Watkins R B - The OldWinburnians

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Watkins R B

WW2 individuals

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R. B. Watkins

Full Names

Rank /Unit  

Years at Q.E.G.S.

Richard Brinsley Watkins

Dorsetshire Regiment



Date  / Place of Birth

Date  / Place of Death

Age at Death


Wednesday 7th April 1943.


Lt. Richard Watkins was the son of Edward Victor and Rosalie Nellie Watkins of The Broadway in Broadstone. His father owned an off-licence which was on the corner of The Broadway and York Road. The family lived over the shop.  During WW2, the shop became an attraction to some American soldiers who were occupying the adjoining premises and they broke through the party wall to gain access to the wine, spirits, cigarettes etc.
Surprisingly little is known of Richard's early years in WGS other than that he was in School House. He was made a Prefect in the Autumn of 1937 and became prominent in the Cadet Corps. In the Spring of 1938, he was awarded his Rugby Colours.
During the Summer term of that year, Richard gained matric. exemption in the School Certificate examination and he was the winner at Weight 13 in the Boxing Competition.  He was also in the Swimming Sports. In addition, the School Magazine for the Summer term carried a very profound essay which had been written by "R.B.W" and it is reprinted below. [Only the initials of contributors were permitted.]

It is not known when Richard enlisted but, in 1942 he visited the School when his battalion was stationed in a 'nearby town'. He made another visit to W.G.S. but, quite early in 1943, as a Lieutenant, he was in Algiers and met another Old Winburnian - also a Lieutenant.    
Richard was killed, in his first action, about three months later, during the Tunisian campaign. His grave is in the Oued Zarga War Cemetery, about 50 miles west of Tunis.
An appreciation in the School Magazine for the Summer term of 1943 read, : -
"Lt. Richard Brindley Watkins, Dorset Regiment, of Broadstone, was at School from 1932 -1938. While only 13, he was awarded the Scout's Gilt Medal for attempting to save a man from drowning. At School he was a fine all-round sportsman, champion swimmer and boxer. One of the keenest of N.C.Os he proved a tower of strength at successive Corps Camps. A brother officer has written " He was a young an enthusiastic officer, combining a genial personality with military efficiency and sound leadership".
One of his [RBW] last poems, composed a few months before he fell in his first engagement, appears below.


A thousand times and more I've sat beside
The ceaseless surge and ebb of tide,
And seen amid that seething strife
The fantasy of life.

"The wave that on the shore breaks high,
Tell me, whence came it, or whence came I?"
"From the bosom of the deep," replies the lore,
Granted, but where and what before?

Does life begin with birth and end with death,
Like candle flame snuffed out with breath,
Or mistress who has lost her charm,
Cast aside without a qualm?

The wave was there when time began,
Was given life and lives its span,
Then on some coastline froths and spurns,
And to its native haunts returns.

Is life a chapter of a whole,
Knit together by the soul?
Nor can the eye of man discern
From whence it came or whence return.

Why can't I lift the veil and see
That which was and is to be,
And answer my impotency.
On this my immortality?

R.B.W.  December 1942


          Below is an essay which Richard wrote in 1938.



Human nature hates to face reality. It knows instinctively from birth, the grimness of the hard truth. The traveler, dying from thirst under the scorch of brazen skies, does not give up hope, but staggers a few more steps when he knows that the nearest water hole is a hundred miles away. He forces his mind not to recognise the proportion of the great distance and the few feet he will be able to drag himself in his last minutes. It is hope that is the green baize over grim reality.
Man separates life from reality as his as possible He invents amusements to distract his mind from the hard facts of life. Some find relief. In the cinema or in the dance hall, and some, unable to forget in such an easy manner, drown their thoughts with intoxicants, while others go even a step further, using drugs to remove themselves from thoughts of this world for a short time that they may dwell in another plane altogether. If one were to ask a drug addict why he likes to take drugs, he would probably reply that he hated the harsh drudge, of this life and like to be in poppied sleep and dream of places where there is certainly no reality.
Realty is one of the few things round which man cannot, for all his knowledge, find a way. Many refuse to believe in reality until they arrive face to face with it. The poor man lives mud, nearer to true life than does the rich man who has ever sat in the lap of luxury and has never known what it is to want the bare necessities of life. When fortunes change, and the rich and poor man change places, both are likely to lose their heads. The one time Lazarus finds that he has no longer to watch every penny this goes to his head like new wine and he squanders his new gained riches in a very short time and soon returns to his old life. The one time Dives finds his world suddenly narrowed and his old friends shunning him.
People have been known to receive the news of the death of some dear friend or relative quite unmoved. It is not until they actually see the dead body or are attending the funeral that they break down. It is the stark reality of death that eventually causes them to collapse. They are buoyed up by the hope that the news may not be right and that it is someone quite unknown to them who has died, for whom they have no depth of feeling. But it is the hardness of the fact that the news has turned out to be correct that causes this the grief. No hope is left them, they are left only with a hard and narrow path on each side of which is a deep precipice.


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