21 years service."

Served 21 years 47 days, to count. In Turkey and the Crimea: 2 years. Canada, 2 years 11 months.

Conduct," very good indeed," Had he not been promoted would now be in possession of five Good Conduct badges.

While serving, he was in receipt of 2d. per day "good swordsmanship" allowance. Never entered in the Regimental Defaulter's book. Never tried by Court-martial.

Aged 42 years 1 month on discharge.

To live in Colchester, but he was later in Ipswich, and at Portsmouth from the 1st of October 1874.

He was awarded a pension of 2/- per day.

He is shown on the Regimental "Married roll" from the 20th of March 1873, his wife's name being Kate.

Medals & commemorations

Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for Inkerman and Sebastopol, and the Turkish medal.

Documents confirm the award of the Crimean, Turkish, and Long Service medals.

Awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct medal on the 24th of October 1870, with a gratuity of £5.

Awarded the Meritorious Service Medal on the 21st of June 1900 with an annuity of £10.

Life after service

1881 Census

Bromsberrow Heath, Dymock, Gloucestershire.

The 1881 Census shows him as an Agricultural Labourer, aged 48, born at Ledbury, Herefordshire, with his wife Martha, 49, a Governess, born at Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and a Sidney Watkins, aged 2 years and shown as a grandson.

[EJB: He may possibly have remarried, as his wife in 1873 was named as Kate.]

An admission form for his entry into the Chelsea Royal Hospital as an In-Pensioner was filled in on the 16th of July 1911. This stated that his rate of pension was 2/- per day and that he was a widower, with no children. He had two sisters and a brother, but could not live with them. His address at this time was "The Crown Home," High Street, Newent.

The local priest, in his declaration said that "Watkins had lived in Newent for ten years to his knowledge, and believed he had been there for many years before that. He had never heard anything against his conduct".

The medical report stated that "He suffers from fatty degeneration of the heart and frequent attacks of syncope. Is bedridden".

In witnessing his scrawl of a signature, the doctor commented, "Had much difficulty in signing his name. Totally incapable of being moved any distance".

Death & burial

Died at Newent on the 9th of October 1916.

His death, aged 82 years, in shown in the GRO records during the October-December Quarter of 1916, in the Newent District.

Extract from theNewent Reporter for the 21st of October 1916:

A Crimean Veteran

The death took place on Monday at the Temperance Hotel, Newent, of Squadron Sergeant Major Charles Watkins, formerly of the 13th Hussars (York Regiment) after a long illness, at the age of 82 years.

His funeral took place on Thursday amidst many tokens of respect. The cortege left the deceased's home, headed by a posse of police, a firing party which had come over from Cheltenham and a number of the A. S. C. under Staff Sergeant Edward's, (Newent.)

The first part of the service was taken at the Parish Church, where the deceased was formerly a regular attendant, the service being conducted by the Revd. Canon W. H. Confer. M. A. The procession then proceeded to the Cemetery where a large concourse of people had gathered. The rector read the committal rites, which were followed by the usual three volleys being fired, the trumpeters then sounding the "Last Post."

The service was a very impressive one, the coffin, which was of polished oak, with brass furniture, being draped with the Union Jack. The breastplate bore the inscription "Charles Watkins. Died October 9th 1916, aged 82 years." The deceased, who was born at Ledbury, joined the Army in 1852.

He had in his possession four medals, the Turkish and Crimean War medals, the silver medal for long service and good conduct and another for meritorious conduct, he having served 21 years and 64 days. He also had written testimonials as to his character and abilities as a soldier from his former officers. There were several beautiful wreaths on the coffin." [A list of mourners and wreath-senders follows.]

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