Flying Officer Colin Harold JOHNSTON

Service No: 420010
Born: Petone, New Zealand, 18 March 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 10 October 1941 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 141 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 141 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft V8777), 18 October 1943, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Burt Godfrey Johnston and Violet May Johnston, of Harbord, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Balmain NSW
Remembered: Panel 124, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Beaufighter V8777 arrived at RAF Cottishall from RAF Wittering at 1745 hours on the 18 October 1943, and refuelled shortly afterwards. At 1841 hours the aircraft took on runway 15 from Cottishall to carry out an operational night intruder patrol. This was changed to the long runway 23. The weather conditions were wind East South East at 10 mph, Visibility 1/10th at 2000 feet 4 miles. At 1844 hours V8777 crashed when approaching to land on a direction apparently at right
angles to the flare path. Eye witnesses stated that the aircraft approached low and turned left when nearing the camp building area. The aircraft stalled in the turn, dived into the ground and burst into flames.

The crew members of V8777 were:

Flying Officer Colin Harold Johnston (420010) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer Alexander Campbell Watson (140869) (RAFVR) (Navigator Radio)

In a subsequent inquiry into the accident the Group Captain Commanding RAF Station Cottishall stated “It was found that the primary cause of the accident was the failing of the port engine. The pilot after being airborne for 10 minutes called for an emergency landing for which approval was given. On the approach to land, the aircraft was seen to spin into the ground.”

The Commanding Officer RAF Station Wittering stated “I agree the primary cause of the accident was the failure of the port engine. I consider that Flying Officer Johnston was sufficiently experienced on Beaufighter aircraft at night for the flight in question.”


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/21/73

Book Now Book Now