Sergeant Stanley Johnson, 958966, 101 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Stanley Johnson was born in Ossett in the Summer of 1921, the son of George A. Johnson and his wife Elizabeth A. Ward, who married in the Dewsbury area in spring 1918. The couple had six children: William, born in 1919, Stanley, who had a twin sister, Eileen born Summer 1921; Lilian, born Spring 1924; Edwin, born late 1929 and Anthony, born Summer 1936.
After his initial training, Sergeant Stanley Johnson was assigned to 101 Squadron, based at R.A.F. Oakington, Cambridgeshire, 5 miles north-west of Cambridge, as a wireless operator and air gunner. During May and June 1941, No 101 Squadron had converted to Wellington bombers and in September it paid its first visit to Italy and successfully bombed Turin.
Stanley Johnson was one of the six man crew of Wellington X bomber, Z1115 flown by Pilot Officer Gerald Pelmore when it took off from RAF Oakington at 17:00 hours into the cold winter darkness on Saturday, 27th December 1941. That night, Bomber Command was sending out bombers in a raid to Düsseldorf, a city in the heart of the German industrial centre along the river Ruhr, across the (former) East border of Holland.
At around 20:15 hours, Wellington bomber Z1115 was seen by Hauptman Werner Streib, flying a Bf 110 twin engine night fighter of I/NJG1, based at Deelen, in the Netherlands. Werner Streib (1911 - 1986) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter ace credited with 68 enemy aircraft shot down in about 150 combat missions. The novice crew didn't have a chance and the Wellington bomber, one of two shot down by Streib that night, crashed and burned near Wegberg, Germany with all six crew members killed. The Wellington 1C crew of Z1115 were all buried near Cologne as follows:
- Pilot Officer Gerald Kurt Kenneth Keston Pelmore, aged 30 years, Pilot, R.A.F.
- Sergeant James Deane Anderson, aged 27 years, 2nd Pilot, R.A.F.
- Sergeant Owen Ernest Rance, aged 21 years, Navigator, R.A.F.
- Sergeant Peter Cedric Williams, Wireless Operator, R.A.F.
- Sergeant Stanley Johnson, aged 20 years, Air Gunner, R.A.F.
- Sergeant David Smith Edmond, Air Gunner, R.A.F.
It was the first and last operational flight for all the crew, with the exception of the pilot Gerald Pelmore, who had flown on two previous operational missions in August 1941. It is likely that their inexperience contributed to their unfortunate and premature deaths.
The "Ossett Observer" had this short obituary for Stanley Johnson:1
"Ossett Sergeant Killed - Mrs. G. Johnson, 16, Wakefield Road, Flushdyke, Ossett, has received intimation through the Red Cross that her son Sergeant Stanley Johnson, R.A.F., has been killed and was buried in Cologne. He was previously reported missing as from December 27th 1941, when he was on an operational flight over parts of Germany.
Johnson, who was 20 years of age, was educated at Holy Trinity School, and afterwards attended Dewsbury Technical College. He was a member of Dewsbury Air Cadet Corps, and joined the R.A.F. voluntarily on March 30th 1940. He was employed up to that time by Jas. Smith's, dry cleaners, Ravensthorpe."
Stanley Johnson died on the 27th December 1941, aged 20 years, and is buried at grave reference 1. C. 9. in the Rheinberg War Cemetery. The town of Rheinberg lies in the west of Germany approx 85kms to the north of Koln.
The site of Rheinberg War Cemetery was chosen in April 1946 by the Army Graves Service for the assembly of Commonwealth graves recovered from numerous German cemeteries in the area. The majority of those now buried in the cemetery were airmen, whose graves were brought in from Dusseldorf, Krefeld, Munchen-Gladbach, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund; 450 graves were from Cologne alone. The men of the other fighting services buried here mostly lost their lives during the battle of the Rhineland, or in the advance from the Rhine to the Elbe.
There are now 3,330 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated at Rheinberg War Cemetery. 158 of the burials are unidentified. There are also nine war graves of other nationalities, most of them Polish.
Above: Wellington bomber like the one that was shot down on the 28th December 1941, killing Sergeant Stanley Johnson.
1. "Ossett Observer", Saturday, February 14th 1942