diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Russelsheim

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
This raid on the Opel motor factory at Russelsheim was completed in ten minutes, and shut down the forge and gearbox assembly departments for several weeks. Alldridge’s plane collided with another Lancaster just past the target and crashed. All of the crew survived, and were taken prisoner. The remaining planes from 115 Squadron landed at other bases due to the poor weather at Witchford. Johnston’s round trip time of almost 10 hours was his longest yet on a mission.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
27 (9 from A flight, 9 from B flight, 9 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:
1 (Alldridge)

Johnston’s Plane: KO-W (W.PB 131)

Take-off: 8:23 pm

Landing: 6:10 am

Round trip time: 9 hrs 47 mins

Bombing Height: 18,200 ft


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

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

Cookie - 4,000 lb bomb, consisting of a steel tube packed with RDX explosive

Cans - Incendiary bombs

PFF - Pathfinder Force – Group that preceded the main bomber stream to mark the target with incendiary bombs and flares

Alldridge - Canadian pilot in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Berkeley - Canadian pilot in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Repeater of the DR - Distant Reading repeater – the repeater allowed the compass information to be viewed from more than one station on the plane

U/S - Unserviceable, or unusable

P4 - Magnetic hand-held compass

Nav - Navigator

Port gen - Generator on the left side of the plane that provided power for specific components

Mannheim - German city near the French border

Karlsruhe - German city near the French border

Flak - German anti-aircraft fire

Chops - Planes that were shot down

Dave - Taylor, Johnston’s rear gunner

Ju88 - Junkers 88 - German fighter aircraft

Woolfox Lodge - Home base of 218 Squadron, in Oakham

Methwold - RAF airbase near Thetford, Norfolk

Overshot - Touched down on landing too far along the runway to come to a stop before the runway ended – necessitating getting back up in the air, to come around and try again

August 25, 1944 (Friday)

Operation # 23 - Russelsheim

One 4,000 pound “cookie” and 10,500 pounds of “cans”

What a trip! But before I go into it, I’ll give the local news. Postings finally came through for PFF but Alldridge didn’t want to go – too near end of tour – and I felt the same way, so Berkeley went I believe.

Flew at 10,000 feet until six degrees east then climbed to 19,000 and bombed at that height. After target lost height at 240 mph and 1,500 feet per minute to 6,000 feet. Flew to south of Paris at that height then climbed to 12,000 to reach home.

The repeater of the DR was U/S from take-off so flew on P4 to French coast. Did a dogleg and when I straightened out the thing was working so flew on it until about 100 miles from target when it went again along with Nav’s so it was exclusively P4 from then on. Port gen was U/S from take-off also.

Went between Mannheim and Karlsruhe on the way in and it was pretty lively – as was the target. Bags of flak and several hundred (at least) searchlights. One fellow got a direct hit by flak on the run up about a mile behind us – enormous explosion – while a fighter got another just north of the target. There were seventeen chops altogether – we lost Alldridge. When we were about a hundred miles from the target on the way in Dave saw a fighter (a Ju88) but it didn’t see us and passed off to starboard.

About halfway back over England we were diverted to Woolfox Lodge which we found after a bit of trouble and were on the approach when they in turn diverted us to Methwold.

Methwold has undoubtedly the worst landing procedure of any I’ve seen – I had to overshoot three times! Due to the way they handled us. Finally landed OK then after a meal sat and slept in chairs for a few hours – flew back here at nine. Overshot again here (making five times in one trip!).

Trip was eight and a half or more hours.

Russelshiem bombing run photo
from 18,200 ft

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