diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Aulnoye

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
253 Lancasters bombed the railway yards at Aulnoye and Revigny, cutting the lines to the battle front. While Balcombe acted as Navigator on Johnston’s crew on this trip, 115 Squadron’s Operations Record Book notes Henderson as Navigator.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
24 (8 from A flight, 8 from B flight, 8 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:
1 (Pellew)

Johnston’s Plane: KO-W (W.PB 131)

Take-off: 10:40 pm

Landing: 2:13 am

Round trip time: 3 hrs 33 mins

Bombing Height: 9,500 ft


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

Beach head - Coastal area of France re-taken from the Germans and secured by the Allies

Monty - Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, commander of the British ground forces

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

Letts, George - Pilot who trained with Johnston at Chedburgh – crashed in England on his way back

Sidney Albert “George” Letts

Got the Chop - Was shot down and killed. For every 100 airmen in Bomber Command:
- 51 were killed in action
- 9 were killed in crashes over England
- 3 were seriously injured on operations
- 12 became prisoners of war
- 1 was shot down and evaded capture
- 24 survived unharmed

Willie - Lancaster bomber, with “W” as the final code letter

Belyea - Flight Lieutenant in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Port outer - Engine furthest from the fuselage on the left side of the airplane

U/S - Unserviceable, or unusable

Ground bods - Ground crew / technicians, men who maintained and servicedt he airplanes

Murray - Henderson, Johnston’s navigator

48 - Two day leave (48 hours)

Johnny - Peardon, Johnston’s mid-upper gunner

Jowett - Gunner in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Muir - New Zealand pilot and friend originally in 115 Squadron at Witchford, and later reposted to Oakington

Balcombe - Muir’s navigator in 115 Squadron at Witchford – it’s possible he was available because Muir was grounded due to pending court martial proceedings against him

Aulnoye - Railway junction 100 kms northeast of Paris near the German border

Folkes - Pilot in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Foxy tactics - Tricky strategies or maneuvers

Rich mixture climb - Adding more fuel to the pistons of the engines in relationship to the amount of air, to increase the engine’s performance – in this case to allow the plane to climb more steeply

Turning point - The route to the target was not direct – this indicates one of the turns

One third through - Ten out of thirty missions completed

S/C - Scattered cloud

Chops - Planes that were shot down

Pellew, R.E. - Australian pilot in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Pranged - Bombed successfully, destroyed

July 18, 1944 (Tuesday)

Operation # 10 - Aulnoye

Eighteen 500 pound bombs

The boys went on an “early morning” to the beach head to help out Monty’s attack at Caen – apparently it was quite a success.

Poor George Letts got the chop! Happened over England as they found the plane with everyone in it but no one knows what happened.

I’ve been given Willie! Hot dog! F/L Belyea (the dim twerp!) had it on this morning’s do and he put port outer U/S so I had to flight test it in the afternoon – it was in perfect shape and the ground bods couldn’t find anything wrong with it! He’s a dim twerp (at the risk of repeating myself!).

Murray went on a 48 and Johnny on a six day leave this afternoon so I took Jowett and Muir’s navigator (Balcombe) on the trip at night. We went to Aulnoye - a railway junction about a hundred miles northeast of Paris near the German border.

We lost one fellow from here and two altogether and we saw both of them go down. Folkes was attacked four times but got away with it. We were lucky and got away with it completely. There were 109 went to a point one hundred miles east of Paris and they lost twenty-four of them – poor devils.

We had some foxy tactics. Flew out to mid channel at 9,000 then a rich mixture climb to 17,000 then across the coast and a few minutes later down to 14,000 – at that for fifteen minutes or so then down to 9,000 to bomb, then out at 180 after sharp climb to 11,000 ft, to the coast and so home at 200 from there on. All losses of height at 210 and level at 165 on the way out. Saw another attack developing about twenty minutes before ours which was about ten miles north of our last turning point before the target.

They had bags of searchlights but we didn’t have any opposition at all to speak of except for the fighter boys (which was plenty come to think of it!). Still that’s one third through!

Supplementary notes written by Johnston on his Captains of Aircraft map for Operation #10

S/C at 9,000 over base. At 165 to turning point in channel. Sharp rich mixture climb to 17,000. Cross coast about ten miles then nose down at 210 to 14,000. 165 again until about thirty miles from target. Nose down again at 210 to 9,000 feet thru target at 180, then out to next turning point at 9,000 feet 180 mph. At turning point sharp climb again to 11,000 then 200 mph over the coast (nose down if necessary). Then back to base in our own sweet way.

Saw two chops numbered one and two in the order we saw them. One of them was Pellew from here. Not a bad trip altogether. Target well pranged.

“Bombing up” a Lancaster

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