James Edgar "Johnnie" Johnson


CB, CBE, DSO & 2 Bars, DFC & Bar,
Order of Leopold & Croix de Guerre (Be)
Legion of Merit, DFC & Air Medal (US)
Legion d'Honneur (Fr)

Johnson was born, 9 March 1915 in Melton Mowbray.
Degree in civil engineering from Nottingham U., 1937.
Turned down by the Auxiliary Air Force, he tried the RAFVR but they were too full already. Soon, however, came the call.
Completed his training at 7 OTU Hawarden, Aug. 1940.
Posted to 19 Squadron at the end of Aug. but sent to 616 early in Sept. for more training.
Entered the hospital to fix an old rugby injury.
Back to 616 in December 1940.
He flew in Bader's Tangmere Wing in the summer of '41.
Made CO of 610 Squadron in July 1942, leading them during the Dieppe raid, 19 August 1942.
Made CO of the Canadian Wing [Kenley] in March 1943, this Wing became 127 Wing in Aug. as 2TAF was forming.
"Rested" in Sept. his 6 months were spent at HQ, 11Group.
Made CO of 144 Canadian Wing in March 1944.
Back to 127 Wing in August 1944.
Johnnie Johnson
Made CO of 125 Wing in April 1945 as Group Captain.
He remained in the post-war RAF rising to the rank of Air Vice Marshal.
He passed away January 30, 2001


"At the beginning of 1941, 616 Squadron was sent to Tangmere, a well-appointed airfield at the foot of the South Downs. Although I had been with the Squadron for some six months, I spent three of those in hospital and had only twice fired my guns in anger. I was still short on Spitfire hours and sometimes slept at dispersal so that I could be available whenever Spitfires wanted air testing. Early one morning the Flight Sergeant told me that Bader's Spitfire was flying left wing low; he had balanced the ailerons and would I test it? I did so and told the Flight Sergeant it was OK. Soon after, Wing Commander Douglas Bader, highly decorated, handsome, forceful and exuding confidence like light from a lamp, stumped into the dispersal hut. It was a meeting that would shape my life to come.
'Where is everybody?'
'They have been flying and have gone for breakfast sir.'
'Who are you?'
'Pilot Officer Johnson, sir.'
'I don't suppose anyone knows if my bloody Spitfire is serviceable?'
'As a matter of fact it is serviceable, sir.
'How do you bloody know?'
'Because I’ve just bloody flown it!'
'What did you say?'
'I said I have just flown it, sir!'
'Well get into your Spitfire and I'll show you how to get on the tail of a 109!'
And so we split-arsed across the sky together, and when we got down, I helped our legless leader struggle out of his cockpit.
'What did you say your name is?'
'Johnson, sir.'
'Johnnie, sir.'
'Well, Johnnie, that was not bad. Not bad at all. Never forget that we can turn well inside the 109s, and if they stay to fight we can be on their tails in about three turns.'
It was on that day that I became one of Bader's men - forever. It was on that day that I learned something of those intangible qualities of leadership given to so few ..."

From 'Winged Victory' by Johnnie Johnson & Laddie Lucas


Distinguished Flying Cross

Awarded, 30 September 1941 (Air Ministry Bulletin 5147) [No details]


Friday, 26 June 1942, Third Supplement to The London Gazette of Tuesday, the 23rd of June, 1942


The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross

Acting Flight Lieutenant James Edgar JOHNSON, D.F.C. (83267), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 616 Squadron

Since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in September, 1941, this officer has participated in many sweeps over enemy territory, during which he has destroyed 2 Messerschmitt 109F's and damaged a Focke-Wulf 190. He has also carried out a large number of convoy patrols. Flight Lieutenant Johnson is an exceptional leader and the magnificent example he sets is an inspiration to other pilots.


Toronto Fliers Win Many Dogfights While Bombers on Way Home

London, April 4, 1943 - (AP) - Tons of explosives dropped by Canadian airmen blasted the mammoth Krupp armament works Saturday night as the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. proceeded methodically with their plan to wipe out the factories which cover hundreds of acres around Essen and supply the Axis with much vital equipment.
Forming a part of the large force attacking the great German industrial city were three R.C.A.F. Halifax squadrons as well as scores of Canadians in the R.A.F. who fly in such giants as Lancasters. Of 21 bombers lost, five were from the Canadian bomber group.
Saturday night's action by the R.C.A.F., followed afternoon sweeps over Nazi-held France in which a Canadian Spitfire wing destroyed five German fighters and damaged and probably destroyed others. The action, one of the most successful in weeks for the R.C.A.F. pilots, came when the wing supported fighter-bombers on an attack on Abbeville, on the French coast. One Spitfire was lost.
The Canadian squadrons on the Essen raid were led by Wing Commanders W.D. Ferris of Edmonton, A.C.P. Clayton, Vancouver, and M.M. Flemming, Ottawa. Antiaircraft fire and searchlights were plentiful, but only a few Canadians reported sighting night fighters.
Confident, that further extensive damage was inflicted in the 54th raid on Essen, the Canadian airmen told of one particularly large explosion, concentrated fires extending over a large area and dense columns of smoke.
Sgt. A.S. Sutton of 176 Erskine Ave., Toronto, reported a tremendous blast in the heart of the target area and Sgt. T.W. Dimma of Ottawa added facetiously that "I expect Krupps have a lot of stuff that might go off."
"There were two smaller explosions and then right beside them a big one," Sutton said. "Flame poured up and then mushroomed and stayed there in an orange blaze for at least 10 seconds."
Sgt. B.D. Kirkham of Saltcoats, Sask., reported smoke poured up in such great, thick clouds that the fires were blotted out. Twenty-five miles from the target all he could see was the reflected glow.
Pieces of flak glanced off the shoulders of P/O Arnold Rollings of Allenford, Ont., a veteran Canadian bush pilot who was navigator of a Lancaster. Rollings was unhurt.
A motor of the big aircraft cutout over the target and the English pilot dived 11,000 feet toward the searchlights while gunners poured bullets at the lights. Eight flicked out as the bomber swooped to within 400 yards of the ground.
Sgt. Duncan McMillan of Landis, Sask., was a mighty tired airman when he reached base. The elevator trimmers of his aircraft froze en route to Essen and it was a great physical effort to control the bomber. However, it went on to bomb the target although it was unable to weave as searchlights scoured the sky.
F/Sgt. Johnny Carrere of Cochrane, celebrated his commissioning – word of which reached him just before the take-off – by bombing Essen.
Other Canadians on the raid included Sgt. C. E. Willis, Peterborough, Ont., and Ken Emmons, Elgin, Ont., whose wife lives at 244 Rushholme Road, Toronto. Also in the big attack were F/Sgt. Harold Huether of Kitchener, P/O Bill Hilton, Brantford, and Ross Webb of Glenavon, Sask.
In Saturday afternoon's impressive sweep by the Canadian fighters, four Canadians and their English wing commander each shot down a Focke-Wulf 190, a Toronto sharpshooter damaged another and two British Columbia youths shared a probable. The five pilots who each added a Nazi plane to his total were S/L S. L. Ford, D.F.C. and Bar, of Liverpool, N.S.; F/L C. M. Magwood of 414 Dovercourt Road, Toronto; F/O H. D. MacDonald of 30 Craydon Avenue, Toronto; S/L S. H. Boulton of Coleman, Alta., and W/C J. E. Johnson, D.F.C. and Bar, an Englishman.
F/O J. A. Rae of Toronto damaged one and F/L R. A. Buckham of Vancouver and F/O N. A. Keene of White Rock, B.C., shared a probable. Keene was last in the news when he scored hits on a German fighter over France Feb 16.
Johnson said the wing pounced on about 20 enemy fighters which came up after bombs had been dropped on objectives at Abbeville.

Jerries Fell in Pieces
"They were about 3,000 feet below us and I think we took them by surprise," he said. "There were a good many combats at about 24,000 feet."
Magwood's victory was the most spectacular. His victim blew up in the air.
"I started firing at about 150 yards," Magwood said. "The blast lifted my kite with quite a bump."
Ford said his victim turned over when shells and bullets struck then went into a dive with smoke pouring out. Several other squadron pilots reported seeing it in flames at a low level.
MacDonald roared in with guns blazing and saw a wheel of a FW-190 come down, then the cockpit cover blew off and the Nazi pilot bail out.
Boulton attacked a fighter from underneath and observed strikes that blew off pieces from the enemy aircraft.
"The bullets seemed to go into the body of the plane and then I should think into the cockpit and the engine because he started to give out smoke," Boulton said. "Then the enemy machine tipped forward on its nose and went straight down." Both firing, Keene and Buckham attacked their victim from the rear. "We could see chunks flying from the hood and side of the cockpit and he started to go down with smoke coming out," Keene said.
Rae poured a long burst into an enemy fighter from an angle and observed many hits, but "there was another Hun circling, so I did not stop to see what happened."


