Wings of the Dawn

Born in 1920, in Lancashire, England, Cyril Johnson’s 1939 application to the Royal Air Force was rejected on account of him being “permanently unfit for all flying categories”. Through his determination, he navigated his way past this blockade, and became a RAF pilot, certified to fly the Miles Magister, Oxford Airspeed, Harvard, Master, Tomahawk, Maryland, Hurricane and Blenheim. Graduating amongst the top of his course, he was posted to Takoradi, West Africa, to ferry aircraft to Egypt, across large unmapped areas of Africa.

After a crash landing on a beach in which Cyril broke his back, he sailed on the RMS Mauretania where he was to guard 500 German Prisoners of War as they made their way from the Suez Canal, to San Francisco.

Once back in England, he became a Bomber Command pilot, operating out of Number One Group, North Lincolnshire, and after many sorties over Germany, he was grounded medically. Unwilling to give up on his conviction to fight, he went on to train as an Intelligence Officer, spending time at Bletchley Park, and upon qualifying, he was trusted with the top secret notes from the Yalta Conference, between Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt.

At the close of the war, Cyril was posted to South-East Asia, where he was responsible for organising the air transport retrieval of the injured, sick and isolated Allied Prisoners of War, and at the same time, put the Japanese into the newly emptied prisons.

Capturing Cyril’s service in three distinct theatres, his quirky sense of humor and optimistic world view, this book enables readers from all generations, with or without military or aviation backgrounds, to enter into and experience something of the way life was between 1920 and 1950.