Flt. Lt. Noël Johnston (1921-1945)

Flt. Lt. Noël Johnston

Noël was born in Port Said on 27 December 1921 — the only son of the Archdeacon and Mrs Johnston of Cairo and brother to Marion Johnston. When the war started, Noël was on holiday in Egypt before going to University. Instead of going to University, he was commissioned into the RAFVR and went for training to Rhodesia where he successfully got his “Wings”. He was stationed in England for a while and was then sent to West Africa in the Air Sea Rescue as Captain of a Sunderland Flying Boat. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery in rescuing airmen from a downed Sunderland. Returning to England, he was stationed in Alness in Scotland, where he trained RAF pilots to become captains of the Sunderland Flying Boats. He married Monica Mary Allner in 1944 and their son, Peter, was born on 20 June 1945 after Noël’s death in a flying accident off Scotland, which happened on 3 January 1945. On that fateful day, the weather was not good but Noël flew in the morning, returning to base to allow a storm to pass by. At 1.00 pm, he took off again. At 40 feet, the plane was seen to sway, and one wing dropped (it was later thought that there may have been a build-up of ice on the wing). Fighting the controls to right it, the other wing dropped and hit the water. Noël was thrown clear of the plane, which sank, but his skull was cracked and he died instantly. A guard of honour escorted the coffin from the base at Alness to the railway station, and his body was taken south where he was buried at St. Mary’s Church in Longfleet.

A memorial service was held at the Church of the Epiphany in Port Said, Egypt, where the Chaplain gave a memorial address. A number of articles were written about Noël:

His death is commemorated by the War Graves Commission, where a Certificate of his death and burial (gravestone) at St. Mary’s Church, Longfleet, can also be found. He is also listed in the Poole Roll of Honour.

Photo Gallery of his life