K D Watson Wodonga’s Unsung Hero

K.D Watson, Wodonga’s Unsung Hero.

By Marie Elliot

Many of our older Wodonga residents would remember K.D.Watson, as Shire President, Show Society Committee, and Wodonga Hospital Committee.

Few would know of his earlier life as volunteer soldier before he came to Wodonga in 1922 looking for suitable farming land to purchase. On 4th August 1914, the Australian Government pledged 20,000 men as one Infantry Division and one Light Horse Brigade, plus supporting units.  Ken answered the call for volunteers, leaving Australia May 11, 1916, on the HMAT A8 Argyll as 2nd Lieutenant with 7th Australian Field Artillery Brigade. It was at Passchendaele Ridge, Ken was awarded Military Cross “for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as F.O.O. with the Right Infantry Brigade.”  Ken’s diary Oct. 4th 1917.  At 5.45am the Hun opened up with a barrage which was a preliminary to an attack he was going to launch. At 6am our barrage opened and the infantry started off. All went well and messages came through stating we had taken our first, second and third objectives, but it was a long time before we got news of the final objective. It turned out that it was taken and our men were digging in at 9.30am.  I went forward at 10am and took up a position on the line of our final objective, but being unable to see anything there, I went to the front edge of a Hun cemetery.  At 2.45pm I observed the massing of a counter attack and sent word back to the artillery who got onto them. A little later I observed more Huns massing on the other side of the railway line, so sent another message back and the artillery again got onto them.  Each message was sent back by pigeon and proved a great success.  Soon afterwards I saw about thirty Huns coming straight for me. It was apparently a patrol. I opened on them with my revolver first, but then with a Hun rifle and shot one of them. The Lewis guns then opened up on them and they turned and went for their lives.