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Thread: VC Recommendation 82 Squadron

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    Default VC Recommendation 82 Squadron

    I located an entry on the Blenheim Society relating to Thomas John Watkins 44735 being recommended for a Victoria Cross after a raid from Malta with 82 Squadron. Has any member researched this at all, he was in fact rewarded with an immediate DSO. I wonder if he was recommended for the VC which was downgraded to a DSO.

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    Colin,
    After reading an account of what happened, i'm very surpised that he did not in fact get a VC

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    I do not recall running across the case of Thomas John Watkins when writing my book "Valour Reconsidered" but I did encounter (from later in the war) a VC recommendation for Frank Vernon Watkins, RNZAF, recommended for a posthumous VC and awarded a posthumous Mention in Despatches.

    Nevertheless, it is possible that I overlooked Thomas John Watkins. If he was, indeed, recommended for a VC, the correspondence (including submission and rationale for reducing it to a DSO) will most likely be found at Kew in Air 2/5686 dealing with aerial Victoria Cross recommendations in the period 1940-1942. If anyone investigates, I would appreciate reading their findings.

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    Hugh.

    If it helps the time line of events are Date of incident 22/6/41

    London Gazette entry 15/8/41 Joint notification of DSO to Acting F/Lt Thomas John Watkins 44735 & DFM to Sgt James Samuel Sargent 550557 (Page 4723 onto 4724)

    The DFM is recorded as an immediate award.

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    Flight magazine Sept 4th 1941.

    Acting Flt/Lt Thomas John Watkins, 82 squadron. In June 1941, Flight Leiutenant Watkins and Sgt Sargent, were pilot and observer respectivley of an aircraft which paticipated in an attack on an enemy convoy off Lampadusa. Attacking a 6,000 ton merchant ship in the face of heavy anti aircraft fire, Flt/Lt Watkins was severely wounded in the legs, during his run over the target. Nevertheless, he pressed home his attack, mast high, scoring hits on the objective.
    Enemy fighters engaged his aircraft, but, by skilful manoeuvering, he enabled his gunner to resist the attackers. On the return journey, Flt Lt Watkins fell into a stupor as a result of his wounds, and Sgt Sergeant, who was unable to call the airgunner, as the intercommunication gear was out of order, removed the wounded pilot, took over the controls, and flew the aircraft back to base. During this period, Flt/Lt Watkins had momentary periods of conciousness, and, when informed that the aircraft was over base, insisted on taking control. Although in intense pain, and very weak through loss of blood, by supreme effort he regained his seat, and made a landing without damaging the aircraft. Throughout, Flt/Lt Watkins showed the highest courage and devotion to duty, while Sgt Sergeant showed courage and resource in difficult circumstances.

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    Regarding the question of Watkins being recommended for the VC The short extract below confirms the suggestion that was posed. This information obtained by an entry in the Blenheim Society Journal for which I am pleased to thank them for.

    Air Vice Marshall Stevenson endorsed the 82 Sqd Commanding Officers recommendation for the Victoria Cross

    The AVM quotes. " I am told by Air Vice Marshall Lloyd that Watkins foot was hanging by shreds of muscle and raw flesh" To continue the attack in these circumstances with such success and to have thereafter engaged his aircraft with enemy fighters and to have recovered consciousness sufficiently to be placed in the pilots seat and to have landed his aircraft displays very clearly all facets of high courage and devotion to duty which merits the Victoria Cross. I am happy to recommend him for this decoration.

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