Brian Victor Watling worked for the Chelmsford electrical engineers Crompton-Parkinson before joining the Royal Navy in the middle of the war. He became a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm and was killed in December 1946 when his aircraft crashed into the sea off the Northern Ireland coast. His home was in South Primrose Hill.

Brian was born in the Chelmsford district in 1925, the son of David Sydney Victor Watling (1885-1970) and Beatrice Watling (nee Downs) (1887-1977). Brian's parents had married in Essex in 1918. Brian had an elder brother, David William Watling (1924-1997).

Before joining the Royal Navy around 1943 Brian was employed at the Chelmsford electrical engineers Crompton Parkinson. Brian served as a Sub-Lieutenant with the Royal Naval Air Service, based at H.M.S. Gannet, the former R.A.F. Eglinton in Northern Ireland. H.M.S. Gannet was an important base for air operations in the Battle of the Atlantic.

On 10th December 1946 21 year-old Brian was at the controls of a two-seater Fairey Firefly anti-submarine aircraft which took off from a Scottish airfield for Northern Ireland but ditched into the sea in heavy fog off Castle Rock, County Derry, Northern Ireland.

At the time of his death Brian's parents were living at 49 South Primrose Hill in Chelmsford.

Almost three weeks after the crash Brian's body was washed ashore near Coleraine, Northern Ireland. At his inquest a verdict of death from a fractured skull and multiple injuries received was returned.

He was brought home to Chelmsford and today lies in grave 3696 at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery.


Brian Victor WATLING, Sub-Lieutenant, H.M.S. Gannet, Royal Naval Air Service

Killed when his aircraft ditched in the Atlantic Ocean. Aged 21