Watson, Ernest (No. 1073521)

Watson, Ernest (Ernie)

Sergeant (Observer)

No. 1073521, 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in an aircraft accident on Tuesday 15 September 1942 (aged 32)


Bangor Cemetery, Co. Down (Section 5. O. Grave 82)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Bangor and District War Memorial

First Bangor Presbyterian Church


Ernest Watson was born on 29 November 1909 and he was the youngest son of William and Maria Watson (nee Parkhill) who lived in Donnybrook Street, Belfast.  William Watson worked as a coachman and he and Maria Parkhill were married on 3 October 1898 in Donegall Street Congregational Church, Belfast.  They had three children:

William (born 5 September 1899 at 14 Donnybrook Street, Belfast)

Norman (born 15 June 1902 at 24 Donnybrook Street, Belfast)

Ernest (born 29 November 1909 24 Donnybrook Street, Belfast)

After his mother died on 2 July 1923 (aged 47), Ernest Watson lived with his aunt Ellen and uncle John Robinson, in Alfred Street, Bangor.

Ernest Watson joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and during the Second World War he served with 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron in Bomber Command.

[218 Squadron got its name after the Governor and people of the Gold Coast in West Africa officially adopted the Squadron]

Sergeant Observer Ernest Watson was one of an eight-man crew aboard a Short Stirling Mark I aircraft (N3725) that took off at 7.55 pm on 14 September 1942 from RAF Downham Market in Norfolk on a mission to bomb Wilhelmshaven.  When they were over the target area the starboard inner engine failed and they returned to base on three engines.  As they came in to land the outer starboard engine lost power and just before 1.00 am the aircraft spun to the ground east of Stoke Ferry, Norfolk.  Sergeant Observer Ernest Watson and five other members of the crew were killed while Sergeant E.N. Bell and Sergeant W.W. Marshall were injured.  The other five crew members who died were:

  • Flying Officer John Clarence Frankcomb (aged 28) Royal Australian Air Force
  • Flight Sergeant Donald Ivor Pearce (aged 30) from Bristol
  • Sergeant Valentine Picken (aged 19) from South Elmsall, Yorkshire
  • Sergeant Ernest Trevor Pellow (aged 24) Royal New Zealand Air Force
  • Sergeant Sidney Horace Ives (aged 23) Royal New Zealand Air Force

After Sergeant Observer Ernest Watson died on 15 September 1942, family members placed Killed on Active Service notices in the 19 and 26 September 1942 editions of the County Down Spectator – deeply regretted by his sorrowing brother William, uncle John, aunt Ellen and cousin Isobel of 12 Alfred Street, Bangor; deeply regretted by his sorrowing brother Norman, sister-in-law Rose and family of 6 Summerhill Park, Bangor (Norman died in 1966 and Rose died in 1994).

Ernest Watson’s funeral to Bangor Cemetery, Newtownards Road, Bangor on 20 September 1942 was reported in the 26 September 1942 edition of the County Down Spectator.  It was conducted by the Rev John Pedlow who was a friend of the deceased.  In his tribute the Rev Pedlow referred to Ernie’s faithful service in First Bangor Presbyterian Church as a Sabbath School teacher and ardent worker in the Christian Endeavour.  Ernest Watson was also an amateur football international.  Chief mourners included his brothers William and Norman Watson, his uncle John Robinson and his cousins Jack and Bertie Robinson.

Sergeant Ernest Watson (No. 1073521) was 32 when he died, and he was buried in Bangor Cemetery.  There is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:


Sergeant Ernest Watson (No. 1073521) is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial and in First Bangor Presbyterian Church.

Ernest’s mother, Maria Parkhill Watson, died on 2 July 1923 (aged 47) and she is commemorated on her son’s CWGC headstone.