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'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 Rosario (Santa Fé province), 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 likely encouraged Percy to pursue his interest in flying.  He chose a career in the Royal Air Force, where he did very well – he was Acting Wing Commander at his airbase when he died at age 32 in an air accident.

Percy was thirteen years old when he left Argentina in May, 1920.  He never returned.  His sister May (b. 1918) was two years old, he met her again when she accompanied their mother to England (1927).  His brother Frank (b. 1920) was only one month old, they met again when Frank attended Wye College in 1938.  He never met his youngest brother, Jimmy (b. 1922), though they did exchange letters.

Vera was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England.  Her parents were John Alexander Owen (born 1872, Calcutta, India) and Dora Sophia Jervis (born 28 Nov. 1883, Ermscote, Warwickshire, England).  Her father, a former Engineer Commander in the Royal Navy, bought “Sea Mills” (before 1923?), a flour mill in St. Issey that was originally powered by the tides.  St. Issey is on the Solent coast, very near Padstow, in Cornwall.  “Sea Mills” became the family’s home, and it is where John died on 26 August, 1932, aged 60.  John and Dora had four children: Doris 1905, Vera 1907, John 1908, and David 1923.

Percy & Vera were married on June 23rd, 1934, in St. Issey Church.  They had two children, born 1937 and 1938.  Today, 2018, their children are themselves grandparents.  (We do not publish names of the living.).

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; she put the children in boarding-schools.  Vera eventually returned to “Sea Mills”, her father's flour mill.  Her mother, Dora, lived there as well until she died in 1964 aged 81.

Vera never remarried and lived at the mill, 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, John (1943, Finistere, France) and David (1943, Gander, Newfoundland, Canada).  Her only sister, Doris, married E.S. Finch, an RAF Reserve pilot (see “Photos” page, photo RAF-032 “Gipsy Moth Display Flight”).  They lived in Dorset.  Doris died in 1994.

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.

¡ We are in great need of more about Vera !

Percy & Vera’s Event Timeline

Year Age Event
1906-12-25 0 Percy MacGregor Watt. Percy or Willie, was born in Rosario, Santa Fé, 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.
?? - 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: posted to No. 17 (Fighter) Squadron, RAF Upavon, Wiltshire.
1928-06-11 22 Percy - RAF: 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: 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: 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)