U.S. Planes Batter Kiel in Flight That Covered 1,000 Miles There, Back Returning American Says
Naval Base Must Have Been Blown Off Map

London, May 15 — (CP) — The R.A.F. fighter command's night-riding bombers damaged a 200-ton ship near the French coast and struck at communications and airfields in occupied territory last night, the Air Ministry announced today, as the air offensive continued on a subdued scale.
Two enemy planes were destroyed during the night raids.
There was no report of R.C.A.F. activity during the night, the first let-up by the Canadian bombers and fighters since Wednesday night, when the Allies began 48 hours of the most concentrated air assault on Hitler's Europe since the war began. A four-ply sweep by American bombers yesterday topped off those two days of record-shattering blows.

Deepest U.S. Penetration
In addition to sending out the greatest number of planes in a single day, American planes engaged in a round-trip flight of more than 1,000 miles to blast the German naval and submarine base at Kiel. It marked their deepest penetration of Europe.
In closely coordinated supporting attacks, American heavy units bombed the former General Motors plant in Antwerp and a large German airfield and repair station at Courtrai, in Belgium. Medium bombers made successful low level attacks on industrial targets at Velzen, near Haarlem, in the Netherlands.
A Canadian fighter wing provided part of the escort on the Courtrai sweep and shot down four Focke-Wolf 190's. The successful pilots were W/C J. Johnson, English leader of the wing; F/Ls H. C. Godefroy and H. D. MacDonald, of Toronto, and F/L R. A. Buckham, of Vancouver.
The tremendous explosive power dumped from coastal France through Germany to German-occupied western Russia and on Mediterranean  bases since Wednesday can best be pictured by these figures:
When Hitler threw his aerial might at London in an effort to knock out Britain from the war, 7,500 tons of bombs were dropped during 94 raids.

5,000 Tons of Bombs
In 48 hours, beginning Wednesday night, the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. alone dumped almost 5,000 tons of explosives on German communication lines, factories and naval bases.
The weight of explosives dropped by American bombers in their unprecedented raids Friday, and of the Russian attacks Wednesday and Thursday on German rail and concentration centers in western Russia and Warsaw, have not been revealed. Neither have figures been made public on the heavy Thursday raids on Axis Mediterranean bases in Sardinia and Sicily, and on Naples, Italy,
The round-trip flight of more than 1,000 miles to Kiel left targets there a mass of flames and smoke. Returning American pilots said their loads split the targets. "We must have blown some of Kiel off the map," was the comment of Lieut. Frank D. Slough, of Cleveland, Ohio.
Of the Antwerp raid, the commanding General had this to say: "The entire performance was excellent. However, these boys ran into as hot a fight as I have seen to date. Fighters attacked us heavily, but we more than held our own."
American-announced losses on the Kiel raid were 11 bombers and four fighters. Enemy losses were not announced, but one report said that a formation of U.S. bombers destroyed "a considerable number of fighters."


Friday, 4 June 1943, Second Supplement to The London Gazette of Tuesday, the 1st of June, 1943


The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards in recognition of gallantry displayed in flying operations against the enemy:

Distinguished Service Order

Acting Wing Commander James Edgar JOHNSON, D.F.C. (83267), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

This officer has led a wing on a large number of occasions and has displayed outstanding skill and gallantry. During an operation, one morning in May, 1943, his formation was heavily engaged by a large force of enemy fighters. In the ensuing combats 4 enemy aircraft were destroyed without loss. The same afternoon he took part in a similar sortie and 3 enemy fighters were destroyed, 1 of them by Wing Commander Johnson. The next day, this officer took part in another successful sortie. By his skilful and courageous leadership, Wing Commander Johnson contributed materially to the success achieved. He has destroyed at least 13 enemy aircraft.


Canadian Fliers Slam Germans at Week-End

London, June 27, 1943 - (CP) - Royal Canadian Air Force pilots shot down four enemy aircraft during the weekend, attacked enemy airfields, laid mines in enemy waters and blasted a train in enemy-occupied territory, it was disclosed tonight.
Two of the enemy aircraft went to S/L Charles Cecil Moran, 28, of Trenton, Ont., and one to W/C J. E. Johnson, an Englishman serving with the R.C.A.F. Johnson raised his score to 19 in a conflict near St. Omer, France. Two pilots shared in destruction of the fourth.
Moran, commander of an Intruder Squadron of the Fighter Command, finished off his two planes over an airfield south of Paris on Saturday night.
Johnson and his wing were flying to Northern France when they spotted 36 enemy fighters and tried to engage them, but the Germans scurried away.
The Canadians jumped six others coming from the west. Johnson hit a Focke-Wulf 190 in six or seven places and saw it dive in a cloud of smoke.
Meanwhile, pilots of another Canadian Spitfire Wing under W/C Lloyd V. Chadburn of Aurora, Ont., were having a busy time escorting a group of fighters that were attacking an enemy convoy within range of the heavy coastal defenses of Holland.

Toronto Men Made Kill
In this action F/L Jack Rae, 760 Spadina, Avenue, and F/O Bob (Dagwood) Phillip, 207 Strathmore Boulevard, Toronto, shared honors in bringing down a Focke-Wulf 190.
S/L Geoff Northcott of Minnedosa, Man., and W/C Chadburn damaged an ME-109 and a Focke-Wulf 190, respectively.
Flying a Mosquito, Moran in the other encounter saw the light of Avord airfield and found five planes circling it.
"We stooged around a bit," Moran said, "and watched two land and two more take off. So we waited for our chance. A short burst of cannon fire hit one and when it went down in flames we were able to identify him by the light of his fire.
"He was a Heinkel 111. Ten minutes later we attacked a Junkers 88, he added. "There was an explosion and the plane hit the ground and blew up."
Seeing a bomb hit the base of a radio pylon at Bourges, Moran gunned the mast. He found a moving train on his way home and shot up the locomotive head on.


German Chemical Works At Leverkusen Are Hit During Night Offensives
Düsseldorf Is Attacked — Five Bombers Lost in Widespread Raids

London, Aug. 23, 1943 — (CP) — R.A.F. and Canadian bombers returned to their crushing attacks on Germany last night after an interval of two nights and the Air Ministry announced that the chemical works at Leverkusen, six miles north of Cologne, were the special target.
The German radio said that Düsseldorf, in the Rhineland, also was attacked and that 11 British fighters and a "number" of bombers were shot down in "random" attacks on other objectives in the western Reich. The Air Ministry described these as intruder patrols over railway targets and airfields.
The Air Ministry said five bombers were lost in the night's activities.

Canadian Plane Missing
R.C.A.F. headquarters announced that one of the missing bombers was Canadian. It said several squadrons of the R.C.A.F. bomber group were out with the R.A.F. and that at the same time R.C.A.F. Mosquitos on intruder patrol attacked railways and airfields in France and Belgium.

403 Wolf Squadron photo
Johnny with his 403 Sqn pilots, August 1943. Click it to see a close up with names.
Over Leverkusen and other targets, heavy clouds made it difficult to see results, the air communique said. Leverkusen was bombed twice in 1940 but has not been a specific target since.
Hardly had the night raiders returned than light bombers and fighter sped out by daylight today to resume the assaults.
The night attack ended a lull that had lasted since Thursday night when Mosquitos struck at Berlin.
Spitfires were out in force during the day and RAF medium bombers attacked the St. Omer freight yards. The Air Ministry said the planes were not challenged.
A Canadian Spitfire wing encountered more than 15 Messerschmitt 109s over the Gosnay area in northern France. The English leader, W/C J. E. Johnson, shot down an enemy aircraft to become the second highest scoring pilot still serving with the fighter command, with 23 victims.
The Vichy radio said American planes raided a place in Normandy.
F/O R. S. Middlemiss of Montreal, a member of the R.C.A.F. Wolf Squadron, damaged a Messerschmitt in the Canadian-Nazi scrap over the Gosnay area.
During these night operations, it was learned today, S/L G. W. Northcott, of Minnedosa, Man., was credited with shooting down an enemy aircraft over France.
Enemy raiders scattered bombs in East Anglia and also rumbled over southeast England last night. At least two were shot down. An alarm sounded in London soon after midnight but no incidents were reported.
Late yesterday marauder medium bombers of the United States 8th Air Force attacked an enemy airfield at Beaumont Le Roger in occupied France. Escorting R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. Spitfires and the bombers knocked down nine enemy fighters. One bomber and eight Allied fighters were listed as missing, but all the Canadian aircraft returned safely.
During the operation an unidentified Canadian squadron leader shot down a Focke-Wulf in one of the "great many" combats fought by the R.C.A.F. fighter wing, an R.C.A.F. communique said.
During Sunday, British and Canadian intruders attacked enemy shipping, airfields transport and communications, continuing the Saturday night train-busting expedition that saw R.C.A.F. pilots smash up a number of engines and enemy aircraft.


