Britain's Last Surviving Dambuster Awarded MBE

Britain’s last surviving Dambuster has been presented with his MBE at Buckingham Palace.

95-year-old George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE, DFM, was a bomb-aimer in the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron.

The squadron was notorious for experimenting with bouncing bombs while conducting night raids on German dams on May 16th and 17th 1943.

George 'Johnny' Johnson joined the RAF at just 19-years-old in 1940.

He flew 50 missions over his 22-year service and retired in 1962 having reached the rank of Squadron Leader.

Squadron Leader George Leonard 'Johnny' Johnson from Bristol is made an MBE
Picture: PA

He is renowned for successfully dropping his bouncing bomb on the Sorpe Dam from a height of just 30ft at the tenth time of asking.

They did not destroy it but the Germans had to empty it to repair it, causing major disruption to the war effort.

Johnny said that as the Queen gave him his MBE, she told him she was:

"Glad to see the Dambusters are still here."

Johnny's MBE comes after a number of campaigns calling for him to be knighted.

Most recently in January, Carol Vorderman delivered a petition to Westminster containing 235,000 signatures after she called his lack of recognition a “disgrace”.

After the ceremony, Johnny told Forces News:

"For me it was a great meeting. Another one that goes top of the score as far as I'm concerned."


'Johnny' Johnson is the last survivor of the 133-strong squadron which undertook the challenging operation nicknamed Operation Chastise.

Charged with dropping four-tonne skipping bombs on dams in the Ruhr Valley, he and others had to dodge intense anti-aircraft fire from the Germans.

According to Mr Johnson the specially adapted bouncing bombs looked like "glorified dustbins", adding he still has "strong memories" from that time:

 "That is something which will live forever as far as I'm concerned.

"I don't volunteer, but if people ask will I talk to their club or their group, that means they are interested and if they are interested I will talk to them."

Fifty-three men died during the operation, three were captured and eight of the 19 planes were lost.

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

Mr Johnson has raised between £15,000 and £20,000 in the last seven years for organisations such as the RAF Benevolent Fund and Group 617 in South Wales, which runs PTSD drop-in sessions.

He also worked as a teacher after 22 years' service in the air force, moving on to Rampton Secure Hospital where he taught those detained there. 

Cover photo and copy: PA

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