Thursday 5 February 2015

Tasker Watkins

Tasker Watkins 18-11-1918-09-09-2007

Looks a fairly ordinary sort of chap doesn't he until you look at the row of medals pinned to his chest and then begin to wonder why you're looking at a statue of him. Born in Wales he started out as a teacher before joining the British Army in October 1939 as a private. Gradually he worked his way up the ranks and this is the report of his decisive leadership on 16 August 1944:

" Barfour, Normandy.....Watkins' company came under murderous machine-gun fire while advancing through corn fields set with booby traps....the only officer left...Watkins led a bayonet charge with his 30 remaining dusk, separated from the rest of the battalion, he ordered his men to scatter and after he had personally charged and silences an enemy machine-gun post, he brought them back to safety."

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery which is now on display at the Imperial War Museum.

After leaving the army Watkins studied law and became a barrister in 1948. During his legal career he became the Deputy Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Justice of Appeal. Such was the magnitude of his achievements he was knighted in 1971 and made a GBE in 1990. Yet when approached to stand for parliament he refused.

His first great love was rugby and having played for the army, Cardiff RFC and the Glamorgan Wanderers he became the president of the Welsh Rugby Union from 1993 to 2004. Typically it is outside the rugby ground in Cardiff that this statue stands. Below is the citation from the plinth upon which he stands. For me this sums up a truly great yet unassuming man who was often to be found drinking a half pint in the rugby club bar.


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