Ace of Spitfire Pilots Downs 23 Enemy Planes

By ALAN RANDAL, With the R.C.A.F., Fighter Command, Somewhere in England, September 3, 1943 - (CP) - Quietly, flying in the vanguard of Canada's Spitfire pilots in England, a new Fighter Ace has been born in fighter command. He is Wing Cmdr. J. E. Johnson, an Englishman who wears a "Canada" flash on his flying battledress as a mark of fellowship and admiration for the Canadians he leads.
Today his score stands at 23 enemy planes destroyed. Only Group Capt Sailor Malan, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, with 32, tops Johnson among active airmen in fighter command.
At 27, Johnson has been leading the Canadian fighter wing since March 16 last, has the D.S.O., the D.F.C. and Bar. He scored 14 of his "kills" with the Canadians and they'd follow this smiling pilot to the ends of the earth if their petrol would hold out that long.
Behind his leadership Canadians have been piling up scores of their own, young fliers such as Sqdn. Ldrs. Chuck Magwood, Hugh Godefroy and Flight Lieutenant Deane MacDonald, all of Toronto, and all with five or more aircraft shot down.
Like all wing commanders, Johnson flies a plane bearing his own crest and his initials, "J. E. J." He says it's the best aircraft in fighter command. In it he has flown 90 of his 203 sweeps over France and Occupied Europe.

Never Been Scratched
This Spitfire has never been scratched by enemy fire or damaged in any other way. It has never turned back from any operation. It has never had engine trouble during an operation. It has never been late for a rendezvous. Johnson says that's a record.
The wing-commander doesn't say much about himself for publication. You have to get that from the men who fly with him. One veteran pilot said, "When we hear Johnnie's voice over the radio telephone we know everything is all right, no matter how bad a fix we may be in over there.
"We may be ringed in by Jerries - we have been and we may be again sometime - but we know somehow he will lead us into a position to turn the tables on them. He has done it several times and he will do it again!'
Here at Johnson's fighter station you have only to watch the pilots standing around him making their reports out after a sweep to know how they feel about him. "They know Johnson is looking after them, not only out on an "op" but right here at base, seeing they get any privileges that are rightly theirs, seeing that they are as comfortable as they can be, and as satisfied as they can be - all to the end that they fly just that much better.

Among Lowest Losses
This fighter wing that Johnson commands has one of the best scores in the group. It also has among the lowest losses. Here, in the words of one of Johnson's pilots, is the reason:
"Every pilot knows Johnson is looking after him and when he calls back a couple who are chasing a Jerry down toward the ground they get up into formation in a hurry, no matter how badly they may want to continue the chase. Johnnie likes to get Jerries and he likes to sea his pilots get them but he wants even more to bring his boys safely back home."
Johnson, born in Leicestershire (Barrow-upon-Soar), used to be a civil engineer before he enlisted in the ranks of the R.A.F. He is a year married, stockily built, with straight dark hair, is tough and good looking. He grins easily, but is not the kind of man anybody would take liberties with.
He used to fly No. 2 to Wing Cmdr. Douglas Bader, the legless ace who bailed out over France and now is a prisoner of war. Johnson was along on that flight. He saw Bader bale out and blasted two ME109's out of the sky before turning for home.


JOHNSON, W/C James Edgar, DSO, DFC (RAF 83267) - Bar to Distinguished Service Order - Kenley Wing
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 24 September 1943

Since being awarded the Distinguished Service Order this officer has destroyed a further seven enemy aircraft and shared in destruction one another. He is a relentless fighter whose brilliant leadership and outstanding skill have inspired all with whom he has flown. Within two months Wing Commander Johnson has led large formations of aircraft on very many sorties during which 27 enemy aircraft were shot down and a large number damaged.




JOHNSON, W/C James Edgar, DSO, DFC (RAF 83267) - Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 18 January 1944
(Following text from Spink catalogue that included the auction of his medals, logbooks and memorabilia, 10 December 2001)

For extraordinary achievement while leading his wing as fighter escort for bombers of the Eighth Air Force on more than 70 missions over enemy occupied Europe. The high type of operational efficiency maintained and the protection afforded the escorted bombers are directly attributable to the superb leadership of Wing Commander Johnson. Zealously seeking out the enemy on each of these missions, he has personally destroyed 14 enemy aircraft and damaged many others. The courage, skill and leadership of Wing Commander Johnson reflect [the] highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of His Majesty's Government.


Tie For Second Place in R.A.F. Victory List

London, May 1, 1944 — (BUP) — Wing Cmdrs. Joseph R. D. Braham and J. E. Johnson were tied for second honors today in the R.A.F. scoring, each with 27 enemy planes to his credit.
Their score among the pilots of the operational service is exceeded only by 32 "kills" credited to Group Captain Adolph "Sailor" Malan, a South African who formerly served as a reserve lieutenant in the Royal Navy.


English Flyer Is New Leader

London, May 6, 1944 — (CP) — W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, an Englishman who leads a Canadian Spitfire wing, became the leading ace among R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. pilots still on operations when he shot down his 28th Nazi plane yesterday. Johnson was leading a Canadian force which destroyed four enemy aircraft. Until he went off operations recently, F/L George Beurling, of Verdun, Que., held the lead with 31 planes. Beurling is returning to Canada.


One of Johnnie's greatest achievements & biggest disappointments - Bringing beer to the front lines but then being ordered to stop doing it
One of Johnnie's greatest achievements & biggest disappointments after D-Day-
Getting free beer to the front for his men but then being ordered to stop doing it !

Canadian Fighter Pilots Tell How Land Troops Press Inland
Reports Given After Third Sortie Over Invasion Beachheads—Saw Tanks Approaching Town of Caen, 10 Miles From Sea

Somewhere in England, 6 June 1944 - (CP Cable) - Canadian fighter pilots, returning from their third sortie of the day over the invasion beachhead, reported a few hours before dusk tonight that Allied land troops were penetrating inland from their beachhead, particularly around Caen.

Saw Fires
At Caen, 10 miles inland from the sea, the flyers said they saw fires.
The airmen added that they had seen tanks approaching the town from both sides - Germans from the south and Allied tanks from the north.
"It looks as if fierce fighting is going on around there," one flyer said.
The airmen, who had been flying since early morning, said they still had not encountered any opposition in the invasion area. A smattering of cloud which appeared at noon cleared and the weather was beautiful this afternoon.
Wing-Cmdr. Johnny Johnson, an R.A.F. ace leading a Canadian fighter wing, returned from his third trip to the beachhead area and said "I am getting a bit tired sitting down in my cockpit."
His wing saw only one enemy aircraft during the day but it was off in the distance.
But the best news was about the way the land attack was going. Squadron Leader "Dal" Russel, of Montreal, said the "troops on the beaches seem to be having a comparatively easy time."
"We could see patrols moving out and not meeting much opposition," Russell added.


‘Canadian’ Destroys 30th German Plane

With the R.C.A.F. in France, June 23, 1944 — (CP Cable) — Wing Cmdr. "Johnny" Johnson, of the R.A.F., commander of a Canadian Spitfire wing, destroyed his 30th German plane in the air yesterday to bring him within two of the record held by the R.A.F.'s leading ace, Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan.



London, June 28, 1944 - (CP) – W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, an Englishman from Nottingham, with 32 enemy planes shot down in air combat, shared today with Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, of South Africa, the status of top-ranking Allied air ace of this war.
Johnson, who commands a Canadian fighter wing operating from a base in Normandy, downed two German ME109's yesterday in air duels over the bridgehead front to bring his score up to that of Malan. The latter now is on ground duty.
Top-ranking Canadian airman is F/L George (Buzz) Beurling, of the R.C.A.F., now an instructor in Canada. Beurling has downed 31 planes.
One of the highest-scoring Canadians flying from the R.C.A.F. Normandy base which was established shortly alter D-day, is S/L Wally McLeod of Regina, whose total stands at 17. Johnson's Canadian wing achieved a mark of five enemy planes downed within 48 hours last week. Johnson, a quiet-looking pipe smoking man, is regarded by many airmen who have flown with him, as one of the most brilliant flyers now on operations.


