Known locally as Johnnie Johnson, James Edgar Johnson was born in Barrow on Soar near Loughborough on 9th March 1915. He lived in Melton, the first house on the left of Welby Lane as you leave Nottingham Road, with his parents - his father being a local Police Inspector.
Johnnie qualified as a Civil Engineer at Nottingham University in 1937. He joined the RAFVR and did his flying training at 21 E&RFTS, Stapleford before enlisting for full-time service in the RAF at the beginning of WWII.
He first went to ITW at Jesus College, Cambridge, completed his ab initio flying at 22 EFTS, Cambridge and his intermediate and advanced flying at 5 FTS, Sealand.He was posted to 7 OTU, Hawarden in August 1940, joined 19 Squadron the same month and moved to 616 Squadron at Kenley on 5th September 1940. He was 83267 Pilot Officer, (Aircrew category Pilot) on the RAF's books.
His first victory came on 26th June 1941, an Me 109. on 6th and 14th July he destroyed Me 109s and on 21st September two more. He was awarded the DFC on 30th September 1941 and made Flight Commander. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC on 26th June 1942 and the next month was given command of 610 Squadron at Ludham. Over Dieppe on 19th August he destroyed a FW 190 and on 13th February claimed another.
In March 1943 he was posted to Kenley to lead the Canadian Wing. Between 3rd April and 4th September 1943 he destroyed 10 FW 190s and shared another, destroyed 4 Me 109s and shared three more and shared an Me 110. He gained the DSO on 4th June 1943 and a Bar to it on 24th September 1943.
He was posted to the Planning Staff at 11 Group in September but returned to operations in March 1944 when he was posted to Digby to lead 144 Wing. Between 25th April and 27th September 1944 he destroyed 8 FW 190s and 5 Me 109s. He was awarded a second Bar to his DSO on 7th July 1944. The Wing was disbanded in October 1944 and he was posted to lead 127 Wing. On 6th April 1945 he was promoted to Acting Group Captain and given command of 125 Wing.
Back row : F/O Thomas A. Brannagan, Windsor, Ont.; F/O John Hodgson, Calgary; F/L Arthur C. Coles, North Vancouver, BC; F/L Herbert J. Southwood, Calgary; Sgt. Norman V. Chevers, Niagara Falls, Ont. F/O James Preston, St. Catharines, Ont.; F/L David Goldberg, Hamilton; F/O Malcolm J. Gordon, Edmonton; and F/L Harry A. Pattinson, Hamilton.
Middle row : F/O Livingston Foster, Grimsby, Ont.; F/O Robert G. Middlemiss, Montreal; F/O James F. Lambert, Winnipeg; F/L Dean Dover, Mount Dennis, Toronto; S/L Frank E. (Bitsy) Grant, Brockville, Ont.; W/C J. E. Johnson, DSO and bar, DFC and bar; F/L Noel J. Ogilvie, Ottawa; F/O Harry Dowding, Sarnia, Ontario; F/O J. D. Browne, Florham Park, New Jersey; P/O Paul K. Gray, Toronto.
Front row : F/O Joseph P. Lecoq, Montreal, F/L. Charles P. Thornton, Detroit; P/O John Allen Wilson, Hamilton; Sgt. Stanley Barnes, Toronto; F/O Stanley W. Matthews, Winnipeg; W/O1 Clinton F. Rae, Moulinette, Ont.; and Sgt. James R. MacKinnon, Winnipeg.
He ended the War as the top-scoring Allied pilot, with 38 confirmed victories. He received the DFC (US) on 18th January 1944, the Order of Leopold (Belgium) in 1947 and the Croix de Guerre (Belgium) in the same year.
He remained in the RAF and in 1950 was attached to the US Air Force, serving in the United States and in Korea. He was awarded the Air Medal (US) in December 1950 and the Legion of Merit (US) in October 1951.
He retired on 15th March 1966 at the age of 51 as an Air Vice-Marshal. He was made a CBE on 1st January 1960 and a CB on 1st January 1965.
He died on 30th January 2001 in Derbyshire, where he had lived for many years and where he enjoyed his fishing at the Ladybower Reservoir.
A Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Air Vice-Marshal J.E. "Johnnie" Johnson was held on Wednesday 25th April 2001 at St. Clement Danes, Strand, London WC2. The Chief of the Air Staff was represented by Air Vice-Marshal H.G.Mackay, Air Officer Commanding and Commandant, RAF College, Cranwell and the Air Force Board by Air Vice-Marshal Peter Liddell. The Reverend David Mackenzie, Resident Chaplain, officiated. The lesson was read by Johnnie's son, Michael, and Colonel Kenneth W. Cordier, USAF, read "Empty Cockpit".
( AIR VICE-MARSHAL
JAMES EDGAR "Johnnie" JOHNSON
"THIS IS YOUR LIFE"
'Rest in Peace Sir'