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Thomas Randall French Johnson

T. Johnson, portrait, RNZAF uniform and cap - This image may be subject to copyright

T. Johnson, portrait, RNZAF uniform and cap - This image may be subject to copyright


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Thomas Randall French AWMM
  • Surname
    Johnson AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    • Thomas Randal French Johnson AWMM
    • Randall AWMM
  • Service number
    • NZ401276 AWMM
    • WWII 401276 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi / Hapū / Waka / Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    14 November 1914 AWMM MakarakaGisborne AWMM
    Makaraka, Gisborne, New Zealand AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
    Son of Charles William and Catherine Young Johnson; Public - Lorraine Mona - Researcher - 17 July 2023 -
  • Address before enlistment
    • Pre 1 May 1934 AWMM Unknown AWMM
    • Pre 7 May 1940 AWMM 26 Second Avenue, Kingsland, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    • WW2 Wife: Mrs. W. P. Johnson, 26 Second Avenue, Kingsland, Auckland (1 Child) AWMM
    • WW2 Mother: Mrs. Cy Johnson of Auckland AWMM
  • Relationship status
    • Married/WWII AWMM
    • Pre 30 January 1944 AWMM Single AWMM
    • Pre 20 November 1944 AWMM Married AWMM
      Married, 1 child AWMM
    • Husband of Winifred Pearl Johnson, of Kingsland, Auckland, Public - Lorraine Mona - Researcher - 17 July 2023 -


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    • Distinguishing marks, Unknown Period AWMM
      Scar passing from left eyebrow across bridge of nose to below right eye (due to kick by horse, when he was 4 years old) AWMM
    • Eye colour, Unknown Period AWMM
      Grey AWMM
    • Hair colour, Unknown Period AWMM
      Dark brown AWMM
    • Height, Unknown Period AWMM
      5 feet 10.5 inches AWMM
    • Dental, Unknown Period AWMM
      dentures AWMM
    • Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
      Minor surgery while on Green Island (early January 1945) AWMM
    • Killed in Action, Cause of Death AWMM
      Killed whilst on an unsuccessful air operation to rescue a downed pilot AWMM

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Thomas Johnson was the son of Charles William and Catherine Young Johnson; husband of Winifred Pearl Johnson, of Kingsland, Auckland and father of Beverly

    Thomas Johnson was born at Gisborne on the 14 November 1914 and was educated at Gisborne High School where he reached matriculation standard. He was a keen sportsman, being a member of the 2nd XV whilst at school, runner up in the school boxing championship and Senior and Junior Sprint Champion. He was a member of the Army Athletic team, played rugby for the Army XV for three seasons and was also a member of the combined Auckland -Wellington Army team.

    He entered the Army in May 1934, serving with the Royal N.Z. Artillery Regiment. In March 1937, he applied for a short service commission in the RNZAF. In August 1938 he applied for service in the permanent Air Force as an armourer. He was accepted, but for personal reasons was unable to accept. In October 1939, he applied for aircrew training , having had a considerable amount of flying experience. He had approximately 11 hours dual and 3 hours solo with the Auckland Aero Club and was a member of the Auckland Territorial Squadron as an Air Gunner for approximately six months. In May 1940 he transferred from the Army and reported at the Ground Training School , Levin.

    He commenced his flying training at No.2 Elementary Flying Training School New Plymouth in June, passing on to No. 2 Service Flying Training School, Woodbourne in July 1940. He was awarded his Flying Badge in September and commissioned as a Pilot Officer in November. In December he proceeded to Whenuapai for flying duties and he January he was posted to Hobsonville for a Flying Instructors Course. On completion of the course, he was posted to Harewood for duties as a Flying Instructor. He was promoted to Flying Officer in November 1941. In May 1942 he went to Tauranga for a refresher course and returned to Harewood a fortnight later. In July, Flying Officer Johnson was posted to No. 6 Army Cooperation Squadron , Milson and was engaged on Army Cooperation work. On August 12 , he was slightly injured when his aircraft struck a soft patch of ground while landing at Milson and turned on its nose. In September he went with a detached flight to Ohakea and in November was posted to No. 21 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, Milson. In December 1942, he went to the School of Army Cooperation, Canberra, Australia. On completion of the course he returned No. 21 (Army Cooperation) Squadron. On July 1, 1943 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and the following month he proceeded to N0. 25 (Dive Bomber) Squadron, Seagrove.

