25/26.07.1943 No. 429 Squadron Wellington X HE803 P/O. Keith McL. Johnston
Date: 25/26th July 1943 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: No. 429 Squadron
Type: Wellington X
Base: RAF East Moor
Location: Culemborg (1)
Pilot: P/O. Keith McLean Johnston J/16067 RCAF Age 25. Killed
Obs: Sgt. Howard William Clarke R/130684 RCAF
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Frank William Robert Frost 1320228 RAF
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Joseph Arthur Marcel Lortie R/79144 RCAF
Air/Gnr: Lt. J.C Elliott 0885955 USAAF
Richard van de Velde and indeed Aircrew Remembered would very much like to obtain any photographs of this crew in particular of P/O. Keith McLean Johnston - please contact us in the first instance.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:39 hrs. on an operation to bomb Essen. Over 700 aircraft taking part in this operation overseen by the Commander of American Bomber Command Brigadier General Fred Anderson, who flew as a passenger on an 83 Squadron Lancaster.
'Window' (2) was still very new and the allies wanted to make best use of this diversion. The raid was a success with damage to the mainly industrial areas of the city. In particular the Krupps works suffered its most damage during the complete war. Its founder, Dr Gustav Krupp suffered a stroke the following morning of the raid.
51 Industrial buildings were destroyed, 83 more suffering serious damage. Nearly 3,000 homes were destroyed. Casualties on the ground amounted to 165 civilian men, 118 women, 22 children, 22 German forces, 131 foreign workers and 42 prisoners of war. 1,208 others ere injured with 12 people missing.
Hptm. Hans-Dieter Frank (3) of Stab I./NJG1 claimed to have shot down the Wellington at 02:30 hrs 500 metres south of Culemborg.
(1) Reports differ as to the loss area. According to the British Red Cross reports shown they crew were ordered to bale out with the pilot following but his chute failed to deploy. Aircraft crashing at Culemborg. Other reports state that after a forced landing the pilot tried to take off again, but the aircraft hit trees and crashed near Asch.
(2) Window or Chaff as it is known today, is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, which either appears as a cluster of secondary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns.
(3) This was the 46th victory by Hptm Hans-Dieter Frank who went on to claim a massive 52 confirmed kills (plus a further 5 unconfirmed) before he was killed on the 27/28th September 1943. His aircraft was in collision with a Bf110 of stab 1./NJG1 - he managed to bale out but was strangled when he failed to disconnect the cable of his radio helmet before ejecting from his He219. The crew of the Bf110 were also killed during the collision.
P/O. Keith McLean Johnston. Bergen-Op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery. Grave 5.G.10. Born on the 26th December 1917 the son of John Thomas Johnston and Margaret Ann Johnston (née Thompson), husband of Elizabeth Robertson (née Smith) Johnston, of Blairgowrie, Perthshire, Scotland. Keith was the youngest of 8 children.
For further details our thanks to Richard van de Velde and his great research work in this area. Also to the following sources.