PATTISON D.S.O. D.F.C. Legion of d'Honneur.
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.
initial training was on Tiger Moths and Vickers
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
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.
were about 10,000 New Zealander Airforce and Navy
personnel involved in the D-Day landings.
three weeks into the Battle of Britain, operating
out of Biggin Hill,
he was shot down and wounded by a
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
a new tactic the RAF was testing to confuse the
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.
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 baled out into the English
Channel his Spitfire went to a watery
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
(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 Associations Members Dinner
on 24 Nov 2005 John was presented with a
meticulously presented model of his
Spitfire, resplendent in the actual
serial number, 485 Squadron code and
identification letter of that it wore in
while the models 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
where they agreed that the Mk V
best-balanced and nicest to fly
of all the various Marks of
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
he settled on presenting it as
Johns aeroplane. The level of
detail in the finish stands up to the
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
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.
behalf of our Patron we express our
heartfelt appreciation to Calum for his