Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
Anthony Johnson (in front on left)
Anthony Kenneth Johnson (1925 - 2011) – Telegraphist Air Gunner (Royal Navy) Anthony   Johnson   was   born   on   August   18,   1925.   Growing   up   he   was   a   child   performer   on   the   stage   and   on   the   screen.      Although   only fourteen   at   the   outbreak   of   World   War   II, Anthony   worked   in   a   Fairey   aircraft   production   factory   that   made     Albacores,   a   British   single-engine carrier-borne   biplane   torpedo   bomber   built   by   Fairey   Aviation   between   1939   and   1943   for   the   Royal   Navy   Fleet   Air   Arm   and   used   during   the Second   World   War.      The   factory   also   produced   parts   for   Spitfires   and   Barracudas.   “Little   did   I   know   I   was   making   things   that   perhaps   I’d   fly   in later.”  As   part   of   the   war   effort   Anthony   also   served   as   a   warden   with   the   ARP   (Air   Raid   Precautions)   rescuing   people   from   bombed   buildings during the blitz. In   1941   the Air   Training   Corps   (ATC)   was   officially   established   with   training   programmes   to   prepare   young   men   for   entry   to   the   Royal Air Force.   Squadrons   arranged   visits   to   RAF   and   Fleet Air Arm   stations   as   part   of   the   cadets'   training. Anthony   joined the ATC   and   had   his   first   flight in a Tiger Moth. “It was quite exhilarating and all that. They [The ATC] taught me a lot.” He   volunteered   to   join   the   Royal   Navy   as   a   Telegraphist   Air   Gunner   when he   was   seventeen   and   received   his   papers   at   eighteen   to   report   for   training.   “It just   appealed   because   I   saw   a   poster   and   it   had   this   picture   of   a   Telegraphist   air gunner   with   his   flying   gear   and   his   machine   gun   pointed   to   the   sky.      I   thought that looked a good old job firing out in the blue so I decided for that” Initial   training   was   at   HMS   Royal   Arthur,   a   former   Butlin's   holiday   camp   in Skegness,   Lincolnshire.   After   HMS   Royal   Arthur   it   was   to   HMS   St   Vincent   in Gosport   where   he   would   learn.   “…the   basics   of   flying   and   because   I   was   going   to be   a   telegraphist   air   gunner   you   had   to   learn   the   basics   of   telegraphy,   electron theory, electro-magnetic theory, and so on”.   Anthony   was   one   of   the   Telegraphist   Air   Gunners   selected   to   continue   his training   at   East   Camp, Yarmouth   Nova   Scotia,   Canada.   Of   the TAG   recruits,   those at the top of their classes were often chosen for training in Canada.   After   completing   training   in   Canada, Anthony   returned   to   England   in   1944 and   was   with   713   Squadron   (Isle   of   Man)   until   stationed   with   822   Squadron.   In early   1945,   822   Squadron   was   re-allocated   to   RAF   Coastal   Command   for   anti- submarine   duties   in   the   English   Channel.   Anthony   recalls   searching   for   and   firing   at   floating   mines   in   the   English   Channel   and   flights   over   the Channel Islands, occupied by the Germans where “we fired at them and they took pot shots at us”. In   1946,   Anthony   left   active   service   with   the   R oyal   Navy   and   returned to   civilian   life.   “I   learned   a   lot.   I   learned   about   camaraderie,   I   learned   about always   trying   to   do   your   best   at   the   time   and   the   greatest   thing   I   think   was   I made my father proud. He was very, very proud.”
“I learned a lot. I learned about camaraderie, I learned about always trying to do your best at the time and the greatest thing I think was I made my father proud. He was very very proud.”
Anthony   Johnson’s   son,   Pieter,   is   an   independent   social   media   journalist   and   publisher   in   the   UK.   His   passion   about   almost everything   in   aviation   and   his   love   of   aircraft   and   flying   started   when   he   was   introduced   to   flying   by   his   father.      Pieter talked to his father about his wartime experience and posted the interview. Click to listen to the interview (May 2011) (please allow a few moments for the file to load)  
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Early in 2013 Pieter Johnson posted a second segment in the story  his when Anthony Johnson’s pilot, Derek Armson, and good friend passed away.  The story in this segment reminds one of Anthony Johnson’s comment, “I learned about camaraderie, I learned about always trying to do your best at the time”. 
Xtended is an internet radio programme covering all aspects of the aviation world. Whatever your interest in aerospace, Xtended has got it covered.  Produced and presented by XTP Media’s Pieter Johnson, the show is co- hosted by Gareth Stringer (Editor of Global Aviation Resource) and Tim Robinson (Editor of Aerospace International). www.aviation-xtended.co.uk