Major John Paton, resident at Alastrean House, tells of his remarkable life and career serving in the British Army

After seeing John Paton’s beautiful war medals in his bedroom at Alastrean House, we couldn’t wait to hear his life story…

John joined the Army when he was 16, he volunteered as a teenager – unbeknown to his family – at the outbreak of the Second World War while he was training as a motor mechanic. He joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders just before Christmas 1940 and two years later became a mechanic with the newly formed Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The Major’s military service spanned 34 years and he travelled the world with the army.

In 1944 John was working with a specialist beach recovery unit, the unit was on Jig Green Gold Beach in Normandy on D-Day. They continued the tank recovery through France into Belgium and Germany.

He took part in campaigns in France, Belgium and Germany and then boarded a troopship in the Mediterranean bound for the Far East when the atom bombs were dropped and Japan surrendered.

After serving in Palestine and Egypt – he married his late wife Ann in Alexandria – the regular soldier saw service as far afield as Hong Kong and Singapore.

We asked John what he thought of the food in the military, he answered “Depends what sort of mood the cook was in, despite their efforts we still survived!”

John was an award winning army athlete; it was in Singapore that he helped orphaned and disabled youngsters enjoy sports. He is also former a shooter at Bisley, home to Britain’s best marksmen.

The father of two returned to Scotland where he worked at the army careers office in Aberdeen before commencing his post as maintenance manager at Peterhead Power Station, until his retirement. He then commenced his conservationist career at Fyvie Castle where he preserved and restored suits of armour, muskets and Scottish broad swords, as well as conducting his popular tours.  Whilst working alone in the castle one night John claims to have sensed the famous ‘Green Lady’ ghost. He said “I didn’t see anything, but I felt someone brush past me and then there was a delicious smell of perfume.”  John joked and said he didn’t sleep for weeks!

John was honoured with an MBE for services to heritage in 2008 and re-married in 2014 to Alice. John and Alice Paton now both live at Alastrean House and enjoy a quieter lifestyle together now. Both are particularly fond of their daily walks around the beautiful gardens and grounds of Alastrean House. John and Alice love taking part in all the activities on offer especially the weekly exercises and regular entertainment. They are also the first to jump on the bus for our Oomph Wellness bus trips.