Percy M. Watt & Vera M. Owen Page last modified:

Percy M. Watt & Vera M. Owen
(1906-1939)    (1907-2012)

Missing portrait.

Percy M. Watt
a.k.a. Willie Watt
(Source: J.S. Watt)

Missing portrait.

Wedding - 23 June, 1934
St. Issey, Cornwall
(Source: J.A.O. Watt / J.S. Watt)

Percy was born at the height of the “gentleman farmer/rancher” era of British family owned estancias (ranches) on the Argentine pampas.  He was sent to boarding-schools in Buenos Aires then England.  However, by the time he finished secondary school, his father's disastrous financial losses in Argentina must have prompted him to choose a career in the Royal Air Force.  He did very well – he was Acting Wing Commander of his airbase when he died at age 32 in an air accident.

After leaving Argentina in 1920 as a teenager, Percy never returned.  He never met his youngest brother, Jimmy (b. 1922); he met his sister May (b. 1918) only once when she accompanied their mother to England (1926-1927), and his brother Frank (b. 1920) only once when Frank attended Wye College in 1938.

Gliding was a new sport, only about ten years old, when Percy took it up.  He became an accomplished sailplane pilot, earning the coveted "Silver C" certificate in 1936.  He went on to win several awards and represented England at the first international gliding competition, held at Wasserkuppe (Hesse, Germany) during July, 1937.  He earned the most points by a British pilot but came in 12th overall.

Apart from flying, Percy was an accomplished artist — we include some of his pen and ink drawings on their own page (see the Drawings button above)

After Percy died, Vera found work in various capacities in different places around England; the children were at boarding-schools.  She eventually returned to “Sea Mills”, her father's flour mill in St. Issey (near Padstow), Cornwall.  Her mother, Dora, lived there as well until she died in 1964 aged 81.

Vera never remarried and lived mostly on her own.  When she was about 102 she moved into a nursing home.  She was 105 when she died peacefully in her sleep, 21 May, 2012.

Vera lost both her brothers in the RAF during WWII.  Her only sister, Doris, was married to E.S. Finch, an RAF Reserve pilot (see “Photos” page, photo RAF-032 “Gipsy Moth Display Flight”).  They lived in Dorset.

PERCY or WILLIE: In Argentina, he was known by his given name “Percy”.  However, in England he adopted the nick-name “Willie” (“Willy” in gliding magazines).  He signed some letters “Will” or “Pip”.  Vera and their children knew him as “Willie”.  We will use both, Percy or Willie, as appropriate to the context.

Percy & Vera’s Event Timeline

Year Age Event
1906-12-25 0 Percy MacGregor Watt. Percy or Willie, was born in Rosario, SFé, Argentina; the first child of “Al” Watt and Hattie Benitz.
1907-01-13 0 Vera Margaret Owen, was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.  Her parents were John Alexander Owen and Dora Sophia Jervis.  Previously an Engineer Commander in the Royal Navy, her father bought “Sea Mills”, a (closed?) flour mill in St. Issey which was originally powered by the tides.
?? - 1919 ??-12 Percy attended the Prep. School at St. George's College, Quilmes (Buenos Aires), Argentina.
1920-05-19 13 Percy arrived at Southampton, England, sailing from Buenos Aires on the “Andes” (Royal Mail Steam Packet Co.).
1920-1924 13-17 Percy attended the Grange, Crowborough, and Clifton College, near Bristol.
1925-01 18 Percy - RAF: enrolled at the Cadet College at Cranwell, Lincolnshire.
1926-12-11 20 Percy - RAF: received his wings and was graduated from Cranwell commissioned a Pilot Officer, Flying Licence No. 3604.
1927 20 Percy - RAF: was posted to No. 17 (Fighter) Squadron, RAF Upavon, Wiltshire.
1928-06-11 22 Percy - RAF: was promoted to Flying Officer.
1931-03-04 24 Percy - RAF: obtained an Instructor's Flight Certificate (categ.1A) at the Central Flying School, Wittering, Northampshire; posted to Central Flying School, RAF Upavon, Wiltshire.
1931-11-10 24 Percy - RAF: was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.
1932-1933 25-26 Percy - RAF: served as Adjutant of the air units on the H.M.S. Hermes on the China Station (Singapore & Hong Kong).
1933 26 Percy - RAF: joined No.18 (Bomber) Squadron, RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire.
1934-06-23 27 & 26 Percy & Vera were married in St. Issey Church, near Padstow, Cornwall.  They had two children, born 1937 and 1938.
1934-1935 27-28 Percy - RAF: Adjutant at No.607 (County of Durham) Squadron, RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire.
1936-07-09 29 Percy was the 8th British sailplane pilot to earn the coveted “Silver C” certificate (the year before, there were only 100 Silver-C pilots world-wide, mostly German).
1937-07 30 Percy won the most points (440½) by a British pilot at the first international gliding competition (Wasserkuppe, Hesse, Germany); however, he ranked 12th overall, the winner earned 1,662½ points.  He had the second highest flight, reaching 2,330 mts (7,644 ft.).
1937-10-01 30 Percy - RAF: was promoted to Squadron Leader.
1937-11-22 30 Percy - RAF: appointed to command of No. 49 (Bomber) Squadron (then at RAF Worthy Down, Winchester, Hampshire).
1938-07 31 Percy came second in the National Gliding Contest (England); & won the Firth-Vickers trophy for the most points earned by a British machine, a “King Kite”.
1939-09-03 32 Percy - RAF: flew on the first op of the war to Kiel, Germany (per 49 Squadron history); promoted Acting Wing Commander of A Flight, No.49 Squadron (based as of March'38 at RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire).
1939-11-23 32 Percy - RAF: died in a flying accident at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire.  He was buried at Nettleham (All Saints) New Churchyard, Lincolnshire. (See “Docs” page for details.)
±1940-1960 ±32-52 Vera found work in various capacities in different places around England while the children were at boarding-school.
abt. 1960 abt.52 Vera returned to “Sea Mills”, her father's flour mill in St. Issey (near Padstow), Cornwall.
Her mother, Dora, also lived at the mill, until she died in 1964, aged 81.
2009 102 Vera moved into a nursing home for the elderly.
2012-05-21 105 Vera died peacefully in her sleep at Porthgwara Nursing Home, Coverack, Cornwall.  (See “Docs” page for details.)

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)