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John Pattison (RNZAF officer)

john pattison rnzaf officer and a gentleman, john pattison rnzaf officer down memorial page
Second World War

  • Battle of Britain
  • Invasion of Normandy
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross
Légion d'honneur

Squadron Leader John Gordon Pattison, DSO, DFC, Légion d'honneur 27 January 1917 – 11 September 2009 was a New Zealand fighter pilot and squadron commander of the Second World War At the time of his death he was one of the few surviving New Zealand veterans of the Battle of Britain


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Second World War
  • 3 Honours and awards
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Early life

John Gordon Pattison was born 27 January 1917 in Waipawa and educated at Wanganui Collegiate School working on his father's farm He joined the Civil Reserve of Pilots, and learned to fly at Hawke's Bay and East Coast Aero Club With just 20 hours of flying time when the Second World War began, he volunteered for service with the RAF the day war was declared He completed his training and sailed for the UK

Second World War

Pattison arrived in Britain in late July 1940, attended 7 OTU and then joined No 266 Squadron based at Debden on 26 August 1940, flying Spitfires On his first operation intercepting a force of enemy bombers he became separated from the squadron, ran out of fuel and made a wheels-up landing in a field On 14 September he was posted to No 92 Squadron, based at Biggin Hill On 23 September Pattison was attacked by a Bf 109 over Gravesend and received serious thigh wounds from a cannon shell, crash-landing at West Malling airfield He spent eight months in hospital, but recovered and rejoined the squadron in June 1941 before becoming an instructor at 61 OTU a month laterIn June 1941 Pattison contravened standing orders regarding low flying and flew under the Severn railway bridge and he lost three months seniority as a penalty

Pattison centre with Reg Grant left at RAF Westhampnett, West Sussex on 21 January 1943

In April 1942 he returned to operations with No 485 NZ Squadron, based at Kenley On 26 April his Squadron was attacked by Focke-Wulf 190s, with four aircraft hit, two pilots were lost The engine of Pattison's Spitfire was damaged, bailing out off the Sussex coast and rescued by an air-sea rescue launch

Over the next year he flew onnumerous operations and was rested in June 1943 In July 1943 he was awarded a DFC for his "determination, zeal and courage"

After a tour as chief flying instructor at 56 OTU, Pattison returned to operations in March 1944 with No 66 Squadron He was involved in the Invasion of NormandyOn 6 July 6, 1944 he attacked a Messerschmitt Bf 109 near Chartres forcing the German pilot to bail out A month later he shot down a Focke-Wulf 190 near Montrichard

Pattison was appointed to return to and command No 485 NZ in September and he led in support of the advancing armies through France, Belgium and Holland, claiming many enemy ground vehicles destroyed When No 485 was withdrawn from the front line in February 1945 Pattison was posted to the staff at HQ, 84 Group

On 20 March he was awarded the DSO, the citation concluding that "he has set the highest standard of skill and courage and shown the finest qualities of leadership both in the air and on the ground"

By the end of the war, in at least 259 operational sorties, he had been credited with two enemy aircraft destroyed along with an unspecified number of ground vehicles He was shot down twice during the war

Discharged from the RAF in January 1946, Pattison returned to New Zealand to farm at Waipawa before retiring to Havelock North

Honours and awards

Pattison was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943, and made a companion of the Distinguished Service Order in 1945 He was awarded the Légion d'Honneur at the time of sixtieth anniversary commemorations of the Normandy landings in 2004 The award was personally bestowed by the nation's then-president Jacques Chirac

  • 8 May 1945 - Acting Squadron Leader John Gordon Pattison DFC, NZ39931, RNZAF, 485 NZ Sqn is awarded the Distinguished Service Order in recognition of gallantry and devotion to duty in the execution of air operations:

This officer has completed a third tour of operational duty He has displayed the highest standard of skill and courage and throughout his devotion to duty has been unfailing He has shown the finest qualities of leadership both in the air and on the ground and his sterling work had contributed in good measure to the success of the squadron he commands Within recent months, Squadron Leader Pattison has destroyed very many enemy mechanical vehicles and shot down 2 enemy aircraft

— London Gazette #37070


  1. ^ "NZ Battle of Britain veteran John Pattison dies" New Zealand Press Association Stuffconz 14 September 2009 Retrieved 20 September 2009 
  2. ^ a b c "No 37070" The London Gazette Supplement 4 May 1945 p 2415 
  3. ^ "Kiwi Battle of Britain squadron leader dies" The New Zealand Herald NZPA 14 September 2009 Retrieved 7 October 2011 
  4. ^ Battle of Britain pilot dies in hospital at 92
  5. ^ "No 36108" The London Gazette Supplement 23 July 1943 p 3383 
  6. ^ "France to honour NZ pilot" New Zealand Press Assn 7 June 2004 Retrieved 20 September 2009 

External links

  • Tribute to John Pattison
  • The Daily Telegraph Obituary

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