diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Stuttgart

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
There was a bright moon on this mission, and German fighters intercepted the bomber stream while over France on the outward flight. The result was that 39 of the 494 Lancasters, or 8% of the force, were shot down. One of these was Johnston’s friend Alex “Red” Campbell, who was based at 514 Squadron at Waterbeach. The story of that final mission in Campbell’s own words appears at the end of the Colleagues section.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
20 (5 from A flight, 8 from B flight, 7 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:

Johnston’s Plane: KO-W (W.PB 131)

Take-off: 9:51 pm

Landing: 5:34 am

Round trip time: 7 hrs 43 mins

Bombing Height: 20,000 ft


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

Stuttgart - German city near the French border

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

Orleans - French city 100 kms south of Paris

Flak - German anti-aircraft fire

Mannheim - German city near the French border

Chops - Planes that were shot down

TIs - Target Indicators – a type of marker flare in different colours dropped by the Pathfinders that preceded the bomber stream, and used to identify a bombing target - in the case of this mission, green and red TIs were used

Channel - English Channel, body of water that separates England and France

Reading - British city 50 kms west of London

Funnel - Approach lights in a funnel shape that directed planes coming in for a landing to the runways

Dave - Taylor, Johnston’s rear gunner

Johnny - Peardon, Johnston’s mid-upper gunner

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

Mossie - Mosquito bomber. The RAF’s Mosquito, or “Mossie”, was a versatile twin engine plane, with a mainly plywood construction that made it both agile and faster than any fighter. It was durable, could fly to altitudes above 10,000 metres, and had exceptional combat range. These features made the two person plane invaluable not only as a bomber, but as a fighter, a Pathfinder, and for photo reconnaissance.


Bombed at 01:51 and a half - Dropped their bombs at 30 seconds after 1:51 a.m.

July 28, 1944 (Friday)

Operation # 13 - Stuttgart

Six 1,000 pound and three 500 pound bombs

Well, got number thirteen off not too badly – only trouble was getting coned near Orleans. I don’t know yet what I did but I was in that cloud so fast!

We dodged one fighter in the clouds but aside from that and the usual flak we had a quiet trip.

Flew to France at 10,000 then down to between 7,000 and 9,000 (up to our discretion to use cloud cover as we saw fit).

After being coned near Orleans I was shaken so badly that I got right in the cloud and stayed there until we had to climb for the target.

Mannheim was a blaze of searchlights and flak as usual when we went past. We saw one or two chops on our starboard as we went in. Bombed the flow from Green and Red TIs at 21,000 ft.

Flew out of the target at about that height for about ten minutes then down to the cloud cover again at 240 mph 1,500 feet per minute. Flew out at that height, climbed to 16,000 over the Channel and let down from Reading.

Was at 9,000 over base because I stayed up to watch the most beautiful cloud formation I’ve ever seen – it looked just like a landscape done in sunset colours with trees and bushes and fields all in gold and dark shades. It was wonderful – you’d swear it was the real thing if you didn’t know better. It was absolutely uncanny!

I made a poor landing – came in the funnel OK but couldn’t find the runway in the half light and had to skid into it in the last minute.

In this cone at Orleans we saw someone else get the chop in it just as we were coming up to it but I figured I’d missed it by far enough – I hadn’t. It took about ten seconds after they got him coned before he blew up in the air – Lord it was fast!

It’s Dave’s birthday since 12 this morning. Johnny celebrated his on a daylight over the beach head and now Dave over Stuttgart.

This raid was supposed to flatten the one remaining part of the city which was left after two heavy bomber raids and one Mossie raid.

We lost about 35 aircraft out of 450 on this target. None from here though happily – we bombed at 01:51 and a half.

Stuttgart bombing run photo
from 20,000 ft

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