RCAF Shoots Down 26 Enemy Planes in Normandy Between Dawn and Dusk

By P/O  H. R. McDONALD, A Canadian Airfield in France, June 29, 1944 - (CP) - Canadian fighter planes, in one of the most brilliant achievements in the history of the R.C.A.F., shot down 26 out of a total of 34 enemy aircraft destroyed over the Normandy front between dawn and dusk yesterday.
In addition, R.C.A.F. pilots chalked up a number of enemy planes probably shot down and a number of others which were damaged.
 Four pilots scored double kills. They were W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, English–born commander of a Canadian fighter wing operating from an R.C.A.F. base in Normandy, and F/Ls. H. C. Trainor, Charlottetown; W. T. Klersy, 14 Harcroft Rd., Toronto, and R. K. Hayward, St. John's, Nfld.

Destroys Two, Damages Third
Hayward destroyed two FW-190's and damaged a third, which gave him the highest R.C.A.F. individual score of the day.
Earlier reports indicated the Canadian airmen had downed 18 enemy planes in yesterday's daylight operations.
The complete figures were reached by intelligence officers today after a period of aerial operations which exceeded in intensity anything since the Allied Normandy beachhead was opened June 6.
Besides the toll of enemy planes, which included all fighter types, R.C.A.F. pilots also strafed transport on the roads.
Final claims on two aircraft are being sifted.
Among the R.C.A.F. Spitfire pilots contributing to the total with one Hun each were: F/Ls. Irving Kennedy, Cumberland, Ont.; G. R. Patterson, Kelowna, B.C.; J. McElroy, Kamloops, B.C.; Henry Zary, New York; R. M. Stayner, Saskatoon; A. F. Halcrow, Penticton, B.C.; G. W. Johnson, 102 Beechwood Ave., Hamilton, Ont.; D. E. Noonan, 146 Willingdon Ave., Kingston, Ont.; J. P. Rainville, Montreal; and Flying Officers W. J. Banks, Leaside, Ont. and G. H. Farquharson, Corbyville, Ont.
W/C Johnson's score of two brought his total of enemy planes downed to 32, equaling the mark set by G/C A. G. (Sailor) Malan, a South African now on ground duty.
Among the R.C.A.F. fliers scoring probables were F/O A. C. Brandon, Timmins, Ont.; F/O J. B. O'Sullivan, Vancouver and P/O J. M. Flood, Hearst, Ont.

Nine Others Damaged
At least nine others wire damaged by fliers of the R.C.A.F.
Of the wings comprising G/C W. (Bill) MacBrien's R.C.A.F. sector, the one led by 22-year-old W/C George Keefer, D.F.C. and Bar, Charlottetown, was high scorer of the day with 13 confirmed victories. Johnson's wing was second with seven, in a close race with a unit led by W/C R. A. Buckham, Vancouver.
The margin for Keefer's wing was established in two dusk operations in which seven enemy planes were destroyed and two damaged. In the first action Hayward sighted more than 25 Nazi fighters and led his formation in pursuit. He damaged one.
Later the same Spitfires became embroiled with a dozen FW-190's, and Hayward got two of them. The first fell out of control, and the second burst into flames and crashed after Hayward had followed it down to tree-top height.
"The Huns were like bees,” said W/O Murray Havers, 1 Lloyd St., Hamilton. Ont. "They seemed confused and acted as though they did not know what they were doing."
The Canadian airmen said the Germans did not put up much of a fight despite their numerical advantage.
Other Canadians credited with kills during the day were F/O G. R. Stephen, Montreal; F/O Larry Robillard, Ottawa; F/O W. A. Gilbert, Dartmouth, N.S.; F/O Don Goodwin, Maynooth, Ont. and F/O Tommy Wheler, 10 Beauford Rd., Toronto.


Johnny & Sally
Sally & Johnny, B2 Bazenville (Crepon) June 1944


London, June 30, 1944 (CP) — Canadian fighter pilots accounted for 13 of 17 enemy planes destroyed in aerial battling over Normandy today and among them was Wing Cmdr, J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, English leader of a crack Canadian Spitfire wing operating from French bases, who shot down his 33rd German plane to become the leading Allied fighter ace in this theatre.
Johnson's 33rd Nazi cracked the long-standing record of 32 held by Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, built up mainly when the South African ace was the R.A.F.'s outstanding fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain. Malan is not now on active operations.
Today was the second day in the last three that Canadian airmen have led all other Allied air units in knocking the Luftwaffe out of the: sky. On June 28 they shot down 26 of 34 German planes destroyed over the Normandy front.
Johnson bagged two in Wednesday's aerial battling and his record-breaking today came with a three-second burst at 200 yards range. Johnson went after him when No. 2 in his wing spotted the Nazi making for the safety of clouds. He got him and followed the enemy plane down until it crashed
"I was leading a flight of six aircraft when control called us to say that another of our flights was being rather heavily engaged 20 miles within the enemy lines around Argentan," Johnson said after he brought his flight back to base.
"We hurried as hard as we could and right away saw Spitfires, ME 109s and Focke-Wulf 190s having a great dogfight among the clouds. There was only one flight of Spitfires against about 20 or 30 of the Luftwaffe. We soon were among them, and the boys of my flight knocked down three."
Clouds made it "rather fun," said Johnson, adding: "If you got into trouble and found some one getting on your tail you had clouds to help you get rid of him. Then you could come out of the clouds again to look for another to tackle."
Johnson took over command of the wing March 16, 1943. Although an Englishman, he wears a "Canada" flash on his flying clothes as a mark of fellowship with the Canadians he leads. Re recently returned to active flying operations after a period of ground duty.
In cracking Malan's record, Johnson equaled the score set by Brendan (Paddy) Finucane, who had 33 German planes to his credit when he was lost in action last year.
Leading United States flier in this theatre was Capt. Don S. Gentile, who downed 23 planes in combat and destroyed seven on the ground, and who now is in the United States. Leading Canadian ace is F/L George Beurling of Verdun, Que., who destroyed 31 enemy planes, most of them over Malta when he flew with the R.A.F. He now is in Canada on flying-training duty.
Major Alexander Pokryshkin, a Siberian, is Russia's leading ace. He is credited with shooting down 53 German planes.


Much of Their Success Attributed to Foremost Allied Ace in Europe

London, July 3, 1944 — (CP Cable) — Canadian fighter pilots are the hottest things in the air of France these invasion days with a score of 58 "kills" chalked up since June 28, and airmen today attributed much of their current success to a modest, 28-year-old Englishman, W/C James E. (Johnny) Johnson, leading Allied ace in the European theatre.

Nearly 100 Per Cent
Of 21 enemy planes shot down over France Sunday — at a cost of three Allied aircraft — R.C.A.F. Spitfire pilots accounted for 19. They shot down 26 Germans June 28 and on Friday got 13 of the 17 enemy aircraft destroyed. It was on the Friday operations that Johnson, leader of a Canadian wing, got his 33rd enemy aircraft to top the long-standing record of 32 held by G/C A.G. (Sailor) Malan who is not now on active operations.
F/L J. D. Lindsay, of Arnprior, Ont., led the R.C.A.F. scoring yesterday, destroying three planes in one sortie when his squadron took on 20 enemy aircraft east of Caen. Other leaders, each with two "kills," were F/L Paul Johnson, of Bethel, Conn.; F/O R. J. Lake, Langstaff, Ont., and F/L L. Moore, Philadelphia. Paul Johnson and Moore also shared one "kill."
To W/C Johnson, back on active operations at his own request after a spell of ground duty is freely given much of the credit for the Canadians' fine showing since R.C.A.F. fighter airstrips were moved to Normandy. For Johnson, holder of the D.S.O. & Bar and D.F.C. & Bar, is known as a maker of aerial aces as well as being a top ace himself.
A civil engineer in Nottingham before the war, Johnson a year ago turned the Canadian Spitfire wing he then commanded into one of the “hottest” in Britain. Taken off active flying to aid in the planning of the invasion's aerial coverage, he recently returned to active operations and again was given a Canadian fighter wing to lead against the best the Germans could offer in the air.
Johnson's 31st and 32nd aerial victories were scored last Wednesday to equal the mark set by Malan when he was the leading R.A.F. pilot in the Battle of Britain and to top the 31 set by F/L George Beurling, of Verdun, Que., leading Canadian ace now in Canada. Johnson's record breaking came when he caught a German heading for the safety of the clouds, nailed him and followed him down until the foe crashed.
Of him, a pilot who flew with him wrote in the Sunday Express:

Greatest of All
"In the Battle of Britain, it was Sailor Malan. In the Battle of Malta it was Screwball Beurling. Now, in the Battle of Normandy, it's Johnny Johnson. Comparisons are always difficult, but there will be many among his contemporaries who will say W/C J. E. Johnson was the greatest of them all.
The unidentified writer said that when Malan was knocking down German planes into the orchards of Kent, his odds were great, but targets were numerous, for in those days of 1940 the Germans were flying over Britain in masses. He said the same holds true for Beurling over the embattled island of Malta, the Italian and German planes came over in hundreds in their vain effort to bomb Malta out of the war effort.
Then came Johnson's era, the Sunday Express pilot-writer said, an era of steady patrolling over wide areas of Continental Europe after targets that become harder and harder to find as the enemy spread his air defenses thinner. "The moral is quite clear," the writer said. "Johnson has really had fewer opportunities than Malan and Beurling, although he has been more constantly in battle. But his score now is 33.
From a Canadian airfield in France today came Johnson's reaction to his 33rd kill, the one that broke Malan's record:
"Malan has been off operations for some time and there are several other outstanding men who went off during 1941 and 1942. If they were still flying, I am sure some of them would have phenomenal scores by now.

