Bristol

Dambuster knighthood petition launched

George 'Johnny' Johnson
Image caption Mr Johnson said he was "gobsmacked" by the campaign but was concerned as "one of 133" he was being singled out.

A petition to have the last surviving British member of the Dambusters knighted has been launched online.

George "Johnny" Johnson, 92, who lives in Bristol, was 22 when he took part in the 1943 air raid on German dams using experimental "bouncing" bombs

A 1955 film cemented its place as one of the most famous episodes of World War II.

Mr Johnson said he was "gobsmacked" by the campaign but was concerned that as "one of 133" he was being singled out.

A bomb aimer, he joined the newly formed 617 Squadron in March 1943.

On 16 May of that year he was one of the 133-strong squadron who dodged anti-aircraft fire, power cables and mountainous terrain to drop the four-tonne skipping bomb on dams in the Ruhr Valley.

Eight out of the 19 planes were lost, 53 men died and three were captured.

But the young sergeant survived the mission and now a petition has been set up calling on the Government to "support his nomination in becoming a knight".

'Recognition sadly neglected'

The campaign, launched through the website Change.org, has already had support from across the country and from as far afield as Los Angeles.

But the retired Squadron Leader said he would only accept the honour if the "conditions were right".

"I'm the lucky one that's still alive but if - and I say it's a big if - if this campaign is successful, I would only accept it on the grounds that it's used as a tribute to the 55,500 of bomber command who were killed during the war," he said.

"There's been no recognition of those people really.

"They haven't been commemorated nearly as well as they should be and recognition has been sadly neglected."

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