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Aberdeen woman’s heroic efforts during WW2 subject of new exhibition

22/08/14

A new display about World War II heroine Marion Patterson will open in Aberdeen Maritime Museum's Picture Gallery tomorrow [Saturday].

Marion Patterson, nee Chalmers, was born in Aberdeen in 1911, but moved to Canada as a small child with her parents.

There she married Dundonian Guthrie Patterson, who enlisted in the RAF shortly before the outbreak of WWII. It was then that Marion returned to Aberdeen to be closer to her husband during his war service. She opened a hair salon at the corner of Gallowgate and Upperkirkgate.

Marion also served as a senior fireguard for the Civil Defence and was the first person in that category to be awarded the George Medal. She won the medal for her courage and initiative during a Luftwaffe bombing raid on South Market Street.

Marion, with no concern for her own safety, entered a bombed building which was on the point of collapse and crawled through a gap in the wreckage to rescue a trapped RN serviceman. She managed to drag him to safety seconds before the building crumpled. King George VI presented Marion with her George Medal at Buckingham Palace in February 1943.

In 1944 Marion returned to Canada but visited Aberdeen on several occasions, the last time was in 1985.

Stewart Thain, a former assistant keeper in charge of coins, medals and banknotes, at Aberdeen City Council, said: "Marion Patterson was born in Aberdeen but because she spent most of her life in Canada her act of heroism is perhaps not so well remembered here as it ought to be.

"During the World War II bombing of South Market Street Marion risked her own life to save others and as a result she was rightly honoured with the George Medal."

Judith Stones, lead curator (local history and archaeology) said: "At a recent talk we held about Marion we promised to put the medals and other memorabilia on public display, which we have done.

"This is a real story of heroism and local history which visitors to the exhibition will find fascinating."

All the items on display are part of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Collections and include a drawing of Marion by well-known local artist Robert Sivell RSA.

Marion Patterson's Medals: Courageous rescue in wartime Aberdeen runs until 29 November.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm; Sunday 12pm-3pm; closed Monday. Admission is free.

www.aagm.co.uk