Major Henry John [Pat] Patten
Pat was born in
Sidcup, Kent in May 1921. He joined the TA in 1938 and was called up in August
1939 and in February 1940 he joined RMP. Pat went to Normandy after D Day and
was still in Germany after the War ended. During that time he had been a
dispatch rider to the Duke of Gloucester and other VIPs and was at Woking later
when the Duke presented the "Royal" prefix to the Corps. From Germany Pat was
posted to Egypt and it was in the Canal Zone in 1948 that he met Milly, one of
very few ladies working there for the NAAFI. After a whirlwind courtship they
were married that same year at the Fayid Roman Catholic church. Pat
subsequently joined the Special Investigating Branch and thereafter served in
Trieste, Jamaica, Kenya, Berlin, Hong Kong, BAOR and UK. In 1956 he was
promoted to the rank of RSM, commissioned in 1962, receiving his majority in
1970. He retired from the Army in 1975, aged 54, after 36-years service. Pat
then spent 10 years as an investigator with the Army Security Vetting Unit in
Herford, Chester and Northern Ireland. He and Milly finally moved to Devon, and
it was in Plymouth on 16th January 2007 aged 85 that Pat passed away
peacefully after a brave fight.
Pat was a man of outstanding qualities. He was a man of integrity, strict morals and high standards. His life was governed by fundamental principals, of duty, honour and fairness. He had an instinctive ability to see through the sham and the false. These values made him a superb military policeman, and more importantly a man to respect and admire. He was warm, open and generous which made it easy for others to respond in kind. He was a devoted family man. His love of his family was immense and he took pride in the achievements of his two sons, Gary and Tony, and their children. As he and Milly traveled around the World in his Army career they made lifelong friends in every Country they visited. Milly, a great lady, was a fantastic support to Pat. They were such fun to be with, wonderful hosts, looking after every body known to them and others, a marvelous influence for good where ever they served.
Pat was one of the Army's most experienced and skillful investigators, always an innovator, invariably well ahead of the game, especially in drug detection. He made various presentations to the American Army in Stuttgart and Heidelberg, and their investigators even visited him in Hong Kong to seek his advice on their problems with Rest and Recreation personnel visiting the Colony during the Vietnam War.
He was a marvelous companion, always cheerful. He had a wide range of friends and contacts, all of whom enjoyed his wit and humour. He was able to use his sense of humour to good advantage in any situation. He was a superb raconteur, Pat's stories were legion. Just by recalling how the GOC in Berlin had lumbered him with the security of a Rolling Stones concert, along with the Berlin Police, would have others in fits of laughter. One of many other stories concerned his posting to Jamaica. When he reported to Woking to be kitted out he was issued with a topi. When he protested he was told he would have to have it as it was on the clothing scale. When he went down the gangway at Kingston he put the topi on as it as awkward to carry. Some wag from the Pioneer Corps on the dockside unloading the ship, looked up and shouted "How was Queen Victoria when you left?"
Pat had some success as a boxer in the Army. Prior to D Day he featured in a bout when the then World Heavyweight champion, Joe Louis, then in the US Army, was a spectator. Pat was interested in and played most sports. His main passion was golf, and whilst in Northern Ireland with the Army Security Vetting Unit he took advantage to play some of the best courses in the World. In Devon he was a member of St. Mellion and Yelverton clubs.
Pat's father had served in the Tank Corps in WW I and had fought at Cambrai in 1917, the first real tank battle of that war. In 1960 when Pat was the RSM at Bielefeld Special Investigating Branch his father came out on a visit. The 3rd Royal Tank Regiment was stationed at Detmold at the time and when Pat told their RSM about his father the CCYs car was sent over to collect him and he was feted like a hero in the Regiment for the day.
Pat was such a respected figure. Everyone worked well under his guidance and supervision. He was honest and fearless, leading by example. He was a man of compassion and sensitivity, but he could have a hard exterior. Investigators trod warily in his presence. He was a soldier who had faced danger on numerous occasions, whether confronting terrorists in Palestine, or overpowering and disarming a soldier who had run amok with a firearm. On that occasion Pat was the OIC Munster Special Investigating Branch. He immediately went to the scene and confronted the soldier over a period of several hours. Eventually Pat was able to bring the situation to a successful conclusion, for which he was awarded The Queen's Commendation for Gallantry.
A tribute by Major John Parminter
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