DENYS BOWEN PATTERSON ~ A chance request uncovers father’s unclaimed WW2 medals.


Gail Harper of Nelson contacted MRNZ in September 2017 asking for advice on how she could find out what her father’s WW2 medal entitlement had been.  Gail had previously obtained a copy of the military records of her father’s war service in the RNZAF and upon reading it, realised that although there was no specific mention of medals, her father had probably been entitled to medals for his war service but could not ever re-call seeing him wearing medals, or indeed any medals in their home.

A request sent to Karley of PAMs at Trentham resulted in her usual helpful self confirming within a few days Denys Bowen Patterson’s WW2 medal entitlement: Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45 and the NZ War Service Medal.  The more interesting aspect of Karley’s reply was her final comment to me – “these medals have never been claimed!”  Gail was both surprised and delighted to hear this and so we set about processing a claim  for her father’s medals.

Wartime manpower and conscription

In the first 10 months of 1939 armed forces recruiting campaigns were so successful their offices were besieged by some 60,000 Volunteers prepared to serve.  Being Volunteers they were able to register an elected preference for the arm of service they wished to join however there were no guarantees of choice.  Many A-Grade mechanics were keen to join the RNZAF, and in fact a lot of them had already been approached pre-war by recruiters and had put their name down on a reserve list to be mobilised in the event that a war should occur.  These would form the core of the maintenance crews in the wartime RNZAF. 

It is interesting to note that throughout the entire war, the RNZAF, unlike the Army and many other wartime organisations, did not have to rely upon conscription for manpower.  Men and women were not forced to join the RNZAF by a ballot draw, as with the Army.   Almost every one of the over 52,000 people who eventually served in the RNZAF had volunteered for the Air Force service.  The only exceptions were a very small percentage of members who were diverted from other areas of the Armed Forces – such as the 2,000 or so serving soldiers in the Army who were deemed more qualified or better suited to serve in the RNZAF (and this in itself was largely voluntary and optional too), such as instructors in small arms, active and passive defence tactics, camouflage, etc etc.  To overcome a shortage of men for New Zealand duties, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was established during 1941.  Over 4,700 WAAFs served in the RNZAF during WWII.

As the Japanese advanced their foothold in the Pacific Islands, the New Zealand government had difficulty filling the manpower requirements of a Second and Third Echelons.  As a result, the National Emergency Regulations of the Defence Act were invoked and conscription reintroduced in June 1940 requiring all NZ males between 18-46 years of age to register for war service.  From these, personnel were Balloted for Army service and entered onto the Embarkation Rolls that were published monthly.  

Later into the war when conscription began to take hold en-masse, any lad of 18 years or older who had volunteered, and was Balloted for service, was given two weeks to decide which of the three Services he wanted to join – the NZ Army, the RNZAF or the NZ Division of the Royal Navy.   Those men who had not previously volunteered and had subsequently been Balloted were not given any such option – it was the Army and 2NZEF!


This story gives a glimpse into the wartime service of the average AC Plonk – a generic and fictional name applied to all new airman recruits who were enlisted at the lowest rank level, Aircraftsman Second Class (or AC2), during the Second World War.  Officer recruits of the lowest rank garnered the equally amusing title of a ‘Pilot Officer Prune’.

Plonks were not the air force types typified on the silver screen and in ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ (comics) as Brylcreem wearing, no-fear, swashbucklers of the air who spent their days dog-fighting with the enemy and blasting them out of the sky; or would-be flying aces who ‘spoke’ with their hands whilst dreaming of glory and public acclaim – the figments of largely overactive imaginations.  Plonk’s were the run of the mill masses of airman (and women– WAAFs) who made up the ‘Other Ranks’ (as opposed to ‘Officers’) of the RNZAF.  The ground workers who staffed the technical and non-technical trades and whose skills and expertise the RNZAF very much depended upon for its functioning and contribution to both the air and ground wars in Europe and the Pacific.  Aircraft mechanics and fitters, armourers, refuellers, suppliers, administrators, drivers, medics, cooks, firemen, security, police and training staff – over 7,000 of these men and women served in 24 squadrons in the Pacific theatre of operations between 1939 and 1945; a similar number of aircrew – pilots, navigators, wireless operators, air bombers and air gunners were also provided under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) which linked Canada, Australia and NZ in a training scheme to supply aircrews for RAF squadrons in the UK.


