Watt, Margaret Byers

Watt, Margaret Byers

Civilian War Dead

Died as the result of enemy action on Wednesday 16 April 1941 (aged 64)


Balmoral Graveyard, Belfast


Commonwealth War Graves Commission


Margaret Byers Watt was born on 11 February 1877 at 57 University Street, Belfast, and she was a daughter of William and Eliza Orr Watt (nee Legate).  Eliza Orr Legate was a daughter of Presbyterian Minister Rev George Legate who served for 50 years in the Presbyterian Congregation of Kilkinamurry, Banbridge.  William Watt worked as a grocer in Belfast and he and Eliza Legate were married on 30 September 1862 in Kilkinamurry Presbyterian Church.  They had at least six children:

George Legate (born 25 June 1867)

Jane Macready (born 2 August 1869)

John Wilfrid (born 5 May 1871; he became a Church of Ireland minister)

William Ernest (born 29 June 1873)

Charles Williams (born 1 October 1874)

Margaret Byers (born 11 February 1877 at 57 University Street, Belfast)

Margaret Byers Watt was a 64-year-old spinster living at 5 Hazeldene Gardens in Bangor when a bomb fell on her house during a German Luftwaffe air attack.  She died on 16 April 1941, her effects amounted to some £4,926 and probate was granted to Jane Allen, her married sister.

Between 10.45 pm on Easter Tuesday 15 April and 4.30 am on Wednesday 16 April 1941 there was a large-scale German Luftwaffe air raid on the City of Belfast.  Other nearby towns and villages, including Bangor and Newtownards, were also attacked.  Areas of Bangor where bombs fell, included Ashley Gardens, Bangor Golf Clubhouse, Baylands, Farnham Road, Hazeldene Gardens and Ranfurly Avenue.  Fires blazed on Scrabo Hill, Newtownards and bombs fell on Green Road, Conlig and Comber Road, Newtownards.  At least 30 people with North Down and Ards connections were killed, including the following 16 civilians.

  • Matilda Grattan together with her daughters Angeline Grattan and Shelagh Grattan who died at 40 Ashley Gardens in Bangor.
  • Margaret Byers Watt who died at 5 Hazeldene Gardens in Bangor.
  • Robert Wright of 32 Baylands, Bangor who died of his injuries in Bangor Hospital.
  • Edith, Henry, Isabella, and William Dunwoody; Nancy Simms Gribbin; Thomas Morton; William Henry Taggart; Bessie, Ellen Ogle, and Evelyn Tate; James Thompson who all died in Belfast.

That night the aerodrome at Newtownards, which was the Headquarters of 231 Squadron, Royal Air Force was attacked.  The aerodrome was guarded by soldiers of the 70th (Young Soldiers) Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, some of whom were too young for front line service and were deployed instead on the home front.  Newtownards aerodrome was attacked with a considerable number of incendiary bombs and some high explosive bombs.  One high explosive bomb that fell on the hutments of ‘A’ Company Headquarters killed 13 men, all of whom served with the 70th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  Most were killed instantly, and the remainder died the following day as the result of their injuries:

  • Fusilier William Bellamy (aged 28)
  • Fusilier Samuel Burke (aged 18)
  • Lance Corporal Alexander Carlisle
  • Fusilier Andrew Copling (aged 16)
  • Fusilier Hugh Fulton (aged 17)
  • Fusilier George Graham
  • Fusilier Daniel Higgins
  • Fusilier Leslie Love (aged 34)
  • Fusilier Samuel McFarland (aged 19)
  • Company Quartermaster Sergeant William McMurray (aged 27)
  • Fusilier Ernest McNeill (aged 17)
  • Warrant Officer Class II Alfred Penfold (aged 36)
  • Fusilier Matthew Wright (aged 18)

The casualties were all taken to Ards District Hospital in Newtownards.

There was another casualty with an Ards connection who died during the night of 15/16 April 1941.  Flight Lieutenant Wilfrid Mark Hamilton Brookes (aged 23) of 231 Squadron who was in Belfast at the time was killed during the air raid.

Of the many civilians of the Commonwealth whose deaths were due to enemy action in the Second World War, the names of some 67,092 are commemorated in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour, located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London.