M.C (GV). and Second bar, D.F.C., (GVI), dated 1942, 1914/15 Star (Lieut. Leic. Yeo.), B.W.M., Victory (Capt. R.A.F.), 1939/1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star with France and Germany bar, Defence Medal, War Medal.
A 6 victory scout pilot 56 Squadron ‘Ace’ with 5 confirmed destroyed and 1 O.O.C.
Court mounted as worn.
With D.F.C. group of five to his son, Flight Lieutenant F/Lt Hugh H Fielding-Johnson, Royal Air Force,.
Distinguished Flying Cross, (GV1), dated 1944 reverse engraved (F/Lt Hugh H Fielding Johnson), 1939/1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star with France and Germany bar, Defence Medal, War Medal. Court mounted as worn.
Henry Spurrett Fielding-Johnson
M.C. L.G. 3/7/1915. Leicester Yeomanry
‘For conspicuous gallantry near Ypres on 13th May 1915. Was with Major Martin, ( killed) and continued the action until the squadron was reduced to thirteen men. Afterwards displayed great coolness in withdrawing to a flank and joining a cavalry brigade.’
Bar to the M.C. L.G. 13/5/1918.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Whilst escorting machines of another squadron which were engaged in bombing work with one other officer he attacked ten enemy scouts. He destroyed two of them and forced another to land. On another occasion, when leading a patrol of six machines, he attacked ten enemy scouts. He destroyed one, and his patrol accounted for three others. A few minutes later, in conjunction with another officer, he destroyed an enemy two-seater machine of a new type. As a flight commander he showed great skill and by his daring and good leadership set a splendid example to the officers of his flight.
D.F.C. L.G. 22/9/1942.
Squadron Leader Fielding-Johnson has flown against the enemy since June 1940 and has seized every possible opportunity of himself manning the guns of aircraft employed on operations. From September 1940 to March 1942, he was employed on staff duties and was consequently unable to take part in active operations during that period.
This Officer, while a Gunnery Leader in No.214 Squadron, inspired all gunners in the Squadron with his enthusiasm and now, as Officer Commanding No.1483 T.T. & G.Flight, he is again fostering the same spirit in all gunners who pass through his flight. When the first Thousand Plan gave training units an opportunity of operating against the enemy, Squadron Leader Fielding-Johnson was primarily instrumental in collecting and training crews so that his Unit might play its part and he himself flew on each operation.
This Officer’s singleness of purpose, determination, enthusiasm and courage are an outstanding example to all with whom he comes in contact and I recommend the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross in recognition of his undaunted spirit and the influence for good which it has had on all Air Gunners.
Covering Remarks of Air Officer Commanding:
I concur in the remarks of the Station Commander and most strongly support this recommendation. The outstanding keenness and courage of this officer led to his selection as the first Gunnery Staff Officer to be appointed to Command Staff somewhat early in his first operational tour.
Since returning to this Group in command of 1483 Flight, he has taken part in all the operational sorties in which his Unit has been allowed to co-operate. He at all times sets an excellent example to the remaining Air Gunners of this Group.
From June to September 1940, this officer participated in 19 sorties involving attacks on the enemy’s marshalling yards, refineries and other important targets. Thence onwards until March, 1942, he was employed on staff duties and was consequently unable to take part in active operations during that period. On 30th May to the 1st June, 1942, he participated in the “thousand plan” raids on Cologne and Essen, while on the 25th June he participated in the stong attack on Bremen. The outstanding keenness and courage of this officer led to his selection as the first gunnery station officer to be appointed to command a station somewhat early in his first operational tour.
M.I.D. L.G. 1/1/1916.
William Spurrett Fielding Johnson was born in Leicester, 1892, He was educated at Rugby School, and was a cadet in the school’s Junior Division of the Officers’ Training Corps. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Leicestershire (“Prince Albert’s Own”) Yeomanry on 16 March 1913,The Leicestershire Yeomanry were mobilised in August 1914 at the start of the First World War, and arrived in France in November as part of the North Midland Mounted Brigade.
