b. 29/08/1915 Warwick, Bermuda. d. 13/05/1996 Warwick, Bermuda.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 21/09/1940 Weybridge, Surrey.
John Macmillan Stevenson Patton (1915-1996) was born on 29th August 1915 in Warwick, Bermuda, the son of John Macmillan Stevenson and Katie Patton (nee Studivant). His father was a native Bermudan who died when John Junior was just four years old from TB, and his mother was from Mississippi, USA. His mother later re-married to Colonel Colin Osborne, from Burlington, Ontario, Canada, and the family including John Junior moved there after the marriage.
John was educated at Trinity College School and Westgate Collegiate Institute and then studied Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, where he met his future wife, Mary Robertson Teskey, whom he would marry on 6th April 1940.
While he was at Queen’s, he was an active member of the Canadian Officer’s Training Corps. He and Mollie, as his wife was known, had four sons, John (known as Jack), Alexander (known as Sandy), George and Timothy, and two daughters, Julia and Mary.
On the outbreak of World War II, John was initially rejected for service due to the account that he had a hammer toe, which he then had cut off. After the wound had healed, he re-applied and was accepted into the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers. He was then posted to England where he was based with “A” Company, 1 Canadian Pioneer Battalion at Weybridge in Surrey. The primary job was to build defences though a number of the men ended up in bomb disposal, including John.
On 21st September 1940, at Weybridge, Surrey, despite having no training in delayed action bombs, he volunteered to move to a safe distance an unexploded bomb that had been found in the Hawker Aircraft Factory. Having analysed the situation and studied the bomb, he sent for a truck and a length of cable, and then called for more volunteers. Four members of the Home Guard, Sergeant Tillyard-Burrows, WJ Avery, EA Maslyn and C Chaplain, came forward to help Patton roll the bomb on to a piece of corrugated iron, secure it with cable and attach it to the truck. With Patton sitting on the back of the truck taking care of the bomb, Captain Cunnington drove the truck to a bomb crater, where it exploded a few hours later. The Home Guard men were each awarded the British Empire Medal and Cunnington was awarded the George Medal. Patton was awarded the George Cross (London Gazette 17th December 1940).
In June 1942, John joined the newly formed Canadian Petroleum Warfare Experimental Unit (CPWEU) for the purpose of investigating improvements in flame guns and in fuels. John eventually became the expert in the flamethrower. He also developed a method for producing gelled gasoline for use in flamethrowers, quadrupling their range. Subsequently, he also served in Egypt, India and Burma.
After the war, John returned to Canada where he took his law degree at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. He then practised law back in Bermuda where he was a partner in the firm Hallett, Whitney and Patton. One of the most interesting cases he handled was the British Government against the owners of the Torrey Canyon, the oil tanker which went aground off the South coast of England in 1967 and more than 500,000 barrels of oil leaked into the sea. John was elected to the Bermudian legislature in 1956 and became a Cabinet Minister but retired from politics in 1974. For his public service he was awarded the CBE. John was active in retirement, serving on several boards, as Director of the Bank of Bermuda and was Chairman of the Marine Board. Following his divorce from Mollie, he married Elizabeth Ann Byrd in 1972, and became step father to two children.
John died on 13th May 1996 in Warwick, Bermuda and was laid to rest in the family plot in Christ Church Cemetery in Warwick. Patton’s medals including his GC, CBE, Burma Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and clasp, War Medal 1939-45, QEII Coronation Medal 1953, QEII Silver Jubilee Medal 1977 and Canadian Centennial Medal are proudly held by the Patton family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: CHRISTCHURCH CHURCH, WARWICK, BERMUDA