Frank A. Watt & W. Silvia Cooper Page last modified:

Frank A. Watt & W. Silvia Cooper
(1920-2011)    (1922-2018)

Frank's parents were members of the relatively well-off “gentleman farmer/rancher” English speaking community in Argentina, owners of estancias (ranches) on the Argentine pampas.  His father’s parents were from England, his mother’s from the United States.  Born in ...

Silvia (a.k.a. Dizzy) was born in ...  Her parents were Max and Gwladys Cooper... For many years she worked in Buenos Aires as a simultaneous translator...

Frank & Silvia’s Event Timeline

Year Age Event
1920-03-14 0 Frank Alexander Watt, Frank or Watto, was born in xxxxxxxxxx, Argentina; the 5th child of C.A.M. “Al” Watt and Hattie B. Benitz.
1922-03-15 0 Winifred Silvia Cooper, Silvia or Dizzy, was born in xxxxxxxxxxxxx.  Her parents were Max and Gwladys Cooper, xxxx.
1935-06 15 Frank worked as a segundo (apprentice) at Estancia “Los Molles”, near Arias, Córdoba (owned by Walter Schiele).
1937 17 Frank was a Junior (clerk?) in the British Embassy’s Commercial Department, B.A., for almost the entire year, Jan. 11 to Dec. 15.
1938-04-14 18 Frank arrived in England, to attend Wye College (the South Eastern Agricultural College) in Kent (April 1938 - April 1939).
While in England, he visited his brothers and their families on several occassions: (i) Percy and Vera and their children (Jane and John); Percy was by then a Wing Commander at RAF Scampton (Lincolnshire) – he took Frank up in one of the latest bombers.  (ii) Alpin and Mary and their children (Anita and Simon).
1939-03 19 Frank’s mother Hattie visited her sons in the UK.  She and Frank toured Scotland by car as far as Alnes, Ross-shire.
1939-05 19 Frank returned to Argentina, departing from Antwerp.
1939-07+- 19 Frank began working at estancia “La Teofila”, Arrufo, Santa Fé (375 km. NW of Rosario).
1939-11-16 19 Frank attended his sister May’s wedding to “Jay” Mohr-Bell, in B.A.
1939-11-25 19 While at “La Teofila”, Frank received notice by telegram of Percy’s death on Nov. 23.
1940-11+- 20 Frank began working at estancia “La Laura”, Ramayon, Santa Fé (north of Rosario).
[ When a segundo at one of the estancias (Los Molles, La Teofila, or La Laura), Frank was housed with the peones.  One night a knife-fight ensued and a riled up (medio alzado) peón killed another.  Frank kept very quiet in his bed to not attract attention. ]
1941 Jan. 21 Frank began his Argentine military service in BA: Machine Gunner, 6th company, Regimiento No. 3.
1941-01-11 21 Frank first heard of his brother Jimmy’s decision to volunteer for the war.
He attended Jimmy’s farewell dinner on Jan. 27; Jimmy sailed on Jan. 29.
1941-04-07 21 Frank was released from his military service on Friday April 4th, on Monday 7th he signed up at the British consulate for the RAF & did his medical exam.
1941-04-09 21 Frank returned to work at estancia “La Laura”, north of Rosario.  Two weeks later, on April 22nd, he received confirmation & instructions to proceed to the U.K.
  - 1941-06-25
21 Frank sailed for England aboard the “Avila Star”, arriving at Avonmouth; where he was jailed because of his mother’s German surname (Benitz), he was rescued by his brother Alpin (C.A. Watt, at the time an RAF Sqn.Ldr.).
1941-07-03 ??-?? Frank is declared medically fit.  However, he failed the maths test.  During August, he attended cramming courses in math and navigation in Torquay, Devon. [###.....]
1941-11-15 ??-?? Frank arrived at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama, for flight training.
Dec.7 - Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Before Pearl Harbor, the American civilians were very curious about his strange uniform (RAF).  After Pearl Harbor he could not pay for a meal, another diner at the restaurant would always pick up his tab.
1942 22 Frank:
 Jan.: transferred to Darr Aero Tech, Albany, Georgia, USA
 Feb.: transferred to Cochran Field, Macon, Georgia
 Apr.: hospitalized with blown eardrums, delaying his training
 May/June: transferred to a later class; met up with Harry “Blondie” Thomson.
 June: transferred to Napier Field, Dotham, Alabama.
July: received his wings!
 Aug.: transferred to Maxwell Field, Instructors School.
 Oct.: Transferred to Spence Field Moultrie, Georgia, as a flight instructor.
1943 23 Frank:
 Apr.: promoted to Flying Officer.
 May: completed term as instructor.
  After which, with H. Thomson & Jim Wilson, instructed at the Instructor School.
 June: 10 day furlough in New York.
 June: transferred to Moncton, New Brunswick, awaiting embarkation to UK.
1943-06-22/23   Jimmy disappeared, it was thought he had crashed at sea, off the Duch coast.
 06/24: Al & Hattie received a cable informing them of Jimmy’s disappearance.
1943-07-04 23 Frank telegrammed his parents, advising them of his arrival in the UK.
 He had missed Jimmy by two weeks.
1943 23 Frank was at several bases in the UK: Harrogate (Yorkshire), Sidmouth (Devon), Banff & Dalachy (Scotland).
1944-01 23 Received news that one of Jimmy’s crew-members was a POW.
24 Frank was in Stafforshire, England.
– Nov.-04
24 Frank did a tour of duty with RAF Bomber Command, 12 Squadron, based at RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire.  He flew 17 different Lancaster aircraft on 44 operational flights.
On his first mission, while on the way to the target, one of the engines of his aircraft conked out.  He naively continued on alone, out of formation, to the target before returning.  He limped home and was extremely lucky not to have been found & shot down by a German fighter.
1944-Aug. 24 Frank was was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.
1944-Sep/Nov. 24 Frank was posted to Lincolnshire, on Ops.  Lost his best friend, Jim Wilson.
 - Oct.30
25 Frank was at No.14 BMSS Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire, flight testing Lancasters comming off the assembly-line.  And then at Test Pilots Course at A.V. Roe & Co.Ltd. in Woodford, Cheshire.  He tested 47 Lancasters, on 69 flights.
1945-02-16 24 Frank was awarded the D.F.C.
1945-March 25 Frank was hospitalised for a sinus operation.
1945-05-06 25 WW-II ended in Europe.
1945-May-11 25 Frank flew to Belgium for 1½ days, toured the Ruhr valley with Blondie Thomson in a Mosquito.
  - Oct.30
25 Frank was stationed at Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire, testing and checking Lancasters.  He also flew to Brussels & Berlin, inspecting bomb damage, doing photography, etc.  During this time he flew 27 different Lancasters on 68 different flights.
1945 Nov. 25 Frank applied for a 61 day leave.
1946-01-06 25 Frank departed from Southampton aboard the “Jutlandia”, sailing for B.A.
 He had flown 91 different Lancasters on 181 different flights.
?? - ?? ??-?? Frank flew for ...
1951-04-12 31 & 29 Frank & Silvia were married in Belgrano (district of Buenos Aires city), Argentina.  They had two children, born 195x and 195y.
1951-04-12 ?? & ?? Frank & Silvia lived in Hurlingham, suburb to the west of Buenos Aires.

...much more to come.

?? - ?? ??-?? Frank flew for ...
?? ?? Silvia worked as a simultaneous translator in B.A.

© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)