Object of the Month: Watch of Capt PL Moubray

The Pocket Watch of Capt PL Moubray

November’s Object of the Month continues the theme of the First World War with the watch of Captain Percy Lionel Moubray. Unfortunately Captain PL Moubray was killed in action on the 29th October 1914 at the First Battle of Ypres whilst serving with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch. He died whilst Captaining either B or C Company, which were charged with defending the Menin Road, which was the entry way to Ypres. It was recognised that if the Allies were to lose the Menin Road, then they would also lose Ypres, which would result in the loss of the war, as the British would lose access to their supply lines.

Heavy losses were suffered by The Black Watch at the Menin Road on the 29th, as the Germans attacked their position with great strength. Only a few men of B and C companies were able to rejoin Battalion Headquarters near Polderhoek Chateau, but they were mostly wounded. The Battalion’s losses for the day amounted to 5 officers (including Capt PL Moubray) and 250 men.

The watch has the Black Watch insignia – a star with St. Andrew on the cross – engraved on the back and the front has been inscribed with “FORTITUDE” and “LET THE DEED SHAW”. It was kindly later returned to the Moubray family by the German Government, as the death of its owner was early enough into the First World War that personal items were still being returned in a gentlemanly manner. The watch is now on display in the First World War Gallery at Balhousie Castle and is a poignant reminder of the personal costs of the war.

 

 

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The Museum of The Black Watch offers an insight into one of the British Army's if not the world's most famous fighting units. Scotland's Black Watch is an elite military regiment whose history stretches back almost three centuries.
This entry was posted in Artefacts and collections, First World War, Object of the Month. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Object of the Month: Watch of Capt PL Moubray

  1. You may be interested in further details on the return of this watch. When the German government returned the watch they said that it belonged to 2nd Lt Vere Douglas Boscawen, the son of the 7th Viscount Falmouth. The implication was that it had been found at the same time as Boscawen’s body, which the Germans buried (he was killed on 29 October 1914). Falmouth visited the War Office to see the watch and denied that it was his son’s. The War Office made further inquiries and used the family motto on the watch to discover the real owner. I believe that the watch was the only evidence used to confirm Moubray’s death, as his status was always “unofficially known to be killed”. Moubray’s Service Record does not exist in the PRO in London, but the details (and the German letter) can be found in Boscawen’s. Its reference number is: TNA PRO WO339/10219.

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