Sub-Lieutenant Owen Temple Johnston, Age 19
HMS Dasher, Royal Navy
Died 27 March 1943
Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Navy, HMS Dasher. Died 27/03/1943. Age 19.
Born 6th June 1923 in Felixstowe, the youngest son of John Lawrence Johnston and Hilda Florence nee Mawson. The family lived at 62 Tomline Road, Felixstowe where John Johnston was a doctor.
Owen passed out as a Midshipman on 1st September 1940 and as Sub-lieutenant 1st May 1942. On 27th March 1943, the Escort Carrier, HMS Dasher, was returning to Greenock following flying exercises when an explosion sent the two ton aircraft lift 60 ft into the sky before it landed in the water behind the ship. The ship began to take on water, the engines had stopped & all power lost, with thick smoke & flames pouring from the lift shaft. Men were trying to abandon ship into the cold waters of the Clyde at every opportunity as the ammunition on board was starting to explode. She quickly sank as vessels were sent to assist in recovering the crew. Burning fuel oil & aviation fuel claimed the lives of many along with hypothermia, 379 of her crew of 528 died. Later research suggest the vessel was never suitable for military operations & the fuel tanks had been leaking prior to the explosion. Commemorated on Chatham Naval Memorial.
HMS Dasher in camouflage
Chatham Naval Memorial
Lieutenant Robert Louis Johnston, Age 29
HMS Indomitable, Royal Navy
Died 12 August 1942
Lieutenant, Royal Navy, HMS Indomitable. Died 12/08/1942. Age 29.
Born 29th December 1912 at Eldorado, Zimbabwe, the eldest son of John Lawrence Johnston and Hilda Florence nee Mawson of Felixstowe.
Robert was promoted to Lieutenant 16th March 1936. In February 1942 he qualified for Pilot Duties in the Fleet Air Arm. On 3rd August 1942, the aircraft carrier, HMS Indomitable, joined the fleet protecting Operation Pedestal, 14 cargo ships of supplies, to relieve Malta. On the 11th August HMS Furious launched her spitfires to land & remain on the island, after this was successfully completed she headed for Gibraltar. It was during this operation the Indomitable was hit by three 500 kg from an aerial attack one of which pierced her unarmoured flight deck and another which hit her aft. Her airborne fighters eventually had to land on HMS Victorious but not before 9 had been shot down by enemy aircraft, Robert being one of these. The damage resulting in her needing to sail for the United States, after emergency repairs, and being out of service for repairs until 1943. Robert received a posthumous Mention in Despatches for "Brave or skillful conduct while escorting or protecting a convoy" 10th November 1942. Commemorated on the Lee-On-Solent Memorial.
Robert Louis Johnston
HMS Indomitable after being hit
The brothers are commemorated at Trimley St Martin Church