Johnson Modest
"I have been fortunate in another way too, in that for the last three years I have been flying as a leader, first in a squadron, then in a wing. Consequently, I have always had the first crack at any Huns and had many more opportunities than the tail-end charlies.
Johnson added that luck played a big part in his success and said, “Another thing is that I have a great deal of confidence, bred mostly from the fact that I have never been shot down." He continued almost as an after thought: "In fact, I have never been hit, and I think that helps a fellow's morale tremendously."
The new Spitfires the Canadians are flying, armed with twin Cannon and four Machine-guns in the wings, are hard to beat even by what pilots call the "long-nosed Focke-Wulf," termed the best fighter the Germans have today. Many seasoned pilots are among the Canadian pilots flying in Normandy, some of them with "ace" ratings. It takes five "kills" to rate ace category in the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F., though there is nothing official about being rated an "ace."
One of the veterans of Johnson’s wing is S/L Wally McLeod, of Regina, highest-scoring Canadian pilot on active operations with 19 enemy planes destroyed, three of them since D-day. Johnson has shot down five planes since the invasion opened June 6, while next in line is W/C George Keefer, 22, Charlottetown, with four "kills" since D-day.
Among the Spitfire squadrons flying from Normandy bases are the noted Lynx, Wolf and Red Indian, and a new one, the Grizzly Bear.


Sixth Decoration Given Leader of RCAF Wing

London, July 3, 1944 - (CP) — Acting W/C James Edgar (Johnny) Johnson, foremost Allied fighter ace in the European theatre and leader of an R.C.A.F. fighter wing in Normandy, has received a second bar to his D.S.O. in awards announced today.
Johnson, with 33 victories to his credit, now has six decorations.
Here is a log of his awards: Sept. 29, 1941: DFC; June 26, 1942: Bar to DFC; June 3, 1943: DSO; Sept. 24, 1943: Bar to DSO; Jan. 18, 1944: American DFC; July 3, l944: second Bar to DSO.
Johnson, 28, was a civil engineer in Nottingham before the war. An Englishman who has had great success in leading Canadian fighter pilots, he recently returned to active flying after a period of ground duty preparatory to the French invasion.
He took command of a Canadian wing a year ago and turned it into one of the "hottest" in Britain at the time. The wing he now Commands in Normandy at present is leading Allied fighters in "kills' with a score of 58 since June 28.
The DSO also was awarded to Acting S/L Robert Allan Kipp, 25, Kamloops, B.C. The citation praised his "careful planning, tactical ability and iron determination and his genius for leadership.


JOHNSON, W/C James Edgar, DSO, DFC (RAF 83267) - Second Bar to Distinguished Service Order - No.144 Wing
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 7 July 1944 (Supplement of 4 July)

Since being awarded a Bar to his Distinguished Service Order, this officer has led large formations of aircraft in many and varied sorties. During these operations, 34 enemy aircraft have been destroyed, several of them by Wing Commander Johnson himself. He is a magnificent leader whose unsurpassed skill and personal courage have inspired all. Wing Commander Johnson has destroyed at least 28 hostile aircraft.

Public Record Office Air 2/9157 has recommendation drafted about 30 May 1944 when he had flown 250 sorties (485 operational hours) of which 64 sorties (106 hours 40 minutes) had been since his previous award:
This Wing Leader was cited for the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order on 14 August 1943. He has since led 127 and 144 Wings in a further 107 hours of operational flying on 64 sorties. These sorties have been Ramrods, Rodeos, Rangers and bombing attacks on French targets. These wings have in this 100 hours of his leadership destroyed 34 enemy aircraft and damaged 13. Personally he has accounted for 6¾ aircraft destroyed and one damaged of this total. His score is now 28 destroyed. He did a non-operational tour as Wing Commander Plans at 11 Group Headquarters, leaving to form 144 Wing in its arrival in this country from Canada with no operational experience. He has, in two and a half months, succeeded in bringing it to absolutely first line standard with a record of 17 destroyed to date. This result could have been achieved only by a leader who commands the complete confidence and respect of his pilots combined with untiring patience and energy on his part. These qualities Wing Commander Johnson has invariably displayed with the result that all pilots working under him have been able to benefit from his vat operational experience to the maximum extent.

On 31 May 1944, G/C W.R. MacBrien added his remarks:
I consider Wing Commander Johnson one of the finest fighter leaders ever developed. He has amassed a terrific personal score while leading others to much greater scores. The confidence his abilities and qualities of leadership inspire in his pilots results in their morale and discipline being of the highest order. I most strongly recommend him for the non-immediate award of a second Bar to the Distinguished Service Order.


Johnson Bags 2 More, Boosts His Total to 35

LONDON, July 5, 1944 - (CP) - Canadian Spitfire pilots, their 28-year-old English leader, W/C James E. (Johnny) Johnson again setting the pace, destroyed seven German aircraft over Normandy today, raising to 65 the number of enemy planes knocked down by Canadian fighter wings in one week. Johnson, leading Allied air ace in the European theatre, shot down two planes today to bring his score to 35. F/O R. C. McRoberts of Calgary (& Scotland) also got two "kills" in today's triumphant sweep by the Canadian fliers that followed their spectacular success of July 3 when they got 19 of the 21 German planes destroyed over Normandy that day. The Canadians shot down 13 planes on June 30, and 26 on June 28.
One aircraft was missing after the day’s operations by the Canadian fighters, which culminated an active 24 hours for airmen of the R.C.A.F.
Canadian-manned Typhoon and Mustang fighter-bombers attacked bridges over the Orne and broke up a road leading to that river, while Bomber and Coastal Command crews also saw action, and intruders were out over France. Johnson's kills today brought his score to three more than the mark set during the Battle of Britain by Group Capt. A. G. (Sailor) Malan, who is not now on active operations, and the late Paddy Finucane, lost in action last year. Unofficially, Finucane was credited with 33 planes.

U.S. Pilot Gets 28th
Lt. Col. Francis Gabreski, 25-year-old fighter pilot, today became the leading ace of the United States Air Forces when he shot down an Me-109 near Evreux, France, for his 28th victory. He now will take a delayed leave and go home to Oil City, Pa., to get married. He had postponed his departure until he broke the American record.
In addition to his 28 planes destroyed in the air, Gabreski also is credited with destroying 2 on the ground.
Capt. Don S. Gentile, 23, of Piqua, Ohio, also is credited with destruction of 30 German planes. 23 brought down in the air and seven destroyed aground.
Also credited with 30 planes is Major James A. Goodson, 23, of Toronto, who has served in the R.C.A.F. and the United States Air Force, fifteen of his kills were in the air and 15 on the ground.
Air records also were broken in Russia, it was announced today. It was announced in Moscow that the record of 53 German planes shot down by Major Alexander Pokryshkin has been equaled by two other Soviet fliers, Lieut. Nikolai Gulayev and Capt. Gregory Rechkalov.
Johnson recently returned to active operations at his own request after a period of ground duty during which he aided in the planning of aerial coverage of the invasion. He previously had command of a Canadian wing and was given another on his return to active flying, which he prefers to desk work. The Canadians now are flying new Spitfires, armed with twin cannon and four machine-guns in the wings.
Top Canadian fighter ace is F/L George Beurling of Verdun, Que., with 31 shot down, most of them over Malta. He now is back in Canada.

Little Opposition
Aircraft of the R.A.F. 2nd Tactical Air Force had flown nearly 500 sorties by 6 p.m. with little opposition. A train with 15 tanks aboard was left in columns of dust and debris by bomb and rocket carrying Typhoons operating from Normandy bases.
F/L J. B. Kerr of Trenton, Ont., brought the number of aircraft destroyed in the air by the City of Edmonton Intruder Squadron to 90 when he shot down a JU-88 over Northern France early today. This squadron's grand total now is 136, including planes destroyed on the ground.
Three kills and several damaged, credited to R.C.A.F. airmen yesterday, also were reported tonight. F/L H. C. Trainor, Charlottetown, P.E.I., got two German planes southeast of Caen, and shared in the destruction of a third with S/L G. D. Robertson of Toronto.
McRoberts' victims today were ME-109's. Both fell near Bernay.
Other kills yesterday were recorded by F/L R. K. Hayward, St. John's, Nfld., who destroyed a FW-190, and damaged a FW-190 and a ME-109, and F/Ls A. B. Whiteford, Midnapore, Alta., and R. S. Hyndman, Belleville, Ont., each damaged a ME-109.
In an attack on shipping early today, F/O J. H. A. Senecal of Rosetown, Sask., saw three bombs from his plane explode on an armed auxiliary off Dunkerque. Pieces of wreckage flew in all directions.


