On the A2070 between Brenzett and HamstreetÂ in Kent an American flag can be seen close to the road. I hadn’t noticed it until someone mentioned it to me. It’s easy to miss, being as it’s a fast road and the flag pole is concealed between trees. But it is there.
The flag flies over a piece of land known as Johnson’s Corner.
Lieutenant William JohnsonÂ was the pilot of a B17 Flying Fortress known as Spare Parts. On 13th April 1944, en route toÂ bombing raid on a Messerschmitt factory in Bavaria, the plane took severe flak damage that compromised the plane and injured four of the ten crew on board, including Lt. Johnson. On the way back to their home base at RAF Rattlesden it became clear that the B17 wasn’t going to make it, having lost altitude steadily since being hit.
The crew bailed out of the aircraft. Lt Johnson remained in the cockpit to ensure his crew could exit safely. According to the last man to leave the plane, Sergeant Frank Hazzard, Johnson was about to leave himself but noticed something and sat back in his seat. Hazzard jumped and the plane crashed soon after. It seems that Lt. Johnson had noticed that the plane was likely to hit the village of Hamstreet so he stayed to ensure that it didn’t.William Johnson earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that night. His bravery was never forgotten by the people of Hamstreet. When the A2070 was built a piece of land was given over to his memorial and named Johnson’s Corner.