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Thread: LAC Leslie John Johnson 1265900 (moved)

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    Default LAC Leslie John Johnson 1265900 (moved)

    Hello All - LAC Leslie John Johnson 1265900
    I am researching the above Airman’s WWII service, the results of which I intend to give to one of his sons as a surprise birthday present as he has often expressed an interest in it. Thanks to his brother I have obtained the Form 543 for the above Airman which I have mostly managed to interpret, but have been stuck with a few ‘oddities’! I also have a very brief account given by Leslie himself in 1993 but know that there are discrepancies between it and the ‘Official’ records and as he died in 1998 am unable to clarify anything.
    Question 1 – He was posted to 456 Sqn, Valley, in Sept. 1941. Entered In the “Reason” column is “BX”. What is this most likely to mean? (I have looked at quite a few sites offering explanations for the various “Reason” codes and understand that there cannot be a single definitive reason for a particular code. The same code is repeated in March, 1942, when he was posted to 12 OTU at Chipping Warden).
    Question 2 - He was posted to 10 OTU, Abingdon, in Nov. 1941. Entered In the “Reason” column is “B”. Again, what is the likely explanation for this?
    He then joined 210 Sqn at Oban in December, 1941, reason “X” (Possibly Miscellaneous section of the units POR), but the next entry is to ‘SHQ Oban’, Reason “F” (I think - poorly written) on 28 Dec, 1941. In his own account Leslie stated – “Did a gunnery course here, was now a fitter AG and was able to get away from the normal routine at base.” However, his 543 has no mention of him ever being anything other than a F.Mech E (Flight Mechanic, Engines) and the only entry under ‘Special Qualifications’ is for the Beaufighter VIF in 1943. In December 1941 his rank was that of AC2, becoming AC1 in December 1943 and finally LAC before 31/12/44, and there is no mention of him ever attending any aircrew course.
    Question 3 – Can anyone offer a likely explanation for the above? Could it have been an ‘informal’ course after which he was assisting the regular gunnery fitters?
    On 3 Nov, 1942 he was posted to ‘255 Sqdn. (PPO)’. Reason – ‘X’, and then on 26 Nov 1942 to ‘EAC Africa’. Reason - ‘C’, and then to ‘255 Sqdn’ again on 7 Dec 1942. Leslie’s own account states that he volunteered for an overseas posting while at Oban and joined 255 Sqn at ‘Hulton, Bucks’ (sic). (As the Squadron was at Honiley at this time I believe this to be a memory lapse on Leslie’s part, as he also remembered this time as being the ‘early summer’ of 1942!) He goes on to state “…we sailed from Liverpool in a big convoy…on the SS Maloja, docked at Bone, N. Africa after a ten day nightmare. I embarked a boy and disembarked a man”. However, the Squadron history suggests that the journey was “…uneventful, encountering no enemy action of any kind and little by way of rough weather.” I have been unable to find any reason behind Leslie’s remarks, except perhaps the undoubted over-crowding.
    Question 4 – Can anyone shed any light on any of the above? Could the ‘PPO’ be ‘Prior to Posting Overseas’? (I understand EAC is Eastern Air Command).
    His own account goes on to state that he went “By landing barge to Sicily, and at Borizzo (sic) burnt my bum and spent about two months in hospital. Joined Sqdn just in time for Italian Landings”.
    Question 5 - There is no mention of this hospitalisation in his service record – Is there anywhere else I could look to find out more about it?
    He states that the Squadron was disbanded at the end of hostilities, “… and I moved to Vienna with five other airmen to form a Communication Flight for Allied Control Commission.”
    His form 543 is particularly badly written at this point, but seems to read that on 13th Feb 1945 he was posted to “HQ(U) A3. AC(A) 6 BPO.” And then on 26th August 1945 to “HQ, U. Austria”. I’m guessing that AC(A) means Allied Control, Austria but the rest is a mystery.
    Question 6 – Is anyone able to help out decrypting these entries? I understand how Austria was partitioned by the various powers after the war and believe the RAF flight would have been based at Vienna Schwechat, but have found absolutely nothing else about it.

    And finally – on 12 April 1946 he was posted to ‘38 PTC (ARP); the line beneath it states ‘HE’ (Home Embarkation?) dated 20 April 1946 and the two entries are linked by brackets. As I understand it, 38 PTC (Personnel Transit Centre) was part of CMF (Central Med. Forces), so
    Question 7 – What does the ‘ARP’ stand for in the present context, and any information what the flight did or what aircraft were involved would be most welcome.
    Leslie was then sent to 104 PDC, Hednesford on 1st June, 1946 for demobilisation, and was officially released in September, 1946.

    My apologies for such a lengthy post, but although I am fairly well-up on WW1 research, this present venture is proving to be a bit of a challenge, so I would really appreciate any assistance from any quarter!

    Malcolm
    Last edited by malcwayland; 25th October 2015 at 14:07. Reason: Correction of text

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    UPDATE: Thanks to Malcolm Barrass at rafweb a lot of my queries have been addressed. I would still very much like to know more about my man's movements in Austria post-war. I understand now that although in Vienna originally he must have moved to Klagenfurt (Where the HQ was of RAF Austria when it was formed on 28th February 1946). I have been unable to locate any aircraft described as belonging to RAF Austria and, as he was a Flight Mechanic by trade cannot understand why he was there. Can anyone help? Regards his hospitalisation I now know that this was due to a refuelling accident (Sounds like the aircraft hadn't been properly earthed) and that he was cared for in an American Field Hospital. Has anyone any experience of looking for US medical records? Many Thanks Malcolm

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    UPDATE I now know that Les was injured in Sicily while refuelling an aircraft when the pump on the bowser supposedly sparked. He was burnt badly enough to have to be admitted to an American field hospital for about two months, but was fit enough to re-join the squadron prior to it moving to the Italian mainland. This suggests the incident occurred sometime in September 1943. I imagine the Beaufighter was severely damaged if not destroyed - where is the best place to look for any record of the damage to or loss of the aircraft, please?

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    Some more information : I now have a couple of photographs that belonged to Les of a tented hospital and on the back is written "128 Evac Hospital", so this was possibly the hospital where he was treated. (I believe at least part of the US 128th Evacuation Hospital was in the Trapani area at the time, and one reference suggested the 24th August as being the date the contingent arrived there.) More interestingly I have found an IWM photograph of the temporary airstrip that was built in 1945 to serve the communications flight in Vienna, showing a hanger and two Auster aircraft. The photograph description states there were 3 such aircraft there. Thanks to the building in the background I have been able to establish precisely on a modern day satellite image just where the hangers once stood. Does anyone know the name of the unit that actually operated the aircraft (Auster Mk V's)? I am aware that 700 Air Disarmament Mobile Wing had a presence in Vienna from 1st Sept 1945. Can anyone identify the Unit insignia/shield on the right hand of the hanger?



    Thanks in advance Malcolm

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