|Rushden Echo, 23rd October 1914, transcribed by Kay Collins
An Irchester Victim
Young Sailor Goes Down with H M S Hawke
Official Intimation from the Admiralty
Much regret is felt throughout the neighbourhood at the loss of the life of a noble young Irchester sailor who went down with the “Hawke” which was sunk last week. Well-known both in his native village and at Rushden, Alfred G B Watts joined the Navy in March 1913, and was recently placed on the cruiser “Hawke”.
He has written very frequently, even during the time of the war, and the spirit of his letters has always been of the brightest. In one of the recent ones he wrote: “We are still patrolling about all the time and coaling every ten days. We go in for 48 hours each time. Last time we had coaled 480 tons. During the night all boys landed for a route march of ten miles and then had tea ashore. We were allowed to go about on our own for an hour. Quite a nice little outing for us: eh, what? We have not dropped across anything at present; I wish we could. I notice there are subscriptions for fags for the ‘Tommies’ at the front‘good egg!’
“I read that several of our ‘potty’ old Northamptons were killed and wounded so they were not so very far behind time” Further letters speak of there being little excitement.
Although there seemed little doubt that the poor lad must have been lost, Mr Watts wired the Admiiralty for official news of the occurrence and whether his son was killed or not. A reply was received on Monday as follows:- “Regret Watts not on list of saved received.Admiiralty.”
The young sailor was not old enough to pass for A.B. but made good progress in the navy as far as was possible. He was one of about 18 who were kept on the vessel when a crew was made up for the ship for the war.
He was formerly patrol leader of the Boy Scouts at Irchester. In 1912 he wanted to enlist in the 1st Northants but as his parents were unwilling he went to work in a factory. His health suffered and he finally joined the navy. He had a remarkable gift for carving and drawing. Some of his drawings, which were very lifelike, secured for him a badge from the Boy Scout Headquarters. For about three years he was a member of the choir at the Irchester Parish Church. We publish a photo of him as he appeared at that time. Every kindness had been shown by the neighbours and friends in sympathetic enquires.
While we feel proud of Irchester’s brave young son we offer our sincerest sympathies to the parents in their bereavement. We have no doubt that he died doing his duty. His fiancée was Miss Brudenall, of Windmill-road, Rushden.