John Agar Paterson: Friday 30th October 1914
John was educated at Dulwich College and RMC Sandhurst. He was gazetted as a 2nd Lieu in Bedfordshire Regiment 17 September 1913 and was single. He was in South Africa with the Battalion when war was declared. He went to Belgium arriving at Zeebrugge at 6:30 am on 7 October 1914.
The Battalion proceeded to the Menin Road, near Zillebeke arriving at 11 am on 15 October where they relieved a French Regiment. They continued to dig in and were ordered to march on at 10:50 pm. They arrived in the village of Gheluvelt at 9:30 am the following morning. Action started for them on 18th with the 3 dead, 24 wounded and 2 missing that day. After this, they drew back and entrenched. The next few days saw a constant round of attacks and trench work, often at night.
On 31 October they were ordered, at 2:30 am to occupy a small fir wood about 250 yards in front of their line which was then held by the North Lancs., and 2 platoons of C Company were ordered to hold this position. This wood had been subjected to heavy shell fire from two sides during the previous day. Shellfire started as soon as it was light. It soon became evident that the enemy was advancing in force on the left of the wood held by Capt Lemon and also on the right.
The Adjutant went to report the situation to Brigade HQ, and almost immediately on his return to Battalion H.Q., 2 orderlies arrived with an order from the Brigadier to retire fighting towards the MENIN-YPRES Road.
Part of the Battalion moved back in compliance with this order. An order was sent to Captain Lemon to retire from the fir wood. Part of the Battalion remained in the trenches till late in the afternoon about 4.30 p.m. when they were brought back and established a line which they held till relieved on 5/6 November. The losses were very severe on this day with 4 officers killed, 2 missing and 4 wounded. They did not record the number of others lost.
John Paterson was killed in the fir wood during an attack by the Prussian Guards. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate. According to the Battalion war diary, John was killed on 30 October, however, CWGC wrongly shows him as dying on 30 November. He is also commemorated on the Dulwich War Memorial.
John was born 19 November 1893, the son of William Morison and Margaret S (nee Agar from Glasgow) Paterson of 27 Baskerville Road. William was a manufacturer’s agent of 80 Gt. Portland St.
Some letters which Oscar Dodwell (also commemorated at SMM) wrote to his elder brother have survived. In one, written December 1914, he says “I have now lost so many friends that I shall not know what to do when I get home. Did you see young Paterson, Anna Paterson’s brother, was killed recently?” Oscar was to last another 6 months.