Robert Hamilton WATTS


WATTS, Robert Hamilton

Service Number: 416469
Enlisted: 23 June 1941
Last Rank: Pilot Officer
Last Unit: No. 44 Squadron (RAF)
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 21 June 1920
Home Town: Toorak Gardens, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Bank Officer - Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Died: Flying Battle, North Sea, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean, 21 October 1943, aged 23 years
Cemetery: Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery, Netherlands
Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands
Memorials: Adelaide Pulteney Grammar School WW2 Honour Roll, Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, International Bomber Command Centre Memorial, Sydney Commonwealth Bank Adelaide WW2 Honour Board
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World War 2 Service

23 Jun 1941: Involvement Pilot Officer, SN 416469, No. 44 Squadron (RAF)
23 Jun 1941: Enlisted Adelaide, SA
23 Jun 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, SN 416469
Date unknown: Involvement


Advertiser - Monday, 20 Jan 2020
A Boomer reader tells how he found his mother’s first love.

MY mother, Jean Thomas, is still alive at the age of 98. She still has strong memories of World War II, in particular the friends and fiance that she lost.

This photograph of Jean with family and friends was taken on a Sunday afternoon stroll in the winter of 1942.

The group is walking from Netherby to Springfield. The mood is buoyant and there is a spring in their step.

However, within 12 months, this all changed.

The following year, her friend King Marsh was killed in action and her friend Sister Mary McFarlane was killed when the Japanese torpedoed the Centaur near Brisbane.

Most tragically, her fiance Robert Watts was killed in action when his Lancaster bomber was shot down over the North Sea.

Jean eventually moved on, married and had two sons. However, the loss of her fiance and friends haunted her for many years.

She was obviously deeply in love with Robert. It was hard for the men and women that went to war but, in many ways, it was harder for those who stayed home and kept the community alive, ready for the return of brave war veterans.

I know little about Robert Watts, however I felt an obligation to find out more about him.

There is little in the Australian war archives so, in 2018, I tracked down Graham Platt who works for the British County Aviation Resource.

Robert was a pilot and flew a Lancaster bomber from an air base in Dunholme.

Graham knew the story about Robert’s bravery and his death.

He told me that his body had been washed up on the coast of the Netherlands and that he was buried in a Canadian war cemetery in Bergen op Zoom.

He told me that he was visiting the Netherlands later in the year and would place a wreath on my mother’s behalf.

I told my mother and she was upset but she asked me to tell Graham how grateful she was for his act of kindness.

She was not aware that he had been buried at Bergen op Zoom. Knowing this provided some closure for Jean, some 75 years after Robert’s death.

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