Rare Spitfire Picture From George White’s Collection: Take Two

127 Wing Most Famous Spitfire

403 Erks Working on the Wing Commander’s Spitfire

James Edgar “Johnnie” Johnson commanded the RCAF Spitfires of 127 Wing.


This picture from George White’s collection was taken in Eindhoven Holland during Operation Market Garden.


JE-J back

Caption from Back of photo

Mark has something to ask my readers…

Hi Pierre,

I wonder if any of your readers knows why the JEJ lettering on the picture I posted is so different from the lettering that appears  on all the models or replicas of JEJ Spitfires I have ever seen.

I understand Johnson used the same aircraft for the majority of his victories. Does anyone know the identity of the aircraft in the picture I posted from my dad’s collection?

Perhaps Pat Murphy or Dean Black have the answer.

I combed through the Erk Journal looking for any references to Johnson and JEJ and I found a couple. They are typed from the handwritten notes and attached to this email



April 11, 2013.

From the ERK Journal (As Written by Hand):

July 15/1944

We really got a lemon today KH-D 403 Squadron. Explosive cannon shell still in the starboard radiator. Nice mess, glycol line, hydraulics, ave gas, holes and undercarriage. Pilot was lucky to get it down in one piece if was flying at the time. 144 airfield split up. 443 squadron is forming 127.  Their C/O is Johnny Johnson R.A.F. one of the top scoring fighter pilots still flying. They originated as a Canadian Squadron, West Coast for protection against Japan. You can tell them easily from us. Their uniforms are clean.

August 3/1944

Not many repair jobs, doing lots of inspections. Each squadron has ideally 20 aircraft on inventory, operating 12 aircraft as a squadron in the air, 13 aircraft take off in case one has a drop in revs, if not he comes down right away.

Our oldest aircraft belongs to Wing Commander Johnny Johnson R.A.F. who has flown it for all his victories and it doesn’t carry his squadron letter but his own initials JEJ.

Something big is in the wind, each aircraft has it’ own fuel dispersal, usually ringed by 4 gallon gas cans, so the fuel supply is not concentrated in one spot. Right now, each dispersal has a selection of numbered bombs (250-500 pounders), the numbers appear on the pilots maps as designated targets, bridges, road crossings, key targets etc. Our aircraft have been restricted from shooting at vehicle traffic using the roads in daylight, they keep reporting more and more German movement on the roads in daylight.

9 thoughts on “Rare Spitfire Picture From George White’s Collection: Take Two

  1. In response to the question about the JE-J lettering font…..these markings were applied at unit level and the correct stencils were not always available, so the erks who did the painting used whatever they had on hand. This was a particular problem with aircraft that switched subordination between groups. For example, 404 squadron shifted several times in 1944 and had to have new unit code letters added each time. Sometimes these were in the same size and font as the aircraft ID letter, sometimes in a different size and/or a different font.

  2. Very nice article of the best Squadron in Canada. LCol R.B. (Dick) Rogers, OMM, CD, Commanding Officer, 403 (Helicopter) Operational Training Squadron, 1990 – 1992.

    • I am sure all the people associated with 403 Squadron would agree with you that 403 was the best squadron.
      To be one the safe side I would say 127 Wing was the best Wing.

      Thanks for your comment.
      We enjoy every comment made on this blog that pays homage to the men of 403 Squadron and all those related to 127 Wing.

      Stalk and Strike

  3. Hi there, the photo of JE-J is fascinating. I wonder if there is a serial code visible on the original photograph in addition to the code letters? There are some differences between other images of Johnson’s aircraft MK392 and this one (code letter style, positioning, wheel type, rudder type and some differences in camouflage pattern), so I was hoping that a serial number may help to pin down whether this is MK392 following some modification, or another Spitfire that was flown by Johnson which has so far escaped attention. Cheers Steve

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