diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Fort D’englos

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
311 aircraft, including 171 Lancasters, attacked four V-bomb launching sites and the Fort D’Englos storage site. All targets were accurately bombed and no aircraft were lost.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
20 (7 from A flight, 6 from B flight, 7 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:

Johnston’s Plane: KO-W (W.PB 131)

Take-off: 9:50 pm

Landing: 12:40 am

Round trip time: 2 hrs 50 mins

Bombing Height: 13,000 ft


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

Fort D’englos - A fort used to store artillery shells and munitions located in Lille, France, just inland from the English Channel near the Belgium border

TI - Target indicators - type of marker flare in different colours dropped by the Pathfinders that preceded the bomber stream, and used to identify a bombing target

Sticks - Several bombs dropped together or in immediate succession, rather than in series

Icing - A situation where ice formed on the wings and other air surfaces, which made the plane less aerodynamic, and in extreme cases could cause it to plummet uncontrollably and crash

Couldn’t get over 16,5000 - The bomber couldn’t climb higher than 16,500 ft, which was about 5,000 ft lower than its usual maximum

Coned - Plane was caught simultaneously in the beams of a number of searchlights, and then flak was concentrated on it

Mepal - Home base of 75 Squadron

Drome - Aerodrome or airfield

August 9, 1944 (Wednesday)

Operation # 18 - Fort D’englos

Fourteen 1,000 pound bombs

Smallest target we’ve ever bombed – two hundred yards by three hundred yards. Supposed to be thousands of gallons of petrol buried under six feet of reinforced concrete (and either the TI’s were out or semi-armour piercing bombs weren’t big enough because there were no big explosions and oil fires and I saw dozens of sticks run right across the TI’s).

It was a poor effort altogether – though it was some of the most concentrated bombing I’ve yet seen.

I flew in cloud most of the way over and I picked up some icing – I couldn’t get over 16,500 even with 2,850 revs.

It was clear over the target and not much opposition, but we got coned on the way out – however we dived the speed up to 300 mph and got out of it OK.

We crossed the coast at 18,000 feet (supposedly) then at 240 down to 13,000 to bomb then at 240 again to cross coast at 5,000 ft then back to base at 210.

A terrific mess made of landing procedure due to the fact that two Mepal aircraft landed at our drome by mistake.

Fort D'englos bombing run photo
from 13,000 ft

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