From The Daily Telegraph 29 December.
Group Captain Johnnie Foster, who has died aged 95, spent the majority of his long service in the RAF as a fighter pilot, and earned a DFC for his support of operations off the Norwegian coast.
In April 1942 Foster joined No 19 Squadron in April 1942, based in the south of England. Over the next few months he flew many sweeps over northern France in support of formations of light bombers attacking targets in the region.
The squadron was heavily engaged during Operation Jubilee, the raid on Dieppe on August 19 1942. During one sortie, Foster’s aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire when he was wounded in the leg but he managed to return safely.
Throughout 1943 Foster was in constant action and had amassed more than 600 hours flying time on Spitfires when he was rested to be a flying instructor. In April 1944 he converted to the Mustang long-range fighter. In September, he was posted to No 65 Squadron, flying from airfields in Norfolk escorting bomber formations.
In late 1944 Coastal Command’s strike wings of Mosquitos and Beaufighters based on the Moray Firth made concentrated attacks against enemy convoys carrying Swedish iron ore to Germany and shipped from Norwegian ports. The Luftwaffe’s fighter squadrons based in Norway and Denmark posed a serious threat to these operations, so it was decided to escort the strikes with long-range fighters. Foster was the flight commander of No 65 Squadron when it was transferred to Peterhead with US-built Mustangs to fulfil this role.
When shipping was identified off the Norwegian coast, formations of up to 36 strike aircraft were launched, with Foster and his pilots providing an escort. The Luftwaffe countered with fighters and on February 9 1945, forever known as Black Friday, they intercepted in force as the Strike Wings (a group of aircraft) attempted to attack shipping in the narrow Forde Fjord. Despite the intervention of Foster and his pilots, nine Beaufighters and a Mustang were lost. The Mustangs shot down four enemy fighters.
During another fierce engagement on March 25, the CO of No 65, Squadron Leader Grahame Stewart, was shot down and Foster was promoted to take command of the squadron. Operations intensified and towards the end of April and in early May, U-boats attempting to escape from the Skagerrak were attacked. He led twelve of his Mustangs escorting the strike wings on May 2 when U-2359 was sunk on the east coast of Denmark and two days later they protected the strike wings on their last operation of the war. A week later, Foster was awarded the DFC.
In late May 1945 the squadron returned to Norfolk for peacetime operations. By the time Foster left a year later he had accumulated 600 hours flying the Mustang, having also been mentioned in despatches.
In July 1949 he took command of No 263 Squadron at an airfield near Norwich.
In 1951 he took command of No 257 Squadron, also flying the Meteor. He held the post for two years and in June 1952 he was awarded the AFC.
He spent three years as the Air Attaché in Rome before retiring from the RAF in September 1975.
Full obituary with photograph.
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