    He was engaged on operational training until 30 January 1944, when he proceeded overseas with the Squadron to Espiritu Santo. He was engaged on further operational training until March, when he proceeded with the Squadron to Bougainville. From Bougainville he took part in bombing raids against Japanese positions on New Britain bombing and strafing Ack Ack positions on Rabaul. He also took part in raids on Buka and Kavieng on New Ireland. In May 1944, he returned to New Zealand and after a period of leave was posted to the Communication Flight , Mangere. In September he proceeded to No. 4 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit, Ohakea and was engaged on combat training. In October he went to Ardmore for a conversion course to Corsair fighters. On completion of the course, he was posted to No. 16 (Fighter) Squadron in November and proceeded overseas with the squadron to Guadalcanal on 20 November 1944. He was engaged on combat training until December 21, when he proceeded with the Squadron to Green Island. He was engaged on patrols over Rabaul for the next month and also took part in bombing raids against Japanese positions on New Ireland.

    On 15 January 1945, F/L Johnson was one of the pilots carrying out fighter protection of a gallant but unsuccessful attempted Dumbo rescue of F/L Keefe who had baled out and landed in the sea near Simpson Harbour, Rabaul. While returning to base the planes ran into a storm. F/L Johnson's plane was seen to crash into the sea. No trace of him could be found.

    On 17 April 1945 , F/L Johnson was posthumously mentioned in despatches for meritorious service in the Pacific.

    Known as Randall by the family

    Attended Gisborne High School (Source: RNZAF Biographies (R17845612)) AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    15 January 1945 AWMM
    Age 31 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
    Death notice: The New Zealand Herald, January 1945 AWMM
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name
    • Bourail Memorial, Bourail New Zealand War Cemetery, New Caledonia AWMM
    • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 2 Hall of Memories AWMM
    • Memorial stone, Museum of Transport & Technology (MOTAT), Auckland, New Zealand AWMM

Roll of Honour

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Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of Thomas Randall French Johnson

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  • TO THE FATHER I NEVER KNEW : For the WW1 Stone of Remembrance in war cemeteries, Rudyard Kipling quoted Ecclesiasticus Verse 1 . . . 'Let us now praise famous men and the fathers that begat us'. Apocrypha : Sirach Ch. 44. King James Bible' Verses 9 and 10 are particularly meaningful for me: (9). 'And some there be, which have no memorial, who perished as though they have never been, and are become as though they have never been born, and their children after them'. (10). ''But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten. Many thanks BAJ
    Public - Beverly Ann Johnson - Child - 9 March 2015



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  • External links
  • References
    • Bentley, G., & Conly, M. (1987). Portrait of an Air Force: the Royal New Zealand Air Force 1937-1987. Wellington, N.Z.: Grantham House. AWMM
    • Auckland Museum. Roll of Honour, Auckland Province, 1939 - 1945. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 93/139. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM
    • Johnson, B. [nd]. T.R.F. Johnson: a biography. Unpublished. AWMM
    • Martyn, E. (1998-2008). For Your Tomorrow (Vols. 1-3). Christchurch, N.Z.: Volplane Press. AWMM
      Martyn, E. (1998-2008). Vol. 2. p. 314, 314 AWMM
    • Cox, B. (1987). Too young to die : the story of a New Zealand fighter pilot in the Pacific war. Auckland, N.Z.: Century Hutchinson. AWMM
      Cox, B. (1987). p. 133. AWMM
    • Ross, J. (1955). Royal New Zealand Air Force. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      Ross, J. (1955), RNZAF units on Green Island. p. 301 AWMM
    • New Zealand Fighter Pilots Association Journal AWMM
      January 15th 1945: the RNZAF's Blackest day. New Zealand Fighter Pilots Association Journal, March 1999, No. 24, p. 5-11 AWMM
    • The New Zealand Herald AWMM
      Death notice: The New Zealand Herald, January 1945 AWMM
    • RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Biographies of Deceased Personnel 1939 - 1945 (Bound Volumes) - Ib - Ly. Archives New Zealand (R17845612) - Former archives reference: AIR118 AWMM
    • Please note that the 12 volumes of the "RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Biographies of Deceased Personnel 1939-1945" held at Archives NZ (formerly known as AIR118) should be used in conjunction with Errol Martyn's "For Your Tomorrow". FYT reflects detailed examination of all of the AIR118 bios which contain many inaccuracies and omissions. AWMM
    • List of RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Personnel - List of Personnel Killed or Missing in Various Theatres, 1940 - 1945. [Missing believed killed - Officers, Airmen]. Archives New Zealand (R17845746) AWMM
    • List of RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Personnel - List of Personnel Killed or Missing in Various Theatres, 1940 - 1945. [List of Missing]. Archives New Zealand (R17845747) AWMM
    • List of RNZAF [Royal New Zealand Air Force] Personnel - Embarkation Lists, November 1940 - July 1942. Archives New Zealand, Wellington (R17845762). AWMM


Command item
Command item
Add new record Refresh
DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
17 July 2023Lorraine MonaGisborneResearcher
05 January 2022AntonioHastings DistrictResearcher
09 March 2015Beverly Ann JohnsonApt. 144 Bruce McLaren Village Howick, Auckand NZChild

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