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John Francis Elton Watkins

John Francis Elton Watkins

Served in the Royal navy from 1940- 1949.

Born 20/09/1918
1939. Educated at University of Aberstwyth, Wales.
1940. Joined Royal navy as a Ordinary seaman.
1941. (January) Commissioned to Sub Lieutenant. Royal Naval reserve.
1943. Promoted to Lieutenant.
1946. Demobilised.
1949. Rejoined and graduated B.Sc (Agric) June 1952.

War Duties: Gunnery and executive Officer serving in various Cruisers including HMS Devonshire. Operating in the Atlantic, Arctic, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean.

During 1941 Devonshire operated in the South Atlantic where, on 22nd November, she intercepted and sank the disguised German raider Atlantis which had sunk or captured 22 Allied ships in as many months. In the following year Devonshire transferred to the Indian Ocean and took part in the amphibious operations against Madagascar. Later in the war she rejoined the Home Fleet and appropriately formed part of the escort which brought the exiled Norwegian government back to Oslo in May 1945.

HMS Devonshire, Ships Company

 Ships Company of HMS Devonshire. The exact date and locatinon is not known but could possibly be at the time of the repatriation of the King Of Norway or when he was taken from Norway to the UK. As it it looks as though the Royal Norwegian flag is flying from the mast head.

Crossin the Line


Crossing the Line Ceremony.

Possibly in the Indian Ocean.



At Reykjavik in Iceland.

 ”Nice day for stroll, ‘ol chap!”

Photo: J F Watkins, The Padre and a Canadian Engineer Officer



On the Mess Deck  HMS Devonshire 1942

In the Mess

Note the Rum Fanny hanging from the end of the mess table and the non slip area for the tot glasses!



Ships Chapel.

 Looks like this was situated in the bows of the ship. Note the bolted and probably  wealded up port hole! Maybe it is the stern end?


John Watkins at Norfolk Virginia. circa 1944.

Photo: Palomar Club. L to R,  Irvine,” Butch” Gill,  John W & “Butch” Hall.

“War, wot war“!!!! At last a time to relax.



Swimming in Reykjavik.

Where’s all the snow?



The Padre, Iceland

“OK! Who’s stole my ship?”


A shipmate

“If they train (turn) that eight inch gun now, I’m in trouble”!




“Ah! This is a safer position”!



Mystery Pic.

No details as yet on this photo.

Time to relax!

….and give your best mate a good hiding!


Possibly preparing for Sunday church


Fun & Games on the Quarterdeck.

Please excuse the damaged photo, but it has survived more than sixty years!

Lorna, Johns daughter, has this to say:

The quarter deck games : buckets held potatoes and lads having a race – dad supervising. Dad says, “they took whatever fun they could get, needed exercise if been on watch or sitting in cabin – 4 hours per watch and Guns crew changed every 4 hours, 1st watch 8-12, 2nd watch 12-4 and 3rd watch 4-6. Then had 2 hour ones. Only Ratings on watch. Officers also on watch but on bridge.”


Cap Tourane ex  Jouffroy D’abbans Built 1923. 1925 renamed Cap Tourane,

Owned by Chargeurs Reunis, 1940-45 served with Free French, 1946 returned to owners. 1953 scrapped. This photo taken whilst in a convoy, escorted by Devonshire from the Cape to Aden. She had a very active war career:

The Cap Tourane was an ex French liner and used as a depot ship for the Normandy Landings( D-Day) She took up position off Sword Beach on June 8th, to become rendezvous point for changing crews of LST and Landing Craft.

The Cap Tourane departed Tilbury at 0600 hours on the morning of June 7th sailing in Convoy ETM 2 for service at Gooseberry 5 (Sword beach area, sheltered by the sunken ‘blockships’ Becheville, Belgique, Elswick Park, Empire Defiance, Empire Tamar and Empire Tana.) She was later damaged by gunfire on June 22nd and the 25th and later moved to Gold beach area on June 29th



Under the 8 inch

“I’ve put my ear plugs in…just in case!”



Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, KG, GCB, DSO, PC.

This photo was probably at Copenhagen after the German surrender in May 1945. The ship may be HMS Birmingham. On 6th May 1945  Birmingham accepted surrender of German warships PRINZ EUGEN and NURNBERG. 13th May 1945 Relieved by HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE and returned to Scapa Flow.



Possibly at copenhagen.

Ships may be Birmingham with Dido Or Diadem forward. What looks like a escort destoye,r is berthed outboard of the forward ships with a penant number of  D45? Help on this one please. ( it may be a Norwegian ship!)



MANY thanks to: 

 Lorna Watkins-Dooley for submitting all of the above photo’s that were taken during her fathers time in HMS Devonshire.

See also The Liberation of Denmark

AND  Operation Kingdom

Prinz Eugen at Copenhagen


5 Responses to John Francis Elton Watkins

  1. George

    November 15, 2012 at 16:31

    I was attracted to the picture of HS Devonshire’s ships company. My father served on this ship from Jan until Jun 1945 and I wonder if he is in that picture, but I can’t tell from the low resolution image on the web page. Is there a high resolution version of the image somewhere that I can view?

  2. robbyg

    December 9, 2012 at 13:06

    Sorry George, that is the largest that I have.

  3. Bernard Mouzer OBE

    November 29, 2013 at 14:54

    I was delighted to read this article. I joined Devonshire in September 1943 as a boy seaman and left in June 1944 as an ordinary seaman – going on in due course to become a Gunnery Instructor and leaving the Navy in 1957 on my 30th birthday. I have one or two photos. Robby knows how to get in touch.

    Best Wishes

    Bernard Mouzer

  4. Gareth

    September 26, 2014 at 17:01


    I wondered if anyone knew my father, Trefor Davies, radio operator from Newtown Powys. He died in 1970 when I was 5 so would love to know more about him

    many thanks

  5. René Bové Andersen

    February 1, 2016 at 13:58

    Regarding The Pictures of Montgomery and the Picture below “possibly at Copenhagen” It is Birmingham and Dido laying at “Langelinie” (The Long line Quay) in the Copenhagen Harbour. There are some lovely Pictures of this event in color and in great resolution at the Danish National Museum.
    Here’s a links to the Pictures if interested:

    Yours sincerely
    René Bové Andersen

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