The ‘AC Plonk’ in this story is NZ39841 Aircraftsman Class 2, Denys Bowen PATTERSON a Christchurch born and bred lad.  Jock Patterson was the son of James Stanley (Stan) PATTERSON and Emma Winifred HANCOCK.  Denys’s sister Peggy Irene Patterson born in 1916, was two years older.  Stan and Winifred Patterson were well known ‘mine hosts’ of the New Brighton (later Esplanade) Hotel on Marine Parade at New Brighton, from the early 1910s until the mid 1920s when Stan took over the equally well known Gladstone Hotel at 238 Durham Street (was located behind the current Christchurch Casino).  Stan held the licence of the Gladstone Hotel until March 1944.

Denys Patterson was born nine weeks before the WW1 Armistice was signed in 1918.  He was primary schooled in Christchurch and received his secondary education as a boarder at Waitaki Boys High School in Oamaru. Following his secondary schooling Denys worked briefly for his father in the hotel doing all those jobs expected of family members whose home was a hotel – washing glassware, mopping floors, re-stocking bar shelves, unloading barrels or boxes of ale and spirits and chipping ice for cooling and drinks.

Once of full-time working age Jock Patterson had no intention of following in his father’s hotel-keeping footsteps.  He wanted to be a vehicle mechanic and in 1938 was offered an apprenticeship with one of the premier vehicle sales and servicing outlets in Christchurch at the time, Todd Motors.  While Jock was immersed in his mechanical training, the political situation between Germany and England deteriorated to the point war seemed inevitable.  In preparation the NZ government called for volunteers, men between 18-46 years to enlist for military service.  Jock Patterson could not get to the front of the queue fast enough.  His enthusiasm was buoyed by the fact that those who volunteered could select which arm of the service they wanted to join, and to list their preferences for employment therein.  The RNZAF was Jock’s singular aim from the outset – he wanted to fly.  So did the majority of the other young men who volunteered to join the RNZAF at that time.  Being a Pilot appealed as glamorous and exciting vocation but in reality not every volunteer could be pilot trained.  There were however a number of other aircrew jobs that required filling and equally important as that of a pilot – Navigator, Observer, Wireless Operator, Air Bomber and Air Gunner.  Jock’s second preference for Air Observer was probably a more achievable option at that time but, he remained ever optimistic he would be accepted as a pilot.  In the meantime Jock continued with his vehicle mechanic’s training at Todd’s by day, attended mechanical theory classes by night … and waited.  

In September 1938 Jock Patterson received a very polite letter from the Secretary of the Air Board thanking him for volunteering for military service and confirming that his name had been registered with the RNZAF Civil Reserve.  He was now officially one of the ‘next cabs off the rank’ to be called up for RNZAF service, when required.  Jock was already visualising pilot’s wings on his chest.     

3rd September, 1939

When war was declared on 3rd September 1939 the New Zealand Cabinet issued instructions for the First Echelon of 6,600 land forces to be formed in answer to Britain’s request for military support to fight the Germans.  While waiting for the call to enlist Jock Patterson had been required to undergo a routine medical and dental fitness checks in preparation for enlistment.  It was during the check of his vision that Jock was found to have flawed colour perception.  Much to his eternal disappointment Jock’s dreams of becoming a flyer were dashed however his skills as a mechanic (and a good one at that) would be welcomed.  Accordingly he was offered alternate employment initially as a Flight Rigger.  Jock’s call-up notification arrived shortly after the declaration of war which required him to report to the Addington Army Barracks on 25 October 1939 for enlistment into the RNZAF.   

