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Air Commodore J C A Johnson (16247)


John Charles Ashley 

b: 28 Dec 1906                     r: 12 Apr 1954                     d: 10 Aug 1966

Plt Off: 11 Dec 1926, Fg Off: 11 Jun 1928, Flt Lt: 1 Dec 1932, Sqn Ldr: 1 Aug 1937, (T) Wg Cdr: 1 Jun 1940, (T) Gp Capt: 1 Jun 1942, Wg Cdr (WS): 1 Dec 1942, Wg Cdr: 1 Dec 1943, Gp Capt: 1 Jul 1947, Act A/Cdre: 29 Jan 1952, A/Cdre: 12 Apr 1954.

xx xxx 1925:            Flight Cadet, 'B' Sqn, RAF College.

11 Dec1926:            Appointed to a Permanent Commission.

11 Dec 1926:           Pilot, No 13 Sqn.

23 Feb 1928:           Pilot, No 5 Sqn.

9 Nov 1932:            Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

28 Feb 1933:           Supernumerary - Language Training, HQ Iraq Command.

xx xxx 1934:            Intelligence duties, Air Liaison Officer, Sulaimaniya.

20 Feb 1936:           Supernumerary, RAF Depot.

xx May 1936           RAF Biggin Hill, (AA Coop – Target-tow flight)

23 Sep 1936:           Air Staff, HQ No 11 (Fighter) Group. (Flight Lt ‘P’ Staff, later Sq Ldr Air Staff, 2 mths acting SFCO)

28 Jan 1938:            AHQ British Forces in Iraq, Intelligence (ALO Sulaimaniya).

12 Jun 1941:            Air Staff, AHQ Iraq.

xx Nov 1941           Combined Intelligence Centre, Iraq, HBM Vice-Consul, Isfahan, Persia

 1 Aug 1942            MO4, GHQ Cairo, HBM Vice-Consul Hamadan, Persia

 3 Jan 1944              ‘S’ FTS Cranwell (Flying Refresher Course and BAT Course)

14 Apr 1944            HQ Transport Command

xx May 1944           HQ No 46 Group (attached Watchfield as CO ‘Anson Detachment’)

xx Aug 1944            Attached Bramcote for Dakota Flying Course

20 Aug 1944           Officer Commanding, RAF St Mawgan

7 Oct 1944              Officer Commanding, RAF Talbenny.

1 Aug 1945              Officer Commanding, RAF Dunkeswell.

6 Nov 1945              Officer Commanding, RAF Tilstock.

20 May 1946            Officer Commanding, 100 Personnel Dispersal Centre, No 28 Group.

30 Sept 1946            Senior Personnel Staff Officer, Polish Resettlement Corps

17 Jun 1948             Seconded to Royal Pakistan Airforce, Station Commander, Mauripur

5 Jul 1949                Officer Commanding, RAF Padgate.

29 Jan 1952:            Air Attaché, Moscow.  

John C A Johnson was born in Aberdeen and attended Westminster School where he was a cadet in the OTC and excelled in sports, particularly soccer and boxing. In India, he was based in Peshawar and Quetta. It was here that he developed an interest in languages, learning both Urdu and Pushtu, and spent his leave each year on shikar. For the last 18 months of his time on the North West frontier, he was officer in charge of Indian welfare. By the time he arrived in Iraq in 1933, he had already begun studies of Arabic, Kurdish and Persian, and when a vacancy occurred as ALO Sulaimaniya, he accepted it eagerly. He developed a great facility with the Kurdish language, becoming a first class Interpreter. He amassed a wealth of information about the Kurds and Kurdistan, some of which was published in articles in The Geographical Magazine, and he left an extensive collection of photographs of Kurdistan and its people. He compiled one of the first comprehensive Kurdish-English Dictionaries and left unpublished comparative notes on the Indo-European languages of the Middle East.  In 1940, he passed the Staff College Entrance Exams, but the course was postponed because of the war. In 1941, during the rebellion of Rashid-Ali, he was taken prisoner of war in Sulaimaniya. He had been transferred to Baghdad in readiness for being flown to Germany when the rebellion was overthrown and he was released. Following his retirement from the RAF in 1954, he emigrated to New Zealand where he spent the remainder of his life on the Coromandel Peninsula. He was an active member of the Mercury Bay Aero Club of which he was president.

Much of this information has been provided by A/Cdre Johnson's daughter.

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