Johnson, Wilson Henry

Wilson Henry Johnson was born in the June quarter of 1917 (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/22A/13), the son of Wilson H. & Annie E. Johnson, (nee Hughes), who married in a Civil Ceremony  in the September quarter of 1912 in the Hawarden Registration District. (Flintshire (Mold)            HAW/04/30).

Wilson Henry (Jnr)’s father, Wilson Henry JOHNSON (Snr.) on the 1911 census, was living at Abermorddu, Wrexham, Flintshire (3 Rooms).   Head of the household was his mother, Sophia, 50 and a Widow, she tells us that 6 children had been born and sadly one had died.  Her eldest son on this census was William Arthur, 31 and single, he was a Chauffeur, her daughter  Gertrude Sophia was  26 and single, Wilson Henry, was 23, single and a Railway Goods Clerk.

I have no information about Wilson Henry’s early or teen years, so any information to help tell his story would be gratefully received.   However I found him on the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register E/GS/1/10 : –

1243/1938 JOHNSON, Wilson Hy. Date of birth – 25th April 1917, Iowa, Hawarden Rd., Caergwrle, Father – Salesman (In U.S.A.), Date of Entry – 16th September 1929, Abermorddu Cl. Schl. £6 TALY? £3 13s 5d, Date of Leaving 27th July 1933 – Haulage Contractor.

The next time we see him, Wilson is seen marrying in London to Daphne M. Henchie, so I suspect they met when, perhaps, Wilson was in his business as a Haulage Contractor, or perhaps, he had already joined the R.A.F..   They married in Marylebone in 1937. (Marylebone Vol. 1a Page 1316)

We see both Wilson and Daphne on the 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th September 1939, living at 152 London Road , Hastings C.B., Sussex, England, by which time he was already in the Royal Air Force.   They were living at the home of Daphne’s mother, Grace A Henchie, who had been born on the 11th May 1880, the register states that she was married, but there is no husband there on that day.   As most women on this register who are married, but without a job, are described, as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Daphne M. Johnson, had been born on the 3rd January 1919 and was a Clerk R.A.S.C.   Wilson H. Johnson, was born on the 25th March 1917, however, on the Hawarden Grammar School Registration Register, the month of Wilson’s birth was given as April.   He was stated to be R.A.F. No. 1 Squadron, R,F ????,Uxbridge House*, A.C. 2 NoG?D 13, (a lot of the writing is under sticky tape. – apologies).

* – Photographs of Uxbridge RAF Station.

Read also:-  Battle of Britain Bunker –

It seems that in the intervening years, Wilson’s parents were divorced, as on the 1939 National Register, living at Pennant, Bryn Castle,Caergwrle, Flintshire, was Annie E. Johnson, born 3rd March 1889 she was divorced, again, as above, Annie was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”

There are records on Ancestry (with extras payments) that will show that Wilson Henry JOHNSON went to Canada and the USA.   This coincides with what is written on the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register, that Wilson Henry JOHNSON’S father possibly worked in the USA.  The house was also the name of an American state – Iowa.

So Wilson Henry (Jnr.) was to find himself, married and, by the looks of things at the very centre of the Battle of Britain Bunker. : – No. 59 Squadron RAF moved in to Thorney island on 3 July 1940, initially flying anti-submarine patrols and bombing raids against the German invasion ports with Bristol Blenheims but left on 23 June 1941. The squadron returned 22 July 1941 and later became a general reconnaissance squadron, carrying out anti-shipping strikes, first with the Blenheims and then with Lockheed Hudsons then left on 17 January 1942. In August 1942 the squadron returned and converted to the Consolidated B-24 Liberator then for 2 months operated the Flying Fortress before reverting to the Liberator until it left Thorney in February 1943.[6][7]

I have the Operations Record Book for 59 squadron and it tells us that on the 16th April 1941 Wilson and his crew mates were to take off at 00.10, Wilson as an Observer on Blenheim V6174, 59 Squadron, with Pilot Officer J.E. Makgill and Sergeant R.P. Hunter, however, they crashed on takeoff and Wilson was the only one killed, Sgt. R.P. Hunter was injured.   The records show that Wilson, and P/O Edward James Makgill and Sgt. Robert Pearce Hunter were on various missions, leading up to the fateful day, Wilson was to lose his life: –

On the 8th April 1941, the same crew took off on a Patrol Mission, on a Blenheim TRA at 21.00 and landed at 00.38, remarks state “Moonlight Patrol in mid Channel.  Nothing seen.”

Again on the 10th April 1941, on a Search Mission,  on a Blenheim TRC, took off at 13.53  and landed at 15.18, the remarks say they “Saw a hostile man-o-war in the straits of Dover with large fighter escort.”

The 11th April 1941 saw the same crew, the only crew to take off that day, on a Search Mission, at 08.45, landing at 10.40, remarks “Search for tanker.  No cloud cover off Havre?   Nothing seen.”

I sadly note that P/O Edward James Makgill and Sgt. Robert Pearce Hunter were also to lose their lives the following year.

P/O Edward James Makgill from New Zealand was the son of John Edward Makgill and of Muriel Ravenscroft Makgill (nee Devereux), of Auckland City, New Zealand, but in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve 272 Sqdn.   Date of Death – Died 25 June 1942, age 28 years old.   Buried or commemorated at HALFAYA SOLLUM WAR CEMETERY, Joint grave 19. H. 8., Egypt.   Circumstances of Death: Lost in aircraft Beaufighter T498

Thanks to

Sgt. Robert Pearce Hunter, Royal Canadian Air Force – 129 Sqdn., Date of Death – Died 28 March 1942.   Buried or commemorated at RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL, Panel 100., United Kingdom. Country of Service – Canadian.  Circumstances of Death: Dived into the sea off Etretat*, possible oxygen failure.

Thanks to

* Étretat is a town on the north coast of France. It’s known for the striking rock formations carved out of its white cliffs, including the Porte d’Aval arch and L’Aiguille (the Needle), a pillar rising up from the sea.

I believe that Daphne M. Johnson, Wilson Henry’s widow, was to remarry in Hastings in the June quarter of 1944 (Hastings Vol.  2b Page 33), her new husband was James BEALL.   Lets hope that she found happiness again in her new life.

Wilson Henry Johnson was well loved and missed by his family and his name is remembered on the Hawarden Grammar School Roll of Honour for perpetuity.

The Roll of Honour was dedicated at Hawarden Grammar School on the 3rd February 1951 with a Remembrance Service for the 47* former pupils who died in the 1939 – 1945 World War.   As recorded in the Chester Chronicle Saturday 10th February 1951.

*Author’s note, there are 46 names on the Roll of Honour, clerical error by the newspaper.

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