2nd Lt
George Gordon Watts

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

General information


Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Second Lieutenant
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Keswick, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 28th Bn. (Western Australia)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood
Plot: XIII
Row: B
Grave: 2

Distinctions and medals 3

Points of interest 2

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place

My story

A clerk from Prospect, South Australia, prior to enlistment in the 32nd Battalion, he embarked as the Orderly Room Sergeant of “A” Company from Adelaide on 18 November 1915 aboard HMAT Geelong for Suez. On 30 January 1916 he reverted to the rank of Corporal at his own request but was appointed Lance Sergeant four months later. The battalion relocated to the Western Front, France, during June 1916. L Sgt Watts was promoted to Sergeant on 3 September 1916. In November 1916 he was transferred to No 6 Officer Cadet Battalion, Oxford, England from where he graduated as Second Lieutenant at the beginning of March 1917. On returning to France he was transferred to the 28th Battalion near Bapaume and then attended five weeks instruction on sniping and musketry. 2nd Lt Watts was killed in action at Polygon Wood, Belgium, on 20 September 1917. He was aged 25 years.
Second Lieutenant George Gordon Watts served in the 28th Battalion Australian Infantry, part of the 7th Australian Brigade, of the 2nd Australian Division. His Division participated in the Battle of Menin Road on the 20th of September 1917. This Battle was a phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. The 2nd Division attacked Anzac Ridge with two Brigades, the 7th Australian Brigade on the right and the 5th Australian Brigade on the left. Its jump off line was just east of the hamlet of Westhoek. The attack of the 7th brigade was carried by the 25th Battalion; the 27th Battalion was in support and the 28th Battalion in reserve. Each was responsible for capturing an objective.
At 5.40 a.m. an intense barrage was put down and the first attacking Battalions of the Division advanced behind the creeping barrage. The 28th Battalion, in reserve remained at the jumping off positions, suffering only slight casualties due to a German barrage. At 8 a.m. it was reported that the 1st and 2nd objectives had been captured. Ten minutes later the Battalion advanced to take up positions at the 2nd objective in anticipation of capturing the 3rd objective. The going was hard, but the Battalion suffered only slight casualties.
At 10 a.m. the 28th Battalion attacked through Albania Woods. They didn’t encounter much resistance. The Woods were littered with large numbers of German defenders in the woods, who had been killed by the barrage or by rifle fire. 2nd Lt. Watts and two other ranks took out a German machine-gun by shooting its crew, while advancing through Albania Woods. Moments later the 28th Battalion had captured its objective and started consolidating a line, roughly running from the northern outskirts of Albania Woods to Polygon Wood.
The Germans periodically shelled the support area and frontline throughout the afternoon. At 7 p.m. the Company on the right was threatened by a German counterattack from Polygon Wood. But the attack was checked, due to an artillery barrage. While the attack had been stopped, the German artillery shelled the battalion’s frontline for over an hour. Until the shelling finally stopped round 10 p.m. All remained relatively quiet till the Battalion was eventually relieved sometime past midnight.
Second Lieutenant George Gordon Watts was killed on the 20th of September 1917, during the Battle of Menin Road. He was initially buried in the field just west of Polygon Wood. He was possibly mortally wounded on the 28th Battalion’s right flank and was evacuated to a bandage post, where he died and was buried. He may have been killed by the heavy German shelling or by German snipers, who were very active throughout the day. His remains were exhumed after the war and interred in Buttes New British Cemetery.

Files 1

Sources 7

"The Third Ypres Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Arms & Armour Press, 1995, pg. 72-75.
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Australian War Memorial
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National Archives of Australia
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The Long, Long Trail
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War Diary AIF 28th Bn.
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