diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





January Summary

The first half of January 1945 sees Bomber Command not happy with Johnston’s efforts to get into Transport Command.

He is bounced around between various bases, and at one point is transferred to Transport Command, then recalled.

But by mid-month Johnston gets his wish, and is posted to 246 Squadron of Transport Command.

Here he meets his new crew, familiarizes himself with his new airplane, the C87 Liberator, and gets the various vaccinations he will require for spending time in tropical countries.

Selected diary entries from this period appear opposite.


As January starts, Johnston is based at 18 Operational Training Unit RAF Worksop, near Retford, Notts, a satellite field of 18 Operational Training Unit Finningly (see map at bottom of screen)

On January 8, he is posted to #1 “R” Depot, RCAF Warrington, Lancshire

On January 11, he is posted to 83 GSU RAF West Hampnet, near Chichester

On January 12, he is posted to RAF I.C. Headquarters Harrow & Wealdstone, London

On January 15, he is posted to 246 Squadron, Transport Command, RAF Holmsley, South Hampshire

Johnston outside his hut at RAF Holmsley

Lofty - Lofthouse, pilot and friend of Johnston

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

HQ - Headquarters

W/C - Wing Commander, head of two or more squadrons

O.C. Worksop - Officer, Commanding (Commanding Officer) of the 18 Operational Training Unit base at Worksop

V bombs - German V1 & V2 rocket bombs

Briggs, Bill - Friend of Johnston - likely a pilot

Burton on Trent - RAF airbase 150 kms northwest of London near Birmingham

Auld, Johnny - Pilot and friend at RAF Worksop

Ops - Operational missions

Gen - General information, background

Warrington - Home base of 1 “R” Depot RCAF in Lancashire

Kent, Mart - Friend of Johnston, who trained with him at #5 SFTS, in Brantford, Ontario

Richardson, Cuffe - Friend of Johnston, likely a pilot, based in Six Group

DOC - Dominion Officer's Club

Fyfe - Friend of Johnston, likely a pilot, based in Six Group

Flying kit - Flying gear – clothing and accessories

Walbank, Jimmy - Friend of Johnston

Posting - Assignment to a unit or squadron

F/Lt back - Returning him to the rank of Flight Lieutenant

Harrow - Harrow & Wealdstone RAF I.C. Headquarters

Second dickey - A second pilot, often accompanying an experienced crew on a mission to see how they worked together

Fours / twins - Four engine and two engine planes

Allan - Pilot at Harrow & Wealdstone

Four - five thousand hour man - Pilot who has flown 4,000 - 5,000 hours

Gen - Genuine, experienced

K of C - Knights of Columbus, who established subsidized canteens in London for military personnel

Black, Neil - Sgt Major friend of Johnston, from Guelph, Ontario

Whyte, Bill - Pilot friend of Johnston, based at a Mosquito squadron near Cambridge

Mossies - Mosquito fighter-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.

C87 - Military transport plane that was an unarmed variation of the Liberator bomber

Eddie - Pilot friend of Johnston in Transport Command

O'Sullivan - Pilot friend of Johnston in Transport Command

Got my second Typhus - Got my second Thyphus vaccination shot

Deacon - Pilot and friend of Johnston

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

Dickie, Gord - Canadian pilot and friend, who trained with Johnston

W.O. 1 - Warrant Officer, First Class

Bennett, Buck - Bomb aimer friend on Bob Giffin's crew at 514 Squadron at Waterbeach

January 1 - 31, 1945

(Selected diary entries from this period)

January 3
Met Lofty at Knightsbridge and he and I went out to Transport Command H.Q. and they can use us both if we can get released from Bomber Command – so we wrote to a W/C at H.Q. Then of all times we both get telegrams from O.C. Worksop – what a mess! So I’m going up there tomorrow, I have to get my laundry anyway, and find out what the score is.

January 4
Lot of V bombs tonight and about 9:00 a great red glow over half of London.

January 5
Saw Bill Briggs - he’s at Burton on Trent (near Leicester). Saw Johnny Auld, and he’s back on Ops - he’s happy as a kid!

January 6
Went to H.Q. to get the gen, and apparently I’m as well known as Jesse James and just about as popular! Bomber Command took a very dim view of what I did and I caught trouble galore at H.Q. However I’m OK – I’m to be posted to Warrington on 8th and from there to Transport Command on the 11th. They wouldn’t release Lofty.

Went to Air Officer’s Club in Cadagan Gardens after - what a place! Had chocolate ice cream, etc. Met Mart Kent and had quite a talk.

January 7
Met Cuffe Richardson at the DOC in Six Group - says Fyfe is up there.

January 8
Went through quite a few preliminaries tonight - and I’m beginning to wonder if they might not mean to send me home on Special Leave first – ’fraid not though. What a deserted spot – hope I’m not here too long!

January 9
Well, here I am all cleared for going home! My papers haven’t arrived yet so I’m not sure what the score is however it’s very unlikely I should get special leave. I had all my flying kit written off tonight so I’m in fifty pounds – what a stroke of luck.

January 10
Jimmy Walbank came in about 11:30 last night and brought me a letter from H.Q. canceling this Transport business. I’m satisfied either way – now at least I’ll be home soon!

January 11
What next?! This morning a posting came through to Transport Command H.Q. I don’t know what the score is – however I’ll go and see. If it’s OK, one thing is that they’re giving me my F/Lt back. I’ve been getting cleared all day.

January 13
Sent me to wrong place I discover. So this a.m. I came back to London and out to Harrow, where they fixed me up (however, my F/Lt appears to have been a mistake). They talked me into going second dickey for (“at least”) six months on four’s instead of twins because it would be three months at least before I got going on twins and this way I crack off on Monday. F/L Allan is the skipper (a four-five thousand hour man) and the rest of the crew seem just as “gen”.

January 14
Ate at K of C. Met Neil Black and another Guelph boy there - both Sgt Majors. Went over to OSC and met Bill Whyte. He’s on Mossies near Cambridge (17 trips in - 33 to do).

January 16
Met my skipper today. He seems a very nice chap and I think we’ll get along fine. Saw my first C87 and I like them!

January 25
Asked for fourteen days leave this a.m. while Eddie was away and lo and behold they said they wanted me as a second dickey for a fellow named O’Sullivan on the regular run as crews were scarce due to this special "do". They said we’d be going about the fifth and gave me seven days leave.

Got my second Typhus at two and hitchhiked to Christchurch. Caught the 3:32 and got to London about 8 p.m. Rode with several boys just arrived from Iraq by BOAC (a major and a Palestinian Police Johnny) quite interesting trip. Got sent to Parkway Court again. Met Deacon at the OSC and had quite a little chat with him. My room tonight is cold as Greenland!

January 27
Sat around a bit until after lunch then went to the Albert Hall to hear a Symphony Concert (me of all people!) A V2 landed not far away during the program. It wasn’t bad actually – it was Beethoven. Saw “Song to Remember” (about Chopin) in the evening – it was quite good. All in all I had quite a musical day.

January 30
Met Gord Dickie today in the K of C at Knightsbridge and he and a pal of his and myself went to see the Canada Guest Show at 5 p.m. across from the OSC - it wasn't so hot! Gord just got his W.O. 1, and was getting a uniform.

January 31
Met Buck Bennett on the bus on the way out to camp. He’s been finished for a month and is going home in a day or so.

Buck Bennett
at Waterbeach, 1944

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