Sincere thanks to those who have contacted me through the website over the past few months letting me know that they are related to airmen mentioned in the research lists. I am keen and always more than happy to hear about folks whose paths may have crossed that of cousin Jim Ives somewhere along the way. Any stories of personnel who attended any of Jim’s postings (including school and work) around the same times as he did are always welcome and if you’ve someone who served at Kelstern, Wickenby or RAF Waltham at any time during the war please get in touch.
All stories are vital in building up a picture of what befell the ‘ordinary’ men and women of wartime RAF Bomber Command, and, I hope the stories on this website offer a fitting remembrance. It is gratifying to discover a snippet of background ‘gen’ or a family anecdote but it is always a complete bonus to have a photograph.
Two names closely associated with Jimmie Ives were David Johnson and William Allan. Close relatives of both have been in touch recently and have very kindly sent photographs – many thanks to Madeline, Bill and Simon and to Max in Australia for taking such trouble in sending me photos of their uncles and for telling me a bit more about them.
It is so sad to see images of both young men – confident, smiling, good looking types – both of them. Both much loved and missed by their families – ‘Davey’, as he was always known, supported his recently widowed mother (father Wally had died of heart problems in 1940) by sending his pay home to Seymour Street, Splott, Cardiff. I had gleaned from a genealogy website that Davey had two sisters – Beatrice and Murial, but Madeline, Beatrice’s daughter, confirmed how close the three siblings had been.
|Beatrice, Davey & Murial Johnso|
Davey Johnson volunteered for the RAF in 1939 and by the time he joined Jim Ives’s crew at 1662 Conversion Unit had already completed a tour of operations in August 1942 as an air-gunner with 38 Squadron, and on attachment to 40 Squadron in the Middle-East. Based at RAF Shallufa and flying from various advanced landing grounds 38 Squadron, equipped with Vickers Wellingtons were involved in operations against shipping in the Mediterranean and enemy-held harbours.
38 Squadron had an interesting modus operandi – ‘A’ – Flight’s Wellingtons were armed with torpedoes (colloquially referred to as ‘Torpingtons’) and received information regarding the position of their target from a radar-equipped Wellington (a ‘Snoopington’) flying in advance and marking the shipping/ convoy location with flares. ‘B’-Flight tended to carry a
more conventional bomb-load. Log-book entries show that Sgt D W T Johnson flew regularly with ‘B’-Flight pilot Sgt Neal.
Johnson’s next posting was at the beginning of December 1942 as a gunnery instructor at 28 OTU, RAF Wymeswold until mid-August 1943 when he moved on to 1662CU, RAF Blyton.
Having arrived at ‘Bloody Awful Blyton’ on 17th August his first log-book entry at that unit was a week later – 25th August, Lancaster W4890 (F)- pilots: Flying Officer Bennee and Sgt Ives. Take off 14.05Hours – task “Dual Circuits and Landings”, 2 hours and 40 minutes.
After various personnel changes it must have been something of a boost for the rest of the Ives crew to have had such an experienced man with them. It is understood that because of his advanced years (29) and being the ‘old man’ of the crew he was given the epithet ‘pop’ or ‘grandad’. Indeed Davey Johnson was renowned in the family for his responsible and caring nature – he had been a member of the Boys Brigade and was a keen footballer, staying involved with the BB organisation into adulthood. W/O Johnson is understood to have been offered the opportunity of a commission – which he declined as he felt that becoming an officer may commit him to an RAF career once hostilities had ended. Whether he intended to return to his job as a trainee accountant is not known.
Madeline’s grandmother maintained that if Davey had still been flying with Ives he’d have survived – not intended as a slight against young F/Sgt Roy Gallop I’m sure, but a very sad irony that all three men died, within a few minutes of each other on the late evening of 30th January 1944.
Sgt Davey Johnson, air-gunner
Sgt Bill Allan RAAF, air-gunner
Not too dissimilar in appearance was Bill Allan RAAF – Max’s uncle Bill was a much-loved member of the family of eight children – four boys, four girls. All the Allan boys went to war – sadly Bill did not return – he was lost on the Nuremburg raid at the end of March 1944.
Max recounts that his mother, Bill’s sister,‘tells me he was a real joker, always dressing up and teasing his sisters. You will see his theatrical bent in some of the photos, especially the one where he is pretending to shoot himself!!’
The short explanation that Bill Allan was a real joker immediately put me in mind of my footballing compatriot Royston ‘Jacko’ Jackson to whom a gathering of any number of people greater than one would constitute an audience for various antics. That Bill Allan’s disciplinary record was not altogether exemplary may well have been due to the jester in him. A skerrick of alcohol may have been a contributory factor in the removal of two clocks from the Sun & Anchor pub in Scotter on 4th August 1943 – but you can’t help wondering whether the entertainer inside Bill Allan had taken over.
the theatrical Bill