Belfast Telegraph

Petition calling for Dambuster to be knighted to be handed to Downing Street

A petition calling for the last surviving British Dambuster to be knighted will be delivered to Downing Street, after it gathered more than 200,000 signatures.

George "Johnny" Johnson was part of Royal Air Force 617 Squadron, which conducted a night of raids on German dams in 1943 in an effort to disable Hitler's industrial heartland.

The 95-year-old is the last surviving British member of the Bomber Command crews who used Barnes Wallis's revolutionary bouncing bombs, releasing them 60ft above ground.

Of the 133 airmen who left on the missions, 53 did not return, giving the mission a survival rate of just over 60%.

Despite being nominated for an accolade, the former squadron leader was not recognised in the New Year Honours list.

TV presenter Carol Vorderman, who launched the petition and will present it alongside RAF veteran John Nichol, said the public response has been " overwhelming and cannot be ignored".

She added: "It's clear that the British public want heroes like Johnny to be given the respect they deserve. His story is as relevant today as it ever was. In addition, Johnny has devoted his life to helping others and continues to do so with his charity work and work with young people.

"We have put together a new official nomination for an honour which we will deliver at the same time. I'm not sure that anyone has had as many letters of support for a nomination as Johnny."

Speaking earlier this month from his home in Bristol, Mr Johnson said he was "absolutely amazed" at the public's response to the petition.

He said he would accept an honour if he was offered one, but added that it would be to remember his squadron and not himself.

He said: "I would... bearing in mind it wasn't me, it was the squadron it was going to - that's the whole point.

"I try to emphasise to people that I am the lucky one and I am still alive. It is the squadron that I served with, represented and still represent. Any honour that comes in my direction is an honour for the squadron."

Mr Johnson is one of only two survivors to take part in the bombing raids on the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams. The other is Canadian former front gunner Fred Sutherland.

The petition will be delivered to Downing Street at midday on Thursday, with those involved starting out at the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park at 10.30am.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph