The Airmen's Stories - P/O E O Watson
Euan Owens Watson was born on 21st April 1917 at Manor Farm, Greenford, Middlesex, one of eight children of Richmond and Gwendolen Watson. He was educated at Westminster School and spent a year at Oxford University before joining a firm of Scottish Chartered Accountants based in the City of London. He joined the RAFVR in April 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot.
He commenced his initial training at 2 EFTS Filton on 17th April, going on to 13 EFTS White Waltham on 12th August, the course ended on the 31st and Watson was called to full time service the next day.
While waiting to be assigned to an Initial Training Wing he married the Hon. Gladys Catto on 25th November 1939. Posted to 4 ITW Bexhill on 13th December, he passed out on 26th March 1940 and went to 15 EFTS Redhill the same day. The course later operated from Middle Wallop, South Cerney and Chipping Norton. On 31st August 1940 Watson was commissioned and went to 7 OTU Hawarden to convert to Spitfires.
He joined 64 Squadron at Leconfield on 22nd September. He flew with 64 for the remainder of the Battle of Britain, operating from Leconfield, Biggin Hill and Coltishall.
The squadron moved to Hornchurch on 10th November and then Rochford on 27th January 1941. On 13th March 1941 Watson crashed on landing from a night patrol but was unhurt.
He moved again with 64 to Drem on 16th May and finally to Turnhouse on 7th August before being posted to 58 OTU Grangemouth as an instructor on 16th September. He attended an instructors course at CFS Upavon from 18th October till 7th December then continued serving at 58 OTU until 31st May 1942. Whilst there he fell off his motorbike, broke his leg and was off flying for a month.
Returning to operations, Watson joined the newly reformed 93 Squadron at Andreas, Isle of Man on 1st June as a Flight Lieutenant, the squadron operated in the convoy escort role over the Irish Sea.
Above: Watson is seated front row, fourth from right.
In October 2017 Craig Peacock identified this photograph as depicting 129 (Mysore) Squadron as his uncle Sergeant Pilot John Robert Byrne (RAAF) is seated top row second left, wearing the darker blue RAAF uniform. Possible location is RAF Peterhead possibly in late 1943 as the squadron converted to Mustangs in early 1944.
Supernumerary roles followed at 610 Squadron at Ludham (23rd September 1942 - 19th October 1942) and 611 Squadron at Biggin Hill (20th October 1942 - 5th January 1943) before Watson joined 129 (Mysore) Squadron at Orkney on 9th January. The squadron was providing air defence for the Scapa Flow naval base but moved to Ibsley in Hampshire on 12th February in the fighter escort role while preparing to be incorporated into the proposed 2nd Tactical Air Force for the invasion of Europe.
Watson moved with the squadron to Tangmere on 28th February, back to Ibsley on 13th March and then to Hornchurch on 28th June 1943 where he remained for nearly three months before being processed for overseas service. His destination was Chittagong in India, where he arrived on 22nd December 1943, joining 79 Squadron which was operating the Hurricane II on offensive sweeps over Burma.
Above: Watson (first left) formally accepting presentation Spitfire EE602 DV-V at Ibsley on 31st May 1943 from the 'Central Railways Uruguayan Staff'.
(This aircraft is under restoration - see http://www.friendsofmabel.co.uk)
He was detached to HQ 224 Group, also at Chittagong, from 7th February 1944 until 13th March when he was posted as Squadron Leader in command of 136 Squadron flying Spitfires from Wanjing, a rough airstrip in the Imphal valley, from 14th March to 17th April 1944. This was certainly to take part in the battle of Imphal and possibly the fighting around Kohima, which marked the turning point of the war against the Japanese.
136 Squadron returned to Chittagong on 17th April until 6th July when it moved to Ratmalana airfield near Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). On 9th October 1944 he was detached to HQ 222 Group at Colombo preparatory to flying to the UK for a fighter leaders course and leave.
Watson arrived back in Ceylon at Ratmalana on 7th February 1945 and on 19th February he was posted as Wing Commander to 905 Wing based at first at Jalia and from 15th April at Charra, India. He returned to the UK in October 1945.
Following the death of his father in 1944 Watson and his family changed their name to Richmond-Watson. He qualified in 1947 as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. He and his immediate family planned to emigrate to Canada but he contracted polyneuritis and died in Toronto on 15th April 1954.
He is survived by his three children Anthony, Marilyn and Zoe.
Additional research and all images courtesy of Anthony Richmond-Watson.