At the time war was declared the RNZAF’s personnel strength was 91 officers, 665 airmen in the Regular Air Force, with 79 officers and 325 airmen in the Territorial Air Force.  There were 102 aircraft, mostly second-hand Baffins and Gordons; the only new aircraft were five Oxfords (twin-engine trainers) and nine Vickers Vildebeestes (single engine bi-plane bombers).

The first year of World War II saw the accelerated expansion of the RNZAF, with new flying training schools established at Taieri, Harewood, New Plymouth and Whenuapai with and Air Gunner and Observer schools at Ohakea.  Flying obsolete Vildebeestes, Vincents and Baffins, three of the four territorial squadrons were mobilised and positioned to patrol the approaches to Auckland, Wellington and Lyttelton harbours.  The 30 Vickers Wellington bombers in the UK with their New Zealand air and ground crews (awaiting delivery to NZ) were offered back to the Royal Air Force and became No. 75 (NZ) Squadron of the RAF.

AC2 Denys Patterson – 1939 (age 21)

NZ39841* Aircraftsman Class 2 Denys Bowen Patterson, Flight Rigger U/T, Group 1 ** reported to the Addington Army Barracks in Christchurch on October 25th as required.  He was duly Attested for regular service in the RNZAF and told to report to the Addington Railway Workshops the following day.  All of the major NZ Railways Workshops located in each of the main centre’s of New Zealand (Otahuhu, Lower Hutt, Addington, and Hillside in Dunedin) had been co-opted by the government for training military technicians and tradesmen in basic engineering skills, not just for the RNZAF but also for Army tradesmen and some of those who had volunteered for service with the Royal Navy.  The Addington Railway Workshops were located close to the Barracks and it was here AC2 Patterson reported to the temporarily re-located No. 3 Technical Training Centre (3TTC), usually domiciled at Wigram, to undergo basic engineering skills training. 

AC2 Denys Bowen Patterson, universally known as “Jock” to his air force mates, was 21 years old when he was formally Attested into the RNZAF and required to ‘sign the bottom line’ after pledging allegiance to His Majesty the King for the ‘Duration of the War’.  AC2 Patterson was mustered into a technical trade, that of a Flight Rigger U/T (under training), the first step to becoming an Aircraft Fitter (those who service and maintain all parts of the aircraft air frame [fuselage and wings] and its safety equipment).  Aircraft Fitters complement the other aircraft technical trades of Aircraft Mechanic (engines), Electricians (electrics and instruments), Wireless Mechanics (radios), Radar Mechanics (radar and direction finding (DF) equipment), and Armourers (weapons, bullets, bombs, rockets, flares, smoke etc).

The process of turning young AC Plonks into airmen and equipping them with soldier skills for their self defence and the defence of aircraft and aerodromes, began at the Initial Training School (ITS) at RNZAF Station Rongotai in Wellington, later moved to Levin.  Much of the three week course (sometimes longer) was spent in a classroom learning the rudiments of air force life.  The remainder of the time was spent training with, and firing the .303 Lee Enfield rifle, learning active and passive defence measures, first aid, light rescue techniques and the seemingly endless sessions on the drill square (bull ring) learning to march and salute, with and without a rifle. 

Whilst in Wellington AC2 Patterson had the good fortune to meet a young lady shortly after he had completed this initial training.  Barbara Joyce Phelan was a Post Office teller in the city and a member of one of the numerous National Patriotic Fund Board organisations that arranged entertainment and social evenings for troops going overseas, and when they returned.  It was at one of these evenings that Denys and Barbara first met and thereafter maintained regular contact via letters.  


In Feb 1940 with this initial training completed, AC2 Patterson was now a bona fide ‘brylcream boy’, a qualified airman of the RNZAF.  Passing his initial training also meant his re-classification to Aircraftsman Class 1 (AC1) which signified he had met the necessary standards to remain in the RNZAF.  Accordingly AC1 Patterson was told to report to No.1 Flight Training School at the Technical Wing, RNZAF Station Wigram to begin his trade training as a Flight Rigger. 

