Capt. Reginald Hanhart Watts RMLI


1896 Jun 21. Born Newcastle upon Tyne

1901 census In Newcastle upon Tyne

1911 census in Hampstead, London

1914 Aug 29. Commissioned 2nd Lt in RMLI

RMLI Record

1915 Mar 27. Promoted Lt.

1915 May 1. Lieutenant Watts was wounded in action in the Dardanelles, having suffered a bullet wound to the right humerus. He was found to be fit for active service once more in September the same year.

1918 Aug 22. Promoted Capt in RMLI

1919 Sep 8. The RM "mutiny" in North Russia where he was servin as 2i/c. of the Chatham “B” Company, 6th Royal Marine Battalion.

The displeasure of the Admiralty refers to this event. The 6th RM battalion was originally formed for ceremonial duties in Schleswig-Holstein and included young recruits and men who had been returned from German PoW camps (without having any home leave after the Armistice). For some reason, it was decided to send the 6th to Murmansk to fight the Bolsheviks. Unlike many of the troops sent to North Russia, the Marines didn't volunteer to go there and weren't pleased to be there. Captain Watts was the acting CO at the time.

They were sent to the Lake Onega region, a further 300 miles south of Kem. On 8 Sept 1919 two companies refused duty: 90 men were tried and found guilty of mutiny by a court martial. Thirteen men were sentenced to death and others to up to 5 years imprisonment.

None of the death sentences were actually carried out. The 90 mutineers were shipped to Bodmin prison, where they continued their resistance to arbitrary authority. Continued resistance paid off. The ninety men arrested after the Murmansk incident had their sentences reduced as follows: the 13 sentenced to death were commuted to five years, but 12 were released after only one year, and the other after two years. Twenty men, originally given 5 years, were released after six months. 51 men sentenced to two years were also released within six months.

In recognition of the fact that their officers had acted contrary to Army instructions in employing young and inexperienced lads at the front, the remainder of those arrested were either released or had their sentences commuted to 6 months. Following the announcement, on 22 December 1919, nineteen of these acts of 'clemency' the First Lord of the Admiralty told the Commons that 'bad leadership' was a factor behind the mutiny. He even hinted at the possibility of disciplinary measures being taken against several officers

The acting CO, Captain Watts, was among those officers tried and convicted. Following the wounding of Major Barnby, 8 September 1919, command of “B” Company, 6th R.M. Battalion devolved upon Captain Watts. Watts, appearing to suffer a mental and physical collapse, ordered his men to retire from their position. He was later found, half carried, half pushed by his men, dazed and incoherent, stating that all was lost. Unsurprisingly this rattled many of the men and caused many to withdraw without orders. In the subsequent court martial, Captain Watts was acquitted on a charge of ‘Cowardice’ but convicted on a charge of ‘using words calculated to create alarm and despondency’. He was ordered to be dismissed from the service but in the event was ‘permitted to resign his commission at his own request’ on 7 February 1920. (Ref. Mutiny in Murmansk, ‘The Hidden Shame’, Royal Marines Historical Society, Special Publication No. 21).

He was cashiered and returned to the UK.

1920 Feb 19 Resigned his commission at his own request

1920 Oct 28. Joined ADRIC with service no 891. Posted to M Coy

Fined £15-15-00 by Coy Commander

1921 Mar 1 to 28 Mar on Leave

1921 Apr 18.. Resigned at Own Request.

1934 His RMLI service record says he was later apprehended by Civil Police for theft, case was proven, but he was then discharged

1939 Living at 9 Old Hall Drive , Ellesmere Port with Jean Watts. He is an Armament Inspector

1968 Died East Glamorgan, Glamorganshire, Wales