Joyce Johnson poses for a photo after enlisting in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force on her 18th birthday in 1944. (Photo courtesy Valerie Gibson)

Joyce Johnson poses for a photo after enlisting in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force on her 18th birthday in 1944. (Photo courtesy Valerie Gibson)

St. Luke’s Service of Remembrance honours more than 130 veterans

Women’s Auxillary Air Force veteran added to the list of honourees

The cemetery at St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church is quiet in early November and sunlight warms the paths that weave between the rows. As the colder weather creeps in, poppies appear on lapels and parishioners at St. Luke’s start to prepare for the Service of Remembrance on Nov. 10.

On this day, the cemetery will no longer be silent. The names of the known veterans buried there will ring out as Reverend Daniel Fournier makes his way through the list of names in alphabetical order.

John Thomas Albian, John Gordon Anderson, Kenneth Armstrong, Ernest Charles Ashton…

The service is designed to honour veterans and it has been held at the church twice since 2016. The most recent took place in 2017 and was attended by two veterans, one of whom was Joyce Johnson.

Johnson was born in England and was just 13 when the Second World War started.

“For many years, my one ambition was to join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF),” she wrote in a memo about her war experience.

READ ALSO: Blessing of the Animals service returns to Saanich church

She joined the Royal Air Force as soon as she turned 18 in February 1944. She trained as a radar mechanic at a technical college in Essex while German forces bombed London. She remembered having to hide under dining room tables with her classmates one night when an explosive was dropped near the college.

After her training was complete, Johnson worked on two bomber stations and when the war ended, she was transferred to a Transport Command Station. This was lucky as that’s where she met her husband, Richard. They were both discharged from service in 1947 and married in July of 1949.

“I enjoyed, on the whole, my three and a half years in the WAAF,” wrote Johnson. “It was a good experience.”

Richard was a radar mechanic too, explained Valerie Gibson, eldest of their three daughters. He’d originally trained as a bomber pilot in Regina but found the spin manoeuvres made him air-sick.

“He told my mother he was thankful it had turned out that way as most of the bomber pilots never made it back home,” Gibson noted.

The Johnsons eventually made their way to Vancouver Island.

Joyce Johnson died in May of this year at the age of 93. She was buried in St. Luke’s cemetery next to her husband, who died in 1994, and her name has been added to the list to be read out at the 2019 Service of Remembrance.

The service will begin in the church at 10:30 a.m. with a short sermon followed by time in the cemetery. There, while attendees are gathered among the tombstones, the names will be read out.

Each year, the church puts out a call for names to be added to the list as the official number of veterans buried in the cemetery is unknown, explained Barb Prescott, parishioner and communications coordinator for St. Luke’s.

READ ALSO: Digital poppies set to launch as part of Remembrance Day campaign

When the service first took place in 2016, there were just 30 names on the list. In 2017, there were 87. No service was held in 2018 due to scheduling issues, but folks have continued to submit the names of friends and relatives that fought in all manner of conflicts and are buried at St. Luke’s. As of October, the list had 131 names and more continue to come in.

The service is mainly attended by parishioners and relatives of the veterans, but Prescott emphasized that non-relatives are also welcome to come. She noted that it’s a unique and poignant experience to stand among the tombstones with the relatives while the names are read.

After the names have been read out, the graves of the veterans will be adorned with “remembrance pots” – filled with flags, poppies and rosemary plants – put together by the children who attended the Fantastic Friday youth event at the church on Nov. 1.

Anyone interested in adding their relative’s name to the list or providing more information about a specific veteran buried at St. Luke’s can contact the church by phone at 250-477-6741 or by email at admin@stlukecedarhill.ca.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

airforceRemembrance DayWorld War II

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church is hosting a service Nov. 10 to honour the veterans buried in the nearby cemetery. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

The St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church is hosting a service Nov. 10 to honour the veterans buried in the nearby cemetery. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

The St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church hosts a Nov. 10 service to honour the veterans buried in the nearby cemetery. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

The St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church hosts a Nov. 10 service to honour the veterans buried in the nearby cemetery. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Just Posted

Ownership of SISȻENEM — also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island — has transferred to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council after The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) had purchased the island for $1.55 million. (The Land Conservancy/Submitted)
SISȻENEM (Halibut Island) transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic agreement

The Land Conservancy purchased the 9.67-acre island for $1.55 million with help from unnamed donor

Shannon Davis, manager at Sidney’s Star Cinema, holds up the largest available bag of popcorn available for sale at the theatre. It also also sells four smaller sizes in generating revenue following its closure last fall because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney theatre fills bottom line with popcorn sales

Theatre applying to return to doing our household-only private rentals

Landis Carmichael is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as the Emergency Services Award winner. (Photo courtesy Landis Carmichael)
29-year-old firefighter has spent almost half his life with Langford department

Landis Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Emergency Services Award

Karen DeCicco and Darren Russell have been named principals of the Sooke School District’s two newest schools, both under construction in Langford. DeCicco will lead Pexsisen Elementary while Russell will be at Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School, both starting in spring of 2022. (Courtesy Sooke School District)
Principals named for new Langford schools set to open in 2022

Sooke School District tabs veteran educators with strong track records on the West Shore

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo school district chosen as Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Ella Donovan with mom Tina outside Fuller Lake Arena before heading onto the ice for practice. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Young Ladysmith skater watches and waits in battle against cancer

Ella Donovan’s tumour began a tumultuous time, but community support eased the burden

Most Read