80 – Arnold N. Johnston age 28 (QR30 EN)

80 – Arnold N. Johnston age 28 (May 16, 1916 – September 16, 1944)

Alex was descended from John Johnston {born Antrim, lreland in 1776} who at the age of 18, a weaver by trade, ioined the British 64th Regíment of Foot. We know John was still a soldier in 1800 and was probably with the Regiment when it served in Canada between 1813 and 1815.ln 1830 the 54 year old and his wife Margaret, with their children and grandchildren, migrated from lretand to Canada.

We have no information of when Ney Johnston (1916-1944) joined the RCAF, or of his navigator had there training in Canada. He probablty became part of Peter Bickfords crew at 12 Operational Training in Canada training unit, Chipping-Warden, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, Ín January 1944, and would haye arrived at 115 Squadron in June 1944.

His first flight from RAF Witchford as part of Peter Bickford’s crew, was on June 15th 1944 when they bombed Vatenciennes in Northem France. He appears to have been Bickfords navigator for all their time with 115 Squadron and therefore would also have been close to completing his tour of 30 missions at the time of his death.

Sad news

A Dutchman who emigrated from Strijen to Canada, living in the neighborhood where Johnston lived, told Antonde Man this story: ,, Johnston lived with his parents in a farm. The current residents reported that when Johnston’s parents were told by letter on September 18, 1944 that their son was missing on a mission over enemy territory, they
never entered the room again where their son had slept before leaving for Europe. That was too much for them. It can also be seen on the tombstone of his parents, which shows his death in addition to the details of his father and mother.

A candle every year …

On Christmas Eve candles are lit all over the Netherlands at war graves. In the Hoeksche Waard this has been done since 2016, at the Canadian cemetery in Holten this tradition has persisted for more than 25 years. It gave Dick Jansen from Burgum the idea to draw national attention to this campaign via Facebook. Through his efforts, candles are burned at the graves in hundreds of places in the Netherlands every year. The initiative is seen as a wonderful gesture at an emotional moment, for those who gave their lives for our freedom in World War II.

Strijen cemetary

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