Sutton war hero's watch unearthed encrusted in mud from the Somme 100 years after the First World War

The watch of Lieutenant Twite still covered in mud from the Somme

The watch of Lieutenant Twite still covered in mud from the Somme

First published in News Sutton Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

The mud-encrusted watch of a Sutton-based soldier has been unearthed nearly 100 years since its owner died in the First World War.

Lieutenant Harold Lllewellyn Twite was buried alive in a dugout under the Somme after an explosion from a German mine.

The soldier’s watch was still covered in earth from the French battlefield, when it was handed over to a museum in November last year.

The former mining engineer was serving in the Royal Engineers 183rd Tunnelling Company, when he died on December 1, 1915.

His watch displays a time of roughly 8pm, suggesting it was stopped by the blast the moment he was killed.

The time-piece was tucked away in a bag for 99 years, after his widow Lucy Muriel Twite found it too distressing to look through his belongings.

His grandson David Chilcott opened the bag last year, to find the watch with dozens of other items including his grandfather’s pipe, tobacco, and binoculars.

Sutton Guardian:

Lieutenant Twite moved to Sutton in his late twenties

Mr Chilcott, who lives in Mawnan Smith, Cornwall, said: "My grandfather’s belongings were given to my mother when my grandmother died.

"She did open the bag a few times and look through it, but once it was passed to me it ended up in my attic.

"With the centenary of the war this year, I thought it was about time I got all the bits and pieces out.

"I donated them to a museum so other people can enjoy them."

Lieutenant Twite grew up in St Agnes in Cornwall, but later moved to Albion Road in Sutton with his wife.

Sutton Guardian:

Mr Chilcott also donated his grandfather's pipe and binoculars to the museum

It is unclear what age Lieutenant Twite was when he moved to the borough, but Mr Chilcott believes he would have been in his late twenties.

He was working as a mining engineer in Burma when the war broke out on July 28 1914, but Sutton was his permanent base.

Lieutenant Twite was 36 when he died and left behind two daughters and a son.

Before the war broke out he had an illustrious career in the mining industry, working in various locations across the world.

He managed mines in Wales and Spain, and worked at sites throughout North and South America.

After his death he was buried in the village of Fricourt, close to the Somme battlefields in Northern France.

Lieutenant Twite’s belongings from the war are on display at the St Agnes museum in St Agnes, Cornwall.

Did any members of your family fight in the First World War? Do you have an interesting story about the war to share with us? Call the news desk on  0208 722 6358, or email tom.gillespie@london.newsquest.co.uk

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