Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
994040   Sergeant Robert Anthony Laverty
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 29/02/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: 202 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (British Air Force)
Date Of Birth: 02/01/1924
Died: 20/11/1942 (Died by accident)
Age: 18
Robert Anthony Laverty was the son of Robert and Sarah Laverty. He was born on 2nd January 1924 in Moy. Co. Tyrone. He was the fifth of eight children. He attended Aughanlig school on the Armagh side of Charlemont. In 1938 he went to study at Armagh College.In April 1940 Robert enlisted in the RAFVR After training, in October 1942, he was posted to 202 Squadron, based in Gibraltar. On 20th November 1942, Sergeant Robert Laverty was on board a Catalina escorting a convoy when it was shot down by friendly fire. All ten crew members were killed.
Sergeant Robert Anthony Laverty
Further Information
Robert Anthony Laverty was the son of Robert and Sarah Laverty.
Robert Anthony Laverty was born on 2 January 1924 in Moy. Co. Tyrone. He was the fifth of eight children
The Laverty family were well known as international horse dealers and breeders. The family had supplied horses to European armies for over 100 years including some of those used by the Light Brigade in the Crimea. Robert Laverty (senior) with his brother had travelled to Russia before the First World War to sell horses to the Czar for his Imperial Cavalry. However, family fortunes changed dramatically in July 1921 when the Laverty brothers entered into an agreement with John Panagolopolous and Co of Athens who were contractors to the Greek Government. The agreement was to supply 3000 horses for the Greek Army. Two lots were shipped and paid for but the final lot was held up because of a disagreement between the contractor and the Greek Government. This resulted in the Laverty family having to pay all their creditors without receiving payment themselves. Despite long legal battles the case was never resolved and the Laverty family faced severe financial difficulties for the following thirty years.
It was in this uncertain financial environment that young Robert Laverty grew up. He was a lively child and had a love of animals and anything mechanical.
Robert attended Aughanlig school on the Armagh side of Charlemont.
In 1938 he went to study at Armagh College.
In April 1940 Robert decided to run away from school to join the RAF. He enlisted in the RAFVR at Padigate on 22 April 1940, aged 16, as an Aircraftsman/Flight Mechanic (AC1).
After training, Robert qualified as Flight Mechanic Airframes (AC2) and was posted to 35 Squadron on 20th December 1940 at Linton-on-Ouse.
After a year with 35 Squadron Robert was transferred to 1652 Unit (Marston Moor) on 31st December 1941.
Flight Seargent Robert Anthony Laverty
On 7th February 1942 he was posted to Tactical Training Unit at Abbotsinch and to No. 9 Air Gunnery School (Llandwrog) and No. 9 AFU (Hulavington) on 13th June 1942.
All these postings were for aircrew training.
On 13th June 1942 he was promoted to Flight Sergeant and qualified as an Air Gunner. Five days later Robert finally joined 235 Squadron of Coastal Command flying Beaufighters VIís from Docking in Norfolk. The Beaufighters were used for attacking shipping off the Dutch coast.
On 18th October Robert Laverty was posted to 202 Squadron, based in Gibraltar. 202 Squadron were flying Catalina flying boats from Gibraltar on anti-submarine patrols, escorting the main convoys sailing from the UK to North Africa.
Catalina flying boat at Gibraltar
Squadron records show that Robert flew a total of seven sorties. All sorties were antisubmarine patrols escorting convoys either in the Atlantic or Mediterranean.
On 20th November 1942, Sergeant Robert Laverty was on board a Catalina (Serial No FP153) when it took off on an anti-submarine patrol escorting a convoy KMS-3 which had sailed from the Clyde some days earlier. There were 53 ships in the convoy.
At 0850 approximately, the Catalina approached the convoy. At 0910 when the first of 2 ships (SS Grange Park and SS Prins Harold) were hit by torpedoes from a U-boat.
As the Catalina crossed the first ships, SS Oerlikon in the centre opened fire. Immediately, a barrage of light and heavy flak was sent up by all the Merchant Navy ships in the vicinity. The Catalina was hit repeatedly by continuous and very heavy fire, it burst into full flames before spinning into the sea. There were no survivors. The crew of Catalina were:
bullet Flying Officer Alexander Lyon CAMPBELL (120236)
bullet Sergeant Leslie Walter DRYWOOD (1171301)
bullet Sergeant Albert Frederick FLETCHER (1107066)
bullet Sergeant Robert LAVERTY (994040)
bullet Flying Officer Duncan Alastair MacARTHUR (122354)
bullet Flying Officer Walter Bryden O'CONNOR (66024)
bullet Sergeant James Leo O'RORKE (819061)
bullet Flying Officer Harry Keith POLLOCK (J/7476)
bullet Sergeant John SANDERSON (1148225)
bullet Sergeant Robert Anthony TIFFEN (1262553)
Sergeant Robert Laverty has no known grave and is commemorated on the Malta Memorial.
 Sergeant Robert Laverty on Malta Memorial
Sergeant Robert Laverty and his crew members are also remembered on the 202 Squadron Roll of Honour Board in Gibraltar Anglican Cathedral.
Sergeant Robert Laverty is commemorated locally on Moy War Memorial.
Sergeant Robert Laverty is also commemorated on the family headstone in Moy Roman Catholic Graveyard.
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Relevant Dungannon Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Moy War Memorial Moy On Moy War Memorial 54.443394 -6.686097
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1911 Census lists Laverty family Lists father at house 4 in Scotch Street, Dungannon, Tyrone
2 202 Squadron Association Full life biography of robert Anthony Laverty including photos
3 Gibraltar Anglican Cathedral 202 Squadron Roll of Honour
4 RAF Commands - FP153 Details of crew of Catalina FP153
Dungannon District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2015-2021