John Hampden Grammar School

Charles (Jack) Watkins


Jack was born in High Wycombe September 29th 1891 and his parents were Edwin and Henrietta. In 1901 they were living  Hammersmith but by 1911 they had moved back to High Wycombe and were living in 59 Priory Avenue. He had an older sister (an art student) and a younger brother and sister.
Jack began his education at Elgin House School in Shepherds Bush and then went to RGS in 1903, and left in 1909 passing both the Oxford junior and Senior examinations as well as the London Matriculation, and even a Bucks County Council Scholarship! In 1909 he also spent time at the Schools of Science and Art gaining more experience in art.

His uncle was Mr Charles Edwin Skull - part of the famous Skull's of High Wycombe see
After leaving school he worked as a designer in the Shops' Department of Messrs W H Smith and Son, Kingsway, London. Where according to the Bucks Free Press "he was held in the highest esteem. His work was extremely skilful and meritorious, and bore the stamp of marked ability, and more than ordinary artistic perception." He set up the Pinwell Art Club (named after a Victorian artist born in High Wycombe.) He enlisted into the London Rifle Brigade on August 5th 1914, the day after war was declared. He first went to France in November and within a fortnight was in the trenches and remained there almost continuously until he met his untimely death.


He was killed was February 3rd 1915. Private C A M Piper (who would be killed on the 13th May 1915 and is listed on the Menin Gate) wrote, "I cannot say how sorry I am to have to tell you that he was shot in the head yesterday and to the great sorrow of all the section did not survive ten minutes. He was playing his tin-whistle in a dug out and I was sitting just outside making a fire. He said "My fingers are too cold, I can't get on with it" so he at once came out to warm himself. He did so, and in getting out just let his head project a few inches above the parapet, which was very low. I heard a thus and a little grunt, and he spun around and fell flat on his face. He never moved again and only breathed for about ten minutes. I am quite sure he never even knew what hit him and felt no pain whatever; it was a clean wound, straight through the brain ... It has come as a very great shock to us, as we were always a most united section, and he was one of the most liked and respected members of it, and we have done everything together for o long that the section was more like a happy family than a military unit."
Charles is buried in the London Rifle Brigade Cemetery in Belgium and his listing on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission can be found here.