Patterson, William Robert
Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Distinguished Service Cross
HMS Jersey, Royal Navy
Lost at sea as the result of enemy action on Friday 2 May 1941 (aged 31)
No known grave
Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent, England (41. 1)
Groomsport and District War Memorial
Groomsport Parish Church of Ireland Church
Glencraig Parish Church of Ireland Church (as Patterson W.)
Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI)
William Robert Patterson was born on 30 January 1910 at 75 Clifton Road, Bangor and he was the elder son of Charles Delamere Patterson and Sarah Haidee Patterson (nee Kennedy) who were married on 20 April 1909 in Fitzroy Avenue Presbyterian Church, Belfast. Charles Delamere Patterson, a linen merchant from Adelaide Park, Belfast, was a son of William Robert Patterson, a linen merchant. Sarah Haidee Kennedy from College Gardens, Belfast was a daughter of Archer Kennedy, a linen merchant.
The Patterson family lived at 75 Clifton Road, Bangor, at 124 Eglantine Avenue, Belfast, and at Gulladuff, Craigavad, Co. Down.
Charles Delamere Patterson and Sarah Haidee Patterson (nee Kennedy) had at least three children:
William Robert (born 30 January 1910 at 75 Clifton Road, Bangor)
Charles Delamere (born 1 July 1913 at 124 Eglantine Avenue, Belfast; died 23 August 1967)
Kathleen Westray (born 28 October 1915 at 11 College Gardens, Belfast while her father was in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands serving with the Royal Naval Reserve)
William Robert Patterson’s father and his uncle, John Fleming Patterson, were directors of the Northern Linen Company (Belfast) Ltd., 27 Wellington Place.
Another of his uncles was Captain William Robert Patterson of HMS King George V. Captain Patterson was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in recognition of his part in operations which ended with the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic on 27 May 1941.
Another of his uncles was Vice-Admiral Sir Wilfred Patterson who unveiled the memorial doors in Groomsport Parish Church on 7 November 1948.
William Robert Patterson’s paternal grandfather was William Robert Patterson, a linen merchant with homes in Belfast and Bangor. He died on 29 April 1900 at 2 Edenville, Bangor (aged 57) and was buried in Belfast City Cemetery (Grave E1. 469). His paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Mary Patterson and she lived in Dunallen, Windsor Avenue, Belfast. They had at least twelve children including William Robert, Margaret, John Fleming, Charles Delamere, Grace, Victor, Matthew, Kathleen, and Wilfred Rupert. Elizabeth Mary Patterson died on 3 November 1941 (aged 93) at Newgrove, Groomsport Road, Bangor. She was buried in Belfast City Cemetery (Grave E1. 469).
Lieutenant Commander William Robert Patterson OBE DSC was educated at Inchmarlo and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) from 1921 until 1922. In 1940 William Robert Patterson married Elizabeth Jane Gordon-Jones of Penylan, Cardiff. Their marriage was registered in the second quarter of 1940 in Cardiff, Glamorganshire. During the Second World War William Robert Patterson served with the Royal Navy aboard HMS Jersey.
HMS Jersey was a J-class destroyer built by J.S. White and Company (Cowes) and commissioned in April 1939. During the night of 6/7 December 1939 HMS Jersey and HMS Juno were attacked by the German destroyers Z-10 and Z-12 off Cromer, Norfolk. HMS Jersey was hit by a torpedo fired from Z-12 and this resulted in a large fire. For his ‘undaunted courage, steadfastness, coolness and resource in saving ships and life at sea in the face of peril and adversity’ during that incident William Robert Patterson (then a Lieutenant) was awarded the OBE (Military Division). He was one of the officers on the bridge at 2.30 am when the torpedo struck. The fuel oil caught fire and all the ship’s lights and pumps were put out of action. The magazine was in danger of exploding and several men were marooned in the after part of the ship. The flames were eventually extinguished, and the ship brought safely to port. The damage took ten months to repair and HMS Jersey was back in action on 23 September 1940.
On 2 May 1941 HMS Jersey struck a mine and sank off La Valetta, Malta. Lieutenant Commander William Robert Patterson was reported missing and later it was officially confirmed that he must be presumed to have been lost at sea through enemy action.
Lieutenant Commander William Robert Patterson was 31 when he died, and he is commemorated on Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent; on Groomsport and District War Memorial; in Groomsport Parish Church of Ireland Church; in Glencraig Parish Church of Ireland Church (as Patterson W.) and in RBAI.
His father Charles died on 15 December 1951 (aged 55); his mother Haidee died on 28 July 1971 (aged 86) and they were buried in Belfast City Cemetery (Grave G1. 189).