Watson, Malcolm T. (635th)

Malcolm T. Watson 4Malcolm T. Watson

Biography:  Malcolm Thomas Watson “Mal” was born on April 10, 1919, in Portland, Oregon. He was the son of Francis “Frank” Watson and Lillian Connor and attended St. Rose Elementary and Columbia Prep High School. He then continued his education for two years at the University of Portland, studying business and liberal arts. 

Over the summers, he worked at his family’s store in Portland, as a Sales Clerk. 

Service Time:  Mal entered the service on March 13, 1942, at the Presidio of Monterey, California. He was assigned to Company B, of the 635th Tank Destroyer battalion and trained at a number of bases including Camp Hood, Texas and Camp Polk, Louisiana, where they participated in large scale maneuvers.

They shipped out from the New York port aboard the troopship Andes, on February 9, 1944. They were not part of a convoy but relied on the ship’s speed to get them across the Atlantic safely. The unit arrived in Liverpool, England, on February 19th and after some additional training and preparations for operations in France, they boarded transports and landed at Omaha Beach on June 8th.

Malcolm T. Watson 3The unit advanced through northern France and Belgium, operating in the Roetgen-Aachen sector and the Hürtgen Forest during autumn. They were transferred to Belgium on December 22nd during the Battle of the Bulge and returned to the Aachen area in January, supporting the drive toward the Rhine River near Cologne.

It is reported in the March 1945, Report of Anti-tank Activity of the Headquarters VII Corps Artillery that Sgt. Malcolm Watson of B Company had shot down a German ME-109 plane with his .50 Caliber Machine Gun. The entry in the report is labeled “Good Shooting”.

The 635th transferred to the Seventh Army and almost immediately to the Third Army on April 1, 1945. They finally crossed the Rhine at Mannheim and advanced through central Germany to Austria. The unit received credit for campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe. They also received the French Croix De Guere for their actions during June 1944, and a Belgian Citation for action during period December 23rd-30th, 1944. Mal left the service at the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Once back in the states, Mal married his sweetheart, Mary Alene Allen “Peggy” in early 1946. Peggy had been born in Portland and was the daughter of Isom “Jack” Nathan Allen and Dora “Gail” Hare. Jack had fought in the Philippines during the Spanish-American war. The new couple would make their home in Portland and have six children. 

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Hal went to work for G.E. (General Electric) Supply, starting in the office and later working in sales, specializing in major lighting contracts. In 1959, he accepted a position as Sales Manager and moved to the Spokane, Washington. His territory covered Washington, Idaho and Montana areas.

In his spare time, Mal enjoyed working with his hands and had built the family’s first home in Portland. His talents included becoming a fine craftsman of cabinetry and furniture, which he shared with his family and the parish he belonged to, Our Lady of Fatima. He was also active on his parish council and was a member of the Knights of Columbus, reaching the level of Grand Knight.

Mal passed away on October 7, 2011 and was buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Spokane Washington. I want to thank Mal’s son Tom for providing the information and photos for this tribute. I also want to thank Tom for the 20 years he served in the military, which included the Vietnam War. Additionally, Mal’s daughter Fran served as a doctor in the Marine Reserves. Thank you also to Penny FAG #46805564 for the use of the grave marker photo and Sheryl for the photo of Malcolm wearing the garrison cap.

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