The Airmen's Stories - Lt. (FAA) B Paterson
Brian Paterson was born on 21st March 1919. He was educated at St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate and after leaving worked with the insurance broker Willis Faber and Dumas at Lloyds in the City of London.
In 1936 he joined the RAF on a short service commission and began his initial training at 13 E&RFTS, White Waltham. He went to 7 FTS Peterborough on 17th July and after completing his training joined 46 Squadron at Digby on 19th February 1938. Paterson relinquished his RAF commission and was commissioned in the Air Branch of the Royal Navy on 10th February 1939.
In September 1939 Paterson, who was given the nickname 'Blinkers' by his naval comrades, was serving with 803 Squadron but on 30th November 1939 he joined 804 Squadron at Hatston. He embarked on the carrier HMS Glorious with an 804 detachment on 22nd April 1940. He transferred to HMS Furious on 9th May and was engaged in ferrying 263 Squadron's Gladiators from Prestwick to Furious on 12th May and to and from Norway on to Furious on between 14th and 23rd May. He flew off Furious on the 23rd, to Hatston, where 804 re-assembled and came under Fighter Command control.
On 8th June Glorious and her escorting destroyers had been
sunk by the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst with the loss of over 1500 men.
In July 1940 Paterson was flying Sea Gladiators from Hatston on dockyard defence.
A 804 Squadron Gladiator at Hatston.
Sitting in cockpit - Sub/Lt. JW Sleigh
Standing L to R: Sub/Lt. Balme, Sub/Lt. B Paterson, Sub/Lt. NH Patterson
On 20th September 1940 Paterson, with the rest of Blue Section of 804, embarked on HMS Furious. Fighter patrols were carried out 100 miles off Trondheim. The section was disembarked by air from Furious and returned to Hatston on 23rd September. He left 804 in October to attend an Armament Course.
In 1941 Paterson was assigned to the auxiliary fighter-catapult ship SS Springbank. In the early hours of 27th September the German submarine U-201 torpedoed and seriously damaged the Springbank 700 miles WSW of Fastnet. Paterson swam to an escorting frigate, HMS Jasmine, which later sank the wreck of the Springbank.
Lts. PCS Chilton (left) and Paterson when instructing at No. 2 Fighter School, Henstridge in 1942.
Paterson's next posting was to 885 Squadron on the carrier HMS Victorious.
He flew Sea Hurricanes from Victorious, one of three carriers which made up the Pedestal convoy to Malta in August 1942.
Paterson and his comrades flew three and four sorties a day, and losses reduced 885 Squadron to just three serviceable aircraft on the second day. Paterson was mentioned in dispatches.
He later served in the carriers HMS Argus, Ark Royal, Eagle and the escort-carrier Dasher. On 27th March 1943 the Dasher was lost off the Clyde. With flying completed for the day, aircraft were being refuelled when spilt aviation fuel exploded. Paterson jumped into the sea and was picked up by a destroyer.
On 12th August 1953 a massive earthquake struck the Ionian Islands off Greece. Earl Mountbatten, C-in-C Mediterranean, immediately dispatched ships loaded with food and medicines which arrived off Cephallonia while the sea was boiling and the tremors were still continuing.
Paterson had on his own initiative loaded two Dragonfly helicopters on to the cruiser HMS Bermuda at Malta. Since nearly every house was destroyed and all the roads were blocked the helicopters were invaluable in reconnoitring isolated farms and villages in the interior. For three weeks Paterson ran relief work around Zakinthos, flying food and medical supplies, evacuating the injured and organising a non-stop airlift between ship and shore.
General Iatrides, who was placed in nominal command by the Greek government, used Paterson as his personal aerial chauffeur. When Paterson's helicopter crashed due to engine failure, Iatrides was confident enough to resume his journey in another Dragonfly. Paterson dug one old woman out of the rubble himself, she had been there for nine days.
He was made an MBE (gazetted 16th February 1954) for his Greek earthquake relief operations.
He was appointed CO of 848 Squadron during the Malayan Emergency in 1956. Flying Sikorsky SH55s, the squadron helped to pioneer the technique and tactics of troop lift, thereby giving much needed flexibility to land operations.
By December that year, 848 had lifted 41,000 troops and more than 750,000 lb of freight. Paterson was awarded the DFC (gazetted 31st May 1955) for these operations Royal Marine Commandos and the SAS.
In retirement he became landlord of the Horse and Groom at Polegate, Sussex and in 1970 successfully took over a company making metal and plastic labels.
Paterson retired in 1959 as a Lieutenant Commander. He died on 12th July 2004.