16 April 2014

Major P.D.J. Waters - Commander of the Firing Squad that Executed Josef Jakobs

In the early morning hours of August 15, 1941, Josef Jakobs was escorted to the Tower of London for his execution. The firing squad that carried out the execution was drawn from members of the Scots Guards Holding Battalion. The commander of the firing squad was Major P.D.J. Waters.

Philip Duncan Joseph Waters

Philip Duncan Joseph Waters was born in the late summer of 1897 in Kensington, London. His father, John Michael Waters was an Irish Catholic wine merchant. His mother, Helen Frances Dallas, had been born in the wilds of Bombay, India, although her father also came from Ireland. Philip was the youngest of five children, and the well-to-do family had a series of domestic servants to assist with the children and the household.

Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) cap badge
Yorkshire Regiment cap badge
Philip joined the City of London Yeomanry (British Territorial Army) and, when war was declared, volunteered for overseas service.

Philip was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) on 12 March 1915 and was sent to France on 12 July 1915. His older brother by eight years, John Dallas, joined the Royal Fusiliers. On 15 August 1917, Philip was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. A dispatch in the Edinburgh Gazette on 18 September 1918 noted:
Lt. (A./Capt.) Philip Duncan Joseph Waters, Yorkshire Regiment
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when transport officer. He brought up rations under heavy machine-gun and shell fire within 200 yards of the front line.
During the whole time his battalion was in action he never failed to reach it with rations, though its position was constantly changed. His conduct throughout set a fine example for his men.
Military Cross
Military Cross (MC)
Both brothers survived the war and John was awarded a Distinguished Service Order (DSO) while Philip came away with a Military Cross (MC).


Upon the conclusion of the war, John Dallas married the Hon. Lettice Leigh (widow of John Edgerton-Warburton) in 1919. Philip, being the younger, married slightly later, choosing Blanche Ella Wilmot-Sitwell (a minor character in the Peerage) in 1925. While John chose to retire from the army (with the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel), Philip remained in the service of His Majesty's Forces. He transferred to the Scots Guards and was promoted to Captain, eventually becoming part of the Regular British Army Reserve.

A few small news articles suggest that Philip became involved in farming. In early 1934, he and his wife traveled to Australia where Philip and a business partner formed the Leylands Pastoral Company and purchased a cattle farm. According to the article, Philip had been involved in farming in the south of France prior to this investment. However, by December 1934, the partnership dissolved and Philip became sole owner of Leylands.
Scots Guards shoulder patch
Scots Guards shoulder patch

With the return of war in 1939, Philip returned to active duty and was promoted to Major in the Scots Guards. His duty apparently included that fateful morning of 15 August, 1941 at the Tower of London. By 1944, Philip had been moved to an active overseas position, serving with distinction in Malta.

On 25 May, 1947, having reached the age of 50, Philip relinquished his commission and retired with the rank of Colonel. Unfortunately, Philip did not get to enjoy a long retirement, passing away on 13 October, 1949, at the age of 52. He was survived by his wife Blanche, who passed away on 24 February, 1964, in Nice, France.

References
 Ancestry genealogy site (Records for birth, marriage, death, census, immigration, military).
Perth Newspapers
Peerage lists

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