THE STORY OF WOLVERHAMPTON VETERAN
Interviewed by Syrona Nelson
Radcliff Johnson was born in the Parish of Hanover Jamaica. He went to Clifton School. When he left school he became a tailor. In the Second World War he served in the R.A.F in Stafford. He was 23 years old at the time.
He came to the United Kingdom by boat from Kingston, Jamaica, docking at Bermuda for the night. His boat left from there to pick up a convoy in mid-sea. He later landed in Liverpool, then from there travelled to Wiltshire by train. “At first I wasn’t feeling so bright,” he said, as people stared at him getting off the train. Probably being the first black man they had ever seen.
He worked with the Equipment Assistant Board, delivering items to planes going abroad. He did the job, making sure that the planes had the parts that they needed.
Jamaica was under British Colonial Rule. Britain asked for volunteers to join the R.A.F. He chose the R.A.F. as he felt he would be supporting the Mother Country.
The most frightening feeling he had was when he walked on the deck of the ship in the mid-morning and saw many destroyers surrounding them. He said, “The most miserable time I had was to go out in the cold and to do our training.”
After the war he had the choice of joining the regular Air Force or stay in England to take a course and go home afterwards. He chose to go home, but returned to England at a later date.
The problem, he felt, was that people from The Commonwealth who contributed to the War effort did not receive the credit that they deserved. “People didn’t know that there were bases in the Caribbean.”
The most frightening thing that I remember in the War was being at the Transmission station in the Guyanese jungle. “I was all alone with the weapons car or the jeep at the post. It was very frightening, just God and I in the deep jungle; no one to call if I needed help”.
Footnote: Radcliff Johnson is father to Josh Johnson, Wolverhampton’s Black Belt Karate expert. Josh was the official Karate coach for England (2005).
In 1993 Mr. Radcliff Johnson received a medal for his service to the war. In 1998 a special award was given to Mr. Johnson by the community in recognition for his contribution/service to the war. The award was presented by Wolverhampton Windrush Working Group, in the spring of 2009 Mr. Johnson senior was laid rest.
Compiled by S. Davis & J. Adams – Contributions to WWI & II
Black Poppy Rose (pictured at top) from Black Poppy Rose.