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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R B Johnson


Reginald Bernard Johnson was born on 6th May 1917 in Chesterton, Cambridge and after joining the RAFVR as an Airman u/t Pilot in May 1939, he carried out his elementary flying training at 22 E&RFTS Cambridge.

Called up at the outbreak of war, Johnson commenced his intermediate and advanced flying training at 10 FTS Ternhill in November 1939. The course included two weeks of gunnery training at Penrhos in Wales and on completion he was posted to 222 (Natal) Squadron on 11th May 1940.

He eventually joined 222 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey, where the squadron was being held in reserve until moving to Hornchurch on 29th August.


Above: Johnson with Spitfire ZD-P/P9318 early one morning in June 1940 at Kirton-in-Lindsey.


Johnson flew P9318 on 30 occasions during October 1940, the last being on the 28th. Sgt. JHB Burgess was shot down flying it on the following day. He had just shot down Oblt. Otto Hintze of 3./Epr210, who baled out and was taken PoW near Ashford (painting below of this incident by Charles J Thompson).

Burgess made a forced-landing at Lenham decoy airfield. P9318 was repaired and went to 58 OTU, eventually being struck off charge in April 1945.




On 3rd September 1940 Johnson baled out over Burnham-on-Crouch, when his Merlin engine developed a glycol leak on a routine patrol. His Spitfire, L1010, crashed at Lower Raypits, Canewdon, and he was slightly injured on landing.

He baled out again on 14th September after being damaged in combat with Me109s. He had sustained minor injuries during the dogfight, and his Spitfire, X4249, crashed south of Cockhide Farm, Aveley, not far from Hornchurch.

In February 1941 Johnson was posted to 52 OTU Debden as a fighter tactics instructor and subsequently underwent training as a Qualified Flying Instructor at CFS Upavon in July 1941.


Above: Johnson at 52 OTU, the aircraft still has the black/white underside from the early days of the war.


Commissioned from Warrant Officer in June 1942, Johnson instructed at 9 FTS Hullavington, 22 EFTS Cambridge, RAF Watchfield and at 3 EFTS Shellingford.


Above: Johnson (centre) at 3 EFTS with two other unidentified instructors.


He was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant.

Johnson died on 19th January 1992 in Henley.


Additional research and all images courtesy of David McIntyre (nephew).  


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