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Second World War veteran returns to Parrsboro for Battle of Atlantic ceremony

Many people stopped to shake the hand of 97-year-old Shirley Johnson following the Battle of the Atlantic commemoration ceremony in Parrsboro on May 5. Born and raised in Parrsboro, now living in Charlottetown, Johnson served as a dietician in the Second World War. Although she didn’t serve overseas, her husband, Robert Johnson, was a squadron leader who evaded capture after his plane was shot down over Burma on Jan. 14, 1945.
Many people stopped to shake the hand of 97-year-old Shirley Johnson following the Battle of the Atlantic commemoration ceremony in Parrsboro on May 5. Born and raised in Parrsboro, now living in Charlottetown, Johnson served as a dietician in the Second World War. Although she didn’t serve overseas, her husband, Robert Johnson, was a squadron leader who evaded capture after his plane was shot down over Burma on Jan. 14, 1945. - Dave Mathieson

PARRSBORO, N.S. – Second World War veteran Shirley (Lavers) Johnson was back in her hometown on May 5 to take part in the Battle of the Atlantic commemoration ceremony.

“I was a dietician during the war. I wore the same uniforms as the nurses,” said the 97-year-old.

During the war she was stationed in Windsor, Aldershot and Debert, and, also, in Montreal.

“I thought I was on my way overseas, but the war ended,” said Johnson, who now lives in Charlottetown.

She enlisted for the military at the Canadian Army base in Debert.

“I was in Debert twice. I was there when I enlisted, and I was there when the war ended. That’s where I met my husband.”

Her husband, Robert Johnson, was squadron leader who evaded capture by the Japanese after his plane was shot down over Burma on Jan. 14, 1945.

“He was shot down in Burma and walked for three weeks through the jungle,” said Johnson.

Robert passed away Oct. 30, 2014, at the age of 96.

His obituary, written in the Telegraph in March 22, 2015, starts by saying that Johnson, a Canadian Hurricane Pilot, evaded the ‘murderous attentions of the Japanese enemy for 23 days after being shot down on a reconnaissance patrol over the Irrawaddy river in Burma.’

The obituary tells of his harrowing experience over those 23 days, and finishes by saying:

“On returning home in 1946 he married Shirley Laver, with whom he had four sons and a daughter.

“He joined No 402 (City of Winnipeg) Squadron, flying Vampire jets at weekends for three years while working as an insurance salesman. He discovered an enthusiasm for insurance claims adjusting and after spells in Detroit and Georgia he moved to Prince Edward Island, where he worked as a loss adjuster until his retirement in 1977.”

The entire story can be found online at the www.telegraph.co.uk in a story entitled ‘Squadron Leader Bob Johnson, Hurricane pilot – obituary.’

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