Wing-Commander J. E. (Johnny) Johnson Sends Challenge to Foe Over Radio-Telephone

With the RAF in France, July 8, 1944 - (CP-Reuter) - Wing-Cmdr. J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, 28-year-old English commander of a Canadian fighter wing and top-scoring Allied fighter pilot has challenged one of Germanys vaunted aces, Matoni, to an aerial duel.
Johnson, with 35 destroyed enemy aircraft to his credit, revealed today that he had sent out the challenge over his radio telephone to Matoni, known to be fighting in the Normandy area and claims to have destroyed 100 aircraft.
"I have sent out an invitation to Matoni over the radio telephone," Johnson told me.
"Of course, it is very difficult to spot him in the midst of a dogfight, but we have seen the uncommon sight of a Focke-Wulf flying in the middle of a formation of Messerschmitt 109's as they slipped into cloud cover before we could get among them.
"Perhaps there will be a meeting one fine day. I'm ready."
Even making allowance for the scarce appearances of the Luftwaffe in the skies, Matoni has not made himself conspicuous to date. Our pilots have invited him, taunted him, even playfully abused him over their radio telephones which they know are constantly tapped as they fly.

Frequently Taunted
"Now then, where's this cracked-up Matoni?" frequently crackles in the ears of Luftwaffe radio operators in Normandy.
Matoni's favorite trick is to fly on top of his formation, and then, as the fight begins, he pounces underneath at the opposing formations.
He is an expert at dropping on the tails of stragglers, or those of pilots who are temporarily trying to take evasive action in a tight corner.
Matoni is not the only veteran Luftwaffe pilot to be reported here, a fact which further stresses the Germans' strange reluctance to offer constant and heavy challenge to our fighters.
Matoni gained his reputation in Italy.

The article above, which refers to Walter Matoni, originally gave his name as Mantoni. He did not gain his "reputation" in Italy but on the Western Front in 1944 by shooting down 24 Allied planes. By the time he crashed and was put out of action in December 1944, he had 34 destroyed to his credit. He had, at the time of this challenge, destroyed 25 Allied planes (4 on the Eastern Front) which might have made for a good fight between him and Johnson (30+ destroyed). They both had 4+ years of flying experience. See Luftwaffe.cz for details on Matoni


Feels ‘Like Anybody Else’ Killing Hun, Air Ace Says
Winco Johnny Johnson More Interested in Pants and Horses Than His Many Honors

Johnson in JE-J
Wing Commander Johnson has recently become the RAF's leading ace with 35 enemy planes to his credit. He is the leader of a Canadian Spitfire Wing
By ALLAN KENT, Telegram War Correspondent, With the Canadians in France, July 8, 1944 — Wing Commander James E. (Johnny) Johnson, who last week took the lead among all Allied pilots with a score of 33 enemy planes shot down, added two more to his string three days ago.
I saw the famous British flyer today at a Canadian airfield in Normandy, where he is OC and in charge of a wing of three Spitfire squadrons. Far from being the harassed, tired veteran you would expect, the air ace looked as fresh as the proverbial English schoolboy and not much older.
The wing commander was not wearing his uniform which sports the D.S.O. and two bars, D.F.C. and bar, and the American D.F.C., but was modeling with pride a pair of brown corduroy trousers someone had just bought for him. He seemed more interested in pants and in the prospects of acquiring one of the high-bred horses which the Nazis have left scattered all over Normandy than in his own exploits. He did give me an outline of his destruction of two Jerries on Wednesday.

"I was leading one of the squadron when we sighted twelve or more Focke Wulf 190's flying beneath a cloud." he said.
"I got on the tail of a 190 that was hitting one of our craft. I opened fire at 250 yards, closing to 100 yards and climbing steeply. I got strikes on his cockpit and engine cowling and the enemy aircraft burst into flames and crashed. Then I chased another at ground level and after the chase I came within range of 300 yards. I touched him with a few cannon shells, then he broke to starboard and climbed steeply, and I had no difficulty in getting on his tail.
He did a series of half rolls, dives and zooms but my aircraft was superior in every way and the enemy went straight into the deck from 4,000 feet."
I tried to get the Wing Commander to tell me of his reactions as he pursues an enemy and as he sees an adversary go down in flames, but he would only smile and say, "I feel the same as anyone else would."

Johnson himself has never been to Canada although he is generally referred to as a Canadian Pilot. He is a Leicestershire man, but has been with the Canadians so long now he feels more at home among them. After the war, he said, he is going to Canada either to live or for a long visit.
His three squadron leaders, however, are all Canadians — Wallace McLeod, D.F.C. and Bar of Regina, who has a score of 19 Germans, mostly chalked up in the defense of Malta; Dal Russel, D.F.C. and Bar, of Westmount, with a score of five, and Tommy Brannagan of Windsor with four.
Commander of all the Canadian airfields in Normandy is Group Captain W.R. MacBrien, whose friends call him Iron Bill, and who is a son of the late General MacBrien of the RCMP.
Johnson's wing was in operation one week after D-Day and since then he has downed seven enemy planes and McLeod has accounted for five.


Why Not?
Not Strange English Ace With RCAF

By KENNETH C. CRAGG, Ottawa, July 9, 1944 (Staff) — Take it from one who has flown and fought with him, W/C James E. (Johnny) Johnson, leading Allied ace in the Western European theatre, comes as fine as they're made in a field in which there is tough competition.
Which is simply a prelude to the question of why an R.A.F. man is commanding an R.C.A.F. Spitfire formation that is so full of Canadians that it could he called an all-Canadian outfit with only the slightest exaggeration. Johnson, who at the latest reading had 35 Nazis to his credit, is the exaggeration.
When it was put to S/L D. G. (Bud) Malloy at R.C.A.F. headquarters, who has a D.F.C. and won’t admit it, that one-time fighter pilot immediately assumed a frankly pained expression and barely caught himself from snapping back: "Why not?"

Just Natural
Instead, he took this reporter gently by the hand and, with all the authority of an officer who is now in charge of flying training, made it clear that Johnny Johnson is just as naturally with an R.C.A.F. wing as a lot of R.C.A.F. men are with R.A.F. formations — and commanding them too.
It all goes back, so far as this particular wing is concerned, to the days when there were not enough Canadians to make it an all-Canadian formation. They started off with W/C Brian Kingcome, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar, one of those hardy Battle of Britain fighters. Kingcome is a group captain in Italy now.
Then, when he went off for a rest, there was W/C Clarke (Knobby) Fee, D.F.C. and Bar, of the R.C.A.F. Fee came from Winnipeg and when he went missing, he was succeeded by W/C Keith Hodson, D.F.C. and Bar, and D.F.C. (U.S.), also of the R.C.A.F. When Hodson was taken off operations, Johnny Johnson took over. He did one tour with the wing, went out for a rest, and came back for another tour.
"Now," suggested Malloy "what is there more natural than that."

Popular With Canadians
To make it more natural, he told how Fee was the first Canadian to lead an R.A.F. squadron and how Hodson once flew as No. two to the late W/C Paddy Finucane, who had a score of 33 before he was knocked down in action.
And to make it clearer, or at least to indicate that there is something closer between the airmen of the Commonwealth than the cut and color of their uniforms, Malloy himself used to fly off Finucane's station.
"Johnny," said the squadron leader, "first came to the wing in April, 1943. He was very well liked by the Canadian boys, and he struck me as being very much like Paddy Finucane who was one of the best men who ever lived and a marvelous kid on top of that.
"Johnny is like Paddy in this; he seems to be almost able to smell them out and wherever he is you can count on a good scrap. Like Paddy, he seems to have that faculty of being in the right place at the right time."

Escorted Fortresses
Johnston had a fair score when he came to the wing. He won his D.S.O. with the Canadians, and got many of his credits while escorting Flying Fortresses.
"And," said Malloy, "don't let anybody kid you, that is a tough job."
Malloy remembers well the day Finucane was knocked down. They had been shooting up transportation and Finucane's plane was hit at a low level and he crashed into the sea. The squadron's main task was to protect the rescue boats from Nazi planes. There were 10 R.C.A.F. Spitfires and about 25 Huns.
"It was," said Malloy, "a hell of a scrap."
Malloy is a Halifax man and joined up the day war was declared. He trained at Camp Borden and instructed for some time at Uplands. He got his transfer to operational in January, 1942.


