Honour for last surviving Dambuster

Lanc thanks! Johnny Johnson receives his gift from The Bradford Exchange's Nick Mottershead.
Lanc thanks! Johnny Johnson receives his gift from The Bradford Exchange's Nick Mottershead.

The last surviving member of the Dambusters has been honoured for his service to the country with a model Lancaster desk clock.

Ninety-one-year-old George ‘Johnny’ Johnson received the gift, manufactured by specialist commemorative firm The Bradford Exchange and marking the 70th anniversary of Operation Chastise, at East Kirkby’s Lincolnshire Aviation Centre.

With the centre’s Just Jane Lancaster acting as the backdrop, Johnny recalled his time with 617 squadron.

As the bomb-aimer, Johnny was responsible for releasing the bouncing bomb that successfully struck the Sorpe dam, to a cry of ‘thank Christ’ from rear gunner Dave Rodger.

Johnny said of the award: “People ask how I feel about the Dambuster raid and I have to say I feel privileged, honoured and lucky enough to have taken part.

“This special award I have been given is testament to this and something I will treasure for all my days.”

Johnny - who lives in Newark and served in the RAF for 22 years, leaving as a squadron leader - is the last surviving British member of the Bomber Command crews who used Barnes Wallis’s revolutionary bouncing bombs to attack the Ruhr Valley dams and seriously damage the German war machine.

“Our crew was one of five chosen to attack the Sorpe,” Johnny added.

“Unlike the other dams, which would be front-on attacks, the Sorpe was tucked in a valley. We would have to fly down and along it and drop the bomb as near as possible to its centre.”

In 2008, Johnny returned to Sorpe to stand on the very spot where his bomb breached the dam.

“We didn’t completely destroy it because only two Lancasters made it through, but we did enough damage for the Germans to have to empty the reservoir to repair it.’