diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





December Summary

As December 1944 begins, Johnston is on leave in London, skating, seeing shows, and spending time with friends.

Bomber Command is still uncertain where to post him, so Johnston looks into getting into Transport Command.

Johnston spends his second Christmas away from home with his friends the Goughs in Great Barton, and then spends New Year’s Eve in London.

Selected diary entries from this period appear opposite.


Throughout December, Johnston is based at 18 Operational Training Unit RAF Worksop, near Retford, Notts, a satellite field of 18 Operational Training Unit Finningly, although he spends much of the month on leave

Johnny - Auld, pilot and friend at RAF Worksop

Gordon / Gord - Southcott, friend of Johnston, who completed a tour at 427 Squadron

V1 - A German flying bomb gyroscopically guided and powered by a jet engine - also called a Doodle bug or Buzz bomb

Piccadilly Circus - Traffic junction in central London, near the entertainment district

Lion Squadron pass - RCAF 427 “Lion” bomber Squadron, based in Leeming, was adopted by MGM studios, whose mascot was a lion. Each member of the squadron received a hard plastic coin that allowed free admission to any of MGM’s theatres anywhere in the world. It also allowed the bearer to bypass any lineup and go straight to the front

Lion Squadron Pass

Farrell, George - Friend who trained with Johnston at #5 SFTS in Brantford

Ferguson (Fergie) - Friend who likely trained with Johnston

Uplands - #2 SFTS Uplands, in Ottawa, Canada

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

Oakington - Home base of 7 Squadron

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

Six trips - Six bombing missions

V2 - A German rocket-propelled missile with a 2,200 lb warhead

Mowers, Johnny - Detroit Red Wing goalie

Scrub game - Pick-up game, just for fun

Wings Abroad - The official RCAF newsletter

DFC - Distinguished Flying Cross – medal for exceptional service or bravery

HQ - Headquarters

Ribbons - Display ribbons that are worn to represent specific medals awarded to the wearer

Transport Command - RAF Command responsible for ferrying planes and delivering supplies

DOC - Dominion Officer’s Club

Shorty - Johnston’s nickname for his friend Noreen Walsh, a Canadian CWAC from Alberta

Noreen Walsh

Brian - Friend of Johnston in Great Barton, Suffolk, son of Mr & Mrs Gough

Barb - Johnston’s girlfriend in Ontario

Sid - Johnston’s aunt in Ontario

Mr & Mrs G - Goughs, friends of Johnston who live in Great Barton, Suffolk

10/6 - Ten shillings, and six pence

MacDougal - Group captain at RAF Worksop

On four engines - Fly four engine aircraft

Twins - Twin-engine aircraft

OSC - Ontario Services Club

Newstheatre - Theatres, often located in train stations, that showed newsreels on a continuous loop

December 1 - 31, 1944

(Selected diary entries from this period)

December 1
We’re moving to the D.O.C. on Sunday. We had to wait in a taxi queue till eight o’clock before we got here. I have a single room (small!) and Johnny and Gord share a room. We ate just around the corner at the “Wayfarer’s Inn” - and it stunk! So we went uptown and saw the V1 exhibit, then ate in Lyons in Piccadily Circus (where we had a very drunken “pro” come and share our table - was I glad to get out !!).

Opened a parcel from Dublin Street Church, and it’s a mess! Everything covered with tooth powder and noodle soup!

December 2
Johnny took us to a place for supper where we could get steaks then after that Johnny and I went to see “Laura” with Gene Tierney and it was one of the best pictures I’ve ever seen! We went on Gordon’s Lion Squadron pass – it’s quite a good thing.

Johnston at Westminster Bridge, London

December 3
Met George Farrell at the Club (who played on the #5 basketball team) and another fellow - can’t remember his name - on, yeah, Fergsuon (Fergie) - who had been instructing at Uplands.

December 5
Saw Muir when I was running to catch my train for a minute or two. He’s at Oakington on PFF now and has six trips in – lucky boy!

December 6
Met Gord in the club and we went over to play a game of snooker. Played ping pong while waiting for the table and while we were doing that a V2 fell just behind Selfridges about four hundred yards away. It blew the courtyard door open in the game room – which is getting too close!

December 7
Went to see the V2 damage and it’s fairly extensive. Selfridges really took a beating.

December 10
Got up at eight and after eating got to Victoria in time to just miss the 9:02 to Purly so caught the 9:30. Saw some good and some poor hockey at Purley. In one game Johnny Mowers (Red Wings) was tending net and disgusted at the way his team was behaving – it was just a scrub game anyway – he took the puck from his own net and went right through the other team to centre out for his side’s only goal!

December 14
Came back to club. No one in the room so I picked up a copy of Wings Abroad and darned if I didn’t see my own name in a list of DFC winners – at least I think it’s me as there’s no squad number. I’ll check at HQ tomorrow.

December 15
Got up about 9:15 and after breakfast went over to Lincoln’s Inn Fields and sure enough that’s me, so now I’m a DFC. Came out in London Gazette of December 8th. So this morning I got some ribbons made up and I’m wearing ’em now.

December 18
Saw Personnel director about Transport Command and he told me to go and see them and gave me the address of their HQ so I’ll do that tomorrow or Wednesday rather. The King is supposed to be coming here about 3:30 tomorrow but I don’t suppose I’ll be around.

December 19
Came back to D.O.C. as “Shorty” wanted to see the King and Queen – which we duly did. Said a few words to the Queen – they were both in very good humour today, cracking jokes etc.

December 24
Christmas Eve! And here I sit three thousand miles from home! Makes me think of the Christmas’s we used to spend at Granny’s when we were kids – they were the days! This is one of the times when a fellow gets homesick – at Christmas.

December 25
Well, another Christmas away from home is over. It’s just about 10:45 here – which means 5:45 back home and I guess they’ll just be gnawing into their second big meal of the day. Just think, I’ll probably be home in another month, too!

Went to church this morning with the folks and Brian and I walked back while our elders had Holy Communion. After dinner I wrote to Barb and Aunt Sid. Played knaves a bit and cracked nuts in the evening – rather a nice day but I couldn’t help feeling a bit homesick.

I opened some presents this morning – I got a sweater from Barb, also some chocolates and some marshmallows, a pencil from Dad, and a pair of pyjamas from Aunt Sid. I also got a book token from Mr. and Mrs. G for 10/6 worth of books.

December 27
Phoned Group Captain MacDougal and a sub lieutenant answered and told me apparently I haven’t enough time to go on four engines as first pilot so he says to go on “twins” (they can use me there) and apply for a transfer when my time’s built up. So that’s what I’m doing. Now I just have to wait for a posting telegram (here I go again!).

December 31
Very quiet day. Sat about the OSC all afternoon (except for going to a newstheatre about four). A V2 fell not so far away about 11:20 – we went up on the roof but couldn’t see anything.

And so exits 1944 – 1945 is twenty-four and a half minutes old as I write this.

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