Mr A. P. Johnson
This article was written by David Jordan (based on information from Mr Brent Wilson)
Arthur Percy Johnson (always known as “Bunny”) was a popular man in Amersham and is notable for having fought through the Second World War as a parachutist, winning a George Medal in 1944.
Bunny was born in 1923 and lived with his family initially in one of the cottages opposite the Red Lion in Chestnut Lane. The cottages were condemned (they are still there now) and the family were moved to Weller Road. Bunny had two sisters. His father, also known as Bunny from his ability to provide rabbits to feed his neighbours, had fought in the First World War and been awarded the Military Medal. His mother worked collecting flints in the fields after the harvest. Although Bunny (the younger) passed for the Grammar School, the family could not afford the uniform, games kit etc. and he attended Germain Street School, Chesham, leaving at 14. He then worked at the builders, Darvells, at Chorlywood.
With the war he determined to enlist, and as the normal minimum age was 17 he joined the Royal Ulster Rifles where the minimum age was 16. He subsequently volunteered for the Parachute Brigade, which as he told his friends gave him 2 shillings extra a day. While training in Hampshire, he met Margaret who became his wife. She was working at the time packing parachutes and, as was common, put a note in with a parachute.
Bunny was involved in a number of actions during the war. During the invasion of Sicily, he was dropped in error into the sea and received a shrapnel wound in his leg. His special parachutist pay was stopped until he had recovered. His unit was involved in the seizure and holding of the Pegasus Bridge on D-Day and later he fought with American troops in the Rochefort Forest when flame-throwers were used. (This was part of the Battle of the Bulge.) He later said it was the worst fighting he had experienced.
The medal on the left is the George Medal awarded for acts of great bravery not in the face of the enemy. It was awarded to Bunny for his actions in dragging two men from a blazing ammunition carrier belonging to a Belgian unit which had run over a mine near Cabourg on 20th August 1944. A comrade helped another two to escape.
After the war, Bunny and his wife returned to Amersham. He worked for 27 years with Boss and Rogers in Raans Road before he was made redundant, and subsequently with Halstans, printers, in Plantation Road. He finally retired aged 76, but continued with his hobby of walking in the local countryside. He and his wife never had children.
He died of heart problems on 31 January 2006. The chapel was full to over-flowing for his funeral. He was a popular man of an old Amersham family who had done remarkable things for his country during the war.