Bristol

German call to honour Dambuster George 'Johnny' Johnson

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Media captionJohnny Johnson remembers the night he bombed the Sorpe Dam in Germany.

A museum in Germany is calling for the last surviving British member of the Dambusters to be honoured.

George "Johnny" Johnson was 22 when he took part in the 1943 air raid using experimental bouncing bombs in Germany.

Despite being nominated for the New Year's Honours list this year, the 95-year-old was omitted.

Oliver Koehler, from the Dambusters Museum in Germany, said "of course" he should be honoured. Carol Vorderman has also petitioned for him to be knighted.

A 237,000-signature petition calling for Mr Johnson to be knighted was taken to No 10 by Carol Vorderman and Gulf War veteran John Nichol in January.

It followed a petition by campaigner Paul Walmsley, who also wanted the recognition for the former airman.

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Media captionOliver runs a Dambuster museum in Germany and thinks Bomber Command should be honoured.

Bomb-aimer Mr Johnson, from Bristol, joined the newly-formed 617 Squadron in March 1943.

Two months later, 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.

Codenamed Operation Chastise, eight of the 19 planes were lost, 53 men died and three were captured.

Image copyright IWM/Getty Images
Image caption Sgt George Johnson (extreme left) was part of 617 Squadron based at Scampton, Lincolnshire

Despite Mr Johnson describing it as a "thrilling experience", he said he was "disgusted" Bomber Command had never been given its own campaign medal.

"I feel there's been no attempt to recognise the sacrifice these people made," he said.

'Controversial'

But historian and author of Bomber Command, Max Hastings, said there was "an embarrassment" and "an uncertainty" about how the country "should look back on the bombing".

"I do think the reluctance to issue a campaign medal does reflect how controversial it is and the possible upset it could cause in Germany," he said.

But Mr Koehler said Mr Johnson was "courageous" and had been "ready at any time" to "risk his life" and should be honoured.

The Cabinet Office said it could not comment on individual applications.

Image copyright Dambusters Museum Germany
Image caption The 1955 film - The Dam Busters - ensured the bouncing bomb, pictured, and the raid became one of the most famous episodes of World War Two

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