Major Bill Watoon (Watson/Watton/Wootton) Varzi, Italy, 1945

Discussion in 'General' started by vitellino, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello everybody.

    I am trying to find out the identity of 'A British Army major wearing parachutist's uniform and regulation beret' (quote from The Broken Column, C.E.T. Warren and James Benson p. 197) who was in Varzi on 3 May 1945 and probably witnessed the execution of fascist Felice Fiorentini by the partisans without any form of trial.

    A reference in an Italian book quotes 'Bill Watoon, a British liason officer', who wrote an account of what happened in his memoirs.

    Any ideas of the true surname of Watoon, his regiment or where I could find a copy of his memoirs would be most appreciated.


    Edited to say I have founded another reference in The Broken Column to an American parachutist heading up a twelve-man team which parachuted into the Varzi area. He was known as 'Captain Bill'. Further edit: He was Captain William C. Wheeler on operation WallaWalla. I think I can rule him out.

    More editing: he may have been Basil W.S. Irwing, 'Bill' . Does anyone know if he wrote his memoirs?

    Final edit: It wasn't Irving. There's another thread on him on the forum. I have listened to his interview held in the IWM. He wasn't present at any execution thought he WAS the British Liason Officer in the Oltrepò where Varzi is situated from 8 March 1945 onwards. Will now send for the Italian book.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Replying to my own thread:

    On this forum Jedburgh has posted a photo of Basil 'Bill' Irwin - see below left.

    On the same operation - Clover - as Irwin, but further east in the Piacenza area, was Major Stephen Hastings, British Liason Officer.

    I have posted a photo from an archive in the town of Pavia of the so called 'Bill Watoon' (centre) and to the right a photo of Hastings, taken in 1948. Any likenesses?

    Irwin SOE.JPG Bill Watoon.jpg stephen hastings.jpg


    I now believe that the man in the middle photo may be Maj. Harold W.'Bill' Tilman
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  3. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    Irwin and Hastings show a similar hairline, however their ears are quite different. Note the longer lobes and greater upper protrusion of the ears in the Irwin photo. Watoon photo is obviously not as good and the ears might be similar to Hastings, but Watoon appears to have more of a peak (like Eddie Munster) to his hairline. There are a few more photos of Hastings here: Sir Stephen Lewis Edmonstone Hastings - National Portrait Gallery
  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thanks a lot.
    I didn't expect any likenesses between Irwin and Hastings, because Watoon appears to have been the preudonym of EITHER Irwin OR Hastings.
    The last portrait of Hastings seems in the National Portrait Gallery seems to have a look of Watoon.

Share This Page