Animal officer recounts wartime heroics

Colin Pateman, Eastbourne author
Colin Pateman, Eastbourne author

An animal welfare worker is celebrating after having a pair of books published.

Colin Pateman, who lives locally and works for Wealden District Council, decided to start leaving the day job at the office and turned his hand to writing in his spare time.

And earlier this week he saw the fruits of his labour released in hardback form.

His latest book is called Goldfish, Caterpillars and Guinea Pigs, but is not about the animals he meets when working for the council. These goldfish, caterpillars and guinea pigs were the nicknames given to selected pilots and aircrews in the Second World War.

Using official records of medals and awards Mr Pateman began researching the heroism and gallant deeds of a host of airmen and his accounts – with the daredevil stories making up the bulk of his book.

And his second offering, Unwanted Hero, also delves into wartime heroics. It follows the story of Donald Barnard who came to England from St Lucia to join the RAF as a bomber pilot. On his second tour of operations, he was shot down over northern France in September 1942 and rewarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross while missing in action. D

He evaded capture, made it to Spain and later compiled a detailed diary of his entire evasion exploits. Posted to test fly Spitfires, flying in excess of 1,000 individual aircraft, Barnard then moved to the Far East to take place in supply dropping in 1945. In Burma, disapproving of the delay in recovering the emaciated allied POWs, he decided to take an aircraft without authority and recovered 25 prisoners that were taken to safety. After a full Court Martial, he was dismissed from the RAF.

Mr Pateman said, “Rarely has the opportunity been available to reproduce from a diary such a personal account of evasion and a unique career story supported by French resistance sourced original photographs.” Both books are published by Fonthill Media.