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The Airmen's Stories - P/O S F F Johnson

Sidney Frederick Farquhar Johnson was born on 13th November 1915, the son of Captain Sidney Frederick Johnson, killed aged 29 serving with the Border Regiment in January 1917 and buried in New Munich Trench Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel in France.


Above image courtesy of Westminster School.


SF Johnson Senior had been employed by Hendren’s Trust, Ltd., a financial company for promoting British enterprise in Canada. While there he met Helen Marguerite Robertson, they married in 1914 in Montreal.

After her husband's death Helen married Leonard Wyvill Hancock in 1921 in Montreal. He came from a Nottingham lace-making family and had been awarded a MC serving as a Captain with the Notts & Derby Regiment (4th Sherwood Foresters).

SFF Johnson was educated at Twyford, Stowe and in Switzerland. At Stowe School (September 1929 to July 1933) he was in Cobham House, he played for the rugby team, practised boxing, won his Colts Football colours and was also in the Debating Society.



He served in the Honourable Artillery Company before transferring to 600 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force at Hendon in 1939.

Called up on 24th August, he completed his flying training and rejoined 600 at Northolt in May 1940.

He was in action with the squadron throughout the Battle. On 2nd January 1941 he was posted to Catterick as an Acting Flight Lieutenant to join the recently reformed 256 Squadron as a Flight Commander. The squadron was equipped with Defiants for night-fighting.

On 26th February 1941 Johnson’s Defiant N3520 flew from Colerne to Middle Wallop to be briefed for a patrol over the Channel. Once airborne they chased two enemy aircraft in succession, both dropped their bombs and escaped in cloud. The Defiant was constantly buffeted by AA fire.

Low on fuel, Johnson requested a homing bearing but ground stations had difficulty in locating him and one transmission asked him to maintain radio silence as he was interrupting operations. At this point they clearly saw a Do17, illuminated by the fall of its own incendaries. They chased it into cloud but by now were down to 2000 feet with zero fuel. Johnson instructed his gunner, Sgt. CS Lewis (who also served with 600 Squadron in the Battle) to bale out, he did so, coming down at Burbage near Marlborough.

Johnson attempted a forced landing at Middle Wallop but was killed when it crashed at Sunton Farm, Collingbourne Ducis near Andover before he could reach the airfield. His body was taken to RAF Upavon.

His mother was now living at Taplow, Bucks. but working in London with the Canadian Red Cross. It is likely that she became aquainted with Lady Astor, who had established a hospital for Canadian soldiers at her Cliveden Estate near Taplow.

It is fair to assume that this relationship resulted in Johnson being buried at Cliveden War Cemetery within the grounds.








(Below): the year of Johnson's loss is mistakenly shown as 1940 in the cemetery plan.






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