News

Closure for the family of missing war airman

LIVING HISTORY: Eric Lionel Watson, of Evans Head, remembers his brother Keith, whose plane was discovered off the coast of Queensland.
LIVING HISTORY: Eric Lionel Watson, of Evans Head, remembers his brother Keith, whose plane was discovered off the coast of Queensland. Marc Stapelberg

ERIC Lionel Watson, 98, always carries his brother Sergeant Keith Watson's surf life saving Bronze Medallion in his wallet.

Keith was only 23 when, on February 28, 1943, his aircraft disappeared heading for Papua New Guinea during a 17-hour mission to provide anti-submarine cover.

Finally the Watson family will have closure at a memorial day in Cairns early this year.

In August last year, Eric Watson and his son Grant Watson, of Evans Head, couldn't quite believe it when the Royal Australian Air Force confirmed Keith's aircraft, a Catalina A24-25, was discovered 56km south of Cairns in 35m of water.

"The biggest surprise was to hear there were 11 men on board," Keith's nephew, Grant Watson, said.

"We always thought there was only four. We always thought they'd be found near New Zealand."

Eric Watson applauded the decision by RAAF to leave the Catalina and the 11 crewmen's remains beneath the sea.

Although deeply attached to his brother's memory, Mr Watson spoke of the mysterious death matter-of-factly: "It's just one of those things that happened to families during war time. You wear it.

"But not ever really knowing what happened, that was hard."

Eric Watson said his brother always wanted to be a fighter pilot, but he didn't have the training so he was an aircraft engineer on board the Catalina.

Before the war he was a mechanic at Trevan's.

"Keith was a a very strong member the of Ballina Surf Club. He was very competitive. We still have his medals," Mr Watson said.

The boys were born in Bondi and moved closer to their maternal family in Lismore when they finished school.

"Bondi Junction was a wasteland and rubbish when we were growing up," he said.

Eric Watson served most of his time in Top End and Broome.

"He was heading out to Japan when the bomb was dropped, so he got out of there," Grant said.




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'I apologise every day that I am not the person he married'

My battle with postnatal depression...

'My husband lasted 6 weeks as a stay at home dad'

APN Hey Mummy Feature for online - stock images. Katie Dykes being interviewed for the webisodes. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

FROM the outside, being a stay at home mum looks like a breeze.

THE EXPERT: Stop judging working mothers

SUPER MUMS: Being a working mums comes down to perfecting time management.

"WORKING for money is all right; so is working because you want to.”

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Nimbin drugs fund 'gangster lifestyle' on Gold Coast

Police officers at the raids in Nimbin yesterday.

UPDATE: Police say gangsters frequented casinos, drove flash cars

Baseball project to inject $9 million into Lismore each year

Manager of International Baseball Operations Gio Hernandez, Lismore City Council's tourism and events manager Mitch Lowe, director of International Baseball Operations Chris Haydock, Lismore MP Thomas George, and chief operating officer of Baseball Australia Justin Drew.

UPDATE: National and international teams would train and play here

Someone has won $1 million, but no-one has claimed it

A man is $100,000 richer after buying a winning Lucky Lotteries ticket at Mullumbimby.

Could you be the region's newest millionaire?

Latest deals and offers

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%

DIY: How to build a backyard fire pit

DIY stars and Weekend magazine columnists Ayden and Jess Hogan.

Would you build this for your backyard?