diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston






Johnston's Crew

All of Johnston’s crew survived their tour with Bomber Command and returned home in late 1994, with the exception of Ted Hughes (see below).

Murray Henderson returned to Canada and entered the family building materials business just outside Toronto, Ontario. He passed away April 1, 2007 at age 91.

Murray Henderson

Frank Marsden worked as a telephonist at the British General Post Office upon leaving the RAF. He also joined the Labour Party and was elected as a Member of Parliament in the 1970s. He passed away in November 2006 at age 83.

John Peardon returned to Canada, then settled in Florida, where he worked at the Seaport of Miami until he retired.

John Peardon

Ted Hughes was killed while with India Command when his Liberator was shot down over Burma on August 3, 1945, only a few days before the end of the war.

Ted Hughes

It is not known what became of Bob Livingstone & Dave Taylor.

Dave Taylor

Colleagues who were killed

Johnston made a number of friends both in Canada and England during his two years of training, many of whom are described in his diary. Sadly, like a large percentage of the men who flew in Bomber Command, many of them did not survive the war. These included:

Herb Baker was killed January 29, 1944 in training when he crashed on his first solo flight in a Wellington bomber

Peter Bickford was killed September 16, 1944 when his plane collided with another Lancaster on the mission to Moerdijk

Ed Chatterton was shot down August 30, 1944 by a night fighter over Stettin

Gord Dickie died on a mission on April 5, 1945

Gord Dickie

Fletch Foulke was shot down July 28, 1944 on the mission to Stuttgart

Bob Giffin was the only one of “Red” Campbell’s crew killed July 28, 1944 when their plane was shot down by a night fighter on the mission to Stuttgart

Lyle Goring died August 12, 1944 on a mission over Normandy

Lyle Goring (left) with Bruce Johnston

Lionel Kirsch and Dick MacLaren were killed together September 13, 1944 on a mission to Frankfurt

Lionel Kirsch

Dick MacLaren

Sidney Albert “George” Letts was killed when his flak damaged bomber crashed in England while returning from a mission July 18, 1944

Sidney Albert “George” Letts

Maurice Morgan-Owen died on a mission in May 1944

Maurice Morgan-Owen

Al Phillips was killed June 13, 1944 over the Ruhr on his first mission

While Cecil Nugent survived and returned home, he and his wife were killed shortly afterwards on their honeymoon, ironically in a plane crash.

Cecil “Nugie” Nugent

Colleagues who survived

Alex “Red” Campbell, while shot down behind enemy lines, managed to escape with the help of the French Resistance, and returned home in October 1944. Unknown to either Campbell or Johnston, they spent the 50 years following the war living in Ontario less than 40 kms from each other.

Alex “Red” Campbell

A.C. Alldridge’s plane collided with another bomber on a mission, but he survived and became a prisoner of war.

Charles Andrewartha survived the war, and continued to serve in the RAF, where he was awarded a DFC.

Charles Andrewartha

It is believed that all of the following friends survived the war, although it is not known what happened to them:

Bill Hall
Don Hill
Johnny Hislop
HH Hooker
Howard Janke

Howard Janke (right) with Bruce Johnston



While Johnston’s diary ends March 2, 1945, his time in the service continued.

He remained in Transport Command for the rest of 1945, ferrying VIP's (rumored to include Winston Churchill) around the Middle East, India, and Africa. He returned home to Canada in late January, 1946.

Johnston (right) returning home on the Mauritania - January 1946

He was honourably released from service March 11, 1946, having served since February 3, 1942. During this time, he received the following Orders, Decorations, Medals, Mentions and Commendations:

Distinguished Flying Cross

1939-1945 Star
Awarded for two months' active aircrew service during the war

France & Germany Star
Awarded for service in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany between June 6/44 and May 8/45

Defense Medal
Awarded to Canadians for 6 months of service in Britain during the war

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp
Awarded to Canadians who have voluntarily served on Active Service and completed 18 months during the war - clasp for 60 days served outside Canada

Like many pilots, Johnston’s plan after the war was to be a commercial pilot, as demand was high from amongst experienced bomber pilots. However, by 1946 the pilots that had returned to Canada since the war ended almost a year earlier, had taken most of the available jobs. As well, at that time commercial pilots required 20/20 vision without glasses, and he was concerned that since both his parents wore glasses, he could soon be out of a job. Johnston thus decided not to risk committing to being a commercial pilot. Ironically, he never required glasses until later in life.

Johnston upon his arrival home in January 1946

Instead, Johnston took advantage of the Canadian government’s offer to returning veterans of their choice of a subsidy towards a small home, or paid college education. He completed his last year of high school, which he had forsaken to join the service, and used the government funding to study medicine at the University of Toronto.

By this time, he and Barbara had gone their separate ways. While in medical school, he met his future wife Patricia Edwards, and they were married in 1950. They had three boys, Bruce (1955), Mark (1957), and Scott (1962).