Competition So Intense Airmen Beg For Another Crack at Enemy

London, July 12, 1944 — (CP Cable) — Competition among all-Canadian fighter wings operating from Normandy in support of the Allied invasion reached such a pitch by today that pilots are plaguing operations officers to have one more show "laid on" so they can top the score of German planes downed by rival wings.

Excellent Record
A summary of the operations of one Normandy-based fighter wing during four weeks of the invasion period shows that 170 Nazi aircraft have been shot out of the skies. This summary covers the period up to Monday, since when poor weather in the bridgehead area has reduced tactical flights to a minimum.
Since D-day W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, who holds the D.S.O. and two Bars, the D.F.C., and Bar, and the American D.F.C., has skyrocketed to new fame as Britain's leading ace with a score of 35 German aircraft downed. Johnson, native of Nottingham, England, now heads a Canadian fighter wing.

Downs 35th Victim
He downed his 35th enemy victim June 30 to top the record of 33 set up by G/C A.G. (Sailor) Malan, from South Africa, who now is on ground duty. At the same time Johnson's wing went on to win a bet made with the late W/C Lloyd V. Chadburn, of Aurora, Ont., holder of the D.S.O. and Bar and the D.F.C., six weeks before D-day.
The two wing-commanders wagered that their respective wings would outscore the other during the month after the invasion was launched. After Chadburn lost his life over France in the early days of the invasion, the wager was taken over by S/L Walter Conrad, D.F.C. of Richmond, Ont., of the Red Indian Squadron.
Until Johnson's wing scored seven victories in one operation July 5 Chadburn's wing, now led by W/C R.A. Buckham, D.F.C., of Vancouver, was only two behind. The latest available accounting showed Johnson's wing is in the lead 47 to 40.

Others in Race
Meanwhile however, another Canadian-led wing under W/C George Keefer, of Charlottetown, although not included in the wager, is just as interested in finishing at the top and in the last reckoning was tied with Johnson's wing with 47 enemy planes destroyed.
Furthermore, Keefer's pilots claimed 23 enemy aircraft damaged against 11 by Johnson's wing. F/L Charlie Trainor of Charlottetown, who until June 28 was scoreless, entered the ace class by being credited with 7½ victories in the subsequent seven days. This was half a point more than Johnson achieved during the first month of the invasion.
Other Canadian airmen who have achieved notable scores during that period are: F/L Doug Lindsay, Arnprior, Ont., four; S/L H.W. (Wally) McLeod, D.F.C. and Bar, Regina, four; F/L W.T. (Bill) Klersy, Toronto, four; F/L Paul Johnson, Bethel, Conn., four.

Typhoons Prominent
These scores brought Lindsay's total kills to six, McLeod's to 19, Klersy's to five and Johnson's to five also. McLeod became Canada's leading operational pilot with his score of 19.
The Normandy-based Empire fighter plane group to which these Canadian wings are attached is commanded by Air Vice-Marshal Henry Broadhurst, of the R.A.F. Total of 12,000 sorties were flown by British and Canadian members of Air Vice-Marshal Broadhurst's group during the four weeks following D-day.
An all-Canadian Typhoon wing in the sector, commanded by Wing-Cmdr. Paul Davoud, D.S.O., D.F.C., of Kingston, Ont., has achieved a high degree of precision in dive-bombing since assigned to this role in Normandy.
More than 8,000 rockets have been projected by R.A.F. Typhoons from close range at enemy targets within the battle area.



London, Aug. 23, 1944 - (CM) - Group Capt J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, leading Allied air ace in the European theatre, led his RCAF fighter wing into action today and shot down two FW-190's to raise his total kills to 37.
The Canadians bagged a total of 12 enemy aircraft, damaged many others, and lost three planes themselves.
Johnson had a new experience today — for the first of his many times in action his plane was hit by enemy fire.
Only one other United Nations fighter pilot is credited with more victories than Johnson. That is Col. Alexander Pokryshkin of the Soviet Air Force, credited with downing 59 German planes.
Johnson has been held largely responsible for the fine showing of his Canadian fighters in France. An Englishman, he gets on famously with the Canucks under his command.

Gun Camera photo from one of Johnson's kills

  Gun Cam photo



By HAROLD MAYES. With the Tactical Air Force in Belgium, Sept, 27, 1944 - (Reuter) - W/C Johnny Johnson, Britain's leading fighter pilot, shot down his 38th German aircraft today as the Canadian fighter wing he commands destroyed 14 planes and damaged six in fierce battles along the Rhine east of the Holland salient.
Up to lunch time today Johnson's wing had brought its total of German planes destroyed in 1½ days to 23.
Another Canadian Spitfire wing, led by W/C Dal Russel, D.F.C. and Bar, of Westmount, Que., has a total of 30 planes shot down in 2½ days, 20 of them by a squadron led by S/L Dean Dover, D.F.C., of Toronto.
Four Canadian pilots got two kills each today.
One of them, F/L Rod Smith, D.F.C., of Regina, attacked an Me-109 out of a formation of 10 German fighters with a four-second burst from 150 yards and saw it crash into the Rhine. Twenty minutes later he shot down another Me-109 as it was diving in an attempt to bomb the vital Nijmegen Bridge.
The pilot of the plane was seen to drop out, but the parachute did not open.
Smith yesterday destroyed two FW190's and now is credited with 11 planes destroyed.
The Germans, who are operating in formations up to 50 strong, are taking a terrific beating in every combat. Although the totals are smaller because fewer German aircraft are engaged on a percentage basis, tactical air force pilots now are rivaling the first Battle of Britain days.
The Germans still seek security in large numbers, but their pilots are proving no match for those of the Allies.
Yesterday some German fighters trying to give close support to their troops between Arnhem and Nijmegen were operating at deck level while others gave cover at between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. But with continual harassing by Allied fighter patrols they met with little success.
The only time during the day when the Germans were on the winning side in a single air battle was when 30 of them pounced on six rocket-firing Typhoons, two of which are missing.
The Germans are using a mixed bag of aircraft at night in attacks on the salient area.
One Ju-87 was shot down last night, and the previous night an Me-109 was destroyed.
By day they are using some jet propelled Me-262s, which are a purely experimental type for bombing missions. Yesterday one was damaged by Spitfires.
With their road and rail links being attacked day and night by the Allied air forces, the communication problems for the Germans trying to defend their own country may soon approach a state of chaos.
The attacks on communications are being carried out without switching a single aircraft from tactical obligations in the immediate battle areas.
The whole weight of Allied air supremacy now is being used in a manner never previously achieved.



London, 29 Sept. 1944 - (CP) - Spitfire pilots of three Canadian fighter wings destroyed at least 28 German aircraft today, raising their score for the week to more than 80. The RCAF reported from Belgium that pilots of a Belgian-based wing under the command of W/C W. R. MacBrien of Ottawa, shot down nine German planes and damaged two others. A Reuter News agency correspondent in a field dispatch credited wings commanded by W/C Dal Russel, D.F.C., of Westmount, Que., and W/C J. E. (Johnny) Johnson English-born leader of a Canadian wing, with 10 and nine, respectfully. F/L Gordon Ockenden of Edmonton, F/L Gordon Smith of Nelson, B.C., and F/O R.A. Hodgins of Ottawa each scored double victories as MacBrien's wing smashed up German formations of fighters over Nijmegen, Holland, near the northern tip of the British 2nd Army's corridor through Holland. Single kills were credited to F/O A. J. Horrell of Windsor, Ont., F/O K. M. Langmuir of Toronto, and F/L Cap Foster of Grimsby, Ont. F/L B. T. Gilmour of St. Thomas, Ont., and F/O F. R. Kearns of Quyon, Ont., each claimed to have damaged an enemy plane. Foster's victory was a "revenge" kill. The Grimsby pilot was forced to bail out behind the Allied lines Sunday when an ME-109 blew up the engine of his Spitfire, but today he got another ME-109 in his sights and brought it down with a four-second burst. "I was pretty mad and thinking of what happened to me the other day," Foster said. "He blew up, and I had to dodge the debris. I guess things are evened up now." Names of the scorers in the wings commanded by Russel and Johnson were not immediately available.


