A LOTHIANS war hero who carried out dozens of bombing raids over Nazi-occupied Europe has celebrated his 90th birthday.
Flight engineer John Patterson, from Livingston, completed 32 missions during a death-defying tour of bombing operations as the Second World War raged.
His bravery was all the more remarkable given that fewer than a third of airmen – only 27 per cent – survived 30 or more air raid missions.
Born in Twynholm, Kirkcudbrightshire, on February 4, 1923, John was the second of five children.
In late 1941, aged 18, he joined the Royal Air Force, later taking to the skies and participating in a series of missions for Bomber Command.
Demobbed in September 1946, John set up home in Kirkcudbright in south-west Scotland and married Sarah in 1949.
The couple have a daughter, Yvonne.
John later became a joiner and settled in Livingston.
A resident for more than 20 years, he is a well-known and popular figure in the town after many years spent volunteering at Braid House day care centre.
Sadly, Sarah died four years ago.
Despite the loss, John said reaching the age of 90 had evoked many memories of happy experiences over the years.
He said: “I very much enjoyed my birthday. I went dancing in the afternoon with some friends and then at night I went out for a meal.
“My daughter, Yvonne, came over from Cyprus and I went out with her and my grandson, Jim, and some friends for a party at Oscar’s in Livingston.”
John revealed that his birthday was celebrated without the help of alcohol.
“I have only been drunk twice in my life,” he recalled. “One was on VE Day [May 8, 1945], in Nottingham Square, and the other was VJ day [August 15, 1945] in Lincoln, when we knew the war was over.
“I had a half pint of shandy and that was me singing and dancing. I wasn’t really drunk at all, it was just the atmosphere.
“Everyone was singing and so happy – we enjoyed ourselves in those days.”
John’s life has been marked in other ways. Five years ago, he decided to write a book of memoirs called John’s War and Peace, penned following encouragement from friends and family.
John has also received the UK Veteran’s Badge and was awarded the Red Cross Badge of Honour for his post-war volunteer work.
He said he felt lucky to have survived to the age of 90.
“I saw a lot of action during the war but I got through it all right,” he said. “I flew 32 times over Europe and there were others who only went up once and never came back.
“I think back to the war quite often. I think I’ve had a lucky and charmed life.”