diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Villers-Bocage

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
Lancasters successfully bombed the road junction at Villers-Bocage, which prevented a planned German armoured advance towards the British and American forces. This was Johnston’s first daylight operation.

Planes from 115 Squadron:

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:

Johnston’s Plane: KO-W (W.PB 131)

Take-off: 6:11 pm

Landing: 9:15 pm

Round trip time: 3 hrs 04 mins

Bombing Height: 11,500 ft


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

Op - Operational mission

Turret - Transparent bubble in a bomber in which a gunner was located

Rear Gun Turret of a Lancaster

U/S - Unserviceable, or unusable

Dave - Taylor, Johnston’s rear gunner

Villers - Villers-Bocage, a small town in France near the English Channel, 100 kms northwest of Paris

Rommel - German Field Marshall

Kites - Airplanes

Mildenhall - Home base of 15 & 622 Squadrons, in Suffolk

Flak - German anti-aircraft fire

Murray - Henderson, Johnston’s navigator

Johnny - Peardon, Johnston’s mid-upper gunner

Klufas - Canadian squadron Leader in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Folkes - Pilot in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Nav - Navigator

One lad - This was N.G. Berkeley, a Canadian pilot in 115 Squadron at Witchford

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

Shooting a real line - Telling a story, explaining oneself

June 30, 1944 (Friday)

Operation # 5 - Villers-Bocage

Eleven 1,000 pound, four 500 pound bombs

Got ready for night op, checked over aircraft and rear turret U/S so spent most of the afternoon trying to fix it.

Left Dave to work on it and came in but no sooner arrived then they called a briefing for an emergency target for the Army. Villers or something – apparently Rommel just arrived with a Panzer division from Russia (after three weeks travel) so we set out to make a mess of it. And we surely succeeded – Lord what a mess it was when we bombed!! I hope the soldiers appreciate out little effort.

Not much opposition. Two kites collided from Mildenhall and two kites were shot down by flak. We bombed from 11,000 feet a bit early and got through OK.

Murray and Johnny missed briefing and S/L Klufas was going with me as Navigator – when Murray turned up he was disappointed as a kid! (He’s a good type too – I’d have enjoyed taking him – Folkes’ Nav was absent too but he wouldn’t go with him! Which isn’t a bit strange either).

July 1 addendum – Heard today one lad landed on the beach head – bet he’s shooting a real line!

Villers-Bocage bombing run photo
from 11,500 ft

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