On 13 May 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres, the regiment was on the front line of the Ypres Salient, occupying a sector of trenches about 300 yards wide, north of the railway line running north-east from Ypres. Fielding Johnson was with “B” Squadron occupying the northern half of the line, with “C” Squadron to the south, and “A” Squadron in support trenches 300 yards further back. The advanced trenches were in poor condition, only 5 feet deep and 2.5 feet wide at the bottom. The parapets were of loose soil, there were few sandbags, and no dugouts or other forms of protection. Heavy shelling from 3.30 to 6.00 am caused few casualties, before the Germans attempted to launch an assault, but were repulsed. A second, heavier shelling began, until at 7.30 am the Germans attacked again, managing to capture part of “B” Squadron’s trench, and advancing to within 200 yards of the support trenches by using bulletproof steel shields as protection, before digging in. Fielding Johnson and what was left of “B” Squadron joined “C” Squadron, and quickly threw up a barricade across the trench line, fighting off the enemy on their flank, and those advancing from the front. Casualties were very heavy and eventually Fielding Johnson was the only officer left. He decided to retire down the trench, cross the railway line and join the 3rd Dragoon Guards on the other side. They had great difficulty in crossing the railway, which was under fire from German machine guns, but managed by building a parapet of sandbags. Fielding Johnson eventually joined the 3rd Dragoons accompanied by a sergeant-major and 14 men, the only survivors from “B” and “C” squadrons. “A” Squadron held their position in the support trenches until noon, when they were reinforced by troops from Royal Horse Guards, the 10th Hussars, and the Essex Yeomanry, and counter-attacked, but succeeded only in driving the Germans back as far as the advanced trenches, so the dead and wounded were never recovered.
On 19 October 1915, he began aerial duty as an observer/gunner in 3 Squadron’s Morane Parasols. On 19 January 1916, he was injured during a crash. After he recovered, he trained as a pilot. In October 1917, he was posted to the elite 56 Squadron, rumoured by the Germans to be the anti-Richtofen due to the high contration of experienced pilots. The first squadron to be equiped with the SE5a. It had numbered among it’s pilots such high scoring aces such as McCudden V.C. , Bowman, Rhys-Davids, Mayberry and a score of other ‘Aces’. In a month’s action beginning 17 February 1918 and ending 18 March, while flying Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a No. B37, he destroyed four enemy fighters, drove down another one out of control, and destroyed a reconnaissance two-seater. He commenced on 17 Feb. 1918 with an Albatross (OOC), two days later destroyed another, on 15 March he destroyed two, being an Albatross along with a 2-seater. Three days later he destroyed a pair of Albatross D.111.
Fielding Johnson joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, being granted a probationary commission as a pilot officer on 4 July 1939. His commission was confirmed and he was promoted to flying officer on 7 September 1939. Fielding Johnson served as an aerial gunner with ‘A’ Fight, 214 Squadron and was the oldest rear gunner in the service in 1940–41. He was promoted to flight lieutenant on 7 September 1940, and was serving as an acting-squadron leader when awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 22 September 1942. He was promoted to squadron leader on 1 July 1944.
His WW2 operational flying commenced on 18th June 1940 with an attack on the Powder and Gas plant at Leverkusen; 21st June with an attack on the aero engine factory in Gottingen; 27th June a bombing attack on Wesel; 29th June an attack on the Marshalling Yards at Koln; 11th July an attack on the mineral oil plant at Mannheim; 19th July an attack on the Marshalling Yards at Essen; 21st July an attack on the aerodrome at Gottingen; 25th July Bombing Attack-Nickels on the Rhur and again on the 29th July; 5th August an attack on the factory and plant at the docks at Hamburg; 8th August an attack on the Marshalling Yards at Hamm; 11th August Bombing and Razzling at Ickern; 19th August an attack on the Gneisenau at Kiel; 24th August attack on the aerodrome at Hertogenbosch; 30th August a bombing attack on Siemenstadt; 2nd September 1940 an incendaries attack at Strassburg; 10th September bombing attack at Ostend; 14th September bombing attack at Antwerp; 22nd September an attack on barges at Boulogne.
In 1942,on the 30th May, he took part in the “Thousand Plan” to Cologne followed by a second one on the 1st June to Essen and on the 25th a “Millenium Two” to Bremen.
Whilst there are no operational details to hand it is known that Sqdn. Leader Fielding-Johnson was still flying operationally in 1944 with 180 Squadron (Mitchells) and wounded in June, 1944. during operations in the breakout of the Normandy beachhead possibly the attack on the HQ of Panzer Group West at the Chateau of La Caine on 10 June 1944, where 180 Sqdn. providing part of the force of 61 Mitchell bombers that took part in the attack. Returning to duty in September. On 29 October 1944 took part in a raid on the road and rail bridges at Venlo over the River Meuse. The bridges were the target of raids in October and November in attempts to destroy the German supply lines and prevent German forces retreating across them. Entry states
No.180 Sqn. Mitchell II FV967
Hit by flak Venlo, crew baled out near Eindhoven. Lt James R C Armstrong SAAF , F/L F V Silvester, F/O W H Deane, S/L William Spurrett Fielding-Johnson MC* DFC RAFVR.