After three months of Rigger training and testing, AC1 Patterson’s qualification earned the right to ditch the ‘under training’ title when he was formally re-mustered to Flight Rigger.  His aptitude accelerated his advancement and in June he returned to Rongotai for four months of Advanced Flight Rigger training and more trade-testing.  This would result in his first qualification step towards becoming a qualified Aircraft Fitter.  AC1 Patterson returned to the Wigram Maintenance Wing and 1FTS as a Fitter Class IIA on 01 November and spent the next year gaining relevant Fitter experience on Hudsons, Ansons and the relatively new Airspeed Oxford (affectionately known as the “Ox-box”), an advanced twin engine monoplane used for training aircrews in navigation, radio-operating, bombing and gunnery roles. 

AC1 Patterson would be required to undergo a series of proficiency tests on all aircraft types which would culminate in another series of the inevitable trade-tests to progress from Fitter Class IIA to Fitter Class IA, the benefit of which would mean a higher daily rate of pay.   


* “NZ” that prefixed RNZAF service numbers were used as an enlistment identifier – the first two digits represent the year of enlistment.  This practice ceased in the later years of the war.

** Group 1 and 2Group 1 trades encompassed all technical trades – aircraft engines, air-frames, armaments, electrics, instruments, aircraft safety equipment, vehicle mechanics, metalworkers etc.  Group 2 trades were all the non-technical trades – admin, pay, typing, supply, driver, fire, security, medical, police, physical training etc.  Group 1 tradesmen received higher rates of pay due to the length of time required to qualify, and the complexity of the technical knowledge and skills involved.


RNZAF Station Lauthala Bay

Besides giving what protection it could to shipping in New Zealand waters, the RNZAF had a responsibility for the protection of Fiji.  To meet New Zealand’s responsibility for reconnaissance and protection of the Fijian Islands, four old Short Singapore flying boats were gifted to the RNZAF from RAF stocks at Singapore, shortly before the Japanese entered the war on 07 December 1941.  By December the RNZAF had also established a presence in Fiji with HQ No.1. (Islands) Group in Suva and a rudimentary seaplane base at Lauthala Bay initially manned by a Flight (approx 30 pers) of No. 5 Squadron (Sqn.) personnel to service and maintain the ageing Mk II & III Short Singapore bi-plane and the few Vickers Vincent and Vilderbeast aircraft stationed there.  These aircraft were replaced by the PBY-5 Consolidated Catalina flying boats of a new squadron – No. 6 (Flying Boat) Sqn.  No. 5 Squadron was disbanded in November 1942.

Short Singapore Mk II

In July 1942, AC1 Patterson was warned out for a posting to Fiji – “Lauthala Bay” as the RNZAF Station at Laucala Bay was called.  Jock departed Rongotai for Nadi aboard a DC3 arriving at Suva some 10 hours later on 04 Oct 1942.  Lauthala Bay was only 3 km SE of the capital, Suva. 

Once orientated to the Station layout and routine, all new arrivals were required to undergo a number of orientation briefs, safety and first aid, training for the defence of the Station assets (aircraft and buildings), plus the rudiments of survival in the local environment, should it be necessary.  Jock was just settling into a routine after a couple of months when his world was about to be shattered.

In December he received word that his mother had died.  The fact that he had only recently arrived and was still aclimatizing plus the need to continue with the aircraft maintenance program meant it was just not possible for him to be released to go home at the time and besides, the arrival of the first Catalinas and formation of a new squadron was just weeks away with much still to be done.

PBY – Consolidated Catalina

After four months in Fiji and a final trade-test check of his aircraft Fitter skills, AC1 Patterson passed all the necessary requirements – he could now call himself a fully qualified Aircraft Fitter (on five different aircraft types).  He was officially re-mustered to the trade of Aircraft Fitter, Group 1 and re-classified (promoted) to Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) – both the trade qualification and re-classification to LAC also meant more pay at last!  An LAC is roughly equivalent to an Army Lance Corporal or Navy Leading Seaman.  As a qualified Aircraft Fitter, Jock would also be eligible for promotion to Corporal ‘on time’ (about approx 3-5 years).

