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Owen Spencer Watkins (1873-1957)

Owen Spencer Watkins was born in Southsea, a son of the Wesleyan minister Owen Watkins. He trained for the ministry at Richmond and in 1893 was appointed to chaplaincy work with the British garrison on Malta. In 1897 he became the first Methodist chaplain to serve in the field, when he accompanied an exbeditionary force to Crete. Two years later he was one of four chaplains who joined Lord Kitchener during the campaign in the Sudan. He later went on to serve with great distinction during the Boar War and World War 1. For his services Watkins was ten times mentioned in despatches and was awarded the C.M.G. and the C.B.E. In the South African campaign he was recommended for the D.S.O., but was found to be inelegible because there were as yet no commissioned Methodist chaplains.

After World War 1 Watkins played a major role in the creation of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department, in which he himself served as Assistant Chaplain-General and later as Deputy Chaplain-General. He was the first Free Churchman to be made an Honorary Chaplain to the King.

Watkins retired from the army in 1928 but continued to exercise a very active ministry as Honorary Secretary of the Board of Governors of Kingswood School and in a voluntary capacity in Toc H.

Source: Minutes of Conference 1957

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