Library Shelf Five

30 Combat Missions over Germany: diary notes of a 467th BG(H) Navigator

Dean H. Johnson was navigator on the Lt. Frank Watson crew who arrived at Rackheath as a replacement crew on 18th September 44. Assigned to the 789th Squadron they commenced combat missions 9th October 44 and after 13 missions were selected for lead crew status and reassigned to the 791st lead Squadron for the remainder of their combat missions. The following "notes" are faithfully recorded as Dean Johnson and the crew experience the rigours and uncertainties of flying combat during the final seven months of air operations against Nazi Germany.



1 Coblenz    9 Oct 44 Marshalling Yards: PFF 6.30hrs 16-250 G.P.'s 22,000ft


"Had one hell of a time - rode on flight deck No GEE box No pilotage No radio just D.R. on Metro and there was a wind shift. Moderate Flak but no holes."


2 Cologne  14 Oct 44 Marshalling Yards: PFF 6.30hrs 16-250 G.P.'s, 4-500lb Incend.  24,000ft


"A bad time - Assembly area changed - Homed in on radio compass. Germans were jamming and we "homed" to 10 miles from Holland. Found error and returned to Dover. Could not find 467th. Tacked on to 448th and bombed with them.  Heavy Flak at target and return. 2 holes - one above waist window, the other in right wing. Don Hudson shotdown. MIA. Turned up POW 3 months later. Others killed. Rough mission."


3 Cologne  17 Oct 44 Centre of City: PFF 6.55hrs 6-500lb G.P.'s, 6-500lb IB  24,000ft


"Not a bad mission - some light inaccurate stuff at the target. The following Groups got none."


4 Neumunster  25 Oct 44 Focke-Wolfe Assembley Plant: PFF Barracks area MPI 6hrs 12-500lb G.P.'s 21,000ft


"Best one to date - route over North Sea over enemy territory 45 mins. Everything went swell - easy - no flak."


5 Harburg  30 Oct 44 Rheniania Oil Refinery: PFF 6.05hrs 20-300lb G.P.'s 22,000ft


"Never again! I hope! Went in over the Zuider Zee. Adverse weather all the way. Clouds up to 22,000ft. Many dog-legs around them. Straightened out on bomb run in - clouds and con trails. Lost #3 engine - salvoed bombs 6 miles south of target and turned to west. Let down to 17,000ft turned to 300 degrees and came out over coast near Heliogoland. 4 gun tracking flak at coast - several holes  - one piece hit bomb sight. Intercepted formation over North Sea and came on in. WORSE YET!"


6 Misburg 4 Nov 44 Oil Refinery nr. Hanover: PFF 7.20hrs 12-500lb G.P.'s 24,600ft


"Everything went well until we arrived on bomb run - turned visual at the last minute and all hell broke loose. Flak intense and accurate! Hydraulic system shot out. Charlie Shinn got hit on his arm - a brace stopped the velocity. R/O Sodano called "Bomb Bay on fire." and Maharrey left tail turret let off 2 and passed out. Sodano thought he was hit. Had to circle field for 1hr while we cranked down the wheels and flaps. Wonderful landing. WORSE YET!"


7 Karlsruhe 5 Nov 44 Marshalling Yards: PFF NICKEL Load. Leaflets. 7.30hrs 22,000ft


"I was praying for an easy one after yesterday and it was, relatively. Moderate accurate flak but no holes."


8 Aachen 16 Nov 44 Front Line Support - German troops Eschweiler area. 6.30 hrs 20-250lb Fragmentation bombs. GH. 22,500ft


"Heavy ground fog delayed take off. Our ground troops had a 1245 zero hour for their attack on the Ruhr. We finally took off on instruments and headed straight for the target. We were deputy Squadron-lead and took over lead over the channel after the leader aborted. Damn nice mission - everything went well. Bombs Away at 1244hrs. Rackheath base fogged in on return and we diverted to Lindholme RAF base."


9 Bielefeld 29 Nov 44 Railroad Viaduct: PFF 5.50hrs 8-1000lb G.P. 22,500ft Element Lead


"A good mission as far as Flak and Fighters - NONE. However we missed the target. It was GH Bombing. The viaduct is still standing."


10 Bebra 4 Dec 44 Marshalling Yards: PFF 6hrs 10-500lb G.P.'s 2-500lb Incend. 22,000ft Hi Right Squadron Deputy


"Very uneventful and easy. NO FLAK NO FIGHTERS."


11 Hanau 11 Dec 44 Marshalling Yards: PFF 7.45hrs 6-1000lb G.P.'s 22,300ft Hi Right Squadron Deputy


"Largest force of 8th Air Force Bombers to date. 5 Squadron effort for 467th. 672 planes in 2nd DIV. and 1600 in 8th AF. Good mission - no flak. We were due to parade over Paris on return but scrubbed because of weather."


12 Gerolstein 24 Dec 44 Marshalling Yards: Visual 6.40hrs 22-250lb G.P.'s 21,000ft


"Christmas Eve Mission. Bad weather all week and have "stood down". Super all out effort. 2000 Bombers in attack. 467th put up 63. Even "BIG PETE" flew, with carbines for protection. Each Squadron/Group had a different target. All of them were small marshalling yards at the base of Runstedt's Bulge. One of our Squadrons was hit by GAF. 


13 Coblenz 26 Dec 44 Marshalling Yards: Neiderlahnstein south of Coblenz Visual 6.15hrs 12-500lb G.P.'s 22,000ft


"A good visual day and the results were excellent. The RR Yards "HAIN'T NO MO'." Picked up some Flak over the BULGE. Got 6 holes - one in the nose."


14 Dresden 16 Jan 45 Marshalling Yards: PFF 9.30hrs 24,600ft


"Our first mission in 791st Squadron. Capt. Leonard rode as Command Pilot. Hugh Donlon (engineer) lacerated finger in heater fan. Diverted to RAF Church Fenton."