No. 6 (Flying Boat) Squadron

Under wartime lend-lease provisions the first of 22 PBY-5 Consolidated Catalina flying boats were ferried by American crews from San Diego to Lauthala Bay in late April 1943.  The Catalina flying boats, affectionately known as “Dumbo”s or, “90-knot wonders” – they took off, flew and landed, all at 90 knots – flew a mix of searches for reported submarines and shipping escort missions.  They were equipped for both offence and defence with 3 x .30 calibre machine guns (two in the nose turret, one in the ventral hatch at the tail), 2 x .50 cal machine guns, one in each waist blister (the perspex bubble windows midway along the fuselage), and carried 4,000lbs (1,814 kg) of bombs or anti-submarine depth charges; torpedo racks could also be fitted.

No. 6 (Flying Boat) Squadron, Lauthala Bay FIJI (1943-1945)

No. 6 (Flying Boat) Squadron was officially formed on 25 May 1943 (with the squadron code XX-Number, see photo above) however the Squadron had already carried out its first operation, looking for survivors of the American ship Vanderbilt which had been sunk on 02 May.  One of the Catalinas found eight survivors and after no rescue ships appeared for three hours made a daring mid-ocean landing and successfully rescued them.

Espirito Santo

As the tempo of operations in the northern Solomon Islands increased after the successful US attack and elimination of the Japanese from Guadalcanal, No. 6 (FB) Sqn. was re-located closer to the Allied forces need.  The Squadron was positioned at the US Seaplane Base at Segond Kanal (Fr. Second Channel) on the island of Espirito Santo (Luganville) in October 1943, Luganville then being the second largest city on the island we know as Vanuatu.  While based at Santo 6 (FB) Sqn. carried out anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols in the waters west of the island, but without success.  No. 6 (FB) Sqn. was also used to search for missing and downed aircraft, and for medical evacuation to bring sick or injured personnel from ships, aircraft or outlying bases to the American Base Hospital at Tulagi. 

Once the full complement of lend-lease Catalinas had arrived at Lauthala Bay and readied for operations, a second flying boat squadron was formed in July 1944.  The old Singapore No. 5 Squadron was re-activated as No. 5 (Flying Boat) Squadron (with the squadron code PA-Number).  It would be co-located with 6 (FB) Sqn. at Santo, and later Florida Island, until both squadrons were withdrawn back to Lauthala Bay by November 1945. 

 Note: * In Nov 1944 NZ44808 Sgt. (Navigator) Ed. P. Hillary was posted to 6 (FB) Sqn. at the time both 5 and 6 (FB) Sqns were being re-located from Lauthala Bay to the US seaplane base on Espirito Santo.  In Dec 1944 both Squadrons were again moved to Halavo Bay on Florida Island near Guadalcanal, until Sep 1945.  Sgt. (N) Hillary was transferred to No. 5 (FB) Sqn. from Sep – Nov 1945. 

Aircrew Cadet Edmund Hillary, 1944

NZ44808 Sgt. (Nav) Ed Hillary – far left


1943 sped by and during their Christmas correspondence Jock and Barbara decided that once he was home again, they would get married. 

The Japanese were still making in-roads into the Pacific and tenaciously holding the islands they had overrun but little by little they were being driven back.   1944 dawned and Jock had passed his first anniversary in the tropics.   He was fully focused on the up-coming March operations for the Catalinas when more bad news arrived from home – Jock’s father, Stan Patterson had died unexpectedly.  This created a more profound problem for Jock than his mother’s death.  Stan’s death meant that Jock and his sister Peg became the sole and joint beneficiaries of their father’s estate, meaning they were also now the new co-owners of the Gladstone Hotel.   Peggy, besides being ill-equipped to manage the affairs of a hotel, was also too young to legally become a Licensee.  Jock was also stuck in that he was bound under his Attestation Oath to continue serving for the Duration of the War.  Fortunately for them both, an uncle with a Hotel Keeper’s licence stepped in at short notice and was willing to hold the fort until Jock could return to New Zealand and take over – whenever that would be? 

