- Tasker Watkins
The Right Honourable
name = Sir Tasker Watkins
imagesize = 150px
birth_date = birth date|1918|11|18|df=yes|
birth_place = Nelson,
death_date = death date and age|2007|09|09|1918|11|18|df=yes
Soldier, Barrister, Lord Justice of Appeal
Sir Tasker Watkins VC GBE (
18 November 1918– 9 September 2007) was a Lord Justice of Appealand deputy Lord Chief Justice. He was President of the Welsh Rugby Unionfrom 1993 to 2004 and won the Victoria Crossin World War II.
The son of a
coal miner, [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/south_east/6985799.stm War hero Sir Tasker Watkins dies] BBC Wales News - 9 September 2007] Watkins was born in the small town of Nelson, Caerphilly.
Watkins won a scholarship to Pontypridd Boys' Grammar School, and became a teacher in
Londonbefore joining The Welch Regimentwhen World War IIbroke out. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/6985883.stm 'Superb gallantry' of Sir Tasker] BBC Wales - 9 September, 2007]
World War II
Watkins was commissioned into the
Welch Regimentin 1941. A lieutenantin the 1/5th battalion, he was one officer in a group in Normandypost D-Day leading an assault on a Wehrmacht machine gunpost. After all the other officers were killed in the approach, Watkins continued to lead the group and won his VC for two actions:LondonGazette
accessdate=2008-07-17] Brendan Gallagher [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/sport/2006/07/12/srbren12.xml Campaigners press for gallant Mayne to join VCs] Daily Telegraph - 12 July, 2006]
bayonetcharge against 50 armed enemy infantry
*Then single-handedly took out the Nazi machine-gun post to ensure the safety of his unit
He was the first Welshman to be awarded a VC during the
Second World War. His citation reads:
Wales rugby coach
Graham Henryhad Watkins' citation pinned up on the wall of the Welsh changing room before Six Nationsencounters. Watkins' Victoria Cross is on display in the Welch Regiment Museum in Cardiff Castle.
Watkins later achieved the rank of
major, and on leaving the British Army, entered the legal profession. He was called to the bar in 1948 and became a barrister at the Middle Temple. He became a Queen's Counselin 1965, and in 1966 served as Counsel (i.e. deputy) to the Attorney-GeneralSir Elwyn Jones on the tribunal into the Aberfandisaster, representing the families. [ [http://www.nuffield.ox.ac.uk/politics/aberfan/who2.htm Aberfan Disaster Archive - Witnesses examined by each Counsel at Tribunal of Inquiry] Nuffield Library, Oxford] [ [http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0750expats/expats/tm_headline=aberfan--it-needn-t-have-happened&method=full&objectid=17957039&siteid=50082-name_page.html Aberfan: It needn't have happened] icWales.co.uk - October 19, 2006]
Watkins served as deputy chairman of Radnorshire Quarter Sessions between 1962 and 1971, and occupied the same position with Carmarthenshire Quarter Sessions from 1966 until 1971. He was Recorder of Merthyr Tydfil between 1968 and 1970 [Who's Who,1971 A & C Black ISBN 0713611405 p3307 ] and of Swansea during 1970 and 1971. Watkins was Leader of the Wales and Chester Circuit from 1970-71.
He was knighted in 1971 upon his appointment to the High Court bench, where he sat in the Family Division between 1971 and 1974 and the Queen's Bench Division from 1974 until 1980. He sat as Presiding Judge of the Wales and Chester Circuit between 1975 and 1980 before taking up the appointment as senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales to the
Court of Appealthree years later, a post he held for eight years becoming deputy Lord Chief Justice.
Welsh Rugby Union
Watkins played Rugby Union football as an outside-half for the Army,
Cardiff RFCand Glamorgan Wanderers. He became president of the Welsh Rugby Unionin 1993, overseeing the switch from the amateur era to professionalism and the move from club to regional rugby in Wales. When he stepped down on 26 September, 2004he became the first man since Sir David Rocyn Jones in 1953 to hold office for more than one season, and his eleven years of service made him the second longest serving president in the WRU's 123 year history. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/welsh/3939905.stm WRU president steps down] BBC Sport - 30 July, 2004]
Watkins was appointed an honorary life vice patron of the WRU. [ [http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:lGrueVnpEkYJ:www.wru.co.uk/114_4881.php+Tasker+Watkins&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&client=safari Sir Tasker Watkins Takes Up New Post At WRU] WRU - 30 July, 2004] On announcement of his death, the Welsh team wore black armbands for their
2007 Rugby World Cupgame against Canada in Nantes, France, as a tribute to the former WRU president. [http://www.wru.co.uk/1391_14748.php Sir Tasker Watkins passes away] WRU - 9 September, 2007]
Watkins served as president of the
University of Wales College of Medicinefor 11 years from 1987, and was president of the British Legionin Wales from 1947 to 1968.
Knight Grand Crossof the Order of the British Empire(GBE) in 1990 and Knight of Justice of the Order of St John (KStJ) in 1998, in April 2006 he was made a Freeman of the City of Cardiff, with Lord Mayor Freda Salwaydescribing Watkins as "one of Wales' most notable citizens." [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/4904918.stm Sir Tasker given freeman honour] BBC Wales - 12 April 2006] He was made a member of the Privy Council in 1980.
Watkins married Eirwen Evans in 1941. After falling at his home in
Llandaffin August 2007, he was hospitalised at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. Watkins died at the hospital on 9 September 2007. [ [http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_headline=welsh-hero-tasker-dies-at-88%26method=full%26objectid=19759728%26siteid=50082-name_page.html Welsh hero Tasker dies at 88] icWales.co.uk - 9 September, 2007] [ [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/sport/rugby.html?in_article_id=480831&in_page_id=1780 Wales mourn Sir Tasker Watkins] Daily Mail - 9 September 2007] His funeral was held at Llandaff Cathedralon 15 September, and he was later cremated at Llandaff Crematorium. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_east/6995110.stm Hundreds for Sir Tasker funeral] BBC Wales - 15 September, 2007]
British VCs of World War 2(John Laffin, 1997)
Monuments to Courage(David Harvey, 1999)
The Register of the Victoria Cross(This England, 1997)
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,2165622,00.html Obituary, "The Guardian",
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article2418759.ece Obituary, "The Times",
* [http://www.lastingtribute.co.uk/famousperson/watkins/2634761 Obituary and Public Tribute]
* [http://www.david-griffiths.co.uk/index.php?f=data_gallery&a=4 Official portrait of Tasker Watkins by David Griffiths]
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