Norman Luther Watts was the son of Lieut-Colonel Luther Watts and Bertha Watts of 'Sinhala' Aughton.
His brother Thomas William Watts also fell
An extensive biography appeared in Liverpool's Scroll of Fame. His photo appeared in the biography and is reproduced here with the kind permission of Liverpool Record Office.
9th Battalion,
IF the battles of the Somme are glorious pages in the annals of the British Army as a whole, no sections acquitted themselves with greater distinction than the Liverpool regiments. In these gigantic struggles deeds of valour were performed by the thousand almost hourly during the long drawn-out tests of strength between the two opposing forces, and only by steady and persistent hammering day after day did the Allied armies finally break the enemy's iron wall to pave the way for final victory. They were slow but necessary operations, and before success was ultimately achieved Britain was called upon to pay a heavy price in the best of its manhood. Liverpool recalls these epic struggles with tender pride, and a respectful remembrance for the thousandsofits brave sons who laid down their lives on this field of blood.
   One of those who fell in the battle of 1916 was Major Norman L. Watts, who had a brilliant record with the 9th Battalion the King's (Liverpool Regiment). Twenty-eight years of age, he was one of two sons of Lieutenant-Colonel Luther Watts, O.B.E., V.D., of Sinhala, Aughton, near Ormskirk, who formerly commanded the same battalion, and is a descendant of the family of Dr. Isaac Watts.
   Inheriting a high sense of patriotism and love for country, Major Watts was one of those who served as a Territorial in pre-war days. He joined the 6th Liverpools as a private in 1905, and after serving in the ranks for two years was gazetted to the 9th Battalion on November 6th, 1909. He attended with great regularity all annual and  week-end camps, and was one of he most enthusiastic officers in the battalion. With the outbreak of was he at once volunteered for active service, and with his battalion crossed over to France early in 1915, at a time when the British lines were but lightly held, and helped to "hold on" while Kitchener's army was being built up at home. He was placed in charge of "D" Company.
   Throughout he acquitted himself with the greatest gallantry, but owing to an attack of fever he was invalided home in July of that year. With his usual enthusiasm, however, he declared himself fit, and returned to France in October, 1915. He was immediately sent up to his old battalion, and again took part in numerous and heavy engagements with distinction, his conduct at Delville Wood from September 7th to the 10th being duly recognised in the official record of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division by Major-General H.S. Jeudwine. Unfortunately he did not long survive the distinction, for he was killed in gallantry leading an attack at Guedecourt.
   It so happened that the battalion was again ordered to attack on September 25th (which, by a sad coincidence, was the anniversary of the death of his younger brother twelve months before), and that Major Watts had forebodings as to his fate is shown by a letter which he wrote to his mother, to whom he was deeply attached, before going into action. "I have asked a brother officer to enclose this in a letter," he wrote. "He will write after the battle is over. He will let you know if I am safe of otherwise. I have every confidence that God will spare me through this fight, as He has done before; if not I pray that He will comfort you all, and as for me I am satisfied that I have died fighting for a righteous cause. In three days we come to the first anniversary of dear Tom's death. My thoughts - here I was disturbed. Later (23/9/16) - I now find we attack on the anniversary of Tom's death. Naturally I feel upset, but I feel confident I shall come through alright. However you will know by now. We me in a few minutes. God bless you all."
   That was his last letter home, for he met a hero's death in the desperate fighting during that action. The circumstances were afterwards described in detail by his Major, who wrote to the bereaved parents as follows:-
   "The battalion went into the line on the evening of the 23rd, and they dug some new trenches in front of our advanced trenches in preparation for an attack on the 25th inst. Your dear son, as you ar no doubt aware, was in command of 'C' Company, and that company was detailed to follow 'A' Company in the advance. The enemy were entrenched about 5/900 yards away. At the appointed hour, after heavy artillery preparation, the battalion attacked in four waves, your son being in the last wave. He was struck by a bullet shortly after leaving our trenches, and fell dead, so that you have the consolation, the priceless consolation, of knowing that he did not suffer any pain.
   "The battalion pushed on steadily, and, I am proud to say, gained its objective and consolidated the position. The attack was launched at 12.30 p.m., and as soon as it was dark search parties were sent our with the object offending your dear son's body. In this, I am glad to say, they were ultimately successful, and it was brought down on a limber several miles behind the front lines. In the early morning of the 27th the battalion was relieved and went into support trenches.
