Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation
b: 9 Mar 1915
r: 15 Mar 1966
30 Jan 2001
CB – 12
Jun 1965, CBE - 1 Jan 1960, DSO – 4 Jun 1943, Bar – 24
Sep 1943, 2nd Bar - 1944, DFC
– 30 Sep 1941, Bar – 26 Jun 1942, DFC (US) – 18 Jan 1944, LeoP (O) – 27 Jun 1947, CdeG (P) (B) – 27 Jun
1947, AM (US)
– 25 May 1951, LoH, Cdr – 11 Sep 1989.
For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations,
For a list of foreign decoration abbreviations, click here
(RAFVR): Sgt: xx xxx xxxx, Plt Off: 10 Aug 1940, Fg Off (WS): 10 Aug 1941, Act Flt Lt: xx xxx 1941, Flt Lt (WS): 10 Aug 1942, Act Sqn Ldr: xx Jul 1942, Act Wg Cdr: 16 Mar 1943, Sqn Ldr (WS): 16 Jun 1943, Act Gp Capt: xx Mar 1945,
Sqn Ldr: 26
Mar 1946 [1 Sep 1945], Wg Cdr: 1 Jul
1947, Gp Capt: 1 Jan 1955,
A/Cdre: 1 Jul 1960, AVM: 1 Jan
Photo - Crown Copyright©
Sergeant Pilot, RAFVR.
10 Aug 1940: Appointed to a Commission in the RAFVR.
xx Aug 1940: Attended No 7 OTU.
Pilot, No 19 Sqn, Duxford.
Pilot, No 616 (South Yorkshire) Sqn.
xx Sep 1940: Hospitalised
Dec 1940: Pilot, No 616 (South Yorkshire) Sqn.
Flight Commander, No 616 Sqn.
Officer Commanding, No 610 Sqn.
Wing Commander - Flying (Wing Leader), Kenley Wing.
Jul 1943: Wing Commander - Flying (Wing Leader), No 127 Airfield.
Air Staff - Plans, HQ No 11 (Fighter) Group.
xx xxx 1944: Officer Commanding (Temporary), Kenley Sector
Wing Commander - Flying (Wing Leader),
No 144 (Canadian) Wing.
Jul 1944: Wing Commander - Flying (Wing Leader), No 127 Wing.
30 Mar 1945:
Officer Commanding, No 125 Wing.
Officer Commanding, Lubeck
Officer Commanding No 124 Wing, Eindhoven
11 Mar 1946: Officer Commanding, No 135 Wing, RAF Fassberg
1946: Appointed to a
Permanent Commission in the rank of Squadron Leader
(retaining rank current at the time)
[wef 1 Sep 1945]
[wef 1 Sep 1945]
25 May 1946: ?
Attended RCAF Staff College.
Exchange posting with USAF.
Attached to USAF in Korea.
Officer Commanding, Flying Wing - RAF Fassberg.
Officer Commanding, RAF Wildenrath
Staff Officer, Department of the AMSO.
Officer Commanding, RAF Cottesmore.
Attended Imperial Defence College.
SASO, No 3 Group
7 Oct 1963: AOC, Middle East Air Force/Air Forces, Middle East
Originally from Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire
James "Johnnie" Johnson attended Loughborough School and then
Nottingham University graduating as a civil engineer in 1938.
Failing to get into the Auxiliary Air Force and the Volunteer Reserve at
his first attempt, he joined the Leicestershire Yeomanry. But shortly after
this, the Air Ministry invited him to attend a selection board for the VR, in
which he was successful and became a Sergeant Pilot (under training).
Undertaking his training at weekends at Stapleford Tawney and Marshal's
at Cambridge before Service flying training at RAF Sealand, being commissioned
in 1940. Operational training at Hawarden was followed by his first posting to
No 19 Sqn at Duxford.