Johnston graduated from medical school in 1953, and set up a family practice in Scarborough, an eastern suburb of Toronto. His practice prospered, and he added another doctor as his partner. By the early 1960s, they had a half dozen staff and nurses working for them.

Johnston was very well liked by his medical peers and loved by his patients. He was on call at all hours, and continued to make house calls long after many of his colleagues had given up this practice. And even when he had a big workload – for example on days when he was working in his office in the morning, and the afternoon, and in the evening – he would first go over to the hospital and check in on whichever of his patients were there, and have a quick visit with all of them. It was usually only 20-40 minutes of his time, but he did it almost every day – weekends and holidays included.

Johnston did well and became head of Emergency Medicine at Scarborough General Hospital. Noting the increasing population and crowding at existing facilities, Johnston lobbied for a new hospital in Scarborough in 1964. His efforts contributed to the building of Scarborough Centenary Hospital (now Rouge Valley Centenary), which opened in 1967. He was the first Chief of Staff at this hospital, recruiting all of the initial medical personnel. He was on its Board of Directors, and served for many years as Chief of the Emergency Department.

He put many hours into his time representing the hospital, most of which were completely voluntary, since at the time, no remuneration was associated with many of these roles.

In 1994, the Board of Governors of the hospital recognized his long-standing contributions by naming the new meeting facility the Dr Bruce Johnston Conference Centre.

Johnston had a variety of hobbies over the years including photography, model trains, golf, personal computing, reading and fishing. He was also very handy, and was always working on some repair, upgrade or other project at either the house, or the cottage the family had when the boys were growing up.

While Johnston never kept in touch with his military colleagues, he was proud of his role during the war, and looked up some of his old haunts when he visited England in the 1980s.

In 1990, Johnston suffered a serious stroke from which he never fully recovered. Although paralyzed on one side and unable to speak, he was able to get around in his motorized wheelchair, and to communicate. Over the next few years, despite these challenges, and failing health, he never lost his dignity and good humour, and continued to live life to its fullest.

In 1995, Johnston passed away, 50 years after the events in this diary were recorded. His wife passed away three years later, and they are buried together at St James Cemetery in Toronto.

Bruce Johnston - Oct 1990


We have been the fortunate recipients of tremendous assistance and encouragement from virtually everyone with whom we have discussed this project, and we would especially like to thank the following people:

For technical assistance in deciphering terms, and helping us understand what life was like back in 1944: Jeff Young and Keith Clifford at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario; Andrew Walz and the restoration team working on Lancaster FM104 at the Toronto Aerospace Museum; and Barry Aldridge at the RAF Witchford Museum.

For assistance in searching for people and information: Bert Coles, Wally Fydenchuck, Ian Lucas, Chris Fleetwood, and Bob Franklin.

For help in scanning much of the visual content of the website, Cynthia Proctor.

And for development of the website itself, Randy Melder, and his team at Spin Internet Media.

And finally we would like to thank a few of Dad’s colleagues from the war, whose skills sixty years ago helped Dad make it safely through his training and operational tour, and who we have had the honor of getting to know: Murray Henderson (Navigator) of Whitby, Ontario, John Peardon (Gunner) of Miami, Florida, and Frank Marsden (Wireless Operator) of Liverpool, England. Also, Alex “Red” Campbell (Pilot) of King City, Ontario, a friend and colleague who trained with Dad and shared his own story with us, while offering invaluable assistance throughout this project.


Many thanks to the following friends and organizations who have allowed us to use their photos, which have added so much to this website:

Barry Aldridge
The shot of the Lancaster in the hanger at Witchford (Jul 20)

Alex Campbell
Shots of Baker & Mair (Jan 29), Timms (Feb 1), Gavard (Apr 6), Campbell (May 24), Garland (May 25), Janke (Jun 5), Chapman (Jun 22), and the op to Villers-Bocage (Jun 30)

Ian Duff
John Traill's picture (Jun 17)

Bob Evans and the Nanton Lancaster Socitey Air Museum
The photo of the Mosquito that appears in the Jan 6 diary entry, as well as the Stirling (May 9), Halifax (Aug 3), Oxford (Sep 7), and various Lancasters (May 31, Jun 27, Jul 18, & Aug 9)

Chris Fleetwood
Photos of buildings at Witchford, both contemporary (Jun 26 & Jul 31), and historical (Jul 9 & Jul 21)

Remco Immerzeel
Photo of Giffin’s grave (Jul 30)

Andrew Kinton
Photo of Sidney Albert “George” Letts (Jul 18)

Scott Messick
Photo of the Lion Squadron Pass (Dec '44)

Paul Morgan-Owen
Photo of Maurice Morgan-Owen (Apr 17)

Philip Reinders
The Dummy parachutist photo and Moerdijk drop zone map (Sep 17)



© Bruce Johnston, Mark Johnston, Scott Johnston

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