LT.-COL. JOHN HENRY PATTERSON.
(photo credit: ORLY HALEVY)
In a mission coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation and the Jabotinsky Institute in Israel, British World War I officer and commander of the Jewish Legion, Lt.-Col. John Henry Patterson’s ashes were brought to Israel for burial.
Patterson, whose ashes were interred at the Angelus- Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles when he died in 1947 at the age of 79, was a devoted champion of what soon would become the State of Israel. It was his dying wish to be buried in Israel alongside his fellow Legion soldiers.
Patterson and his wife Helena will have their ashes buried in Moshav Avichail, a village north of Netanya founded by Jewish Legion soldiers.
The burial will take place on November 10, Patterson’s birthday, when a special ceremony will be held in his honor. Members of his family, representatives of the British armed forces, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and residents of the moshav are expected to attend.
The burial will mark the culmination of a three-year effort by Patterson’s grandson Alan, who worked with the Jabotinsky Institute to bring the ashes to Israel.
“Colonel Patterson was one of the founders of the Jewish Legion, the first Jewish military force since the Bar Kokhba revolt and the basis for what would become the Israel Defense Forces,” Netanyahu wrote in a letter in which he recounted his personal connection to Patterson’s legacy.
“My father and mother spoke warmly of Colonel Patterson, who worked with my father for the Zionist cause in the 1940s in the United States. When my older brother was born, my father called him Jonathan.
John, in honor of Patterson and Nathan in memory of my grandfather,” the prime minister said of Patterson, who was godfather to the late Yonatan Netanyahu.
In the letter, Netanyahu extolled the link between “the commander of the renascent Jewish fighting force with one of Israel’s future military commanders,” noting the historic connection between the two soldiers who fought fervently for the Jewish state.
Patterson, a Protestant, was a major advocate of the Zionist cause. His two books – With the Zionists in Gallipoli and With the Judaeans in the Palestine Campaign – detailed his support for the formation of Israel and his efforts in combating anti-Semitism during his military service.