15 Magdeburg 6 Feb 45 Marshalling Yards: PFF


"Lots of Flak but it was 1000ft too low. CHAFF is good stuff. MICKY (RADAR) went out on way home past Hanover and also  a big wind shift. Got off course and went over Osnabruck and Munster. Attlebridge lost 2."


16 Meschede 19 Feb 45 Jet Components Factory: G.H. Bombing 7.30hrs 19,300ft


"Good mission. GEE box all the way. Flak at bomb Line out!"


17 Nurnberg 21 Feb 45 Marshalling Yards: PFF


"A long mission but no flak or fighters."


18 Berlin 26 Feb 45 Target centre of town-terror raid: PFF


"It was PFF and Cassidy messed up. We went from North to South over BERLIN and did not drop our bombs. Instead, we used it as an IP and dropped on Eberswalde."


19 Bielefeld 28 Feb 45 Railroad Viaduct: 3 miles NE of town. GH Bombing


"Once more after the Viaduct. Made a GH run and got some hits. The RAF finished it off that night."


20 Osnabruck 9 Mar 45 Marshalling Yards:


"Started a GH run. Turned visual at last minute. Could not pick up target. Dropped our bombs over. Light Flak."


21 Swinemunde 12 Mar 45 Marshalling Yards:


"A long mission - but a good one. Went in over Denmark and around south Sweden. Flew Group DEPUTY. 10/10ths cloud coverage and bombed PFF. NO FLAK!"


22 Zossen 15 Mar 45 General HQ German Army: South of Berlin Visual 7.20hrs 6-250lb G.P.'s 1 PFF Marker 19,800ft


"Take off delayed one hour because of fog and haze. Finally got off and took up position as WING DEPUTY. Mix up on VHF caused us to take over lead for a few minutes. Col. Shower was in lead with Capt. Littleford. A very good mission in and out. Ernie Sorrentino did a mighty fine job as Pilotage man. NO FLAK! NO FIGHTERS! Saw lots of Germany. Most Ever. Just 8 more."


23 Berlin 18 Mar 45 Centre of Town??? Visual 7.55hrs 2-1000lb G.P.'s 20,600ft


"The least said about this one the better. I think by far our roughest mission. Heavy Flak (155's) for 5-6 minutes at target. Intense and accurate, VERY. 30-40 holes. #546 (W. Shinn) went down over target with bomb bays on fire. Chapman, 2nd Sqd. lead also got it over Target. I saw Shinn's plane peel off after it was hit. Horrible sight. From then on I didn't think we would make it back, I rode the Flt. deck and did not see much Flak but I could hear it and feel it. I've never been so scared, Ever. Chapman turned up in Poland. Crashed. Everyone OK except Nav. Van Tress. He got it!"


24 Hespe 21 Mar 45 Jet Fighter base, 10 miles n. of Osnabruck Visual 4.30hrs Fragmentation bombs 21,000ft


"Group Deputy Lead. Took off in #671 but returned to field with#4 prop. gov. inop. Got in #862 and took off 25 mins. later. A "lovely" mission - - our best and easiest and by far the shortest. The Group got excellent results. Ryan flew as Pilotage Nav. in place of Ernie S. who was on pass. NO FLAK NO FIGHTERS. Landed at 11.45 AM. Again a "lovely" one. JUST 6 MORE!"


25 Osnabruck 23 Mar 45 Marshalling Yards: Visual 5.50hrs 22,000ft


"Flew Deputy Group Lead. Good position. Visual all the way. Got excellent hits on target. Also lots of Heavy, Intense, and Accurate Flak. Got 40 holes. Scared to death! Otherwise good mission. 5 MORE AND I HATE TO FACE 'EM"


26 Brunswick 31 Mar 45 Marshalling Yards: PFF 6.20hrs 4-500 G.P.'s & Smoke Marker


"Good mission - why?? I'll never know. 10/10ths clouds at target and low flak. CHAFF is wonderful. Balog rode as MICKY operator. Good Boy." "4 MORE. HERE'S HOPIN' and PRAYIN'."


27 Perleburg 4 Apr 45 Jet Airfield 30 nw of Berlin Visual 8hrs 10-150lb G.P.'s PFF Marker 21,000ft


"Flew Group Deputy on Capt. Ed Wild. Had to be visual or we were to return with our bombs. On bomb run target area was clear but target itself was obscure. Big correction at last and only a 10 sec. run. Other Sqdns. brought bombs back. Got jumped by jets. Maharrey and Wagoner cut loose mighty fine. 2 passes made at us - no hits."


28 Krummel 7 Apr 45 Dynamite plant 10 se of Hamburg Visual 7hrs


"Third Squadron Lead. Turned over to deputy at W.I.P. Bomb sight inop. NO FLAK. 1 ME 109 made a pass at our formation. Mid-air collision with WENGER's plane. The 109 spun in. Wenger's ship had right stabilizer torn off but was still under control. No report as yet.2 MORE!"


29 Nurnburg 8 Apr 45 Jet Airfield 10 west of town Visual 22,000ft


"Flew with JACKSON'S crew to catch up with Frank Watson. A pretty good mission. Charlie Shinn finished up today. 35 missions. JUST ONE MORE."


30 Lechfeld 9 Apr 45 Jet Airfield 10 west of Munich Visual 7.20hrs 21,000ft


"Flew 2nd Squadron lead. Abort in #250. Changed to #513 and carried on. WE weren't to be denied to day! A long mission but a good one. 5 bursts of flak at target and 1 B24 went down. Blew up around 10,000ft. Kenny R. hit the target for a VERY GOOD. FINIS! HAIN'T NO MO'!"