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Mission Notes: Falaise

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
There were three main raids that evening. 115 Sqaudron participated in them all, sending 9 bombers to Russelsheim, 14 to Brunswick and 2 (including Johnston) to Falaise. The latter target was a German troop concentration on the road just north of Falaise. Two Witchford aircraft, Hockey and Belyea, were lost on the Brunswick mission, which was attempted without a Pathfinder, and using only H2S. Although both of these pilots survived, all of their other crew members were killed.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
2 (1 from A flight, 1 from B flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:
None

Johnston’s Plane: KO-H (H.LM 127)

Take-off: 12:40 am

Landing: 3:30 am

Round trip time: 2 hrs 50 mins

Bombing Height: 8,400 ft



DIARY NOTES

Location
RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

CO - Commanding Officer

Parade - Inspection

Air test - Test flew a new or newly repaired aircraft

“P” for Peter - Lancaster bomber, with “P” as the final code letter

Scrubbed - Planned flights were cancelled

W/C - Wing Commander - head of two or more squadrons

Bick / Bickford - American pilot and friend posted with Johnston to 115 Squadron at Witchford

Op - Operational mission

Mess - Room where meals were eaten

Falaise - French city 175 kms west of Paris, and just south of Caen

Fighter flares - Flares dropped by German fighters to make Allied bombers more visible

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

Number twenty - Twenty of thirty bombing missions completed

Brunswick - German city 175 kms west of Berlin

Russelsheim - German town located 350 kms southwest of Berlin near Frankfurt

Hockey - Australian pilot in 115 Squadron at Witchford – he survived the crash and became a POW, but the rest of his crew were killed

Belyea - Flight lieutenant in 115 Squadron at Witchford

August 12, 1944 (Saturday)

Operation # 20 - Falaise

Eleven 1,000 pound and four 500 pound bombs

CO’s parade as usual this morning and also as usual, none of my boys were there but there was no roll call.

Did an air test on “P” for Peter in the afternoon – waited from 2:30 till 6:15 to get airborne and then I turned it down as fit to be scrubbed from the Squadron (I’d hate to fly it with a load!). The W/C is flying it tomorrow for the final verdict.

Got down about ten to eight p.m. to eat then back to bunk about 8:30. Bick came in just as I was settled and said with a great grin on his face that the W/C wanted two more crews for a special op. So I galloped up to the mess and phoned (and volunteered Bickford and his bunch in return for him getting me) so we went to Falaise to help out the Canadians.

Flew at 7,000 all the way – no opposition at all. There were fighter flares over the target and on the way out but they were always about five miles behind us. We dodged two fighters on Fishpond too – but aside from that everything was very quiet. That’s number twenty anyway.

We took off at 12:30. The other boys went to Germany (Brunswick and Russelsheim). We lost Hockey and Belyea. Heard from Mom this morning.

Falaise bombing run photo
from 8,400 ft

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