At the point 19 Sqn were experiencing problems trying
to introduce the first cannon armed Spitfires into service and the Sqn had no
time to complete Johnnie's training. He
therefore found himself posted to No 616 Sqn at Coltishall which had been pulled
out of the front line to recover. A
further move north to Kirton in Lindsey could have resulted in the end of a
promising career. Since starting to
fly Spitfires, an old rugby injury to his shoulder had started playing up and he
reported to the medical officer. He
then found himself summoned to the Station Commander's Office and being given
two choices, either to be removed from operations to become an instructor or to
undergo an operation to re-set the shoulder.
He immediately opted for the operation and any thoughts of his being
'lacking in moral fibre' were dispelled from the
mind of the Station Commander. Returning
to 616 in late 1940, he quickly started making his presence known sharing his
first victory with 'Cocky' Dundas in January 1941.
A move to Tangmere meant that his score began to mount and he was soon
commanding 'B' Flight of 616.
Johnnie stayed with 616 during it's moves between 11 and
12 Groups throughout 1941 and early 1942 flying Spitfire I's, II's, V's
and high altitude VI's.
Then in July
1942 he took over No 610 (County of Chester) Sqn at Coltishall.
Shortly after taking over 610 were part of a West Malling Wing involved
in 'Operation Dynamo', the Dieppe Raid. They
eventually rejoined No 11 Group in January 1943 and Johnnie's score continued to
rise. March 1943 brought promotion to Wing Commander and command of
the Canadian Wing at Kenley. With
the build up for the invasion of France, the Kenley Wing became No 127 Airfield
(later recalled Wing) in No 83 Group of the 2nd Tactical Air Force and started
preparing for it's role on the continent. However
by late 1943, he had been in constant action since early 1941 and it was decided
that he should be rested from ops and was appointed to the planning staff at No
Six months later, he once again found himself
commanding a Canadian Wing, No 144, preparing for the forthcoming invasion.
Flying furiously during the pre invasion stage, the invasion itself and
the post invasion period, the Wing built up a creditable reputation.
However, following deployment of the tactical Wings on the continent it
became obvious that one Group Captain controlling three Wing was too cumbersome.
Therefore a reorganisation took place resulting in the disbandment of No
144 Wing and reallocation of it's squadron's to the remaining Wings.
As a result, Johnnie found himself once more the Wing Leader of No 127
Having led his Wing through France, Belgium and into Germany he was promoted to Group Captain in March 1945 and moved to command No 125 Wing at Eindhoven. He ended the war at Celle and was credited with being the highest scoring Allied fighter pilot of World War II with 34 confirmed and seven shared victories, three and two shared probables, ten and three shared damaged and one destroyed on the ground.
During the Korean War he was attached to the USAF in
order to gain experience of jet fighter operations. On return from Korea he became OC Flying Wing at RAF Fassberg
in Germany, before becoming the first Station Commander of the newly opened RAF
He finished his RAF career prematurely in 1966 on
completion of his tour of duty as AOC, Middle East Air Force.
Since retiring he has worked as a consultant and served as a Director of
a number of companies based around the world as well as writing a number of
Further reading: - Wing Leader
Citation for the award of the Distinguished
“Flying Officer James Edgar JOHNSON (83267), Royal Air Force Volunteer
Reserve, No.616 Squadron.
This officer has participated in forty-six operational sorties over enemy
territory and has destroyed at least four hostile aircraft. Flying Officer
Johnson has at all times shown great courage.”
(London Gazette – 30 September 1941)
Citation for the award of the Bar to the Distinguished
“Acting Flight Lieutenant James Edgar JOHNSON, D.F.C. (83267), Royal
Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No.616 Squadron.
(London Gazette – 26 June 1942)
“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.”
(London Gazette – 4 June 1943)
“Acting Wing Commander James Edgar JOHNSON, D.S.O., D.F.C. (83267),
Royal Air Force. Volunteer Reserve.
Since being awarded the Distinguished Service Order this officer has
destroyed a further 7 enemy aircraft and shared in the destruction of another.
He is a relentless fighter whose brilliant leadership and outstanding skill have
inspired all with whom he has flown. Within
a period of 2 months, Wing Commander Johnson led large formations of aircraft on
very many sorties during which 27 hostile aircraft were shot down and a large
number were damaged.”
(London Gazette – 24 September 1943)
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