During the conflicts of the 20th Century former pupils of the George Watson's Boys' College answered their country's call in their hundreds and many made the ultimate sacrifice.
In World War I 605 died, 19.5% of those who served in the armed forces.
In World War II 202 died, 11.2% of those who served in the armed forces.
In addition, one former pupil of George Watson's Ladies' College was killed in World War I, another was killed during World War II and a pupil died in the Korean War. This Roll of Honour provides some of the facts and the faces behind the stark statistics. It also includes the six members of staff who died in World War I and another, who had taught at George Watson's Ladies' College, who died in World War II.
These biographies are not complete and there are also a number of photographs missing, together with a few records that have not yet been traced. If you have any further information we would welcome it, please contact us.
We continue to work hard to find out more about these Watsonians. Some of the photographs you will see here have been taken from newspapers and from the school magazine, The Watsonian, when they were still at school. Most of the information you will find here has been taken from A Memorial Record of Watsonians who served in the Great War (1920) and The Watsonian War Record 1939-1945 (1951). These two volumes were published to record and honour Watsonians who had served and who had died. Additionally, John Hamblin researched the Watsonians during the Second World War (1939-46) in more detail and we are pleased to share his research here too.
You can view the War Records by selecting one of the following links. Alternatively, you can search the Records using the form below, completing as much information as possible.
Your search for former pupils
returned 804 record(s).
The younger son of Mr. J. Gershom Adams, architect, Edin., was born in Edinburgh in 1899. After ten years at G.W.C. (1907-17) he entered the service of the British Linen Bank. Previously trained as a Signaller in O.T.C., he joined R.S.F. as a Pte. Later promoted Cpl. and transferred to 1/5th Seaforth Hrs., 51st Div., he served in France on the Marne. After being wounded and gassed near Arras on Aug. 26, 1918, he succumbed to his injuries at Weimereux two days later. He is interred in the British Cemetery at Wimille, near Boulogne.
The son of Mr. J. Affleck, Muirpark, Dalkeith, was born in 1894, and educated at Dalkeith High School. Thereafter he spent four years at G.W.C. (1906-10), where he excelled in Mathematics. He was an enthusiastic School cricketer, and later Hon. Secy. of Dalkeith Club. In Sept. 1914 he gave up an appointment in the National Health Insurance Commission, and enlisted as a Pte. in the 9th R.S. In Feb. 1915 he went overseas to France. He was killed in Sanctuary Wood, Hooge, and interred there, May 8, 1915.
The only son of Rev. W. J. Ainslie, Hawick, was born in 1896 and came to G.W.C. in 1906. He attained considerable reputation as a House and School footballer, being scrum-half in the 1913-14 XV. He left School in 1914 to study in Germany preparatory to entering on a career as C.A. Gazetted to the 12th R.S. in 1914, he served in Flanders during 1915, and was mentioned in Despatches. He was killed by a sniper at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, Battle of Loos, Sept. 28, 1915.
The only son of Mr. T. Ainslie, Penicuik, was born in 1896, and attended G.W.C. 1911-13. He was a keen golfer and bowler. He had served two years as apprentice stockbroker in Edinburgh when he joined the 8th R.S. He was promoted L/Cpl., and was temporarily attached to the 1st R.S.F. Slightly wounded near Serre on Nov. 13, 1916, he was being attended to at a dressing-station, when he was killed by the bursting of a stray shell.
The elder son of Mr. R. S. Aitchison, C.A., Edin., was born in 1895, and attended G.W.C. 1903-13. A member of the Cadet Corps, he attained the rank of Sgt., and having gained certificate 'A,' was gazetted to the 5th R.S. in March 1914. He was an apprentice C.A. when war broke out. Volunteering for foreign service, he accompanied his regiment to Gallipoli and fell in action there.
Born in 1893, was the son of Mr. W. Aitchison, Edin., and attended G.W.C. 1906-10. He left to become a draughtsman in an engineer's office. Enlisting in the 15th R.S., he gained a commission in the 13th R.S., and was subsequently attached to the R.I.F. He was twice wounded and finally reported missing, April 29, 1918. He is now presumed killed.
Elder son of Capt. and Mrs. W. S. Aitken, 32 Craiglockhart Drive South, Edinburgh. Was born 20th June 1923. Leaving School in 1940 he immediately joined the RAF, gained his wings September 1941 and took part in many raids over enemy territory. Later he was attached to a Ferry Squadron and lost his life in July 1942.
Was born in 1890 and attended G.W.C. 1901-8. He was one of the original members of the Cadet Corps, and on leaving School was for a time Secy. of the Watsonian 1905 Club. He graduated M.A. in 1912 at Edin. Univ., and was an apprentice C.A. when war broke out. Mobilised with the L. and B. H., he served in France and Macedonia, and became a L/Cpl. Gazetted in Oct. 1917 to the Rifle Bde., he fell in action in France, Mar. 21, 1918.
Only son of the late Lieutenant James Kidd Alexander, Royal Scots, who fell at Passchendaele in 1917, and Mrs. Catherine Alexander, 14 Findhorn Place, Edinburgh, came to Watson's in 1918 and left in 1927 to enter the service of The Edinburgh Savings Bank, and later was on the Staff of The Union Bank of Scotland Ltd. and served in Glasgow and Kirkcaldy. He joined his father's regiment, The Royal Scots, in 1940 and in 1943 proceeded to India and later to Burma. He saw much action early in 1944 and on 18th April in that year he fell in the Battle of Kohima, where he is buried.