The 8th May 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. This is ‘Victory in Europe’ Day to mark the end of World War 2 in Europe. World War 2 continued in other parts of the world for a number of months.
Today, being a Bank Holiday, also gives us a chance to remember those who gave their lives in WW2. There are a number of memorials throughout the county and today would be a good opportunity to visit one, if it is within walking or cycling distance of course!
One memorial is located in Sparepenny Lane near Farningham in memory of the life of James Alfred Paterson. James was born at Chatton in the district of Gore, Southland, New Zealand on 16th October 1919 and worked on his father’s farm.
In December 1937 he applied for an RNZAF short service commission and after acceptance he began flying training at the Otago Aero Club, gaining his ‘A’ License on 15th August 1938.
After attending Flight Training School on 6th September and was awarded his flying badge on 17th December. He completed his training and sailed for the UK on the ‘Waimarama‘ from Auckland on 17th April 1939.
Paterson was posted to 82 Squadron at Cranfield on 3rd June. At the outbreak of war he joined 71 Wing in France, flying Magisters on reconnaissance patrols and observation flights for the British Expeditionary Force. In late 1939 Paterson joined 226 Squadron at Rheims.
After the French collapse in June, Paterson went with 226 Squadron to Northern Ireland. He soon volunteered for Fighter Command and after converting to Spitfires at 7 OTU Hawarden, he joined 92 Squadron in Pembrey, Kent.
On 24th July 1940 Paterson helped in the destruction of a German Ju88. He shared another on 19th August and destroyed a Me110 on 11th September. Later the same day he was shot down by Me109’s. He managed to bale out, with his clothes on fire and badly burned his face. His Spitfire, R6613, crashed north-east of Ashford.
Paterson insisted on flying again before he could even see properly again. On 27th September he took off with a group of other Spitfires from 92 squadron to intercept incoming enemy aircraft. He was shot down in flames by Me109’s near Maidstone. Other pilots saw him struggling to escape from his cockpit. He failed to do so and was killed. His Spitfire, X4422, crashed and burned out at Sparepenny Lane, Farningham. He was aged 20.
Paterson is buried in Star Lane Cemetery, Orpington, Kent. He was made an MBE (gazetted 1st January 1941) for his outstanding services in France in May 1940.
Paterson was just one of many who gave their lives so that we can celebrate the anniversary VE Day. The memorial for Paterson just highlights that WW2 was a global conflict and people came from all over the world to fight for the Allies. Paterson was just one of many who gave their lives so that we can celebrate the anniversary of VE Day.
We hope you enjoy your Bank holiday in the sun. Please be a good citizen and remember the self-distancing rules, it’s the least we can do. Have a lovely day and spare a moment to think of all those who gave their yesterdays for our today.
— With thanks to the Battle of Britain Archive, The Shoreham Aircraft Museum and Friends of the Battle Of Britain Monument. —