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Background on John P. Turner

John Pater Turner was born in Lowestoft in October 1892, the only child of Alfred and Elizabeth Turner. The name 'Pater' was to be regarded as a mispelling of Peter for much of his life but was deliberate and a way of paying tribute to an earlier family connection. His paternal grandmother had been a Pater but with her generation being all girls the name had died out.

After early schooling in Lowestoft he attended Lowestoft College under Rev. John Clegg who was headmaster there 1901-1916 (great grandfather of the one-time leader of the Liberal Democrats and Deputy Prime Minster, Nick Clegg). After cramming Latin and Greek he passed the University entrance examination to gain a place at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He obtained an MA there in science (Cambridge did not award MSc's), held a teaching post for a short while and then in 1918 enlisted in the army where he was assigned to the Army Service Corps to drive motor transport. After the war he went on to a career teaching chemistry.

Rev. John Clegg group 

Rev. John Clegg, Headmaster of Lowestoft College, seated centre
J. P. Turner seated extreme right

Scylla and John TurnerJ. P. Turner had married Hilda Beatrice (Scylla) Downing, in December 1918. She was the daughter of a a wholesale hardware merchant friend of his father's who was based in Birmingham but who used to stay at their home at 137 London Road South on his visits to Lowestoft. By the time of their wedding the Turner family had moved out of 137 London Road South and were now established in Walmer House, on the corner of London Road South and Acton Road.

By WW2 he was teaching at St. Bartholomew's, Newbury Grammar School and in view of his scientific background and his knowledge of chemistry he had been appointed as one of only a handful of Civil Defence 'Gas Identification Officers' or GIO's for the the county of Berkshire. They had three children by this time, Keith (John Keith) who was born in 1921, Dilys (Mary Dilys Margaret, my mother) born 1922 and Michael (Alfred Michael) born 1926.

Keith was planning to become a dentist. He had a place at Kings College Hospital in London but before completing his training he would go on to join the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1941. He trained in South Africa as a Sergeant Observer/Navigator before posting to the Mediterranean. He was commissioned and went on to serve with 69 Squadron as part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force for the invasion of Europe. He was killed in January 1945, by this time with the rank of Flying Officer, when a crew member of a Wellington XIII on night reconnaisance of the front line in Holland gathering intelligence for the front line troops on the ground.

When his parents died in 1951 John Pater took early retirement from teaching and moved with his wife Scylla from Newbury to Lowestoft and into Walmer House. When my parents separated in 1952 my brother Derek and I were fortunate enough to be brought by my mother to live there with our grandparents.

Keith, Dilys and Michael


From the left, Michael, Dilys (my mother) and Keith who as Flying Officer Turner was killed in January 1945 whilst serving with 69 Squadron as part of the 2nd tactical Air Force in Holland.

An account of the incident involved can be found online on a site dedicated to another casualty of the same aircraft, Flying Officer John Lowrie.


G. A.Michael Sims, 2013

Content © 2013-18 G. A. Michael Sims

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