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John Henry Patterson

Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel
Townland: Forgney
Town/Village: Ballymahon
Civil Parish: Forgney
Catholic Parish: Forgney
Alternative Address:
Census 1901:
Census 1911:
Regiment/Unit: 38th Royal Fusiliers; [Zion Mule Corps];(Essex Yeomanry)
Regiment Number:
Date of Death: 18-06-1947
Cause: Survived WW1 & WW2
Memorial: Avihayil, Tel Aviv

John Henry Patterson had an extra-ordinary career. He was believed to have been born in Forgney in 1867, almost certainly outside of wedlock.

He joined the army at age 17. In 1898, he was commissioned by the Uganda Railway Committee in London to oversee the construction of a railway bridge over the Tsavo river in present-day Kenya. In the course of his work there, he shot man-eating lions. His experiences were documented in the book 'The Man-Eaters of Tsavo'.

Patterson re-enlisted for war service in 1914 and after some service on the Western Front, he went to Egypt. He was placed in command of the Zion Mule Corps. As an ardent Zionist, this suited him very well. The corps saw action at Gallipoli in 1915, but it was later withdrawn and sent back to Egypt. In 1917, Patterson was appointed commander of the 38th Royal Fusiliers, which was part of the Jewish Legion. They saw action in Palestine before the end of the war.

Patterson was active in the Zionist cause for the rest of his life. He and Robert Briscoe raised funds in the U.S.A. for the Irgun, a Jewish paramilitary organisation. He was also very close to the family of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he was godfather to Yonatan (Yonni) Netanyahu, brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Patterson and his wife settled in California and both died there in 1947. Their ashes were re-interred in Israel in 2014. 

Parents Names: Unknown


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