In the interim Jock had initiated an application for a compassionate early return to NZ so he could take over the business and tidy up his father’s affairs.  His plight reached the desk of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal (later Sir) Leonard Isitt who was sympathetic to Jock’s situation.  AVM Isitt made a personal recommendation that LAC Patterson should be permitted to return to NZ to address the situation, subject to the approval of HQ No.1 (Islands) Group.  Any approval by the HQ was to be made based upon the recommendation of Jock’s unit, 6 (FB) Sqn.  The Unit’s recommendation, endorsed by HQ No.1 (Island Gp.), was for Jock to be permitted two weeks compassionate leave including any un-expended annual leave balance however, he was required to return to Lauthala Bay as soon as possible.  As a result Jock flew back to NZ in April 1944 and made the necessary hotel management arrangements that would endure until such time as he was demobilized.  

RTNZ – Return to New Zealand

LAC Jock Patterson’s service in the Pacific – Lauthala Bay, Espirito Santo and Tulagi Island – came to an end sooner than he had expected.  The tempo of operations for 5 and 6 Sqn. by this time had eased considerably and as Jock had been at Lauthala Bay and Espirito Santo for over 14 months at that point, he and a number of other airmen were expected to end their Tour of Duty by the end of the year. 

While Jock was on compassionate leave in NZ, and given he had already completed in excess of 14 months war service and due to return to NZ at years end, a subsequent review of Jock’s circumstances by his superiors allowed him to remain in NZ to officially take over the licence and management of the Gladstone Hotel.  But there was a rider to this concession.  Since he was contracted to the NZ Military Forces for the ‘Duration of the War’ Jock was required to continue serving in the RNZAF until the war officially ended.  Accordingly, Jock remained posted to RNZAF Station Wigram thereby enabling him to oversee his and Peggy’s hotel inheritance, while completing his wartime service obligation.

The upshot of this decision was that after nearly four years of RNZAF service in both New Zealand and in the Pacific, Jock and Barbara were finally able to be officially engaged and to plan their wedding.  During those four years Jock and Barbara had only managed to see one another for a collective total of just 20 days, and so were very keen to be married as soon as possible.

As part of the arrangement for his compassionate travel home at the time of his father’s death, Jock was required to use his remaining annual leave balance to supplement the compassionate leave he was granted.  This left nothing over for planning a Wellington wedding, much less for time off to attend it.  Jock’s only option was to apply for unpaid leave – Leave Without Pay (LWOP) provided he could be spared?  Jock was granted a total of 21 days LWOP.  This allowed him sufficient time to complete the legal requirements for taking over control of the Gladstone plus enough time for travel to Wellington for him and Barbara to plan their wedding at Old St Pauls in the city for 01 July 1944.  Given the constraints of time available to Jock, the wedding was strategically planned for a Saturday to enable his return to work the following Monday – the honeymoon would have to wait. 


Denys Bowen Patterson (25) and Barbara Joyce Phelan (24) were married in Wellington as planned, without a hitch.  The couple returned to Christchurch and their first home at 67 Plynlimon Road, Bryndwr which Jock had pre-arranged.  On arrival back at Wigram Jock was internally posted from 1 SFTS to the Wigram Maintenance Wing.  This move was followed in quick succession by a three month tour of duty (March to June 1945) to RNZAF Station Hobsonville in Auckland for advanced Aircraft Fitter training.  Jock knew that the course was a pre-requisite for promotion to Corporal and certainly he and Barbara could have done with the additional pay that promotion would bring.  Jock passed with flying colours and on his return to Wigram was appointed to the rank Temporary Corporal (T/Cpl.), Aircraft Fitter, Group 1. 

Within a matter of months it became obvious the war was all but over.  T/Cpl. Jock Patterson served his last few months at the Maintenance Wing, Wigram.  On 23rd August 1945, now substantive Corporal Denys Bowen Patterson ~ Aircraft Fitter Group 1, was discharged from the RNZAF to the Southern Non-Effective Personnel Reserve one month short of his 27th birthday.  He remained on the Reserve Roll until 1949 which meant he could be re-called to full time service at any time whilst on the Roll – he wasn’t.

