485 (NZ) Squadron R.A.F.
Squadron Leader

JOHN G. PATTISON D.S.O. D.F.C. Legion of d'Honneur.

Commanding Officer September 1944 to February 1945.
After flight training at the Hawkes Bay & East Coast Aero Club on a
Government training scheme, he joined the airforce the day after war was declared.

Vickers Vildebeeste
His initial training was on Tiger Moths and Vickers Vildebeestes.
He avoided staying in New Zealand as an instructor, sailing to England
with other pilots. Arriving at a training unit in Wales, he was given
three hours' instruction, before being sent solo in a Spitfire.
Just after Dunkirk, he was posted to 66 Operational Squadron at Debdan, North London.
He flew his first operational mission aged 22 on an interception of 40 enemy bombers and their
fighter escorts. He lost contact with the rest of the squadron, ran out of fuel short of an aerodrome,
and forced-landed in a field, with farmers and pitchforks at the ready.
There were about 10,000 New Zealander Airforce and Navy personnel involved in the D-Day landings.
About three weeks into the Battle of Britain, operating out of Biggin Hill,
he was shot down and wounded by a
Me 109, and spent 8 months recovering
from his wounds. He served a little time as an instructor in Wales,
then was posted to Scotland practising land-based deck landings...
a new tactic the RAF was testing to confuse the German radar
from at-sea carrier-based Spitfires.
On a mission with a new positioning system, things went wrong over the English Channel and the squadron
was 'pounced on' from above. With a badly-damaged engine, John had to parachute into the Channel,
short of the English coast. By mistake, he was nearly left for dead, but spotted by a lone Spitfire pilot.
On the D-Day landings, 485 flew with 266 Squadron as sky cover for the landing forces. After these operations around Southern England and Normandy, John was appointed Squadron Leader of an operational training unit, south of Edinburgh. Later becoming Commanding Officer of the NZ 485 Spitfire Squadron. At war's end, he returned to New Zealand and went into farming. At the time of writing, (April 2004), John is only one of 14 ex-Battle of Britain pilots left in New Zealand.

Pattison seated
in OU-N
When John Pattison baled out into the English Channel his Spitfire went to a watery grave.
Squadron Operational Records show that the aircraft concerned was
Mk Vb Spitfire OU-N (Serial No BM 239), in fact the very one captured in the photo,
(left), showing him seated in the cockpit. Sixty three years after flying that aircraft in the
dangerous skies above Europe and England, John has been reunited with it.
At our Association’s Members Dinner on 24 Nov 2005 John was presented with a
meticulously presented model of his Spitfire, resplendent in the actual camouflage colours,
serial number, 485 Squadron code and identification letter of that it wore in April 1942.
For John, while the model’s engine does not give off the sound of
“the Rolls Royce Merlin twelve cylinder symphony”, and it would fit inside the
cockpit of the real thing with plenty of room to spare, it was like meeting up with
a faithful friend again. John later related a discussion he once had with
Air Vice Marshall ‘Johnnie’ Johnston, where they agreed that the Mk V was the
best-balanced and nicest to fly of all the various Marks of Spitfires.
The story of the model started when Calum Gibson, a former RNZAF Skyhawk fitter now living in Nowra, NSW,
made contact with our Association via this website. Calum is a model aircraft hobbyist with a special interest
in aircraft of the RNZAF and the New Zealand squadrons in the RAF during WW2.
In this instance he had decided on presenting a Mk Vb Spitfire in the markings of 485 Squadron.
On becoming aware that John Pattison, a former CO of 485 Squadron, was now our Association’s Patron,
he settled on presenting it as John’s aeroplane. The level of detail in the finish stands up to the minutest scrutiny.
The paint has been given a faded patina, there are gunpowder stains around the guns, smears of mud
on the wheels and the usual scuffs and scratches of a hard-worked operational fighter aircraft.

Calum generously offered to donate the aircraft to John (after of course taking photos of it for his website)
and it then winged its way airmail across the Tasman in time for the presentation.

On behalf of our Patron we express our heartfelt appreciation to Calum for his amazing gift.