JOHNSON, Keith Alan

Pugnamus finitum...We fight to a finish

No.1150168, Flight Sergeant (W/Op-Air Gnr), Keith Alan JOHNSON
Aged 22

No. 420 ( R.C.A.F.) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed on Active Service on Wednesday 15th April 1942

Keith Alan Johnson was born on 15th June 1919 (Newmarket Q3-1919 3B:661), baptised in Fordham on 3rd August 1920 , son of Herbert Birt and Alice Maria JOHNSON (née BRIGHTEN), of Fordham. His father was a farmer.
He married Joan SMART of Fordham (Cambridge Q2-1941 3B:1697).

In 1939 his father, a small holder [14-10-1880] and mother a school teacher [11-8-1886] were at Church Street, Fordham. (1 closed record). Where Keith was in 1939 has not been identified.

Thanks to Horace Hunt for the photograph of Keith

As Sergeant, Keith was posted from 16 Operational Training Unit, Upper Heyford to 49 Squadron on 18th September 1941, but posted out again, to 44 Squadron, two days later. On December 19, 1941, 420 Squadron was formed in RAF 5 Group at Waddington airbase four miles south of Lincoln. Initially flying Handley Page Hampden Mk1, before converting to Vickers Wellington in August of that year. In between they received some Avro Manchester Mk 1 in April 1942, but never used them operationally During the Hampden period the squadron flew 44 bombing and 37 mine laying missions (gardening) as well as eight nickelling (leaflet dropping) and one weather mission for a total of 535 sorties. During this phase it incurred 19 losses (3.6%).

From Bill Chorley's "Bomber Command Losses":-
420 Sqdn Hampden Mk 1 AT219 c/s PT-C...Operation: Dortmund
Take off 21:38, RAF Waddington and crashed 21:45 at North Hykeham on the outskirts of Lincoln. It is believed that the Hampden suffered a double engine failure and the pilot was trying to regain the airfield when he lost control.
The crew of P/O William.J. Murray RCAF (Pilot); P/O William F.E. McCarthy RCAF (Navigator); Sgt Kenneth.A.Birch RAF (W.Op/Air Gnr); Sgt Keith.A. Johnson RAF (W.Op/Air Gnr) were all killed. (some sources have Sgt Keith, not Birch)
(CWGC has Murray, McCarthy, Birch dying on 14th, Keith Johnson on the 15th.)

Handley Page Hampden Mk1

Keith Johnson is buried in Fordham (St Peter and Mary Magdalene) Churchyard Extension
and commemorated on the Roll of Honour of Soham Grammar school.

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details