James Johnnie Johnson file photo [15531]

James Johnson

Given NameJames
Born9 Mar 1915
Died30 Jan 2001
CountryUnited Kingdom


ww2dbaseThe most successful RAF Fighter pilot to survive World War II, James Edgar Johnson was born at Barrow-upon-Soar, near Melton Mowbray, on 9 March 1915. In 1937 he graduated from Nottingham University with a degree in Civil Engineering but his first attempt to join the Auxiliary Air force was rejected (as was an attempt to join the RAF Volunteer Reserve), and he finally signed up with the Territorial Army whilst taking employment as an Assistant Surveyor by Poulton Urban District Council. Eventually Johnson managed to get a place with the RAFVR where he was soon accepted for flying training.

ww2dbaseMobilised in 1939 Johnson completed training at No. 7 OTU at Hawarden and was posted to No. 19 Squadron at the end of August 1940, but with the Germans poised to invade on the other side of the channel there was no time to train new pilots and soon after he was moved to No. 616 Squadron. Unfortunately here, an old rugby injury led to his hospitalisation and he missed taking part in the Battle of Britain.

ww2dbaseReturning to No.616 Squadron in December, Johnson frequently flew in Douglas Bader's section of the Tangmere Wing, learning a great deal about air-combat and leadership from the flamboyant legless ace. In January 1941 he achieved his first victory with a half share in a Dornier Do 17, and throughout that summer gradually added more kills to his tally. Awarded the DFC and a promotion to Flight Commander Johnson was one of the first RAF pilots to tackle the new Fw 190 when he damaged one on in the skies on 15 April 1942; This earned him a Bar to his DFC.

ww2dbaseIn July 1942 he was given command of No. 610 Squadron which he led into action over Dieppe, France on 19 August, personally downing a Fw 190 and sharing in the damage of several other German fighters. In March 1943 he was promoted to lead the Canadian Wing at Kenley (re-designated No. 127 Wing in August) continuing to fly combat missions and gradually built up a considerable tally of destroyed or badly damaged enemy aircraft. Johnson was rewarded with the DSO in June 1943 (and a Bar to it in September) after which he was rested with a Staff appointment at HQ No. 11 Group.

ww2dbaseIn March 1944 Johnson was posted to No. 144 (Canadian) Wing and quickly showed that he had lost none of his combat skills; downing or damaging, within five months, another eleven enemy aircraft in the air, and a Ju 88 on the ground. This earned him a second bar to his DSO. In August No. 144 Wing was disbanded and Johnson returned to No. 127 Wing where he accounted for a further three enemy aircraft, bring his total wartime score to 34 confirmed kills, 7 shared, 3 probable (and two shared), 10 damaged (and three shared) and one shared on the ground.

ww2dbaseOn 6 April 1945, "Johnnie" Johnson was promoted to the rank of Group Captain and appointed to command No. 125 Wing, which was at the time equipped with the Spitfire Mk. XIV, and completed the war as the Commander of No. 124 Wing based in Germany. Johnson renowned good fortune held true throughout the war years. From 1940 to 1945 his aircraft was only hit once by enemy fire and he was never shot down or injured in any way.

ww2dbaseJohnnie Johnson remained in the RAF at the end of the war. After attending the RCAF Staff College he would serve in a string of senior appointments, including command of RAF Wildenrath in Germany and RAF Cottesmore in the UK. In 1960 he was appointed as the Senior Staff Officer (SASO) of No. 3 group, and in 1963 he became AOC Air Forces Middle East based in Aden.

ww2dbaseAwarded a CBE in 1965, Air Vice Marshal Johnson finally retired from the Royal Air Force in March 1966 and settled in Derbyshire where he set up The Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust, was appointed Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, and became a prolific Aviation writer. This amazing man passed away on 30 January 2001 aged 85 years from cancer.

ww2dbaseSources: World Aircraft Information Files (Bright Star Publishing)

Last Major Revision: Jun 2012

James Johnson Timeline

9 Mar 1915 James Johnson was born in Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire, England, United Kingdom.
26 Jun 1941 James Johnson shot down a German Bf 109 fighter.
19 Apr 1942 James Johnson shot down a German Fw 190 fighter.
9 Aug 1942 James Johnson shot down a German Bf 109 fighter.
19 Aug 1942 James Johnson flew a mission over Dieppe, France, covering the amphibious operation.
4 Jun 1943 James Johnson was awarded the Distinguished Service Order medal.
24 Sep 1943 James Johnson was awarded Bar to his Distinguished Service Order medal.
2 Mar 1944 James Johnson was named the commanding officer of the No. 144 (RCAF) Wing.
4 May 1944 James Johnson scored his 28th victory.
30 Jun 1944 James Johnson shot down a German Bf 109 fighter, his 33th victory.
21 Aug 1944 James Johnson shot down two German Fw 190 fighters near Paris, France.
27 Sep 1944 James Johnson shot down a German Bf 109 fighter over Nijmegen, the Netherlands, scoring his final kill of the war.
6 Apr 1945 James Johnson was promoted to the rank of group captain and was given command of the No. 125 Wing.
30 Jan 2001 James Johnson passed away from cancer in Derbyshire, England, United Kingdom.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. mrs Ann Carmichael says:
7 May 2014 08:49:36 AM

im trying to trace my fathers war2 history. all i know is that he was on the crew of a sunderland seaplane. based in calcutta india .all the sites i go on you have to pay can any one help me thank you
2. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
8 May 2014 03:38:51 AM

No.230 Squadron RAF operated Sunderland flying-boats in the Far East during the war being based, I believe, initially in Singapore and later in Ceylon.
3. Leslie clayton says:
7 Feb 2023 02:54:38 PM

I am trying to trace Susan Johnson who lived on Hardy Lane Manchester and moved to Scotland around 1960

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