Canadian Fighter Unit Downs 201 Nazi Planes

An Advanced R.C.A.F. Airfield in Holland, Dec. 18, 1944 - (CP) - Fliers of a Canadian Spitfire wing under G/C G. R. McGregor and W/C Dal Russel, both of Montreal, became the second to pass the 200 mark in German aircraft destroyed since the wing’s formation, when they shot down a pair of FW190's over Geldern in Germany.
First to establish the mark was the wing commanded jointly by G/C W. R. MacBrien of Ottawa, and W/C Johnny Johnson, whose fliers shot down five aircraft Oct. 8, raising their total to 202, and subsequently to 207.
The McGregor-Russel wing's total stands at 201.
The two Canadian units have destroyed 314 Huns between them since D-Day, scored more than 15 probables and damaged upwards of 200. In addition to crippling German road and rail transport with dive-bombing, as well as machine-gun and cannon offensives.
The first Jerry destroyed by McGregor-Russel pilots, July 19, 1943, was a FW190, joint victim of S/L Ian Ormston of Montreal, and S/L Bob Hayward of St. John's, Nfld. Since then many aces have been born within the wing. The most recent being F/L Don Laubman, of Edmonton, with 15 destroyed; S/L R. I. Smith, Regina, 11 destroyed; F/L W. J. Banks and F/O D. R. Jamieson, both of Toronto, each with eight destroyed.


Johnson Now O.C. Of Spitfire Wing

London, April 8, 1945 - (CP) - Promotion has probably brought to a close the combat career of J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, 28-year-old English fighter pilot, former commander of a Canadian Spitfire wing, who has destroyed 38 enemy aircraft in aerial combat.
It was announced Saturday that the modest wing commander, who wears the "Canada" flash on his uniform and who holds the Distinguished Service Order and two Bars and the Distinguished Flying Cross, has been promoted to group captain, with command of a Spitfire wing in the 2nd Tactical Air Force fighter and fighter-bomber group.
Johnson, top-scoring ace on the Western front, will be given command of the airfield at which his new wing is based and probably confined to ground duties. It was not known whether Canadian squadrons are based at his new field.
The new commander arrived at the field just as eight of the Continent-based wing pilots returned from a dogfight south of Munster in which they destroyed seven of 12 German fighters, probably destroyed another and damaged two others without loss to themselves. This feat brought the wing's total to 124 destroyed enemy aircraft.

Johnson & Turner
G/C Johnny Johnson & W/C Stan Turner


Victories Include :

15 Jan 1941
26 Jun 1941
4 July 1941
6 July 1941
14 July 1941
21 July 1941
23 July 1941
9 Aug 1941
21 Aug 1941
4 Sep 1941
21 Sep 1941

15 Apr 1942
19 Aug 1942

20 Aug 1942

13 Feb 1943
3 Apr 1943
5 Apr 1943
11 May 1943
13 May 1943
14 May 1943
1 June 1943
15 June 1943
17 June 1943
24 June 1943

27 Jun 1943
15 July 1943
25 July 1943
29 July 1943
30 July 1943
12 Aug 1943

17 Aug 1943
23 Aug 1943
26 Aug 1943
4 Sep 1943
5 Sep 1943

28 Mar 1944
25 Apr 1944
5 May 1944
16 Jun 1944
22 Jun 1944
28 Jun 1944
30 Jun 1944
5 July 1944
20 July 1944
23 Aug 1944
27 Sep 1944
1/2 Do17
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
1/2 Me109
one Me109
1½ Me109s
one Me109
1/2 Me109
two Me109s

one FW190
one FW190
1/3 Me109
1/2 FW190
one FW190

one FW190
one FW190
  3  FW190s
one FW190
1⅓ FW190s
one FW190
1/2 Me109
two FW190s
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
one Me109
one Me109
one Me109
1/2 Me109
1/2 Me109
1/2 Me109
1/4 Me110
one FW190
one FW190
one FW190
one Me109

1/2 Ju88
two FW190s
one FW190
one FW190
one Me109
two Me109s
one Me109
two FW190s
one FW190
two FW190s
one Me109

destroyed [1] &

destroyed [2]
destroyed [3]
destroyed &
destroyed [4]
destroyed &
damaged [5]
destroyed [6]

On The Ground

36.91 / 4 / 11.5

+ 0.5 / 0 / 0  OTG

[1] Shared with P/O Smith & F/S Creagh
[2] One shared with F/O Bob "Trapper" Bowen & F/L Harry Dowding
[3] Shared with F/O "Trapper" Bowen
[4] Shared with F/Sgt. Graham Shouldice
[5] Both shared with F/L Wally Conrad
[6] Shared with F/L Dean Dover, F/L Liv "Cap" Foster & F/O Jim Preston

Score from Aces High [Shores & Williams] & 400 Series Squadron Claims [Frank Olynyk]
For more details about his claims see those publications


Beurling Ranks Fourth Among European Aces

By FRED BACKHOUSE [I have modified this article to be more accurate –jf], London, 15 July 1945 - (CP) - Group Captain J. E. (Johnny) Johnson, English-born, former leader of a crack Canadian Spitfire wing, has been officially recognized as "ace of aces" among Allied fighter pilots who fought over Europe. [post war research has revealed Pat Pattle was probably the top RAF ace –jf]
Final scoring records, compiled by The Canadian Press from figures supplied by the RAF, RCAF, and United States 8th and 9th Air Forces, put this peace-time accountant from the Leicestershire town of Loughborough at the top of the list with 38 German planes destroyed.
G/C Johnson, who so closely identified himself with his otherwise all-Canadian squadron that he wore "Canada" on his shoulder, has often given much of the credit for his success to the Canadians who flew with him. "It's all a combination play," he said. Many of his men themselves became "aces."
Of the first 16 places supplied by the air forces, fourth is held by a Canadian - F/L George (Buzz) Beurling, DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar, of Verdun, Que. - and 11 by RAF pilots. For the record, only those with more than 24 "kills" were offered by the three services as their top men. Official final scores are:

S/L Thomas “Pat” Pattle (RAF), 50 [approx.]
G/C James “Johnny” Johnson (RAF), 36.91
S/L William “Cherry” Vale (RAF), 30.5
G/C Adolph “Sailor” Malan (RAF), 29.5
F/L George “Screwball” Beurling (RCAF), 29
W/C John “Bob” Braham (RAF), 29
S/L Brendan “Paddy” Finucane (RAF), 29
W/C Clive “Killer” Caldwell (RAF), 28.5
Lt/Col Francis “Gabby” Gabreski (8th AF), 28
An anonymous Polish sergeant [Czech pilot Josef Frantisek] (RAF), 28
S/L James “Ginger” Lacey (RAF), 28
W/C Colin Gray (RAF), 27.7
W/C Stanford “Tuckie” Tuck (RAF), 27.66
Capt. Robert S. Johnson (8th AF), 27
S/L Neville Duke (RAF), 26.83
Maj. George “Ratsy” Preddy (8th AF), 26.83
W/C Frank Carey (RAF), 26
F/L Eric “Sawn-Off” Lock (RAF), 26
W/C LC “Wildcat” Wade (American in the RAF), 25
Lt/Col J. C. Meyer (8th AF), 24

RCAF fighter pilots in the European war with scores of 15 or more German planes destroyed number six according to overseas headquarters in London. In addition, there were two equally high-scoring Canadians in the RAF, both of whom were killed in that service before they could transfer to the RCAF. After Beurling they are:

SL Henry "Wally" McLeod, DSO, DFC and Bar, of Regina, 21
S/L Vernon "Woody" Woodward, DFC and bar, 18.83
F/O William "Willie" McKnight, DFC and Bar, of Calgary, 18
W/C Mark "Hilly" Brown, DFC and Bar, of Glenboro, Man., 16.45
W/C James "Eddie" Edwards, DFC and bar, DFM, MiD, 16.1
W/C Robert "Buck" McNair, DSO, DFC and two bars, of North Battleford, 16
W/C Edward "Jack" Charles, DSO, DFC and Bar, Silver Star (U.S.), 15.5
F/L Don Laubman, DFC and Bar, of Edmonton, 15

The late Wing-Cmdr. Brown is officially credited by the RAF with "at least 18" [includes shared claims -jf] aircraft destroyed. His score may well have been higher, but uncertainty exists because the records of No. 1 Squadron, RAF, of which he was then commanding officer, were destroyed during the retreat at the time of the collapse of France.


Air Medal

Air Ministry, 25 May 1951 - The KING has granted unrestricted permission for the wearing of the undermentioned decorations conferred upon the officers indicated in recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with operations in Korea:

Air Medal
Wing Commander James Edgar JOHNSON, D.S.O., D.F.C. (83267), Royal Air Force
Squadron Leader Henry Erskine BODIEN, D.S.O., D.F.C. (45720), Royal Air Force


JOHNSON, W/C James Edgar, DSO, DFC (RAF 83267) - Order of Leopold with Palme & Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palme (Belgium)
Awarded as per London Gazette dated 27 June 1947



Thanks go out to

On these pages I use Hugh Halliday's extensive research which includes info from numerous sources; newspaper articles via the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation (CMCC); the Google News Archives; the London Gazette Archives and other sources both published and private.

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