Thousands call for ‘Johnny’ to be given a gong

George Johnny Johnson at RAF Coningsby  EMN-170901-125837001

George Johnny Johnson at RAF Coningsby EMN-170901-125837001

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Almost 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Horncastle-born Dambusters hero George ‘Johnny’ Johnson to be knighted.

Mr Johnson, who spent the early years of his life in the village of Hameringham near Horncastle, was a bomb aimer in the famous raid on German dams in the Second World War.

An initial petition was launched last year calling for the 95-year-old - the last surviving British Dambuster - to receive a New Year’s Honour.

However, Mr Johnson - who now lives in a nursing home in Bristol - was overlooked in 2016 and again in this year’s awards.

That has prompted fresh calls that the awards system is unfair with claims it favours celebrities and politicians - rather than ‘genuine heroes’ like Mr Johnson.

Now, TV personality Carol Vorderman has thrown her weight behind the campaign calling from Mr Johnson to be recognised.

She says it is ‘extremely disappointing’ that Mr Johnson had been ignored in the 2017 list.

She urged people to support the petition, which earlier today (Friday) had attracted more than 86,000 signatures.

Ms Vorderman has met Mr Johnson in her role as an honorary ambassador for the RAF Air Cadets.

Writing on her Change.org page, she said: “I can’t think of anyone who deserves a knighthood more.

“It was extremely disappointing that he was overlooked in this year’s New Year Honours list.

“There were many fine people who received awards, but I believe they would all agree that Johnny deserves one too.

“He is an incredible man who volunteered for one of the most dangerous missions during World War II.

“And since then he has been a teacher, a counsellor and raised huge amounts for charity.

“Please sign this petition to get Johnny the recognition he deserves.”

Several national newspapers are also backing the campaign.

Mr Johnson has regularly been interviewed by the Horncastle News and played down his role in the Dambusters raid, saying he ‘was just doing my job’.

However, he has told a national newspaper he would accept any honour in memory of his ‘chums’ from the RAF.

The Dambusters have strong links with the areas as their Officer’s Mess was based at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa during the latter stages of the war.

○Anyone who wants to sign the petition should visit change.org/knighthood4johnny