Bristol

Last British Dambuster George 'Johnny' Johnson appointed MBE

George "Johnny" Johnson Image copyright PA

The last surviving British member of the Dambusters raid has been made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

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

The 96-year-old, who has been the subject of a number of campaigns to get him knighted, said the MBE was "as much honour" as he could "really expect".

He added he was "pleased" and "very grateful to all those who signed the petitions and made this possible".

Bomb-aimer Mr Johnson, who now lives in Bristol, is the last British survivor of the 133-strong squadron which dodged anti-aircraft fire 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 Getty Images
Image caption On 16 and 17 May 1943, the Dambusters - a squadron of 19 Lancasters - attacked dams across Germany. The mission became legendary and was a great boost to British morale
Image copyright IWM/Getty Images
Image caption Sgt George Johnson (far left) was part of 617 Squadron based at Scampton, Lincolnshire

In the past few years, there have been a number of high-profile petitions wanting recognition for Mr Johnson.

In January, TV presenter Carol Vorderman and Gulf War veteran John Nichol took a 237,000-signature petition to No 10 calling for Mr Johnson to be knighted.

The bid was backed by the Dambusters Museum in Germany and followed a petition by campaigner Paul Walmsley.

'Difficulty accepting knighthood'

But instead of a knighthood for his part in one of the most famous episodes of World War Two, the pensioner has been made an MBE for his "services to World War II Remembrance and the community in Bristol".

Mr Johnson, said if he had been offered a knighthood he would have had "difficulty in accepting it".

"It's not me, I'm the lucky one, I'm still alive - I'm representing the squadron and it's the squadron that's been honoured with this not me," he said.

He added that he has raised "thousands of pounds" over the years for charity but views his fundraising as a "bit selfish" because he enjoys it.

"I can't think how it all happened in the first place but I'm honoured that it has and I shall be very pleased to go to the investiture," he said.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites