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The Airmen's Stories - Sub/Lt. (FAA) N H Patterson


Norris Henry Patterson was probably born in Kenya as he first appears in official records as disembarking with his family from the MV Llangibby Castle on 14th November 1931 at Southampton. They had boarded at Cape Town giving a home address as Mombasa, Kenya, NH Patterson's birth date given as 1920.

His parents were Robert Henry Norris Patterson (1889-1972) and Allititia Ada Patterson (1896-1989). His father had served in the RFC and in the 1939 Census is recorded as running a garage in New Malden, Surrey.

NH Patterson's school is unrecorded but he was a decorated rifle shot, he represented Surrey at Bisley.

Patterson entered the Air Branch of the Royal Navy on 1st May 1939 as a Midshipman (A). He carried out his elementary training at 14 EFTS Elmdon. He moved on to 1 FTS Leuchars on No. 6 Course, which ran from 6th November 1939 to 21st April 1940.

With his training completed Patterson joined 804 Squadron at Hatston on 4th July and served with it during the Battle of Britain period, flying Sea Gladiators 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



Patterson later transferred to 802 Squadron, then forming at Donibristle for service aboard HMS Audacity, the first escort-carrier. In September 1941 Patterson was aboard the carrier, operating the Martlet fighter (below).



Audacity sailed for Gibraltar on 13th September with her first convoy, OG 74. On the 15th Patterson, on dawn patrol, sighted a Fw200 Kondor attacking the Walmer Castle. He attacked the enemy aircraft and a fellow-pilot, Sub-Lieutenant Fletcher, finished off the Kondor, shooting off its tail.

On 29th October 1941 Audacity sailed for Gibraltar, escorting convoy OG 76. The carrier ran into a gale and her flight deck was pitching 65 feet and she was rolling by 16 degrees as Patterson attempted to land his Martlet. As he touched down the aircraft was caught by an upswing of the flight deck, missed the catching wires and skidded over the port side. The aircraft was lost but flotation bags in its wings inflated and kept the Martlet afloat, enabling Patterson to be rescued by the escort vessels.

Patterson was lost when the carrier was torpedoed and sunk by U-Boat U-751 off the Azores on 21st December 1941 whilst escorting convoy HG 76.

He is commemorated on the Fleet Air Arm Memorial at Lee-on-Solent.








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