Robert Brimer Watson enlisted into the Royal Engineers, volunteered for the British Airborne Forces during its formation in 1940 and served in 11 SAS Battalion.
He was selected to form part of a small force of 35 men, desginated as X Troop, which executed the first British parachute raid of the war against the Tragino Aqueduct in Italy, code named Operation COLOSSUS.
Inspite of difficulties the raid achieved its objective, however all of X Troop were captured and held as Prisoners of War in Italy.
L/Cpl Watson made several escape attempts which were recognised after the War by the award of the Military Medal, notified in the London Gazette on 31 January 1946. The citation records:
"Watson was captured on 15 February 1941 at Avellino after being dropped by parachute to carry out a special mission. As a result he was imprisoned at Naples, Sulmona and Aquila. Watson served as a member of the Escape Committees and sent valuable information to the War Office by secret means.
Released on 11 September 1943, he found a shelter at Coppito until his recapture on 6 December 1943. Six days later he escaped from the Germans and returned to Coppito. On 27 December 1943 he went with a companion to Aquila.
At the beginning of May 1944, when attempting to reach Allied lines, Watson was caught. Imprisonment at Aquila and Laterina foIlowed. Entrained for Germany on 23 June 1944, he and two others escaped through a hole they made in the floor of the truck. Travelling North to Switzerland on foot, they crossed the border on 15 July 1944."
Profile photo kindly supplied by Mike Packwood.
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