diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Mare-de-Magne

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
614 Lancasters participated in an attack on five targets in front of Allied ground troops in Normandy. The German strong points and the roads around them were well cratered. 10 Lancasters were lost (Johnston saw 3 of these): 7 to German fighters, 2 to flak and 1 to an unknown cause.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
18 (6 from A flight, 7 from B flight, 5 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:

Johnston’s Plane: KO-W (W.PB 131)

Take-off: 9:40 pm

Landing: 1:22 am

Round trip time: 3 hrs 42 mins

Bombing Height: 8,400 ft


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

Mare-de-Magne - French town near Caen and the English Channel, 100 kms northwest of Paris

Sgts billets - Lodgings for the sergeants, where Johnston’s crew lived

Blueform - A blue coloured combination airmail letter and envelope, developed during the war specifically for use to or from military personnel based overseas

Barb - Johnston’s girlfriend in Ontario

Star - Toronto Star newspaper

Caen - French city 200 kms west of Paris near the English Channel

Brown Boys - The army

Bofors flak - Swedish manufactured 40 mm anti-aircraft gun used by the Germans

Chops - Planes that were shot down

Frank - Marsden, Johnston’s wireless operator

Bomber stream - Concentrated group of airplanes

Fishpond - Rearward-looking early warning radar mounted in bombers to warn of enemy fighters

All up weight - Total weight of the aircraft, including fuel, bombs and crew

Lanc - Lancaster bomber. The four engine Lancaster was the backbone of the RAF bomber offensive, flying 40% of all sorties during the war. Its extremely powerful engines allowed it to carry bomb loads of up to 22,000 lbs (10,000 kgs) – far more than any other bomber used during the war. Its seven person crew consisted of a pilot, flight engineer, navigator, wireless operator, bomb aimer, mid-upper gunner and rear gunner.
August 7, 1944 (Monday)

Operation # 17 - Mare-de-Magne

Eleven 1,000 pound and four 500 pound bombs

There was a lecture about the state of the Sgts’ billets this morning – so they marched us all up to do a cleanup. What a mess they were too!

Got two blueforms this morning – one from Barb and one from Mom. Very nice letters too. Apparently the picture of the King and Queen which I was in, was in the Star (and here I just sent away for prints!).

Went to Mare-de-Magne (just past Caen) to help the “Brown Boys” tonight. Over 1,000 aircraft on five targets around there. We were the last ones to bomb before the advance started and as we turned away the artillery opened up and they put on searchlights to show the troops the right way forward. The searchlights were on a low trajectory and so was some Bofors flak outlining each flank of the advance. I’ve never seen such a spectacle! We were at 8,000 ft and we had a good view.

On the way back there were lots of fighters – three chops right around us so we weaved all the way back – Frank saw seven or eight fighters dodging amongst the bomber stream on his Fishpond. Everyone here got back OK though.

All up weight for takeoff was 64,900 pounds – greatest I’ve ever taken off in a Lanc.

Bombs being dropped by a Lancaster

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