Retired Brigadier Brian Parritt of Kent, England, made a discovery while digging through his garden; it was an old, rusted military tag engraved with the name Harry V. Queen of Olney Street in Watertown.
A dog tag left behind by a Watertown soldier was found in the backyard of a home in England last month.
Retired Brigadier Brian Parritt of Kent made a discovery while digging through his garden; it was an old, rusted military tag engraved with the name Harry V. Queen of Olney Street in Watertown. Found near the tag was a blue pin with the word “carbine,” a medal that Parritt said might have qualified Queen as a rifle marksman.
Parritt said his home in southeast England was used as headquarters for U.S. airmen in the 406th Fighter Group in 1944. When he found the dog tag, Parritt called his 11-year-old grandson, Henry Booth from Newton, to report the coincidence
“I didn’t believe it when I saw Watertown,” said Parritt via phone. “I remember stopping to buy ice cream there with my family.”
Henry, a World War II history buff in sixth grade, has the tag and hopes to return it to the Queen family. Harry Queen’s mother, Nellie Queen, was inscribed on the tag as his next of kin. Dog tags were worn by military personnel and are primarily used for the identification of dead and wounded. They also provide essential basic medical information.
“We thought it was an amazing coincidence that in all the cities and towns in the whole country, it was Watertown,” Henry said.
The family who now lives in the Olney Street residence said the name Queen does not ring a bell. The house was once a two-family home before the current residents moved in.
According to Veterans Service Officer Bob Erickson, the military tag is legitimate, according to Massachusetts war records. Erickson cautioned that some unscrupulous people create fake dog tags as scams.
Harry Queen was once a Watertown resident, born in Waltham in 1913. If Queen is still alive, he would be 94 years old. The ID numbers engraved on the tag enabled Erickson to look into Queen’s military background.
Queen was a sergeant in the Army Air Force, and enlisted on Jan. 13, 1943, at the age of 30. A certificate of honorable discharge found by Erickson notes that Queen separated from the military in November 1945 from Fort Devens in Massachusetts.
Parritt, a brigadier and former director of British Army Intelligence Corps, has lived in his home in England since 1973, and was familiar with the story of the fighter pilots and Army officers who took over the property for six months in preparation for D-Day.
“Their planes were all around the field,” he said. “They set up tents where my garden is now. They were brave young men.”
A week prior to the overseas discovery, Henry had spent time with his “Grandpop” Parritt to learn about the war from a British perspective.
“He came back quoting Winston Churchill,” said Henry’s mother, Julie Booth. “He goes around the house telling his two brothers, ‘We shall never surrender.’”
Henry said one day he hopes to become a diplomat like the United Kingdom’s former prime minister.
“I’d like to be able to bring countries together,” he said.“Ambassador Booth,” his mother, Julie, chimed in.
Parritt said being able to share World War II history with his grandson and travel throughout the country was memorable.
“It made a strong emotional bond with him,” said Parritt.
Julie said finding the dog tag has created another bond between her son’s background.
“It links together his American and British heritage,” she said. “This is history come alive.”Do you know Harry V. Queen?
Anyone with information on Watertown soldier Harry V. Queen, who once lived on Olney Street, is asked to contact Bob Erickson, Watertown’s veterans’ service officer, at 617-972-6416 or firstname.lastname@example.org.About the 406th Fighter Group
According to www.406fightergroup.org, the young airmen fought their way across Europe during World War II and flew P-47 Thunderbolts:
“From D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge to final victory in Germany, the 406th was there front and center. They flew their first operational mission and got their first taste of war on May 9, 1944, from Ashford, Kent. The 406th were the first U.S. unit to shoot down a “Doodle Bug,” were the first aircraft over Omaha Beach and were the first unit to establish an advanced airstrip in France after D-Day.
- Watertown (Mass.) TAB