Cheatley, George Johnston (No. 748222)

Cheatley, George Johnston (George)

Flight Sergeant

No. 748222, 269 Squadron Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Killed in action on Wednesday 11 February 1942 (aged 24)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Runnymede Memorial, Surrey, England (Panel 73)

Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church


George Johnston Cheatley was born on 25 March 1917 in Dromore, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal and he was a son of David Gallagher Cheatley and Sarah Cheatley (nee Johnston).  One of 13 children, David Gallagher Cheatley was a son of William and Jane Cheatley who farmed in Dromore.  William Cheatley died on 23 November 1906 and probate was granted to his wife Jane.  On 15 June 1913 William’s son, David Gallagher Cheatley, married Sarah Johnston in Milford Reformed Presbyterian Meeting House, Co. Donegal (she was from Gortnavern, Co. Donegal) and he continued to work the family farm in County Donegal until the farm was sold.

On 5 March 1921 David and Sarah Cheatley and their four children:  Jeanie Louisa (born 23 April 1914); William (born 15 June 1915); George Johnston (born 25 March 1917) and Charlotte Mary (Molly, born 7 January 1919), moved to Wanganui in New Zealand.  They sailed aboard the SS Remuera.

The Cheatley family returned to Northern Ireland in 1923 aboard the SS Tainui.  By then they had five children, Mathena having been born in New Zealand.  At that stage they declared their proposed place of abode to be 9 Shankill Road, Belfast.  The story is told that, when sailing up Belfast Lough, David asked Sarah which side of the Lough she wanted to live on.  Thus it was that the Cheatley family settled at Brookmount Farm near Crawfordsburn.  The land, some 37 acres, was owned by the Marquess of Dufferin and Ava.

George Johnston Cheatley attended Ballymullen Public Elementary School and in 1930 he won a prize of 5 shillings in a Belfast Telegraph children’s drawing competition.  His mother Sarah died at Brookmount Farm on 21 June 1939 and probate was granted to her husband.

The marriage of George Johnston Cheatley and Hughedna Doreen Shanks was registered in the fourth quarter of 1939 in Brentford, Middlesex and they had a son named David.  David Johnston Cheatley, son of George Johnston Cheatley and Hughedna Doreen Cheatley (nee Shanks), was born on 8 July 1940.

During the Second World War George Johnston Cheatley served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and he was 24 when he died on 11 February 1942.  He was one of a four man crew aboard a Lockheed Hudson Mark III aircraft (V9054) based at RAF Kaldadarnes in Iceland which failed to return to base from convoy escort duty. An SOS signal was picked up but no trace of the aircraft and its crew was ever found.  The other three crew members who died were:

  • Flight Sergeant Godfrey Middleton James Mayes (aged 19) from Duncton, Sussex
  • Flight Sergeant Francis Ernest Daking (aged 26)
  • Sergeant Tom Parkinson

Flight Sergeant George Johnston Cheatley (No. 748222) is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey and in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.  After he died, his widow and son moved to Canada where Doreen remarried.

During the Second World War, Mathena Cheatley served with the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS).