Pilot Officer John Littlejohn

Member for three years of the Third Ward, Perth Town Council, Councillor John (Jack) Littlejohn was a pilot officer with the RAFVR Littlejohn served in the First World War at the age of 18 with the Royal Flying Corp. At the outbreak of Second World War, he was granted a leave of absence from the council to take up his commission in the RAF. 

Littlejohn was aairman of wide experience, a member of the Scottish Gliding Club and one of the first members of the Strathtay Aero Club. He was 41 years of age, married with two children and resided at 6 Charlotte Street, Perth. He was in business in Perth as a tea merchant. Littlejohn had worked in India for some years as a tea-planter. 

In the operational record books for RAF 37 Squadron, in the ‘Summary of Events’ throughout the month of September 1940several squadron Wellington aircraft were on standby in case of invasion. Operation Sea Lion (Unternehmen Seelöwewas the German plan for the invasion of Britain. Hitler indefinitely postponed the German invasion on 17 September 1940. The entry for 16 September 1940 states:

Stand By, 8 aircraft stood by at 3 hours during the day and night on September 9th, 1940, also 2 aircraft stood by during the same period at 5 hours’ notice for the attack of a possible sea borne invasion force. 

On the night of Sunday 29 September 1940 Vickers Wellington Mk.Ic, R3150 took off from RAF Feltwell in Norfolk, England. It was one of 11 Vickers Wellingtons from RAF 37 Squadron on an operation to bomb targets in Germany and The Netherlands.  

  • 8 aircraft were assigned to Primary Target, L86 Aluminium Works at Bitterfeld, north of Leipzig, Secondary Target, Z29 Fokker Works, Amsterdam. 
  • 1 aircraft was assigned to Primary Target, M.480 Marshalling Yard at Erhang (possibly Ehrang/Quint (Trier)). Secondary Target 60˚ Z40 2,000 yards. 
  • 1 aircraft was assigned to Primary Target, M431 Marshalling Yard at Osnabrück, Secondary Target, Z29 Fokker Works, Amsterdam. 
  • 1 aircraft was assigned to Primary Target M482 Marshalling Yard at Mannheim, Secondary Target, M469 Marshalling Yard at Coblenz. 

As a last resort, the aircraft could target SEMO (self-evident military objectives) or MOPA (military objectives previously attacked). 

On the outward journey, aircraft attacking L86 were ordering to cross the coast at Lowestoft, those attacking M480 and M482 at Ordford Ness and the aircraft attacking M482, at Yarmouth. Around Liepzig and in the vicinity of Bitterfeld, 9/10-10/10 cloud made identification of the target impossible. Heavy clouds in the vicinity of Erhang, Mannheim and Osnabrück prevented location of these targets. 

Of the eight aircraft ordered to attack the Aluminium Factory at Bitterfeld one, owing to engine trouble, was forced to attack the alternative target, the Fokker Works at Amsterdam. Despite dropping four flares, they were unable to identify their target at Bitterfeld. On the return journey, an attack was observed on a highly explosive target. A further attack was therefore carried out from 10,000 feet, which caused an addition of two fires. Explosions from the previous attacks were very violent and were observed still taking place for a considerable time after the aircraft had left the target. It is estimated that the position of the objective was ten miles south west of Magdeburg. 

Another aircraft on its return journey bombed Hamelin aerodrome and an adjacent railway. Bombs were seen to straddle the target and caused heavy explosionsAnother aircraft returning saw a flare path five miles east of the Dümmer See. An attack was carried out from 10,000 feet, the stick of bombs falling across the flare path causing large fires. Another attacked the Fokker Works at Amsterdam from 8,000 feet. Bursts were observed in the southern position of the target area causing several fires, which were visible for a considerable distance. One Wellington bombed an unidentified aerodrome from 12,000 feet causing three large fires. Lastly, another Wellington observed flying taking place at Aschersleben. An attack was carried out from 5,000 feet which caused three big explosions and fires. 

Varying amounts of heavy and moderate flak were encountered by crews over targets. Searchlight activity appeared to be rather more intense than usual, which it is thought indicates that fighter patrols were active. This was borne out by the fact that red lights were fired from the ground into the path of approaching aircraft. Searchlights then openedup on the position of these lights. 

