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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. W J Johnson


William John Johnson was born on 15th July 1919 in Brandon, Suffolk. After leaving school he joined the ground staff at Lords Cricket Ground with a view to becoming a professional player. However in 1936 he went to work for the Midland Bank.

In May 1939 Johnson joined the RAFVR as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training and arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 1st September 1940. He crashed there on the 3rd, in Hurricane P3719, but was unhurt.



He converted to Hurricanes and joined 85 Squadron at Church Fenton on 16th September. He moved to 145 Squadron at Tangmere on 18th October. On a cross-channel sweep on 26th January 1941 he shot down a Me109.

Commissioned in January 1942, Johnson was posted to 611 Squadron at Hornchurch. In March fifteen of the squadron’s pilots, including Johnson, were posted to Malta. They flew off the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle on 9th May to join 126 Squadron at Ta Kali. On the 14th Johnson damaged a Me109 and on the 30th damaged a SM84.

In late June 1942 Johnson flew back to Gibraltar, as a passenger. He again embarked on HMS Eagle and flew a Spitfire off to Malta on 15th July.



He got a probable Me109 on the 18th, a probable Ju88 on the 26th, got another probable Ju88, shared two more and damaged a Me109 on the 27th, destroyed a Me109 on the 31st and shot down two Re2001s on 14th August during Operation Pedestal.

Johnson returned to the UK later in the month and was posted to 56 OTU as a Flight Commander.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 22nd January 1943).

In May 1943 he took command of 1449 Flight and served with it until November when he joined 197 Squadron at Tangmere.

He commanded 257 Squadron on the Continent from July to October 1944, afterwards going to a staff job at HQ 84 Group. He was awarded a Bar to the DFC (gazetted 1st December 1944).

In January 1945 he went to 56 OTU at Milfield as CFI. Johnson held a series of appointments and commands in the post-war RAF. He retired on 6th February 1959 as a Squadron Leader.

He died in February 1996.

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