Johnson, Norman

Norman Johnson was born on the 29th December 1919* and baptised at St. Ethelwold’s Church, Shotton on the 2nd February 1919 the son of Ada Johnson, Hawarden Road, Queensferry.   *Clerical error by the Vicar J.J.J. ROBINSON?

Ada was the only daughter of Thomas & Susannah Johnson (nee Jones) who are seen on the 1911 census living at Aston Road, Queensferry, Hawarden.    Thomas, 54, and a Machinist (Gold Mining, Boiler & Engineering Works) had been born in Mollington, Cheshire.   The rest of the family had been born in Queensferry, Fllintshire.   Susannah, 42, tells us that they had been married 17 years and they had 4 children, all still living.   The children were Harry, 16, working in the Gold Mining, Boiler & Engineering Works as a Machinist.   Ada was 15 years old, while Frank, 13 and Arthur, 11, were both at school.

The next time we see Ada is on the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th September 1939.   She is living in Gladstone Way, Queensferry, Hawarden with her widowed mother Susana (sic) whose birth date is given as the 23rd January 1869 and is doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties” which is how most married or Widowed women are described  on this register, if they did not have a job.  Ada, born 15th September 1895, and a Wine and Spirit Shop Assistant.    Norman Johnson, born  29th December 1918 a Motor Driver & Bread Salesman, Single.  There was also a Constance Mowbray, born 22nd June 1922 and again the same as Susana doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”

Living next door was Ada’s brother Frank and his wife Catherine and possibly 4 children.

Norman enlisted, according to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Enlistment Register on the 16th October 1939.   He was Transferred to the Army Air Corps on the 28TH December 1942.   His Documents were sent to Edinburgh 16th January 1943.  Norman was Killed in Action on the 7th December 1943. 

The website may help explain how Norman became a member of the 6th Bn Parachute Regiment:-

6th (Royal Welch) Parachute Battalion – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

6th (Royal Welch) Parachute Battalion

Nickname(s)      Red Devils[1]

Motto(s) Utrinque Paratus – (Latin for “Ready for Anything”)

The 6th (Royal Welch) Parachute Battalion was an airborne infantry battalion of the Parachute Regiment raised by the British Army during the Second World War.

The battalion was created in 1942 by the conversion of the 10th Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers to parachute duties. It was then assigned to the 2nd Parachute Brigade, at that time serving in the 1st Airborne Division in England.

The battalion’s first combat action was in 1943, when it participated in an amphibious landing, Operation Slapstick, at the port of Taranto in Italy. When the 1st Airborne Division left Italy, the battalion, still with the 2nd Parachute Brigade, remained behind, where it took part in the Battle of Monte Cassino.

The battalion’s first combat parachute jump was during Operation Dragoon the Allied invasion of the south of France. Soon after the invasion, the battalion returned to Italy and took part in a second combat parachute jump, Operation Manna in Greece.

I also believe that he must have been part of Operation Slapstick, as the 1st Airborne Division were involved.

Operation Slapstick – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Part of the Allied invasion of Italy – Date      9 September 1943 – Location – Taranto, Italy

The Field Ambulance units in the division treated 2,150 casualties, between the landing and being withdrawn. Not all of these were from the 1st Airborne Division.[1]

Italian Campaign – British airborne forces operations of the Second World War

Operation Slapstick was the code name for a British landing from the sea at the Italian port of Taranto during the Second World War. The operation, one of three landings during the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943, was undertaken by airborne troops of the British 1st Airborne Division, commanded by Major-General George Hopkinson.

Planned at short notice, the mission followed an offer by the Italian government to open the ports of Taranto and Brindisi on the heel of Italy to the Allies. The airborne division was selected to undertake the mission, but at the time they were located in North Africa. A shortage of transport aircraft meant the division could not land in their traditional way by parachute and glider, and all the landing craft in the area were already allocated to the other landings: Operation Avalanche at Salerno on the western coast, and Operation Baytown at Calabria. Instead, the division had to be transported across the Mediterranean by ships of the Royal Navy. The landing was unopposed and the airborne division successfully captured the ports of Taranto, and later Brindisi on the Adriatic coast in working order.

The only German forces in the area were elements of the 1st Parachute Division (1. Fallschirmjäger Division),[note 1] which engaged the advancing British in ambushes and at roadblocks during a fighting withdrawal north. Eventually, by the end of September, the British 1st Airborne Division advanced 125 miles (201 km) to Foggia. Reinforcements from two infantry divisions had by then been landed behind them, which allowed the airborne troops to be withdrawn to Taranto. Soon after, the division, minus the 2nd Parachute Brigade, sailed for England in preparation for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.

Read also –

Also remembered on

Excerpt from the CWGC Citation may help explain where Norman died:-

“The site of this cemetery was selected by the 5th Corps and into it were brought the graves of men who had died in the fierce fighting on the Adriatic sector of the front in November-December 1943, and during the static period that followed. In addition, the cemetery contains the graves of a number of escaped prisoners of war who died while trying to reach the Allied lines.”

 According to the CWGC Grave Concentration Report Form, Norman was buried first at 19GR/APV/2170, a place of which I have no knowledge and is unknown to me, but I will contact the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to find out where that was, but it probably meant he was buried, perhaps, where he fell and then was reburied on the 24th July 1944 at Sangro River War Cemetery where he now rests.

I wrote to the CWGC and this is their reply:-

Subject: RE: CWGC Enquiry Acknowledgement: Number 00087694

Dear Mrs Williams,

Thank you for your email below.

The reference number visible on the concentration report for Private Johnson (19GR/APV/2170) refers to the Field Grave Report of the original burial location. Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of some of these documents, we do not publish them online or provide copies of them to the public.

I can however provide you with the information included thereon which states that Private Johnson was recovered from Map Reference 224978. This map reference equates to an area North West of Sant’Eusanio del Sangro.

Please find attached a document I have compiled that shows the location of this map reference accompanied with GPS co-ordinates and a google map of the area where I have kept Torino di Sangro visible (the location of Sangro River War Cemetery). (See below for the maps)

I trust this answers your query.

Kind Regards

Martin Skelly

Records Administrator Headstones

Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Maidenhead, Berkshire, United Kingdom

Casualty List No. 1323 tells us that Norman was with the Army Air Corps – 6th Bn Parachute Regiment and he was Killed in Action on the 7th December 1943.

Casualty List No. 1323 (Page 12) Corrections tells us that Norman’s place of Casualty was North Africa – Italy.

Norman Johnson in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 – JOHNSON, Norman of Gladstone Way, Queensferry, Near Chester, Flintshire died 7th December 1943 on War Service.    Administration (with Will) Chester 24 May to Ada JOHNSON.

Norman’s mother, Ada , I believe, married George S. Fraser in a Civil Marriage in Hawarden in 1949 (Flintshire (Mold)HAW/19/97).

Norman was obviously loved by his family very much and they made sure he would be remembered by adding his name to the WW2 War Memorial



Addendum:- John Williams, who is remembered on the Hope WW2 War Memorial was in the same regiment, sadly, he died in France.   Please click on the link to read his story.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

Back to top