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Mission Notes: Moerdijk

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
This was a raid of 54 Lancasters bombing flak positions in support of “Operation Market Garden”, the landing of British and American troops in Arnhem and Nijmegen the next day. The raid on Moerdijk was less successful, with only near misses to the target, though the bridge was hit and main approach road was cut. Bickford’s plane collided with one from 90 Squadron, and crashed into the Dutch countryside, with no survivors.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
12 (4 from A flight, 4 from B flight, 4 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:
1 (Bickford)

Johnston’s Plane: KO-Q (Q.HK 549)

Take-off: 9:27 pm

Landing: 12:21 am

Round trip time: 2 hrs 54 mins

Bombing Height: 9,000 ft


Location - RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

Moerdijk - Town in Holland on the Waal River, 20 kms south of Rotterdam

Only forty-eight - 48 bombers participated on the mission, fewer than usual – the official records note the number as 54

Bickford / Bick - American pilot and friend posted with Johnston to 115 Squadron at Witchford - His loss is not surprising as for every 100 airmen in Bomber Command:
-51 were killed in action
-9 were killed in crashes over England
- 3 were seriously injured on operations
- 12 became prisoners of war
- 1 was shot down and evaded capture
- 24 survived unharmed

Chop - Plane that was shot down

TI - Target indicators - type of marker flare in different colours dropped by the Pathfinders that preceded the bomber stream, and used to identify a bombing target – in this case, red in colour

“Q” Queenie - Lancaster bomber, with “Q” as the final code letter

September 16, 1944 (Saturday)

Operation # 29 - Moerdijk

Eleven 1,000 pound and four 500 pound bombs

Did the 29th tonight. Bombed a railway bridge at Moerdijk in Holland. There were only forty-eight on the place.

Not a great deal of opposition but we lost Bickford and crew on it. Came as a bit of a shock to us! Saw a chop right at the target which must have been Bick. At the time I thought it was a bit big for a chop – but I guess it wasn’t.

They dropped Red TI on the target then lit the place up with flares and we bombed visually. We were in the first three to bomb and got back to base second. We had a grandstand view of things as we turned away.

Flew “Q” Queenie (the “Queen of the Fleet”). What a wreck! However, it sloggers there and back.

Moerdijk bombing run photo
from 9,000 ft

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