Vickers Wellington Mk.Ic, R3150 failed to return from this operation. Several other crews reported having seen an aircraft shot down in flames in the vicinity of OsnabrückWellington Mk.Ic, R3150 crashed at Malgarten, north of Bramsche, Germany.  

On board the aircraft were: 

Flying Officer Arthur Collins Dingle RAFVR (72148), pilot, age 30 

Pilot Officer Gerald Percy Turner RAFVR (79576), observer, age 24  

Sergeant George Henry Taylor RAF (644896), wireless operator/air gunner, age 21  

Sergeant Peter Archibald Young RAF (650682), wireless operator/air gunner, age 19  

Pilot Officer John Littlejohn RAFVR (79207) air gunner, age 41 

The crew initially were buried in the Epe/Malgarten Cemetery (north east of Bramsche); later, they were reinterred and buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery    

The first night of the London Blitz was 7 September 1940. Some 348 German bombers escorted by 617 fighters pounded London until 6.00 pm. A second group attacked two hours later guided by the fires lit by incendiary bombs. The Blitz lasted 79 days and eight days later, Britain was considering celebrating the winning of the Battle of Britain. The Battle of Britain day is annually, 15 September. The RAF shot down 56 German aircraft and it was an overwhelming and decisive defeat for the Luftwaffe. On 10 September 1940, considering the destruction and terror inflicted on civilians by the German bombing, the British War Cabinet instructed British bombers to drop their bombs ‘anywhere’ if unable to reach their targets.  

German Nazi bomber was on show in the Central Scotland Ice Rink, Perth on 2 October 1940. The bomber a severely damaged Heinkel HE 111 arrived on 1 October 1940 and was shown in a marque adjoining the rink. It had been shot down in Scotland – it was on view to the public in order to raise funds for the war effort. It had been obtained from the RAF by the agency of A M Mackay, secretary of the Strathtay Aero Club and the display was organised by Adam Alexander, secretary-manager of Perth Ice Rink. The charge was 6d for adults and 3d for children. It was so big (fuselage 54 feet) that even though the doors of the ice rink were taken off, it could not be gotten into the rink.  

From the Perthshire Advertiser, Saturday, 5 October 1940: 

To the managers of the cinema houses in Perth, editors of the “Perthshire Advertiser” and “Perthshire Constitutional” for so willingly cooperating with us to advertise our exhibition we also convey our warmest thanks. This is the first German bomber to be exhibited in this part of Scotland, and everybody is urged to try and see it. Besides seeing it for yourself what massive machines these bombers are, you also see how devastatingly our gallant airmen in Spitfires and Hurricanes deal with them. See for yourselves the bullet holes and smashed engine. Together they tell a thrilling story of the heroism, daring and dauntless courage of the men of the R.A.F., and your contributions are for good causes, parcels for our prisoners of war through the Red Cross, Spitfires to bring more of these monsters crashing to earth, and funds to help in the initial training of budding pilots to man the Spitfires.

Pilot Officer John Littlejohn, Perthshire Advertiser 2 October 1940

RAF BOMBER COMMAND (CH 469) Vickers Wellington Mk IA, L7779, ‘LF-P’ of No. No. 37 Squadron in flight, June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126763

ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (CH 17883) A 4,000-lb GP Bomb is hoisted from its trolley during operational trials at Marham, Norfolk. It entered general service with Bomber Command squadrons in early 1943, but proved inferior to the 4,000-lb HC Bomb in its blast effect and was withdrawn from service by the end of the year. In the background Vickers Wellingtons of No. 115 Squadron RAF can be seen parked at their dispersals. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212745

ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1939-1941. (CH 3223) Close-up of the damage caused to Vickers Wellington Mark IC, L7818 ‘AA-V’, of No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF, at Feltwell, Norfolk, after returning from an attack on Munster, Germany, on the night of 7/8 July 1941. While over the Zuider Zee, cannon shells from an attacking Messerschmitt Me 110 struck the starboard wing (A), causing a fire from a fractured fuel line which threatened to to spread… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210092