Tasker Watkins VC
Name: Tasker Watkins
Conflict: Second World War
Gazetted: November 2, 1944
Tasker Watkins VC
Place/date of birth: Nelson, Glamorgan/November 18, 1918
Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Lieutenant (later Major and Sir)
Date of bravery: August 16, 1944
London Gazette citation:
Lieutenant Tasker Watkins (187088), The Welch Regiment (Dagenham).
In North-West Europe on the evening of 16th August, 1944, Lieutenant Watkins was commanding a company of the Welch Regiment. The battalion was ordered to attack objectives near the railway at Bafour. Lieutenant Watkin’s [sic] company had to cross open cornfields in which booby-traps had been set up. It was not yet dusk and the company soon came under heavy machine-gun fire from posts in the corn and farther back, and also fire from an 88 mm. gun; many casualties were caused and the advance was slowed up.
Lieutenant Watkins, the only officer left, placed himself at the head of his men and under short range fire charged two posts in succession, personally killing or wounding the occupants with his Sten gun. On reaching his objective he found an anti-tank gun manned by a German soldier; his Sten gun jammed, so he threw it in the German’s face and shot him with his pistol before he had time to recover.
Lieutenant Watkin’s [sic] company now had only some 30 men left and was counter-attacked by 50 enemy infantry. Lieutenant Watkins directed the fire of his men and then led a bayonet charge, which resulted in the almost complete destruction of the enemy.
It was now dusk and orders were given for the battalian [sic] to withdraw. These orders were not received by Lieutenant Watkin’s [sic] company as the wireless set had been destroyed. They now found themselves alone and surrounded in depleted numbers and in failing light. Lieutenant Watkins decided to rejoin his battalion by passing round the flank of the enemy position through which he had advanced but while passing through the cornfields once more, he was challenged – by an enemy -post at close range. He ordered his men to scatter and himself charged the post with a Bren-gun and silenced it. He then led the remnants of his company back to battalion headquarters.
His superb gallantry and total disregard for his own safety during an extremely difficult period were responsible for saving the lives of his men, and had a decisive influence on the course of the battle.
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Other decorations: GBE KStJ PC
Place/date of death: Cardiff/September 9, 2007
Grave/memorials: Thornhill Crematorium, Cardiff; Tasker Watkins House at Morfa TA Centre, Swansea
Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased privately, 2008
Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum