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Lt Commander Francis Douglas-Watson



Cdr Francis Douglas-WatsonLt Commander Francis Douglas-Watson was born in Glasgow on 3rd June 1896, the son of Francis Douglas-Watson, a telephone company superintendent(2), and his wife, Elizabeth Cunningham.

He joined the Royal Navy on 15th May 1911, and held, amongst others, the following appointments:

07.11.1927 - (06.)1928 HMS Hood (battlecruiser) (Atlantic Fleet)
12.09.1928 - (02.)1931 Commanding Officer, HMS Witherington (destroyer) (Mediterranean)
11.08.1931 - (01.1932) Commanding Officer, HMS Vortigern (destroyer) (Atlantic Fleet)
03.1933 - (06.)1933 Commanding Officer, HMS Vivacious (destroyer)
23.10.1933 - (07.)1935 HMS Cardiff (cruiser) (Reserve Fleet, the Nore)
30.11.1935 - (07.)1937 HMS Cardiff (cruiser) (Reserve Fleet, the Nore) (for minesweepers in reserve)
19.07.1937 - 31.10.1938 Commanding Officer, HMS Pangbourne (twin-screw minesweeper) (Mediterranean)
01.11.1938 - (04.1939) HMS St Angelo (RN base, Malta) (for command of minesweepers in reserve [probably HMS Pangbourne as command vessel])
(08.1939) - (06.1940) Commanding Officer, HMS Pangbourne (twin-screw minesweeper)
16.10.1940 - (02.)1941 Executive Officer, HMS Miranda (minesweeping base, Great Yarmouth)

In April 1941, he was serving at HMS Nile (RN base, Alexandria, Egypt), but on 7th April, he was ashore in the Greek harbour of Piraeus when the British steamer Clan Fraser (7529grt), of convoy ANF .24, was damaged by German bombing and set afire. At 0330hrs on the 7th, the explosion of her TNT cargo sank the steamer and wrecked the harbour, killing Cdr. Douglas-Watson.

He had married in Glasgow on 13th September 1922, Mary Fedora St Ledger (1899-1977). They had one son, S.Lt. Francis Douglas-Watson, RNVR.


"Writing all morning – but accomplished little. Walk after lunch, with lecture notes. Very cold day – keen east wind. Fedora (St Ledger) Douglas-Watson & her husband came to tea. I had not seen her since she was about 7! We had interesting chats - & Barbara was a bright attraction after tea!! Then we went to Alfred’s at Hampstead to dinner – I by ‘bus, Molly by Alfred Jn’s car. We “listened-in” to Melba night at Covent Garden. It was very interesting indeed." Thomas Dunhill, was a composer. He met Fedora as a young girl in around 1906 or 1908 when examining for the Associated Board in Australia & New Zealand. He is impressed by her work as a composer - at the age of 7!


Uncorrected text from the Melbourne Argus:
Relatives in Melbourne have been advised of the death on active service of Commander Francis Douglas-Watson, DSO, of the Royal Navy, who twice served in Australia and was well known In naval circles here

Commander Douglas-Watson was bom at Bearsden, Glasgow He first caine to Australia in 1920 on exchange duty, serving at Garden Island, Sydnej, and at Fundéis Naval Base Shortlj after leturning to England in 1922 he married at Pitlochry (Scotland) Mtss Fedora St Ledger, daughter of the late ex Senator St Ledgei, of Oi rong Court Melbourne, to whom he became engaged willie In Australia

His second visit was from May 25. 1925 to January 9, 1927, when he came on exchange duty as First Lieutenant of HMAS Penguin He was promoted to the rank of Lieut-Commander in March, 1926

Commander Douglas-Watson received his DSO for gallant service as captain of the mine-sweeper H M S Panghornc during the evacuation of Dunkirk In his last letter to his mother-in-law, Mrs M St Ledger, of Orrong rd, East St Kilda, six weeks ago, he wrote from the former American destroy ci-tender HMAS Melville

His wife has been doing service work recently at Alexandria Her cable message to her mother on Thursday night telling of her husband's death was despatched from the British Legation in Athens Mrs Douglas-Watson was a distinguished pianist and composer, being highly regarded by the late Dame Nellie Melba She published songs In Australia and England

Commander Douglas-Watson leaves a son, Cinq who [is at present] doing his naval training at the Imperial Service College, Windsor Several months ago his astuteness led to the arrest of seveial spies While on guard duty on two successive nights he saw a strange light which was being employed to send a Morse signal to sea He took a note of the messages, and, becoming suspicious informed the authorities As a result several Italians were arrested for sending out information to the enemy

1. A photograph of Lieutenant Francis Douglas-Watson on the starboard side of the upper deck of the salvaged V43 class destroyer SMS V46 (1914) just abaft of the after searchlight platform following the scuttling of the High Seas Fleet is held by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

2.  Francis Douglas-Watson (senior) was employed as one point by the Constantinople Telephone Company.

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