James Watkins was the son of James Watkins of 31 Enville Street, Stourbridge. By 1914 he was married to Sarah and living at 'The Orchards', The Ridge, Wollaston, and was a member of the Enville Street Methodist chapel. He enlisted in the Worcesters and joined the 2nd Battalion in the 33rd Division. By mid-1918 the battalion had recovered from its losses in the April Battle of the Lys and was ready to take part in the Advance to Victory. The troops returned over the Somme battle-field as the Germans fell back in retreat. The 29th September was, perhaps, the decisive day for the defeat of the German army. The Hindenburg Line had been reached and now its strongest defences had to be broken. The Line incorporated the deep cutting of a great canal while its trench fortifications were three lines deep and stretched back three miles. For the Battle of the St. Quentin Canal the 33rd Division was to put in a diversionary attack down the valley of the little River Targelle towards the village of Ossus. At 5.45 a.m. led by D Company the Worcesters attacked across open fields but were slowed by ground made heavy by the rain of the previous day as well as by the concentrated fire of the enemy artillery. They could not keep up with their own creeping barrage and the leading platoons were cut down by machine gun fire. Elsewhere the battle was a remarkable success and the Germans were forced to fall back from their main defences. Within six weeks the war was over. But the losses for D Company were huge. In all the Worcesters lost 88 men killed in action. Among them was Private James Watkins who is buried at Fins British Cemetery (VI E 13). He was 31 years of age and is commemorated on the Stourbridge, St. John's church, St. Thomas's church and Enville St. Methodist church Memorials.
Stourbridge Enville St. School
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