diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Montdidier

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
196 Lancasters were among a group that attempted to bomb the railway yards at Mondidier, Aulnoye, and St Martin l’Hortier. There was heavy cloud cover over all three targets, and the raids were cancelled after only a few of the planes had dropped their bombs.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
14 (5 from A flight, 5 from B flight, 4 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:
1 (Traill)

Johnston’s Plane: KO-N (N.LL 935)

Take-off: 1:17 am

Landing: 4:50 am

Round trip time: 3 hrs 33 mins

Bombing Height: No bombs were dropped


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

H2S - Radar navigation and bomb aiming aid – a downward pointing radar scanner in the rear belly of the aircraft that showed the ground below – it could not be jammed by the Germans, but they could home in on it, so it was only used for very short periods

Fighter affiliation - Bombers practicing defensive maneuvers, such as corkscrews, against British fighters

U/S - Unserviceable, or unusable

Detail - Training flight

Scrubbed - Planned flights were cancelled

“N” for Nan - Lancaster bomber, with “N” as the final code letter

Montdidier - French city 75 kms north of Paris

10/10 cloud - Measure of cloud cover, ranging from 0/10 (cloudless) to 10/10 (completely clouded over)

Master Bomber - Specific bomber that remained over the target area advising crews which previously dropped marker flares to bomb, and which German decoy flares to ignore

Pilotless effort - German V1 bomb

“Pilotless Effort”

Ack ack - German anti-aircraft fire

Corkscrew - An evasive flying maneuver, consisting of a fast downward spiral

Junkers 88 - German fighter aircraft

Junkers 88

Flak - German anti-aircraft fire

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

Twin Engine Machines - German fighter aircraft

Threw out both trunks - Dislodged both trunks, corrugated rubber hoses used to jettison fuel in an emergency

Traill - Australian pilot in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Punk - Poor, bad

June 17, 1944 (Saturday)

Operation # 3 - Montdidier

Eighteen 500 pound bombs
(brought twelve back)

Sat around waiting for an H2S lecture all morning then out to fly fighter affiliation. Aircraft U/S so we came back and the detail scrubbed.

Went over “N” for Nan in the afternoon for a trip tonight.

Went to Montdidier in France – railroad yards. 10/10 cloud at target, so Master Bomber sent us back.

Another “what a trip”. Saw more activity over England than we did over the continent! Saw a couple of the Pilotless efforts, and great long searchlight lanes, ack ack etc.

We were late again, and pounded the engines unmercifully trying to catch up. Didn’t manage it until back to England.

Weaved like hell as soon as we hit France and all the way throughout with an occasional banking search and corkscrew thrown in for good measure. We had 10/10 beneath us though, which blanked out a lot of the opposition.

Just before our turn into the target a Junkers 88 went under us by about twenty or thirty feet and the gunners nearly jumped out he appeared so suddenly. He didn’t see us as he was coming from the light side of the sky – but believe you me he never would have got a decent shot at us anyway!!

There was a patch of flak on the coast going out and we went around it. We jettisoned six bombs off the coast to bring our weight down to 50,000 pounds for landing and when we get back we find we boobed – it’s 55,000 pounds for landing.

Bickford jettisoned all of his and another fellow didn’t hear the Master Bomber and bombed the glow on the cloud. The rest brought ’em all back.

Just after jettisoning did a terrific diving corkscrew to dodge a couple of twin engine machines which by the gunners accounts were right on top of us.

Lost 5,000 ft at 350 mph and had to use trim to pull out – force of the pull out threw out both trunks and the fuel fumes nearly got the most of the gunners – luckily we’d used number one’s tank and number two’s were nearly full so we got back OK.

Were last to land and got to bed at 6:30.

P/O Traill – an Aussie – missing. A punk trip!

John Traill

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