The pilot, was J.R.C. Armstrong aka the notorious Neville Heath, who was hanged in 1946 for the sadistic murder of two women. Twice dismissed the service in Britain. Firstly as Pilot Officer, R.A.F. in 1937 for absence without leave and a string of dishonoured cheques and secondly, after enlisting on the outbreak of war as Private, R.A.S.C. and despite his record, was commissioned, and served in the Middle East before being court martialed and cashiered. Escaping his guard whilst being returned to U.K. he travelled to Johannesburg and joining the S.A.A.F. under his alias and again underwent pilot training. The South African authorities found out about his past but, because of his present good conduct, he was allowed to stay on. He was seconded to the RAF in May 1944. Heath returned to South Africa in 1945 where, in December, he underwent his third court-martial, this time for undisciplined behaviour and for wearing unauthorised decorations. Once again he was dismissed and returned to England where he committed two murders in June& July 1946. Apprehended following a national manhunt he was tried and hanged that October.
Fielding-Johnson was not of ‘Armstrong’s’ crew and just recovered from his wounds sustained in June. Concerns had been raised by members of ‘Armstrong’s ‘crew about his unpredictable character. On the day of the raid, the fourth on the Venlo Bridges, ‘Armstrong’s’ upper turret gunner went to Fielding-Johnson and announced he had lost his nerve and was unfit to fly. Following normal practice he was immediately marked as LMF (lack of moral fibre and removed from base. Fielding-Johnson immediately put himself in as an opportunity to see Armstrong/Heath at first hand. After a successful bomb run the aircraft turned away from the target towards allied lines. The bomber was hit by two bursts under the fuselage and port wing and shortly after the port engine burst into flames. The crew successfully baled and all survived. Fielding-Johnson reported that ‘Armstrong’s conduct as pilot was without fault though he had strong reservations of his character otherwise. Towards the end of 1944 mainly in consequence of Fielding-Johnsons, formal and perhaps informal reports ‘Armstrong’ was informed that the R.A.F. had no further use for his flying service and he was returned to South Africa.
Fielding-Johnson died suddenly at offices of the family business, Messrs Fielding & Johnson, Westbond St. Leicester on 10/2/1953
Son. Flight Lieutenant Hugh Henry Fielding-Johnson.
D.F.C. L.G. 5.12.1944.
This officer has completed very many sorties, including attacks on such targets as enemy airfields, railway sidings, locomotives and road transport. He has displayed commendable skill and courage and has invariably pressed home his attacks with great determination. On one occasion he took part in an attack on a German military barracks. During the operation his aircraft was struck by anti-aircraft fire. One engine was put out of action but he flew his aircraft safely to base.
Particulars of meritorious service for which recommended:-
This officer has completed 50 operational sorties in his first tour of operations, in addition to 15 patrols flying Mustang aircraft before he joined this Squadron.
These sorties include five high level daylight operations, seven flower operations against enemy aerodromes at night, two low level daylight sorties and thirty seven night sorties against rail and road transport in France in support of our armies since D day.
The low level sorties include a comparatively deep penetration to Bonneil Matours on July 14th. when a German Barracks was attacked at dusk. On 4th July whilst on a night patrol to La Rochelle one engine was hit by flak. Despite the fact that he was at 1,000 feet only 250 miles from base F/O. Fielding Johnson succeeded in bringing his aircraft back and landing safely at his own aerodrome, showing great skill and perseverance.
Since D day he has damaged eight trains and has attacked numerous transport and three convoys on the roads.
On the night of the 28th August he discovered many trucks in the marshalling yards at Charleville and successfully attacked them. Upon returning to base he then took off again to attack the same target, showing the great enthusiasm and determination which has marked his whole operational tour.
This pilot’s skill and enthusiasm could not be excelled and I have no hesitation in recommending him for the D.F.C.
Remarks by Airfield Commander.
A very fine pilot and a gallant Officer, F/Lt Fielding-Johnson has filled his 65 operations with action damaging to the enemy. He is undettered by opposition, and I very strongly recommend him for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Remarks by Air Officer H.Q. No.2 Group.
I strongly endorse this recommendation. I cannot speak too highly of this officer’s courage and devotion to duty. He possesses great determination and fearless courage. He has achieved very great success in his operations and I recommend him very strongly indeed for the award of the D.F.C.
F/Lt. Fielding-Johnson was killed in action 22/2/1945 flying a M.V1 Mosquito of 21 Sqdn. he was missing believed k.i.a along with his Navigator duting an op. on Hannover.
A superb family group