diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





October Summary

As October 1944 begins, Johnston is still on leave in London, following the completion of his 30 mission bombing tour.

Returning from his leave, he is posted to 86 Operational Training Unit Gamston, but discovers upon arriving there that it is in the process of shutting down.

He is soon re-posted to 18 Operational Training Unit, Worksop, and given leave for the rest of the month.

On October 28, Johnston celebrates his 21st birthday.

Selected diary entries from this period appear opposite.


As the month begins, Johnston is on leave until October 4, while based at RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

On October 9, Johnston is posted to 86 Operational Training Unit RAF Gamston, near Retford, Notts (see map at bottom of screen)

On October 18, he is posted to 18 Operational Training Unit RAF Worksop, near Retford, Notts, a satellite field of 18 Operational Training Unit Finningly

Bannister, Red - Navigator friend of Johnston, based at 90 Squadron at Tuddenham

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

Tuddenham - Home base of 90 Squadron

Kirsch - Canadian pilot and friend, who trained with Johnston, and was later posted to 90 Squadron at Tuddenham

Frankfurt - German city 300 kms southwest of Berlin near the French border

Francis, Don - Holder’s air gunner at 115 Squadron

Holder - Pilot at 115 Squadron

Ely - Small town 20 kms north of Cambridge

Russell - Friend of Johnston in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Hill, Don - Canadian pilot and friend who trained with Johnston, and was later posted to 115 Squadron at Witchford

Miller, Trev - Australian pilot and friend of Johnston in 115 Squadron at Witchford

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

Worster, Red - Canadian bomb aimer in Hill’s crew in 115 Squadron at Witchford

Flights - Operational offices and control centre for the squadron

Peabody - Canadian pilot and friend of Johnston’s, who was shot down over Stuttgart and killed July 29/44

Campbell, Red - Canadian pilot and friend who trained with Johnston, and was later posted to 514 Squadron at Waterbeach

BA - Bomb aimer

Mildenhall - Home base of 15 and 622 squadrons, Group 3, in Suffolk

Williamson, Jack - Canadian pilot and friend who trained with Johnston at #5 Service Flying Training School in Brantford, Ontario

#5 - #5 Service Flying Training School, in Brantford, Ontario

Posted - Assigned

OTU - Operational Training Unit

My boys - The rest of Johnston’s crew

Adjutant - Officer who assists a Commanding Officer with administration

Billet - Lodgings for military personnel

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

AFU - Advanced Flying Unit - a training unit one attends before moving on to an Operational Training Unit

Quick, Russ - Pilot friend who trained with Johnston in Canada

Has 1,200 hours - Has 1,200 hours' flying time

Stewart - Pilot and friend who trained with Johnston in Canada

Bassett, Bill - Friend of Johnston

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

October 1 - 31, 1944

(Selected diary entries from this period)

October 1
Met Red Bannister the Navigator at the K of C, and he just finished his tour at Tuddenham. He told me old Kirsch bit the dust over Frankfurt. He was a swell chap too!

Lionel Kirsch

October 2
I met Don Francis at supper - Holder’s Air Gunner who used to be at Witchford. He’s on the radio staff taking recordings of Canadian artists. Had quite a talk. Apparently it’s only nine months till our leave home now.

October 4
Came back on the 6:45 to Ely. Russell was over visiting friends and he rode back with me. I got all the news from him. Don Hill and Trev Miller are finished, also Muir. Red Worster has only taken a week’s leave as he wants to do four more trips to make thirty.

October 5
Shook me today when I wandered up to the flights about ten to discover I was posted to #86 OTU Gamston reporting on Friday. Got cleared in a hurry (none of my boys posted yet) and bitched to Adjutant about things happening so soon, so he got three days for me and I now report on Monday evening.

October 7
Met Peabody’s Bomb Aimer (I don't remember his name) uptown near Piccadilly Circus at noon. I hadn’t heard, but apparently they were shot down the same night as Red Campbell, but on the German border. He (the BA) had just got back and he had no idea of what had happened to the rest of the crew. He had been at Mildenhall. He’s going home now after two weeks’ leave.

October 9
We got to Retford about 4:40 and I had to take a taxi out to the camp.

It’s an awfully dispersed place! I’m in a temporary billet for tonight and I’ll find out the full score tomorrow. The funny thing is that the place is closing down! The last course is on its way through now and will be another two months but not much longer. Then what!?

This place Gamston is an RAF School staffed mostly by Canadians.

October 10
Met Jack Williamson in the mess tonight. He graduated with me at #5. Had a good talk and placed some of the old boys.

October 11
It’s the craziest thing me being posted here! The place is closing down! There’s no flying as of this afternoon and the pupils all have to be away by the 15th. What a life!

The students are going tomorrow and the day after to various other OTUs and as for us – I haven’t the vaguest notion what will happen to us. It’s an interesting situation anyway!

October 12
Very quiet night in barracks as everyone else is out getting drunk to celebrate the closing of #86 OTU.

October 23
After I got settled I went up to Ontario Services Club, and who should I see but Gord Dickie - a surprise to put it mildly. Had a bit of talk, then he had to rush. He’s just finished AFU.

October 26
Met Russ Quick at the Club. He just got over from Canada (has 1,200 hours and I have about 550 - graduated two weeks ahead of me). At the Ontario Services Club I also met Stewart, who graduated with me.

October 27
Went skating again. Went to see “Hail the Conquering Hero” tonight – very good, but it made me a bit homesick.

October 28
I went to an American Club after with Bill Bassett to eat - what a meal! Pork chops, and an inch or more thick! About the best meal I’ve had in London.

While I was washing up at the Club a V2 fell pretty close by – shook all the silverware and me too. Went to the show after and then back here. It’s a wonderful moonlit night out.

And so I became 21 years of age – my, my!

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