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Arise Sir George - Campaign mounts to knight last Dambuster ‘hero’

George 'Johnny' Johnson with grandson Richard and great grandson George  in front of the Canadian Lancaster Vera

George 'Johnny' Johnson with grandson Richard and great grandson George in front of the Canadian Lancaster Vera

George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, the Horncastle born Dambusters hero, is at the centre of a national campaign calling for him to be knighted.

Almost 5,000 have signed a petition, launched by Stephen Hadley, a self employed consultant from Kent.

Mr Hadley read about the exploits of Mr Johnson who, at the age of 92, is the last surviving British Dambuster.

He came up with the idea of the petition after hearing David Cameron’s barber had received an MBE.

The prestigious Royal Air Force Association - an organisation which represents former RAF personnel and has the Queen as Patron - is backing the campaign.

Now, two prominent local politicians have joined calls for Mr Johnson to be knighted.

Horncastle based councillor Bill Aron - the chairman of Lincolnshire County Council - said it would be “wonderful” if Mr Johnson was knighted.

He was backed by Coun Craig Leyland, deputy leader of East Lindsey District Council, who described Mr Johnson as a “true hero.”

Coun Leyland represents Woodhall Spa which has particularly strong links with the legendary 617 Dambusters Squadron.

Although he now lives in Bristol, Mr Johnson was born in the village of Hameringham, near Horncastle.

He was in Woodhall Spa last year for the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid.

He was also at RAF Coningsby earlier this month to see world’s last two airworthy Lancasters re-united.

Mr Hadley said he had been overwhelmed by the level of support for his petition.

He added: “The whole thing has gained amazing momentum and a lot of people feel the same way as me.

“What this man did for his country was unbelievable and the knighthood shouldn’t be just for him but also everyone else who took part in the raid.

“If David Cameron’s barber can get an award, then so should Mr Johnson.”

In a statement, the Royal Air Force Association said: “The Association welcomes the opportunity to recognise the bravery and sacrifice made by members of the RAF and we will be inviting our members to get behind this on line petition.”

Coun Aron revealed he met Mr Johnson at RAF Coningsby and added: “I was delighted to see Johnny and it was great that he could be there.

“I am really pleased that there is a move to get some recognition for his part in the Dambusters raid.

“I will certainly be asking my fellow councillors to support this move.”

Coun Leyland said: “I think it is a marvellous idea. Men like Johnny Johnson were true heroes in some of the darkest hours in Britain’s history.”

Mr Johnson has always played down his role as a hero. In an exclusive interview with the News at RAF Coningsby, he said: “It (the Dambusters) was just a job. I was lucky. I made it home. I survived the war. Thousands didn’t.”

Fifty three members of Mr Johnson’s squadron lost their lives during the mission.

Mr Johnson has campaigned tirelessly for all Bomber Command veterans to be honoured.

*Anyone wanting to sign the petition should go to www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-chief-of-defence-staff-award-mr-george-johnny-johnson-dambusters-a-knighthood.

 

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