By the time he was 16, William is working as a cabinet maker, and later works for the Midland Railway as a fireman.
Willie, as he was known was well respected in the town where he was a member of the St Mary's Church choir, the Church Lads Brigade and a long standing member of the Rechabites, a temperance friendly society.
He joined the Brecknocks in Brecon in September 1914, first being posted to Neyland, Pembrokeshire before going out to Aden with the draft that arrived on July 3rd, 1915. He, with others, immediately joined the forced march to fight the Turks at Lahej²⁵. He survived this encounter and went with the Brecknocks to Mhow, India. In 1916 he was drafted with others to Mesopotamia where he joined the 1/6 Devonshire Regiment and was attached to the Signalling company. Willie was in the trenches in Mesopotamia for about a month before
going to hospital in early November and spending about seven weeks there before dying of dysentery in December 1916.
See page 216
Private William Samuel Watkins
Devonshire Regiment 1/6th Btn., (Territorials), service no.
Died on December 30th, 1916 in Mesopotamia, aged 22
Buried in the Amara War Cemetery, Iraq
The family remain at 12, Priory Hill for many years and also take in boarders. In 1911 one of their boarders is George Hardwick, who is a brother to William Emlyn, and uncle of Cyril, who both feature in this book²⁴.
See pages 75 and 247
William was born in Brecon in October 1894, the eldest son of Samuel Watkins and his wife
Hannah, nee Bevan, of 12, Priory Hill, Brecon. William's father worked as an ironmonger's
warehouseman and was born in Brecon. His mother was born in Talgarth.
William had two siblings, a sister Annie born in about 1900 and a younger Brother, Ernie born in about 1908.