   "The Commanding Officer kindly gave a number of officers permission to attend the funeral, and also a dozen N.C.O.'s and men of his company (there were but 32 or 33 left!). It will, I am sure, be a source of satisfaction to you to know that no deceased officer in the battalion has ever been accorded such military honour at his funeral as your son received. The following officers were in the procession (here follows a list of names). His Company Q.M.S. and about twenty-six other ranks paraded, in addition to the dozen other ranks from his company who had been in the attack and who carried the body. The Rev. M. Collier officiated at the ceremony. The officer commanding 7th King's kindly arranged for his buglers to attend. At the close of the service they sounded the Last Post, all officers saluted, and the detachment presented arms. In addition to our own officers and men there were quite 150 of 200 officers and other ranks drawn from the Artillery and Engineers present at the graveside, and the chaplain said that in all his experience he had never in France been present at such an imposing ceremony.
   "He is buried in a new cemetery just off the main road between Montauban and Mametz, and a suitable cross has been erected over his grave. You will, I trust, from what I have said, derive some consolation from knowing that so much honour was paid to your boy.
   "A most conscientious and hard-working officer, he did exceptionally good work recently, and this was brought under the notice of the Brigadier and other Higher Command. He was our best Company Commander, and his loss will be keenly felt by the battalion. It is hard for me to realise that I shall never see him again - brave, honest, straightforward, and good fellow that he was. He was called upon to make the supreme sacrifice of all. He died nobly, and set a fine example to all of us to how a soldier should die. Believe me we sympathise with you truly. We try to realise the measure of your loss by what we know of him, and we think with regret of how his promising career has been cut short. I have lost a dear personal friend in him, and an officer who gave me during the time I was in temporary command the most ungrudging and loyal support."
   His servant added he following additional details:-
   "During the attack he had halted his half-company, and gave them orders to lay down in the open while he went on to see the cause of the right half-company being unable to get into the German trench. Your son and I had not gone thirty yards from where we left he men when a bullet grazed my side, exploding my ammunition, and set fire to part of my clothing. As I went into a shell-hole to dress the wound I saw your son fall, and imagined at the time he had taken cover in one of the shell holes from the heavy machine-gun fire which we had to face. I left the cover I had taken to find Captain Watts, and I cannot tell you how sorry I was to find him dead."
   Many high tributes have been paid to Major Watts' high qualities and bravery, and that he was universally popular among both offices and men will be gleaned from the following quotations from letters which have been received from them:-
   "Everybody in the battalion loved and respected him, and his loss is keenly regretted by all. He was thorough and sincere always, and his men always worked well and willingly for him, knowing that he had their interests at heat, and that he was ever ready to help them in their troubles. Norman did not know the meaning of 'fear,' and he encouraged and cheered his company under the most trying conditions; indeed his company would have followed him anywhere. And now he has gone - a fine soldier and a good friend."
   "Among the many friends whom I have lost during the past two years there is none whose passing I mourn more, or whose absence leaves a greater blank. The large circle of his personal friends - to which I was privileged to belong - have lost a true and esteemed comrade. His battalion have lost a capable and most gallant officer, whose vacancy it will be hard to fill; his men a respected and esteemed leader, whose every thought was for their welfare."
    "Poor, old, loyal, true, noble-hearted Norman called to his eternal reset, as in every way, was a true soldier of Jesus Christ. Many a quiet chat I had with him on sacred things, and two great things stood out in his life - an intense love for his Saviour, and an almost unspeakable love for his father, mother, and sister."
   "He was a good and true comrade to me, and I have him to thank for many kind acts. He was extremely popular among the officers who have all lost a friend. He came voluntarily forward to fight for his King and Country, did his duty nobly in a glorious cause, by his courage and example he materially influenced the battalion for its good, and met a soldier's end."
   "Captain Norman Watts was easily the most popular officer in the 9th. Known for his competence and training, and loved by his men because of his goodness and justice to them, his loss is irretrievable.
   "One had only to know him to appreciate his good qualities."
   It was after his death that the gallant officer was officially gazetted Major, and he following notification of recognition of his conduct was also subsequently received;
   "I have it in command from His Majesty the King to inform you as next-of-kin of the late CAPTAIN NORMAN LUTHER WATTS, of the Liverpool Regiment (Territorial Force), that this officer was mentioned in a despatch from General Sir Douglas Haig, dated 13th November, 1916, and published in the Second Supplement to the 'London Gazette' of 2nd, dated 4th January, 1917, for gallant and distinguished service in the field. I am to express to you the King's high appreciation of these services, and to add that His Majesty trusts that their public aknowledgment may be of some consolation in your bereavement."