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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J Watters

 

Joseph Watters was born in Waikino, North Island on 2nd February 1916 and educated at Waihi and Whangarei High Schools. After leaving he was employed on the civil engineering staff of the Public Works Department. In March 1939 Watters applied for a short service commission in the RNZAF and was accepted in July.


On 20th September he reported to the Ground Training School at Rongotai, went on to No. 1 EFTS Taieri in October and then to No. 1 FTS Wigram on 16th January 1940.


With his flying training completed in early May, Watters sailed for the UK on the 24th in the SS Mataroa. On arrival on 10th July he went to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge.


He was transferred into the RAF and on 27th July 1940 Watters was sent to No. 1 (C) OTU Silloth for No. 3 Blenheim Course, which began on 29th July but was detached to Prestwick on 9th August. The course ended on 25th August and Watters was posted to 236 Squadron at St. Eval. He joined the squadron there on 27th August.

 

 

 

Above: 236 Squadron

L to R; Watters, Sgt. RI McChesney

 


On a sortie to Ushant on 24th February 1941, Watters sighted two German destroyers. Unable to shadow them because of an engine giving trouble, he radioed their position and as he approached St. Eval saw aircraft were taking off to attack them. As he came in, the faulty engine failed and he spun in. The Blenheim hit the ground and cartwheeled. Watters had a fractured spine but the two members of his crew escaped with bad bruises.


After returning to duty he lost his operational category but regained it later and also his crew, who asked to fly with him again.

On 30th August 1941 Watters was posted to Dyce, to convert to Beaufighters and on 24th September he was ordered to join 272 Squadron at Edku, Egypt. He flew there, in his own Beaufighter, via Gibraltar and Malta.

Watters took part in operations in the Western Desert and from Malta. On 16th November 1941 he damaged a Ju87 and on the 18th he was flying one of six Beaufighters , which arrived over Timimi airfield just after five Ju52's had taken off. All five were shot down and four other aircraft were left in flames on the ground. Two German reconnaissance planes were destroyed and a column of troops shot up before the Beaufighters set course for base.


Watters was posted away on 15th March 1942 and in late May sailed for Capetown and thence to the UK. He went to 9 OTU, then forming at Aldergrove, as an instructor.


After an instructors course at CFS Hullavington he returned to 9 OTU, then at Crosby-on-Eden, where he flew Oxfords on the Receiving Squadron.


On 27th August Watters was posted to 603 Squadron in the Middle East. He flew a Beaufighter out and joined the squadron in Egypt on 29th September 1942 as Senior Flight Commander. Before leaving the squadron on 23rd March 1944 Watters had shot down one enemy aircraft and on 19th October 1943 he forced an Arado 196 floatplane down on to the sea and sank it.

He went to RAF Staff College at Haifa in June, afterwards going to HQ Middle East as Ops 1.


Watters transferred to the RNZAF on 11th July 1945. He returned to the UK for repatriation to New Zealand, arrived home on 28th February 1946 and went on to the Reserve on 2nd July.


He rejoined the PWD, worked for Quantas-Empire Airways from 1948 to 1950 and again rejoined PWD.

After retiring in March 1979, Watters died on 18th April 1981.



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