Merchant Navy Special Operations August 1944

Living History

I have been exchanging information with the family of the late William Frederick (Bill) Johnston. Bill had an adventurous life as an AB in the MN from 1937 until 1946. He was on the Romanby when it was captured in Narvik, was interned in Sweden. He escaped on the Elisabeth Bakke as part of Operation Performance, with the Mate of the Romanby in command.

According to an entry in his Discharge Book, on 9 August 1944 he signed on for a ‘Special Operation’ (no ship named) and remained there until 17 October, after which he signed on the Chant 12 as Mate. He told his nephew that he was given training in the use of explosives and limpet mines at a stately home, presumed to be Beaulieu House in Hampshire. He implied that the operation was to have been in Cherbourg, but it never happened.

Can anyone cast any light on what the operation might have been and who else was involved?


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