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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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603 Squadron Crest
31.08.1940 No. 603 Squadron Spitfire I X4273 XY-K F/O. 'Bubbles' Waterston

Operation: Defensive Patrol

Date: 31st August 1940 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 603 Squadron

Type: Spitfire Mk.I

Serial: X4273

Code: XT-K

Base: RAF Hornchurch, East London

Location: Repository Road, Woolwich

Pilot: F/O. “Bubble” Robin McGregor Waterston 90197 RAF (Auxiliary) Age 23. Killed


Taking off at 17:51 hrs on his 3rd sortie of the day.

Engaged units from 4.ZG76 and is thought to have been shot down by one of the Bf109’s. The Spitfire crashed at about 18:20 hrs after breaking up and crashing at the junction of Hillreach/Repository Road/Frances Street, Woolwich.

According to the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich ARP Incident Log report, a mortuary van was dispatched at 18:24 hrs. It is presumed that they were to pick up the body of the pilot.

Another mortuary van was dispatched at 19:47 hrs to pick up the body of a Luftwaffe pilot which had crashed near Plumstead Road.

Above left: F/O. Robin Waterson. In 2009 he was commemorated at the Royal Artillery Barracks by a Memorial Stone placed by the Shoreham Aircraft Museum, Kent.

The possible identity of the Luftwaffe pilot could well be Oblt. Walter Binder of 4.ZG76 who flew Bf109E-4 Werke No: 1503 which crashed in a garden between Anne Street and Robert Street, Plumstead. This aircraft was claimed as shot down by Sgt. Stokoe from the same Squadron as “Bubble” Waterson.

Burial details:

F/O. Robin McGregor Waterston. Edinburgh Warriston Crematorium. Panel 4. Born on the 10th January 1917 the son of James Sime Waterston and Mabel Waterston, of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Researched by Stephen Hunnisett for Aircrew Remembered - September 2016. Dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks also to sources as quoted. Photographs supplied by Stephen Hunnisett following his recent visit to the National Archives.

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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