*** RESERVED *** The famous "Dambusters" 617 Squadron Special Operations D.F.C. to Bernard Clayton's trusted 2-Tour Bomb Aimer, who joined 617 Sqn. in July 1943 and attacked targets including the Antheor Viaduct, the Albert Aircraft Factory, St. Etienne Ball Bearing Factory, Bergerac Powder Factory, Lyon Aero Works, Toulouse Aero Works, Paris St. Cyr. Signals, Le Havre U-Boat Pens, Pas de Calais and the Wizernes & Siracourt V-2 Rocket Sites, and also crewed on Special Operations, dropping Agents in France. Consisting of: Distinguished Flying Cross with reverse dated 1944; 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; WWII Defence Medal; WWII War Medal in glazed frame with 'Apres Moi Le Deluge' 617 Squadron insignia, accompanied by Observer's And Air Gunner's Flying Log Book with recipient's 2 operational tours, signed by 617's famous Commanding Officers David Maltby, Bernard "Bunny" Clayton, Les Munro, Dave Shannon, Len Cheshire and other original photograph of the recipient with Gp. Capt. Leonard Cheshire V.C., D.S.O. & 2 Bars, D.F.C. and Wg. Cdr. J.B. Tait, D.S.O. & 3 Bars, D.F.C., all 3 men wearing their medals, mounted and framed, and the recipient's D.F.C. case.

D.F.C. Gazetted 30 June 1944: "F/O. Watson has completed 41 operational sorties as an Air Bomber. He has taken part in many attacks against such heavily defended targets as Hamburg, Berlin, Essen, Duisburg and Kiel. Moreover, he has carried out two low-level missions of a special nature. He has infused his work with an enthusiasm and keenness which it would be difficult to equal and in consequence he has an exemplary record of achievement to his credit. In addition to numerous aiming point photographs which he has brought back he has in recent weeks, when engaged in high level precision bombing, attained a magnificent standard of efficiency. During the attack on the Powder Factory at Bergerac, his aircraft was detailed to carry out an attack on its own against the ammunition dump. F/O. Watson's outstanding map-reading and bomb aiming enabled him to score a direct hit with the result that a very large part of the dump was completely destroyed. This officer's great gallantry and devotion to duty, often in the face of extremely heavy opposition, call for the highest praise and he is therefore strongly recommended for the award of the D.F.C."

James Sydney Watson was born on 9 June 1917 and worked before the war in the laboratory at Frickley Colliery. Enlisting with the R.A.F. in 1941, Watson underwent training for just 22 weeks before being posted to 20 O.T.U. at Lossiemouth on 1 Aug 1942. One of Watson's earliest flights in Wellington R1225 left Elgin at 2010 hrs and entered a thundercloud at 600oft. The aircraft began to pitch about, experiencing severe turbulence and went into a steep dive. The pilot regained control over the Isle of Mann and changed course to emergency land at Carlisle, avoiding the city's balloon barrage. Joining 1658 H.C.U. in Nov 1942, Watson's previous pilot Sgt. Johnson was killed in a raid on Strasbourg. On 17 Nov 1942, Watson joined the crew of W/O. Bernard "Bunny" Clayton and posted to No.51 Halifax Squadron based at Snaith. Their first operation was an attack on the U-Boat pens at Lorient on 15 Jan 1943. He completed 17 operations with Clayton in 51 Squadron aircraft before being invited to join him with the elite at 617 Squadron. His first raid with 617 was over Italy on 15 July 1943. In early Dec 1943, Watson and crew were selected for operations with the Special Operation Executive (S.O.E.) and completed a total of 53 further missions, all still with fellow Yorkshireman Bernard Clayton, and his second operational tour of duty, aiming and dropping Barnes Wallis' "Tallboy" bomb over the V-2 rocket sites at Wizernes and Siracourt on 24 & 25 of June 1944. 617 Sqn. colleagues reminisced about Watson in later years, recalling him as a superb bomb aimer with a broad Yorkshire accent which caused some amusement especially when he spoke to Leonard Cheshire's American wife, who had some difficulty understanding him. In 1945, Watson retrained as a catering officer and was posted to a number of different stations throughout England. He was then posted to HQ Air Command South East Asia at Kandy, Ceylon, and then to 322 Maintenance Unit, Cawnpore, India on 5 Nov 1945 as Flight Lieutenant, finally demobilised from Hednesford, Staffs, on 6 July 1946, remaining on Voluntary Reserve until 1 July 1959, when relinquishing his commission.


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