diary of bruce johnston diary of bruce johnston





Mission Notes: Kamen

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
154 Lancasters participated in attacks on the Castrop-Rauxel, Kamen and Gelsenkirchen (Nordstem) synthetic oil plants. Although none of the Witchford airplanes were lost, Johnston’s plane was badly damaged by flak. The 115 Squadron Operations Record Book incorrectly notes this was Milne’s aircraft. Johnston was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for getting his plane and crew back safely.

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

Planes from 115 Squadron:
22 (8 from A flight, 7 from B flight, 7 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:

Johnston’s Plane: KO-W (W.PD 293)

Take-off: 4:08 pm

Landing: 8:26 pm

Round trip time: 4 hrs 18 mins

Bombing Height: 17,000 ft


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

Happy Valley - RAF nickname for the Ruhr valley industrial area in Germany

“W” for Willie - Lancaster bomber, with “W” as the final code letter

U/S - Unserviceable, or unusable

Flak - German anti-aircraft fire

CSU - Constant Speed Unit, which kept the propeller rotating at the same RPMs

Port outer - Engine on the left side of the airplane furthest from the fuselage

Came back on three - Three of the four engines were working

Piece - Piece of flak

Bob - Livingstone, Johnston’s bomb aimer

“O” in KO-W - Code letters painted on the side of the airplane

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

Bickford - American pilot and friend posted with Johnston to 115 Squadron at Witchford

Formatted - Flew in formation

Prang - Usually refers to crashing a plane on landing or takeoff at the airfield, but in this case means the target was successfully bombed

Chops - Planes that were shot down

Cookie - 4,000 lb bomb, consisting of a steel tube packed with RDX explosive

Six chutes - Six parachutes (six of the seven men bailed out of the airplane). It is now believed that this plane was Lancaster DS787 (JI-G2) from 514 Squadron, Waterbeach, which was hit by a bomb dropped from another lancaster. Although 6 men bailed out, only three survived to be taken prisoner.

September 11, 1944 (Monday)

Operation # 27 - Kamen

One 4,000 pound “cookie” and sixteen 500 pound bombs

Went to Happy Valley today in “W” for Willie – now it’s U/S for a fair space.

Flak got us just on the turn away from the target. Got the CSU and the other controls to the Port Outer so we came back on three.

Another piece came into the bomb aiming compartment just past the end of the cushion and missed Bob by about half a foot – hit his distributor. His target map is a mess – about six holes in it!

There was another hole the size of your fist through the “O” of “KO-W” and just behind the ammo boxes for the rear turret on the port side.

Bickford passed me just out of the target and when he saw who it was he came back and formatted on me all the way back.

It was a synthetic oil target and it was quite a prang! About 15,000 feet of smoke. Saw three chops. One on the way in apparently had his cookie hit because there was one terrific orange-red flash and pall of smoke then there was nothing – not even pieces to fall down!

There was another past the target with six chutes and another halfway home with four chutes.

No fighters – though some people saw a few being chased by our escort. Saw red flak puffs for the first time today – apparently marker flak. About a hundred black puffs then a vivid orange puff.

Happy Valley proper – to our south on the way in – was one mass of flak (I’ve never seen anything like it!).

Flying through flak

Previous | Next

© Bruce Johnston, Mark Johnston, Scott Johnston

Diary Pages | Colleagues | Terms & Slang | Operations | Timeline
Links | Guestbook | Search This Site