Flight Sergeant Thomas Lincoln WATKINS

Service No: 407308
Born: North Adelaide SA, 20 March 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 17 August 1940
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Wellington aircraft Z1344), Netherlands, 2 June 1942, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Flushing (Vlissingen) Northern Cemetery, Zeeland, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas George and Lena Myra Watkins, of Keswick, South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Date: 1-2 June 1942
Target: Essen
Total Force: Dispatched – 957, Attacking – 726
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 19
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,235
Total Aircraft Lost: 32
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2

Essen was not again attacked until the mass raid of 1st-2nd June, two nights after the resounding success by a similar force against Cologne. The natural defences, haze and low cloud again confused the attackers, and although eighteen aircraft dropped illuminating flares with the aid
of Gee, and were closely followed by an incendiary force of Stirlings and Halifaxes, no real concentration of bombing was achieved. Nineteen Wellingtons of No. 460 found nothing to bomb except widely-scattered fires, and again the main weight fell away from Krupps, and Oberhausen, Mulheim, Hamborn and Duisburg suffered more damage than Essen. The raid, while failing in its main object, again demonstrated that defences could be saturated by large numbers of aircraft, and although Australians reported several incidents, the number of aircraft lost, and especially the proportion of, aircraft damaged by anti-aircraft fire, was noticeably low.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 323-5

Flying Officer Holland and crew were detailed to operate in Z1344 against Essen, Germany on the night of 1/2nd June 1942. The aircraft took off from RAF Breighton at 2321 hours on 1st June but nothing was heard from the aircraft and it failed to return to base. Bomb load 8 x 90 x 4 lb (pound) (2 kg) incendiaries. The aircraft was one of nineteen aircraft of the Squadron that took part in the second Thousand Plan raid.

The crew members of Z1344 were:

Flight Sergeant Dudley Raymond Beinke (406136) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant William Desmond Cheese (408046) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Died: 20 July 1942
Sergeant Arthur Patrick Dansey (400080) (Observer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 10 January 1946
Sergeant Clifford Stanley Douglas (406349) (Second Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 November 1945
Flying Officer Allan James Holland (43286) (RAF) (Pilot) PoW (Australian serving in the RAF)
Flight Sergeant Thomas Lincoln Watkins (407308) (Air Gunner)

In a later statement by Flying Officer Holland he reported “On June 1st 1942 at about sea level, my aircraft was hit by enemy aircraft. It was badly damaged and put on fire, five or six seconds after we hit the sea. The aircraft broke up. Part of the aircraft sank immediately and other parts were on the water. I fought my way to the surface as well as Dansey, Cheese, Beinke and Douglas. The fire was blazing on the surface and we swam to open water. We were picked up by ship about 15 minutes later. Watkins drowned and Beinke died while being taken out of the water the others were injured and taken to hospital at Bergen-Op-Zoom. Cheese died later and the others recovered”.

No. 460 Squadron lost Wellington Z1311 (Flight Sergeant John Francis Walsh (404701) (Pilot)) on 2 June 1942.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/176/286


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

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