February 10, 1915 - July 13, 1945
Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Nora Johnson was the daughter of Edward Charles William Johnson and Alice M. (nee Cockell) Johnson, later of 2063 Marrion Street, Victoria, British Columbia. Both parents were born in England. Nora had a twin sister. There were six children all together. The family was Anglican.
Nora received her education in Saskatchewan achieving Grade 12. She attended university in Saskatchewan taking Arts. She had one year Normal School in Saskatchewan and qualifying Normal School in British Columbia. She took two summer courses in Physical Training, Psychology, primary methods. She taught school in the Willow Point School District, near Nelson, BC. Prior, she had six years additional experience in teaching, with four years in Saskatchewan, starting in 1933. She was keenly interested in sports (tennis and badminton, plus basketball) and handicrafts. She also liked movies, playing cards, dancing, radio, sewing and hiking. She was the vice president of a literary society at the Regina Normal School, a Guide leader, and captain of a softball team in public school.
Nora Johnson enlisted in Vancouver on September 2, 1942. "Very good type. Keen sense of responsibility, good wit, excellent. NCO material." She weighed 137 pounds. In 1938, she had an appendectomy. Nora noted as a child, she had had the measles, chicken pox, and mummps, plus whooping cough. She was accepted as a Meteorological Observer (Met Obs).
Training and Postings
On February 27, 1943, Cpl Johnson went to the Station Hospital in Trenton, Ontario. "Pain in both legs and hips since Feb. 22. Cold in head since Feb. 21...felt somewhat feverish night of Feb 22, no chilliness or sweating since...detained overnight, then admitted because of continuation of pain...looks older than stated. Diagnosis: Influenza." She was given three days excused duty. In March 1943, an infra-red lamp was used 20 minutes twice a day to help with her symptoms of influenza.
On January 25, 1944 at Trenton, she was admitted to hospital. "Polyarthralgia, tonsillitis, anxiety state. Patient began to have pain in her limb joints and also between her shoulders about one week ago. At first she would notice the pains at night time when she got into bed and relaxed. Now she has these pains all day long and for the past two nights has been unable to sleep. Has continued with her duties. She has not noticed any swelling or limitation of movement. The joint pains are afflicted equally and none have subsided. No history of frequent sore throats or recent upper respiratory infection. No history of rheumatic fever. About one year ago after 14 days hospitalization with influenza, patient had general muscle pains for about a week." She had a tonsillectomy on February 2, 1944. Another note prior to February 8, 1944 stated "Nervous and upset. Cries easily. Wants to be discharged from hospital. No longer complaining of joint pains...to return on sick parade tomorrow am...on sick parade with earache and joint pains. Temp normal."
On April 26, 1945, Nora Johnson bought a $50 war bond as well as one valued at $100.00. She did not assign any of her pay to either of her parents, but helped them out financially when she could, according to her father.
In May 1945, H. D. Cameron, Civilian Met Officer at No. 6 OTU Comox, BC: "This airwoman does an exceptionally good job and is extremely deserving of promotion." Another evaluation: "Nice, quiet airwoman. With training should make a good NCO." She received a 'Superior' rating and her loyalty could definitely be depended upon.
F/L Barrett at No. 6 OTU in Comox, on July 6, 1945 evaluated Cpl Johnson, preparing her for her discharge as the war was drawing to a close. "Met Observer. Trade Group B/ 34 months spent in trade since training began. Six weeks course and special lectures from time to time. Work involves plotting and graphing. Keeping records, doing balloon observations-accuracy in math, calculations. Test scores: 67% Is considered to have outstanding mental capacity. Courses to be taken in service: CLES, typing, dressmaking, leather making. Courses to be taken after discharge: Refresher course -- primary and intermediate methods. Educational place undecided."
On July 13, 1945, Cpl Nora Johnson had a weekend pass. She caught a ride aboard Liberator 11121 as a passenger on a routine cross country flight. There were fourteen people on board.
In a letter dated July 19, 1945, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson received a letter from the RCAF Station at Comox, BC. (Please see letter in Pamela Bennett's story.) The letters were identical with only the names changed from Pam to Nora. "I would like to say that Nora was, in the opinion of all her many friends on this station, a fine young woman who was respected and admired by everyone who came into contact with her. As a servicewoman, she performed her dutues admirably, and as an individual, she was held in the highest possible esteem."
In one memo dated July 21, 1945: "SECRET: This is an unparaphrased literal text of a cypher and is to be handled accordingly: Liberator 11121 lost July 13, 1945 located...fuselage burnt. Propeller bomb markings...no identification remaining parts of aircraft. Following bodies identified: William Edward Davies, Robert Joseph Martello, Nicholas Maxwell Popovich, Donald William Hope, William Hrysko, Norman Marshall Johnston...two members Womens Division identified as such but identity not established. Remaining bodies badly burned and mutilated and identification impossible. Positively no survivors." On August 1, 1945, the Administrator of Estates in Ottawa received the following letter from RCAF Station Comox, BC: "The above personnel have been declared 'missing, believed killed' as the result of an aircraft accident on July 13, 1945: Sgt. Bennet, Cpl Johnson, LAW Mann and LAC Tull. Although the aircraft on which these personnel were passengers was located by a search party, their bodies were in such a condition that they could not be identified, for which reason, the casualty classification heretofore mentioned has been applied. In view of the fact that there is every indication, short of positive identification, that these individuals were killed, and as the category 'missing, believed killed' would therefore appear to be mainly for official purposes. It is stongly recommended that the Committee of Adjustment at this Unit be given authority to dispose of these estates in the regular manner as set forth...rather than holding the matter in abyance for six months, pending official confirmation of deaths."
In the list of Nora Johnson's personal belongings, she had clothes, toiletries, two packages of butterscotch and seven packages of gum, a camera, writing kits, badminton racquet with press, a Thermos, a birthday book, one manuscript (VISIT TO STATES), and an empty penny bank.
On the Estate form, Mr. Johnson wrote, " RE: Post Office Account: we believe this was taken out by deceased at Trenton, Ontario and used while in the Service. But we have nothing to prove this as she always carried the book in her tunic pocket and to date, not having received her personal effects, we don't know if there is anything in them that would help."
On May 18, 1946, the Johnson family wrote a letter to the Estates Board of the RCAF. "We, as a family, wish to express our appreciation in the way you have taken care of our sister's and daughter's estate."
There had been rumours that Norman Johnson was Nora's brother. Mistakes on the spelling of Johnson were also made in newspapers.
Please visit Magaret Mann's story for the Court of Inquiry, plus Pamela Bennett's story for more infomation about the crash as relayed to the families from the RCAF.