Robert Samuel Watson

Robert is listed on the War Memorial as one of those who gave his life during the First World War.

Robert was born in 1895 at Aylsham, Norfolk as the fourth child of Elijah John Watson & Maria, nee Howard.  His father died in 1896 and his mother was married again in 1904 to George Daniel Debbage with whom she had three further children. So, Robert had three brothers and sisters plus three half siblings.

Robert, aged 6, was listed in the 1901 census living with his widowed mother at Pippins Yard, Martham.  When he was 16, he was living with his mother and stepfather at Mustard Hyrn, Cess and was a baker’s assistant as shown in the 1911 census.

He saw military service with the Royal Navy Reserve on the H.M. Drifter Cosmos on which he was killed on 15th February 1918 when it was sunk in a German attack. He was 23. His serial number was Deck Hand 3165DA. He is commemorated on the Chatham Navy Memorial, Kent on panel 31. 

Chatham Navy Memorial, Kent
War Memorial north side
The Drifter Cosmos was built 1914 and was in service with the Admiralty from April 1915 until 15th February 1918 when she was sunk by German destroyers in the Dover straits. She was employed on net work (presumably the Dover barrage?). Admiralty No1435. Port No. LT.477 (Lowestoft). Her Skipper was Lieutenant David Livingstone RNR. She had a crew of fourteen of which there were only three survivors when she sank. The Cosmos was one of eight vessels lost in a surprise attack on shipping in the Straits of Dover during the night of 14/15 February 1918 by a force of seven German destroyers.  Stationed near No.15 buoy, the first shell struck the wheelhouse killing Lt. Livingstone and one of the crew and severely wounding two more. She caught fire and sunk with only three survivors and eleven dead.

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