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  • Writer's pictureHelvetia History

Presentation Pocket Watch from 1908

I recently came across this watch for sale and thought I would attempt to identify the person who the watch was originally presented to. It is a half hunter gold plated pocket watch and the movement is the predecessor of the Helvetia calibre 32 as fitted to Helvetia GSTP and German DH WW2 pocket watches.

The very nicely done inscription is inside the case back and is as follows:

Presented to

Color Sgt H. White

In his leaving the service

By a few friends

From Ship St Bks Dublin

XMas 1908

The problem I had with researching this watch was the opposite of the pilots watch that I will post about next. Rather than one potential owner there were hundreds. Luckily most service records for this period are online it is just a matter of narrowing it down.

First of all I tried to narrow down which regiments were at Ship St Barracks during the period by searching period newspapers and came up with half a dozen in Dublin but only one definitely tied to the barracks, the Lancashire Fusiliers.

There was a Colour Sergeant White in the Essex Regt in Dublin at the right time but they seem to have been at Wellington Barracks. He also stayed in the regiment eventually being killed as a 2nd Lt in 1917.

I was starting to go cross eyed with searching when I stumbled across a Sgt White of the Military Foot Police arresting someone in 1907 for being drunk at Ship St Barracks. Eventually I found this was our man after being promoted to Colour Sergeant.

Harry White joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in 1888 before transferring to the Military Foot Police in 1891.

After serving 21 years he was discharged in Dublin in January 1909.

Everything on the watch now matched I'm sure this is the right man.

In 1914 he joined up again being promoted from Private to Colour Sergeant in one day - not bad!

He then transferred to the Military Provost Staff Corps as a Staff Sergeant and served in the UK until 1919.

He lived in Chatham, Kent after his discharge and died in 1936. The watch was being sold from Kent so that fits too.

In fact his grave is not far from where I work and the cemetery is actually in the same street as one of our other locations. Next time I visit there I will go and see it.

I made one last search of the newspaper archive and found the below. If only I had found this on my first attempt I could have saved myself a lot of work!


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