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Frank Vernon Watkins

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Portrait, Weekly News 10 March 1943 - This image may be subject to copyright

Portrait, Weekly News 10 March 1943 - This image may be subject to copyright

Identity

  • Title
  • Forenames
    Frank Vernon AWMM
  • Surname
    Watkins AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    • NZ404847 AWMM
    • WWII 404847 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    8 March 1922 RNZAF Biographies (R17845617) DargavilleNorthland RNZAF Biographies (R17845617)
  • Date of birth
    21 March 1922 Public - Jenifer - Researcher - 26 February 2019 - Wikipedia : Warrant Officer F V Watkins - see Sources section of this profile.
  • Place of birth
    Dargaville, New Zealand. Public - Jenifer - Researcher - 26 February 2019 - Wikipedia : Warrant Officer F V Watkins - see Sources section of this profile.
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Ruawai, New Zealand. Public - Jenifer - Researcher - 26 February 2019 - Wikipedia : Warrant Officer F V Watkins - see Sources section of this profile.
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    • Mr Frank Watkins (father), Ruawai, North Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
    • WW2 Parents: Mr & Mrs F. A. Watkins, Ruawai, North Auckland AWMM
  • Relationship status
    • Single/WWII AWMM
    • Single Public - Jenifer - Researcher - 26 February 2019 - Wikipedia : Warrant Officer F V Watkins - see Sources section of this profile.

Service

Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
    Pilot/Military RNZAF Biographies (R17845617)
  • Enlistment
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment

Embarkations

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    Killed in Action, Cause of Death AWMM
    Killed on air operations AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • Son of Frank Arthur and Annie Watkins of Auckland

      In 1998 Adriaan de Winter and Ton van Alphen undertook a project in the Reichswald Forest Cemetery photographing all the headstones of New Zealanders buried there.

      Attended Ruawai District High School (Source: RNZAF Biographies (R17845617)) AWMM
    • On the evening of 20 December 1942, Watkins was flying his Wellington on a mission headed for Duisburg, in the Ruhr. Flying with Watkins that evening was navigator John Carter, a squadron leader with a Distinguished Flying Cross. In a letter written from Stalag Luft III on 5 January 1943 to the commanding officer of No. 156 Squadron, Tommy Rivett-Carnac, Carter described how they had taken direct flak directly over the target, with the bomb aimer Bill Brook-Norris being severely wounded.[4] Watkins and Brook-Norris had flown together for some time and had become close friends. Carter stated that they had intended to inject the wounded airman with morphine and then launch him from the aircraft by parachute. While preparing for this, the Wellington was hit again and suddenly the aircraft was too low and out of control. The rest of the crew had already jumped when Watkins ordered Carter out and said he was staying.[4] The Wellington crashed shortly afterwards killing both Watkins and Brook-Norris.[6][7] Watkins and Brook-Norris were found in the crash remains in the target area and now lie together in the Reichswald Forest Cemetery.[1][8] Watkins was 20 years old.[9]

      For his actions on this last mission Warrant Officer Watkins was recommended to receive the Victoria Cross (VC) - the highest Commonwealth award for Bravery.

      Reference for this recommendation Public Record Office Air 2/4890 "(This Officer) Displayed the highest qualities as a Captain of an aircraft. Firstly he ordered those crew who could be of no further assistance to him to bale out and then (he) 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 entered Warrant Officer Watkin's mind. It is clear that he went to his death in an attempt to land knowing full well the heavy odds against doing so - in a badly damaged aircraft, in enemy territory and at night - but hoping the Bombardier (Bomb Aimer Bill Brook-Norris) might after all be alive and that he (Watkins) 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 Victoria Cross (VC)". Public - Jenifer - Researcher - 26 February 2019 - Mission details : Wikipedia Warrant Officer Frank Vernon Watkins RNZAF 404847.

      Recommendation for Victoria Cross : 156 Squadron.com : Warrant Officer Frank Vernon Watkins : RNZAF 404847.
    • The Navigator (Squadron Leader Carter DFC) whom Warrant Officer Watkins instructed to bale out - before attempting the ill-fated crash landing later wrote :
      "Had he not been so devoted to his friend he could have saved his own life by leaving the dying [bomb aimer] to his fate. Yet he refused to do this and attempted the alternative - crash landing ... his life was forfeited in the crash ... He willingly and selflessly gave his life in a forlorn effort to save his friend ... his actions were the most outstanding example of ... sacrifice. I am inspired by his memory.[4] " Public - Jenifer - Researcher - 26 February 2019 - Wikipedia : Warrant Officer Frank Vernon Watkins MID : RNZAF 404847
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Death

About death

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  • Death
    20 December 1942 AWMM
    Age 20 AWMM
    GermanyEurope AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany AWMM 8 E 18 AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference

Memorials

Memorial

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  • Memorial name
    • Ruawai War Memorial, WW2 AWMM
    • Roll of Honour, Northern Wairoa RSA, Dargaville AWMM

Roll of Honour

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Sources

Sources

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  • External links
  • References
    • Martyn, E. (1998-2008). For Your Tomorrow (Vols. 1-3). Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM
    • RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Biographies of Deceased Personnel 1939 - 1945 (Bound Volumes) - Ue - Z. Archives New Zealand (R17845617) - Former archives reference: AIR118 AWMM
    • List of RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Personnel - List of Personnel Killed or Missing in Various Theatres, 1940 - 1945. [Missing - But Presumed Dead on Lapse of Time - Officers, Airmen]. Archives New Zealand (R17845743) AWMM
    • Please note that the 12 volumes of the "RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Biographies of Deceased Personnel 1939-1945" held at Archives NZ (formerly known as AIR118) should be used in conjunction with Errol Martyn's "For Your Tomorrow". FYT reflects detailed examination of all of the AIR118 bios which contain many inaccuracies and omissions. AWMM
    • List of RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Personnel - Embarkation Lists, November 1940 - July 1942. Archives New Zealand, Wellington (R17845762). AWMM

Contributors

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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
26 February 2019JeniferWairarapaResearcher

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