In 2006, the Shoreham Aircraft Museum decided to erect permanent memorials to all those Battle of Britain pilots who lost their lives within a ten miles radius of Shoreham.
The list of names is not a short one. Amongst others it includes Flt/Lt James Paterson and Sgt Trevor Oldfield (both of 92 Squadron), F/O Nathaniel Barry (501 Squadron), Sgt John Ellis (85 Squadron), and Sgt Jack Hammerton (615 Squadron). Over the coming years, their aim is to erect a suitable memorial at, or as close as possible to, the spot where each of these brave young men made the ultimate sacrifice.
The first memorial stone was this one dedicated to Flt/Lt Jimmy Paterson on Wednesday 27th September 2006 at Sparepenny Lane, Farningham. Jimmy died on the same spot on 27th September 1940, after his Spitfire was shot down by Me109s. The memorial service received widespread media coverage and was marked by a Spitfire flypast. In attendance were members of Jimmy's family who had travelled all the way from New Zealand.
James A. Paterson was born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1919. Having learned to fly with the RNZAF, in 1939 he came to Britain and joined the RAF. When war broke out he served in France flying observation and service flights for the retreating British Army.
Escaping France without any belongings, James transferred to fighters and joined No.92 Squadron in July 1940. Immediately in action, he claimed a share of a Ju88 on July 24th, another on August 19th and a Bf110 on September 11th, but that same day his luck changed. On his second sortie, James fell prey to Bf109's over Folkstone. His Spitfire burst into flames and before he could clear the cockpit his clothing was alight. Delaying the opening of his parachute, he fell hundreds of feet until the slipstream extinguished his burning clothes. After a safe landing he was rushed to hospital with severe burns to the face and neck.
Within days James had discharged himself to return to his unit, where he insisted on carrying out his normal flying duties in spite of impared vision caused by his burns.
On September 27th, No.92 Squadron engaged a large incoming enemy force high above Maidstone. James' aircraft was again hit and it span in flames towards the ground pursued by three Bf 109's. Fellow pilots saw him struggling to open his canopy. He died, still in his Spitfire, when it crashed at Sparepenny Lane.
He 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.
***** PLEASE NOTE IMPORTANT *****
CACHES ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE PLACED ON ACTUAL MEMORIALS OR WITHIN THE BOUNDARY OF SUCH
AT ALL TIMES PLEASE TREAT LOCATIONS OF MEMORIALS WITH RESPECT