Campaign to get Dambuster, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, a knighthood wins support from Germany
Oliver Koehler of the Dambusters Museum in Germany said 95-year-old George “Johnny” Johnson should be honoured because he and his brave comrades helped shorten the war.
Mr Koehler also said that without the RAF, Hitler would have taken over Britain.
Mr Johnson was a 21-year-old bomb-aimer on the heroic raid by 617 Squadron in May 1943 to destroy dams vital to the Nazi industrial machine in the Ruhr valley.
But of the 19 planes that set out on Operation Chastise eight were lost, with 53 men killed and three captured.
Gibson was given the Victoria Cross. If it was not for them, the war would have gone on much longer
Oliver Koehler – Dambusters Museum
The commander of the raid, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Mr Johnson, who after the war became a teacher, is the last surviving British participant in the raids.
He was nominated for a knighthood but snubbed in the last New Year’s Honours.
Mr Johnson was a 21-year-old bomb-aimer on the heroic raid by 617 Squadron in May 1943 Dambusters 73rd anniversary Mon, May 16, 2016
British pilots from the Royal Navy and RAF who will form a new 617 Squadron, are training alongside the US Marine Corps on the F35B Lightning II jet at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, USA ahead of the aircraft entering service from 2018.
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World War II RAF Lancaster bomber crew of 617 Squadron 'The Dambusters' with some of the next generation of the squadron
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Bomber Command’s role in the war is very controversial in Germany, due in part to the fire bombing of Hamburg and Dresden.
But Mr Koehler, who runs the Dambuster Museum near Kassel, told BBC Points West: “It’s very important that it’s acknowledged.”
“Firstly, Johnny Johnson is the last one to survive the raids. The last one.
“Secondly, Mr Gibson was given the Victoria Cross. If it was not for them, the war would have gone on much longer. I have no doubts about that.
“Without the Royal Air Force Adolf Hitler would have taken over London.”
In the documentary Johnny returns to the Sorpe dam nearly 74 years after he attacked it and meets Fritz Wortmann, who on the night of the raid was 14-years-old and using the Dam as an air raid shelter.
A Lancaster bomber flies over Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire, England on May 16, 2013
Mr Johnson, from Bristol, has often told of his “disgust” that Bomber Command was never given its own campaign medal.
Instead the veterans had to wait until 2012 for the Government to give them a clasp to be worn on the ribbon of their 1939-45 Star.
Daily Express readers donated more than £1million for the £10million national memorial to Bomber Command in London’s Green Park which was unveiled by the Queen in 2012.
Oliver Koehler of the Dambusters Museum in Germany said George ‘Johnny’ Johnson should be honoured
Daily Express owner Richard Desmond donated another £500,000.
Readers have also contributed generously to the £12million International Bomber Command Centre being built opposite Lincoln Cathedral.
Watch Johnny’s full story on BBC Points West, on Tuesday 7 & Wednesday 8 March on BBC One at 6:30pm or on the BBC iPlayer afterwards