Frederick William Gordon Johnson

Private 215049 Royal Air Force

An anonymous soldier

Gordon Johnson is one of the men named on the Bottesford ‘church list’ of WW1 Servicemen. He is identified here as Frederick William Gordon Johnson, who in 1911 lived with his parents in Bottesford. He appears to have gone by the name Gordon, and the military record quoted here is for a G.W.F.Johnson, which is taken to be his name but with his three forename initials in reverse order.

Family background

No men named Gordon Johnson have been discovered birth and census records of the Bottesford area during the years before WW1. However, a Frederick William Gordon Johnson was born in 1899 and baptised in Bottesford on the 24th December, 1899. He was the son of William and Elizabeth Caroline Johnson. It is reasonable to consider that he is the man named on the ‘church list’.

In the 1911 census, the family is recorded at 4, Station Road Cottages, Bottesford. Here lived William Johnson, a 33 years old railway signalman born in Bottesford, his wife Elizabeth Caroline, 37 years old from Hull, their 11 years old son Frederick W.G. who was born in Doncaster, and their 3 years old daughter Daisy, who was born in Bottesford.

Military record

There are many records of men named G.Johnson, none of which could be shown to be the man from Bottesford. However, there is also one record for a G.W.F. Johnson. This could be the Bottesford man, on the basis that he evidently decided to go by the name Gordon Johnson rather than Frederick or William, as demonstrated by the name written on the ‘church list’. He may have taken this to the extent that he gave his name as G.W.F. Johnson when he enlisted.

G.W.F. Johnson is recorded on the RAF Muster Roll as Private 215049. The single-line record states that he was classified as a labourer, and had had the rank of AC1 with the RFC before being re-classified as Private 1 by the newly formed RAF. The date on which he is recorded as joining was the 15th December 1916. This is before the RAF was formed, and presumably refers to the date he joined the RFC as an AC1, which probably indicates an Air Cadet (trainee pilot or observer). He would have been only 16 when he joined up, but by 1918 when he was re-classified he would have been 18 years old.

No further information relating to this man has been found.

After the end of the war

Gordon Johnson (now recorded as Frederick William Gordon) was married in 1921, at Basford, to Winifred E. Robinson. In the 1939 register, they are recorded living at 23 Atkinson Street, Peterborough, when Frederick was employed as a railway telegraph linesman.

Two records of the death of men named Frederick William G. Johnson or Frederick W.G. Johnson have been found. One died in Norwich in 1961, the other in Nottingham in 1995.

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