During World War Two, more than 30,000 men served with the Airfield Construction (AC) Wings of the RAF (also known as Works Squadrons). An AC Squadron member consisted of every known trade and profession from the construction industry and their task was to repair bomb-damaged airfields and build new ones. As the war progressed, there was a requirement for longer and heavier runways as the RAF expanded and the USSAF 8th & 9th joined the battle.
Alex Thomson Patterson served with the RAF 5051 Bomb Disposal Squadron which spent most of early part of 1943 in Malta preparing the island’s airfields for their role in the invasion of Sicily of 9 July 1943.
Leading Aircraftman Alex Thomson Paterson RAFVR (1369874) died age 21, on 25 May 1944. He was the nephew of Margaret Paterson from Perth and is buried in Wellshill Cemetery.
It is not known how Alex died, but given that he is buried at Wellshill it is likely it happened somewhere in the UK. In the early months of 1944, Airfield Construction Squadrons were involved in the major task of constructing 23 Advanced Landing Grounds in Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire. From which the RAF and USAAF fighter and fighter bomber squadrons would be able to effectively operate during Operation Overlord in northern France and over the D-Day beachhead. Security at military installations and camps was increased on 25 May 1944. Camps were sealed with no one allowed out and patrolled by military police until D-Day on 6 June 1944.
In Italy on 2 May 1944, 1,500 Allied artillery pieces at the beach at Anzio commenced bombardment of the German forces as they started their breakout. The drive was underway on 25 May 1944.
BOMB DAMAGE AND LIFE IN VALLETTA, MALTA. 1942. (A 8553) Open air market carrying on among the wreckage. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205142493