Patton, William

Patton, William


SS Biela (Liverpool), Merchant Navy

Died as the result of enemy action on Saturday 14 February 1942 (aged 22)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 17)

Donaghadee and District War Memorial

Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee

Emerson family grave headstone in the Copeland Island Cemetery


William Patton (the casualty) was born on 7 August 1919 at 51 Lisburn Road, Belfast, and he was the eldest son of William and Mary Elizabeth Patton (nee McNeill).  William Patton (the casualty’s father) was born on 11 October 1894 and worked as a butcher.  Mary Elizabeth McNeill was born on 7 November 1896 in Killinkere, Co. Cavan.

William Patton (the casualty) was a grandson of Thomas and Sophia Patton (nee Matier) who were married on 1 March 1893 in Second Newtownards Presbyterian Church and lived in Donaghadee.

William and Mary Elizabeth Patton (nee McNeill) lived at 5 Church Lane, Donaghadee and two of their children were baptised in First Donaghadee Presbyterian Church:

David Matier (born 21 August 1921; baptised 1 September 1921)

Joseph (born 2 September 1923; baptised 3 September 1923)

William Patton’s grandfather Thomas and his great-uncle William were farmers, and both moved from Donaghadee to Dunedin in New Zealand.  William’s grandmother Sophia stayed behind in Donaghadee and subsequently remarried.

William Patton’s parents moved to Dunedin on 1 September 1926.  They sailed from Southampton aboard the SS Honorata along with their children David and Joseph.   Their son William’s name also appears on the original list of ship’s intended passengers but there is a note at the end of the list indicating that William did not board and did not travel.  Instead, William stayed behind in Donaghadee and he lived with James and Annie Emerson (nee Patton), his uncle and aunt who farmed on Copeland Island.

James Emerson and Annie Patton were married on 26 September 1923 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church and they had a daughter called Winifred.  After James Emerson died on 20 April 1944, Annie and Winifred Emerson moved to New Zealand.

After William Patton’s parents moved to New Zealand in 1926, they had four more children:

Albert Denis (born 24 May 1929)

Thomas Arthur (born 16 November 1931; died 28 May 1996)

Eileen May (born 28 October 1936; died 19 May 2006)

Patricia Mary (born 4 September 1939)

Their father, William Patton, died on 26 February 1966 in Dunedin and their mother, Mary Elizabeth Patton (nee McNeill), died on 31 January 1992, also in Dunedin.

William and Mary Patton’s son, David Matier Patton who was born in Donaghadee, died in a wharf accident on 18 June 1956 in Napier, New Zealand.  Their son, Joseph Patton, died on 21 March 1977 in Dunedin.

During the Second World War William Patton (the casualty) served with the Merchant Navy aboard the SS Biela.  The British steam merchant ship SS War Mastiff was built in 1918 by Leslie, Andrew and Company, Hebburn-on-Tyne, Newcastle, and was renamed SS Biela in 1919.  She was owned by Lamport and Holt Ltd., Liverpool.  She left Liverpool on 1 February 1942 on route for Buenos Aires in Convoy ON-62.  She had on board a general cargo and during the voyage she became separated from the convoy.  The SS Biela was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-98 on 14 February 1942 about 400 miles southwest of Cape Race, Newfoundland.  All 50 crew members were lost.  Nine months later, on 15 November 1942, U-98 was sunk with the loss of all hands.

Sailor William Patton was 22 when he died, and he is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London; on Donaghadee and District War Memorial; in Shore Street Presbyterian Church Donaghadee and on the Emerson family grave headstone in the Copeland Island Cemetery.