Flight Sergeant Conrad George JOHNSTON

Service No: 412066
Born: Wingham NSW, 25 June 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 21 June 1941
Unit: No. 466 Squadron, RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft HX312), Germany, 22 January 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Losser (De Lutte) Roman Catholic Churchyard, Overijssel, Netherlands,
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Oswald Arthur and Ada Louisa Johnston, of Wingham, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Wingham NSW
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 21-22 January 1944
Target: Magdeburg
Total Force: Dispatched – 648, Attacking – 585
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 21, Attacking – 19; No. 463 Dispatched – 11, Attacking – 10; No. 466 Dispatched – 16, Attacking – 13: No. 467 Dispatched – 13, Attacking – 13
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,024
Total Aircraft Lost: 55
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 466 – 1; No. 467 – 1

Again on 21st-22nd January the raid on Magdeburg was another nearly total failure. The diversionary attack on Berlin failed to distract the enemy fighters which waited for the bomber stream near Hamburg and then flew with it to the target. Only one Australian Lancaster was attacked, but several crews found that their visual-warning radar sets were jammed by enemy counter-measures and voiced the fear that fighters were homing on transmissions from these sets. One Halifax of No. 466 was badly damaged in a collision with another bomber and had to return early while several more RAAF aircraft were damaged by gun fire. Visibility at the target was good but enemy decoy markers misled the later Pathfinders so that nearly all the bombs fell outside the city. Australian crews were sharply divided in their reports, those early at the target declaring that only scattered incendiary fires were apparent while the late arrivals, who undoubtedly bombed decoys, were enthusiastic about the huge fires apparent on the ground. Only the southern suburbs sustained real damage with results of military value at the Krupp Crusonwerke tank factory.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 655, 658

Halifax HX312 took off from RAF Leconfield at 2004 hours on the night of 21/22nd January 1944 to bomb Magdeburg, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 2000 lb (pound) (900 kg), 2 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs, Clusters 7 x 90 x 4 lb (2 kg), 4 x 8 x 30 lb.(14 kg) Sixteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and of these HX 312 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at De Lutte (Overijssel), a village on the Dutch/ German border, and 4 kms east south east of Oldenzaal. Five of the crew were killed two became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of HX312 were:

Flight Sergeant J E Dobson (417036) (RNZAF) (Bomb Aimer) PoW
Flight Sergeant Lyle Doust (420161) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 October 1945
Sergeant Sydney Hennan (1028076) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Conrad George Johnston (412066) (Pilot)
Sergeant John Fisher Morgan (1417169) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Kevin Thompson (422757) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant Leonard William Wykes (1386942) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

In a 1945 report the then Warrant Officer Doust stated “On the way back from Magdeburg we were to port of track and I altered course again to port to avoid the anti-aircraft fire around Hanover mistaking it for Bremen. The Pilot was weaving when one engine received two direct hits and he ordered the Flight Engineer to feather the propeller. The Flight Engineer said he could not feather the prop. The Pilot gave to Bale out order. I bent down to open the escape hatch and received a blow on the side of the head which made me unconscious. I don’t remember opening the escape hatch or baling out but the Bomb Aimer told me that I did it. Dobson was taken prisoner and I was in camp with him. The rest of the crew members were killed. The Aircraft crashed on the Dutch border west of Osnabruck. I was wounded and asked a farmer for a doctor. He obtained a doctor and the police. Released by Army on May 2nd 1945.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB702 (Pilot Officer Robert Norman Allan (416830) (Pilot)) on 21 January 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED803 (Pilot Officer Jack Mitchell (408312) (Pilot)) on 22 January 1944.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/21/113

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