Barry Johnson GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 25/01/1952 Wood Green, London.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 07/10/1989 Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Barry Johnson (1952-) was born on 25th January 1952 in Wood Green, London, the son of Haig and Joyce Hamilton-Welsh (nee Davison). He was christened Barry Haig Hamilton-Welsh. His parents’ marriage sadly ended in divorce soon after his birth. His mother remarried and her new husband, Charles William Johnson, adopted him on the 13th September 1955. He therefore became Barry Johnson.

Barry Johnson GC

Barry grew up in Wolverton in Buckinghamshire, later moving to Stony Stratford. He attended schools in Stony and Wolverton finally leaving Moon Street School at the age of 15 to join the Army. On 17th April 1967 he arrived at the Army Apprentices College in Chepstow for three years as an apprentice tradesman in intake Group 67B. He left the college on 14th April 1970 as a Corporal Ammunition Technician. His first posting was to Central Ammunition Depot in Kineton where he met, and, in 1971, married Linda Maria Lane. They have two children, Bevan (born 1973) and Adele (born 1975).

After postings to 3 BAD Bracht in Germany and CAD Bramley in the UK, Barry returned to Kineton as a Staff Sergeant to be selected for the first operational tour in Belfast. During this tour, he was tasked to 47 incidents including explosions, weapons finds and several improvised explosive devices. On promotion to Warrant Officer, he had postings to the Royal School of Artillery at Larkhill, Force Ordnance Company in Belize, and after a short stint at the Directorate of Land Service Ammunition (DLSA) was posted to the British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada.

After two years in Canada, he returned to the Ammunition Inspectorate in Germany and was selected for a second operational tour in Northern Ireland. During the tour, he was tasked with a variety of incidents involving explosives and weapons. On 7th October 1989, in Londonderry, he was called to a van containing 6 tube mortar bombs, near a hospital in the middle of a housing estate in the Waterside area. Due to the danger to civilian lives and to patients in the hospital. Johnson decided not to use the remote-controlled equipment to deal with the bombs, but to remove them from their tubes and dismantle them by hand. With help from Corporal Melia, he removed the tubes from the van and placed them on the ground. Ast the next stage was extremely hazardous, he sent Melia back to cover and then placed the tubes facing away from the hospital in case they fired. In the dark and cold drizzle which made handling more difficult, he proceeded to remove the bombs, dismantling them in turn. While he was dealing with the last bomb, it exploded, causing serious injury to his face, eyes and legs. Despite being blinded by bomb fragments, being thrown across the road and in great pain, such was his courage that he refused to be evacuated until he had briefed his assistant on the precise details of the device, so that the operation could be safely completed.

His injuries to his eyes and legs needed several operations and he was only able to return to the DLSA in July 1990. On 6th November 1990, Barry’s citation for the George Cross was published in the London Gazette, and he was invested with the medal in December 1990. Interestingly, it was only after the award of the George Cross that Barry discovered his past including his adoption. He completed his 25 years’ service in 1992 and settled with his family in the South West. In retirement, he has enjoyed renovating a MG car he purchased, walking and cycling across Dartmoor and photography. His medals are on loan to the Royal Logistic Corps Museum, Camberley, Surrey.