Major Jack Watson, MC

Living History

RHQ PARA regrets to inform you of the death of Maj Jack Watson MC who was called to Higher Service on 12 April 2011 , aged 94 years.

Details of his service can be seen on ParaData at

Major Jack Watson was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire on 14 Jan 1917.

With the onset of the Second World War, he joined the army in 1939. His initial service with the Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry, with which he served until 1941. In 1942, he joined the South Lancashire Regiment (PWV) 2/4 Battalion, which in 1943 became the 13th (Lancashire) Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (AAC).

From 1943 to 1945 he served with 13th (Lancashire) Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. On 6 June 1944, he parachuted in to Normandy as ‘Operation Overlord’ began serving as Platoon Commander and Second in Command of ‘A’ Company. He saw continuous service throughout the campaign before returning to Britain as Commander of ‘A’ Company in Sept 1944. Maj Watson was soon back into active service during the Ardennes and Holland campaign (the ‘Battle of the Bulge’). During the Battle of Bure (3-6 Jan 1945) he was awarded the Military Cross. Following a brief return to Britain he once more parachuted into action during ‘Operation Varsity’ – Rhine Crossing and fought his way as Commander of ‘A’ Company across Northern Europe to the Baltic.

After the war, he served as Company Commander between 1945 and 1950 in the UK, Palestine, Airborne Forces Depot, Demonstration Coy, and at RAF Netheravon, Wiltshire. During this time, in 1946 he gained a regular commission from AAC to the West Yorkshire Regiment (PWO) whilst continuing to serve The Parachute Regiment. During 1950 to 1953 he served as Adjutant of 1st Battalion, West Yorks in Austria and the Canal Zone, where he later, from 1953 to 1954, became a Company Commander in 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. From 1954 to 1957 he was Staff Officer of Infantry and Officer Commanding Airportability Wing, AATDC, RAF Old Sarum, Wiltshire. His final army appointment during 1957 to 1958 saw him become Company Commander, 1st Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment in the UK, before his retirement from military service in 1958.

Entering civilian employment later that year, he worked for J Lyons and Co Ltd (later Allied Lyons) until 1982 when he became Counsellor for the Allied Lyons/Allied Domecq Pension Fund.

Concurrently, he became the Leader of the Annual Airborne Normandy Pilgrimage and similar programmes which included visits to the Ardennes and Rhine Crossing locations, a position he holds to this day. During this time he also became President of Airborne Assault Normandy Trust (AANT).

In 1992, he was awarded the Colonel Commandant’s Commendation. This was followed in 2001 by the Fishmongers Trophy annual award by the Guild of Fishmongers to individuals who have made a distinctive contribution to The Parachute Regiment. In 2005, he was awarded Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur and made Honorary Citizen of Bure and Tellin in the Ardennes whilst in 2006 he was also made an Honorary Citizen of Ranville, Normandy.


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