Date of Enlistment:
26 Ops with ?? Squadron
and 3 Ops with 156 Squadron.
Date of Birth:
Mention in Despatches
- awarded as per London Gazette dated 13 June 1946, with effect from
20 December 1942.
Son of Frank Arthur and
Annie Watkins, of Ruawai, Auckland, New Zealand.
According to the 156 Squadron
Operations Record Book (ORB) Warrant Officer Watkins first
mission was on the 8/12/1942.
The ORB on 26/07/1943, records that
F/O WATKINS (Missing on 21.12.42) was appointed to commissioned
His final mission, to Duisberg, on the
20/12/1942 took off from Warboys at 18:02.
It's very likely that Wellington Z1660 came down in / near
the target Duisburg. From microfilmed German POW cards I know that
Sgt Harry Campbell Arbic and Sgt Murray Southey were taken prisoner
in / near Duisburg. (Above Courtesy
of Marcel Hogenhuis)
Public Record Office Air 2/4890 has recommendation for a
Victoria Cross drafted by the
Commanding Officer of the squadron on 20 February 1943 which noted
he had flow 29 sorties (170 operational hours).
In reference to the consequence of a bombing raid on Duisberg on the
night of 20/21 December 1942, a letter forwarded by Squadron Leader
John Carter, DFC, now a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III in
Germany, is attached. In support of the opinion given by Squadron
Leader Carter, the following recommendation is made:-
Firstly, it should be appreciated that Squadron Leader Carter
himself is an extremely experienced operational navigator, who has
on many occasions returned from operations in crippled aircraft, and
that the forced parachute descent he made on the occasion referred
to is the third he has made during active service in this war. His
cool judgement and opinion of the behaviour of his captain on this
occasion can therefore be vouched for without any doubt.
Warrant Officer Watkins joined this squadron on 1st December 1942 as
a specially selected crew for pathfinder duties from No.1 Group,
where he had proved himself as an above the average captain. During
his service with this squadron he displayed the highest sense of
responsibility and absolute devotion to duty.
This final record of his unquestionable and unequalled courage in
the face of death is considered worthy of the highest award that can
be made by His Majesty the King.
Finally, it should be noted that from the evidence of this letter
that Warrant Officer Watkins displayed the highest qualities as a
captain of aircraft. Firstly, he ordered those members of the crew
who could be of no further assistance to him to bale out, and then
waited until the last moment before he ordered the navigator to bale
out, when in his own mind he considered that he would be forced to
make a crash landing. It would appear that at no time did the
question of his own safety enter Warrant Officer Watkin’s mind.
Group Captain Kirkpatrick, Officer Commanding Station Wyton,
added his comments the same day.
I heartily endorse the Squadron Commander’s recommendation that the
highest award be granted Warrant Officer Watkins.
It is clear that he went to his death in an attempt to land knowing
full well the heavy odds against his doing so in a badly damaged
aircraft, in enemy territory, and at night, but hoping that the
Bombardier might after all be alive, and that he might possibly
effect a landing and thereby save his comrade’s life.
This act of unselfish
sacrifice, cool devotion to duty and astonishing courage, in my
opinion deserves the highest recognition by the award of the
(Citation details provided by Hugh Halliday.)
ED - History has shown
that the recommendation was unsuccessful, and I am under the
impression that in these circumstances only the MID can be awarded.