Awards: Defence Medal, War Medal 1939/45, New Zealand War Service Medal

Overseas Service:  1 year 132 days

Total RNZAF Service:  5 years 363 days

No. 6 (Flying Boat) Squadron at Halavo Bay, Solomon Islands – 1944.

While living at Plyminon Road Jock and Barbara Patterson’s first child, Michael Andrew was born in 1945, followed by a daughter, Gail Jacqueline in 1949.  A move to 45 Chapter Street, St Albans followed together with the birth of Denys James Patterson in 1953.  The Pattersons moved house again in 1960 to Crichton Terrace, Beckenham.

As co-owner of the Gladstone Hotel with his sister Peg, Jock Patterson maintained a close interest in the running of the business while employing a full-time manager to run it from day to day.  With that organised, once Jock had received his War Gratuity payment, he and two friends had seen an opportunity to start a business manufacturing lamp shades as well as lamp components (manufactured and imported).  As a result the three friends formed a company called DURAX PRODUCTS LTD. which they launched in 1947 (it was located behind the Christchurch Red Bus Depot).  The business thrived until the early 1960s when Jock decided to relinquish his directorship in 1963 to put his energies into re-building the ailing business of the Gladstone Hotel.  Successive managers had not served him well and the hotel turnover had been steadily going downhill.  Jock sold the family home in Crichton Terrace and moved his family into the hotel.  Jock and Barbara ran the Gladstone very successfully as joint managers for the next seven and half years until finally selling in 1971. 


Jock and Barbara, then in their early 50s, decided that Taupo looked to be a good retirement destination and so they relocated.  Not one to rest on his laurels or yet ready to retire, Jock took a temporary position as a real estate agent and within a short space of time had established another company with which to manage property.  In addition Jock and Barbara had acquired a portfolio of real estate assets since their arrival in Taupo which they actively managed through their company.  Together the Pattersons spent the next twenty odd years building their company in preparation for full retirement.  Sadly for Jock retirement was to be short.

Denys “Jock” Bowen Patterson passed away in Taupo on 10 April 1995 aged 76 years, and Barbara his wife died 17 years later at the age of 92.  Both are buried together in Taupo.  

Gail said of her father that after losing a number of friends to kamakazi and aerial strafing attacks while he was serving in the Pacific, Jock had maintained an abiding dislike of all things Japanese for his entire life.  Not an uncommon emotion among war veterans given the atrocities they had witnessed and been exposed to.


  1. On the day of Jock’s funeral in 1995, and by sheer coincidence, a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina flew over Taupo.  Subsequent checks showed the Catalina was a former wartime aircraft that was recently purchased by the NZ Catalina Club and just happened to be en-route to an air show in the Waikato – perfect timing and very surreal !  Jock would have been delighted at this impromptu ‘tribute flypast’.
  2. Jock’s daughter Gail and husband Ross Harper took over the Wakefield Hotel lease from 1980-1984.  They then bought the hotel in 1984 and ran it until 1988.  They then sold the lease to another publican for a ten year period.  In Jan 1998 Gail and Ross moved back into the hotel after re-taking the lease.  Together with their then adult children, they ran the Wakefield Hotel until selling the freehold in May 1999.  The Harper children represented the 5th successive generation of Patterson direct descendants to have been in the hotel industry from the time of Stan Patterson’s father and grandfather before him, through his son “Jock”, and his daughter Gail – all have been hotel keepers/licensees/publicans – Gail and Ross’s daughter still remains in the hospitality business to this day. 

AC1 Denys Bowen Patterson, RNZAF – 1940

Gail contacted me a couple of weeks ago to advise she had received her father’s medals and had wisely taken my advice to have them engraved with her father’s details.  The medals have now been mounted ready for Gail to wear on Anzac Day.

The reunited medal tally is now 210.