Lieut.-Colonel Arthur Powell WATKINS, M.C. (11775)

Commanded the 12th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from June 1940 to March 1942.

Arthur Powell Watkins was born on the 23rd September 1891 in Worcester, the son of Alfred Powell Watkins and Selina Watkins (nee Morris). His father died in 1895 when he was only 4 years old. The family lived at 14 Albany Terrace, Britannia Square, Worcester.

After school he worked for the Worcester County Council as a Clerk.

During the First World War he was called up for service on the 12th February 1915 enlisting at Worcester. He was then posted to the Royal Engineers at Reading as a Motor Cyclist with the Divisional Signals Company, being promoted to Corporal the next day (13th). His army number was 69016.

On the 4th November 1915 he was appointed to a commission rank with the 14th Battalion (Severn Valley Pioneers) Worcestershire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant.

On the 16th June 1916 he was posted to France and landed with the 14th Battalion (Severn Valley Pioneers) Worcestershire Regiment at Havre on the 21st June 1916.

On the 5th February 1918 promoted to Lieutenant.

On the 25th July 1917 he was given the temporary rank of Captain seriving in 'C' Company.

Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Watkins, M.C.

Lieut.-Colonel A. P. Watkins, M.C.

On the 25th March 1918 Captain A. P. Watkins was commanding 'C' Company and was ordered by 190th Brigade to move from Courcelette to Mouquet Farm. The company went down across the valley to Thiepval, marching steadily: the only unit of the whole Division which was still in good order. On the eastern side of Thiepval the company deployed, but almost at once a message was signalled back that the enemy were breaking through the centre of the line in front, The 'C' Company was ordered forward to fill the gap. The company was about to advance, when Captain Watkins saw a force of the enemy pouring forward over the skyline on to the undefended left flank of the Brigade. The previous order was cancelled, and the Brigade-Major of the 190th Brigade led 'C' Company to guard the threatened flank. Captain Watkins deployed his platoons amid a tangle of old trenches and shell-holes (Hessian Trench) and for some time held back the enemy. But the attack was in too great force to be denied. In face of overwhelming numbers 'C' Company gradually withdrew, a platoon at a time covered by the fire of the rest. Captain Watkins was badly wounded but continued to direct the withdrawal so long as his strength remained, helped along by his men, who fell back in good order to the ruins of Thiepval. There a fresh defensive line had been established by the other troops of the Division. The Pioneers passed through the village, made their way down the slope, and rejoined the remnants of the other companies of the Battalion in Thiepval Wood. For his actions that day Captain A. P. Watkins was awarded the Military Cross.

After recovering from his wounds he was posted to a Service Battalion of the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment (1st August 1919) with the rank of Temporary Captain.

On the 18th March 1920 he religuished his commission on completion of service and retained the rank of Captain.

On the 27th August 1921 he rejoined the Worcestershire Regiment with the rank of Lieutenant and relinguished the rank of Captain.

On the 19th December 1923 he married Miss Joan C. F. Blake (daughter of the late Dr. H. E. Valentine Blake, of Renvyle, County Galway, and Mrs Blake, of Wellington Road, Dublin) in Dublin.

On the 1st April 1924 appointed Adjutant of the Worcestershire Regiment Garrison Battalion at Dover.

On the 1st April 1928 he reliquished his role as Adjutant of the Worcestershire Regiment Garrson Battalion at Dover and was restored to establishment with rank of Lieutenant.

In 1929 he was attached to the 7th (T.A.) Battalion Worcestershire Regiment as a Machine Gun Instructor.

On the 25th August 1931 he was promoted to rank of Captain.

On the 11th July 1933 he was seconded to the King's Own Malta Regiment as the Adjutant.

On the 1st January 1936 he was promoted to Brevet Major.

Promoted to Major on the 1st August 1938 and Acting Lieut.-Colonel on the 1st September 1939.

On the 1st June 1940 he was given command of the newly formed 12th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment.

Retired from the Army on the 21st April 1945 and joined the reserve of officers and on the 16th March 1948 having reached the age limit of liability for recall ceased to be on the reserve of officers.

Died in London in 1958.