Edward Cuthbert Johnson DFC (Bomber Aimer) pictured far right was associated with The Fireplace Superstores Managing Director, who was a 17-year-old fireplace apprentice installer over 41 years ago. Ted Johnson as he was known worked at Sellers Fireplaces located in Marton Blackpool. The company specialized in importing marble from Italy and manufacturing high-quality fireplaces. Reluctantly Ted passed a few interesting stories of his experience as a Dambuster when questioned, he explained how he jumped from the stricken Lancaster, where he eventually reached the safety of Spain having lived off fruit before returning home to England via Gibraltar. It was a great privilege to discuss with him his story of great bravery.
Dambuster Edward Johnson
The third aircraft to attack Elder Dam “mine dropped accurately causing the final breach” he mentioned. Two bomb aimers were called Johnson on the Dams Raid, this has caused occasional confusion, both Johnsons were known as Johnnie to their friends, the older of the two Edward Cuthbert Johnson bomber aimer a member of Les Knights Crew.
Edwards’s father was killed in 1914 on the Western Front when the family was living in Gainsborough, educated at Lincoln Grammer school before working at Woolworths and then Lyons the catering firm. In 1936 he married May Beckwith (a lovely lady from my memories) before moving to Blackpool in a boarding house business in 1938, where their son Philip was born. In 1940 he joined the RAF, in 1942 he qualified as an observer/bomb aimer, he then got a posting briefly with 106 squadrons, before being sent back to a training unit crewing up with Les Knight and his colleagues in 1942 they moved to 50 squadrons and completed twenty-two operations with the Knight Crew.
Johnson and Hobday were both 9 years older than their skipper and senior to him in rank, but all worked well as a team both appreciating the younger man’s qualities as an outstanding pilot, all three for their role in the Dams raid were decorated Knight getting a DSO, Johnson, and Hobday the DFC, all three photographed outside Buckingham Palace on the day of investiture.
On the faithful Dortmund operation in September 1943 Johnson jumped from the already stricken Lancaster, ordered by Knight, Johnson replied cheerio boys best of luck, see you in London. Johnson buried his parachute and walked until dawn before eventually settling into the top of a haystack where he sustained himself with his escape kit containing condensed milk and chocolate, the next morning he removed his RAF uniform insignia and called up the farmer whose family supplied hot food.
Johnson evaded capture as did four of his colleagues, Johnson successfully reached Spain, throughout his journey he had help from a friendly Dutch farmer a Policeman, and various others, also members of the resistance in the Netherlands came to his assistance, eventually arriving in the UK from Gibraltar. Until 1947 he served in the RAF in various ground postings.
He then went back to Blackpool working for Sellers Fireplaces until his retirement, Edward Johnson passed away in Blackpool on 1 October 2002.
A lovely man and a great servant to his Country.