MacIlwaine, John Patterson (No. 1114000)

MacIlwaine, John Patterson (John)


No. 1114000, Royal Air Force

Killed in an aircraft accident on Tuesday 26 August 1941 (aged 26)


Ardstraw (St. Eugene’s) Church of Ireland Churchyard, Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone (Section E. Grave 445)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Downpatrick and District War Memorial

Trinity College Dublin Roll of Honour

Methodist College Belfast

Newtownstewart Presbyterian Church


John Patterson MacIlwaine was born on 7 September 1914 in Newtownstewart, County Tyrone and he was a son of Robert and Janetta MacIlwaine (nee Tate), both from Newtownards. Both Robert and Janetta were National School teachers and they were married on 16 July 1913 in Holywood Presbyterian Church.  Later the MacIlwaine family moved to Mill Street, Newtownstewart, County Tyrone and then to The Bungalow, Newtownstewart when Robert became Principal of the Model School in Newtownstewart.  Robert and Janetta MacIlwaine had five children:

John Patterson (born 7 September 1914 in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone)

Robert (Bert, born 21 June 1918 in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone; died after swallowing a dried pea which ‘travelled to his lung’ and he was buried on 30 October 1921)

Agnes Tate (Nesta, who became a Senior Mistress in Sullivan Upper School, Holywood and was buried on 27 June 1988)

Alice (born 1922, buried 25 November 1922)

Roberta Janett (born 1928)

John Patterson MacIlwaine’s paternal grandparents were Matthew and Susan MacIlwaine (nee Patterson) who were married on 1 July 1879 in Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church, Belfast.  Matthew MacIlwaine was a draper and he moved to the USA where he settled; his wife Susan opted to remain at home.

John Patterson MacIlwaine’s maternal grandparents were John and Sarah Jane Tate (nee Kirkpatrick) who were married on 1 August 1884 in St. Stephen’s Church of Ireland Church, Belfast.  John Tate was a spirit merchant and he had three licensed premises in Newtownards – the Royal, the Corner House and the Ulster Arms.  During the First World War their son, Rifleman John (Jack) Tate (No. 19952), died of wounds and was buried in France.  John Tate Senior died on 8 February 1917 (aged 61). In addition to losing a son in the First World War, Sarah Jane Tate lost her brother, John Kirkpatrick.  When John Patterson MacIlwaine joined up to fight in the Second World War his maternal grandmother Sarah Jane Tate predicted that she would never see him alive again.  Her prediction proved to be correct.

John Patterson MacIlwaine was a boarder at Methodist College Belfast and in 1936 he obtained a degree in classics from Trinity College Dublin.  He taught at Down High School in Downpatrick and was one of three teachers at the school who enlisted around the same time.  John Patterson MacIlwaine and Flying Officer William Ernest Norman Maxwell from Belfast, who was killed on 23 January 1943, both served with the Royal Air Force.  Ernest Montgomery who served with the Army survived the war and resumed his career as a maths teacher.

John Patterson MacIlwaine travelled to the USA and from there to Moosejaw in Saskatchewan for training.  On the journey home the transport ship he was travelling on was torpedoed and he survived but, in a letter home afterwards, he lamented the loss of his golf clubs.  Then he served with ‘D’ Flight, 13 Squadron in No.7 Initial Training Wing (ITW) at RAF Newquay in Cornwall and he was serving with Fighter Command when he died on 26 August 1941.  He was due a period of home leave and in a letter to his mother he told her how much he was looking forward to it.  But it was not to be.  Sergeant John Patterson MacIlwaine’s death was reported in the 6 September 1941 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle.  In the same edition there were Died on Active Service notices from his grandmother, Susan MacIlwaine of 26 John Street, Newtownards; his uncle and aunt, John and M. MacIlwaine of 3 Upper Court Street, Newtownards and his maternal grandmother Sarah Jane Tate and family of Frances Street and North Street, Newtownards.

Sergeant John Patterson MacIlwaine (No. 1114000) was serving with 53 OTU when he died on 26 August 1941 (aged 26).  His Supermarine Spitfire aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed into the Bristol Channel between Barry in Glamorgan and Weston-super-Mare.  He was buried on 1 September 1941 in Ardstraw (St. Eugene’s) Church of Ireland Churchyard, Newtownstewart.  His effects amounted to some £76 and probate was granted to his father Robert.  His father died on 14 July 1948 (aged 67) and his mother Janetta was buried on 1 March 1967.

Sergeant John Patterson MacIlwaine (No. 1114000) is commemorated on Downpatrick and District War Memorial; in the Trinity College Dublin Roll of Honour; in Methodist College Belfast and in Newtownstewart Presbyterian Church.