diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Le Havre

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
304 Lancasters tried to bomb German positions but there was low cloud, and only 109 aircraft bombed. Johnston was instructed by the Master Bomber not to bomb the target. McCue replaced Peardon on this mission. Kilsby’s plane was hit by flak near the target. He and his gunner were killed, the other five survived.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
21 (8 from A flight, 6 from B flight, 7 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:
1 (Kilsby)

Johnston’s Plane: KO-A (A.HK 595)

Take-off: 6:35 am

Landing: 9:40 am

Round trip time: 3 hrs 05 mins

Bombing Height: No bombs dropped


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

LeHavre - French port on the English Channel

“S” for Sugar - Lancaster bomber, with“S” as the final code letter

KO-A - Lancaster bomber, with “A” as the final code letter

“A” flight - One of three smaller groups of planes that comprised the squadron – 115 had “A”, “B” and “C” flights, of which Johnston was in “B”

Master bomber - Specific bomber that remained over the target area advising crews exactly which previously dropped marker flares to bomb, and which German decoy flares to ignore

Flat spin - A plane spinning out of control with its nose and tail horizontal to the ground – the plane’s belly is “flat” to the ground

Brought all of ’em back, except three which we left in the channel - Dropped three bombs in the English Channel to reduce their landing weight, and brought the rest back

Chop over the town - Plane that was shot down – this may have been Kilsby’s plane, which was hit by flak and crashed in the target area, with at least five of the crew bailing out successfully

Chutes - Parachutes

Flak - German anti-aircraft fire

Dave - Taylor, Johnston’s rear gunner

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

Artillery Spotting Austers - High winged, single engine unarmed planes used for artillery spotting, and observing the enemy

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

September 8, 1944 (Friday)

Operation # 26 - Le Havre

Eleven 1,000 pound and four 500 pound bombs

Got up at 2:30 a.m. Finally took off at six. Went to take “S” for Sugar but couldn’t get it going so took KO-A of “A” flight.

It was a shambles over the target – cloud down to 3,000 feet and the master bomber in a flat spin. Finally brought all of ’em back except three which we left in the channel.

There was a chop over the town – which we all saw very well indeed. Saw four chutes. There was a fair amount of light flak there and Dave sent a few rounds at ’em.

Hill had some fun chasing one of these artillery spotting Austers all over and scaring it half to death by pointing his rear turret at it. It was night tactics luckily.

Slept most of the rest of the day.

Artillery Spotting Auster

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