The campaign to honour the last British Dambuster hero George ‘Johnny’ Johnson

Albert Jack's Mysterious World

HE doesn’t like to be called a hero but  no one is more deserving of the title than Squadron Leader George “Johnny” Johnson.

As a 22-year-old  bomb aimer, the Flight Sergeant was on the courageous mission to blow a hole in a number of German dams  during World War Two with “bouncing bombs”.

Here Johnny – awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal – tells the story of that daring night in extracts from his book The Last British Dambuster.

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Read – The Greatest Generation

Give him a Dam gong . . . the 95-year-old hero, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, who left the RAF as a Squadron Leader
Plucky hero . . . Johnny as Pilot Officer on the front of his book
Plucky hero . . . Johnny as Pilot Officer on the front of his book – ALPHA PRESS
“We all felt the fear. I don’t know anyone then and I don’t know anyone now who would deny it. But you had to block it out.

“If I concentrated on doing my job I didn’t have time to be scared.

“Lying on my stomach in my Perspex bomb aimer’s “office” in the nose of the Lancaster bomber, I could feel every movement of the aircraft.

“Closing in on the target was like lying in a lorry riding down a rutted track.

Heavens above! . . . Sorpe Dam before it was bombed
Heavens above! . . . Sorpe Dam before it was bombed – GETTY IMAGES
On a mission . . . Lancaster bombers in the courageous mission to stop German advances in 1943
On a mission . . . Lancaster bombers in the courageous mission to stop German advances in 1943
The Sun calls for courageous WW2 veteran to receive a New Year’s honour
The Sun calls for courageous WW2 veteran to receive a New Year’s honour
“Nine times we had attempted to drop our bomb. On the tenth run I pushed the button and called out “Bomb gone!”

“From the rear turret I heard gunner Dave Rodger say: “Thank Christ for that!”

“As our bomber, call sign T-Tommy, pulled up and away, Dave now had a ringside seat. As the explosion threw a fountain of water up 1,000ft, he said: “Jesus — that spray has come into the rear turret.”

“We had arrived at the Sorpe Dam in clear moonlight on May 16, 1943. We should have been able to see the other Lancasters from 617 Squadron taking turns to line up bombing runs. But not only was no one else there, it was apparent none had been there either.

“The dam was still completely unscathed.

Johnson, far left, in picture taken on July 22, 1943, just 35 days after 53 of their RAF colleagues were killed
Johnson, far left, in picture taken on July 22, 1943, just 35 days after 53 of their RAF colleagues were killed
Raid’s aftermath . . . the Sorpe Dam pictured nowadays
Raid’s aftermath . . . the Sorpe Dam pictured nowadays
Off we go . . . Johnny says: ‘the Sorpe Dam looked about 700 yards wide and had hills rising sharply to around 1,000ft on either side’
Off we go . . . Johnny says: ‘the Sorpe Dam looked about 700 yards wide and had hills rising sharply to around 1,000ft on either side’
“It was horribly obvious why the others were not there. They had been shot down over Holland and Germany.

“There was no time to dwell on it. We still had a job to do.

“From the reservoir, the Sorpe Dam looked about 700 yards wide and had hills rising sharply to around 1,000ft on either side.

“We had trained for six weeks to bounce a bomb along the lake and demolish the dam, allowing millions of gallons of water to flood the area, wiping out agriculture and industry.


After honours for Cameron’s cronies, last Dambuster George ‘Johnny’ Johnson is snubbed AGAIN in New Year’s Honours list


“All our training had been to knock out concrete dams like the Mohne and Eder.

“Sorpe was a different kind of dam, made of earth, and the bouncing bomb technique we had trained for simply wouldn’t work.

“Our skipper, 6ft 3in American Joe McCarthy, was going to have to fly the big, heavy, four-engined bomber like a fighter aircraft.

“Passing low over a church steeple in the small village of Langscheid, he would dive several hundred feet at 180mph, levelling off at 30ft above the top of the dam.

“We were used to being up at 10,000ft to 15,000ft. Being just 30ft from the ground was dangerous and requir­ed great skill.

Johnny called the raid, immortalised in the 1955 film The Dam Busters, ‘the highlight of his wartime career’
Johnny called the raid, immortalised in the 1955 film The Dam Busters, ‘the highlight of his wartime career’
Eight of the nineteen planes involved in the epic raid were shot down, with 53 crew killed
Eight of the nineteen planes involved in the epic raid were shot down, with 53 crew killed
“From the time we started to dive we would have ­little more than seven seconds to fly along the top of the dam at the height of a house and pinpoint the exact spot to drop the 9,250lb bomb.

“I had to release the bomb, packed with 6,600lb of Torpex explosive, in the centre of the dam.

“Joe would then have to pull up very rapidly and turn in time to avoid smashing into the hillside.

“And although we had good visibility, we were doing this at night. Now it was down to Joe and me.

“Flight engineer Bill Radcliffe would be keeping an eye on the gauges.

“Gunners Dave Rodger and Ron Batson would be looking out for fighters, which would be arriving at any moment.

“Surely someone in the village would have reported our presence by phone?

Aerial photo . . . target photos that would have been shown to the raiders in WW2
Aerial photo . . . target photos that would have been shown to the raiders in WW2
Up above . . . the planes were at 30ft before the bombers got to work
Up above . . . the planes were at 30ft before the bombers got to work
Devastation . . . the Mohne valley after 1943 raid
Devastation . . . the Mohne valley after 1943 raid
“Wireless operator Len Eaton and navigator Don MacLean just had to keep their fingers crossed.

“Joe circled the Lanc above the reservoir and we came in over the ­village, thundering low past the church steeple and diving towards the dam. But we were not properly aligned and I called, “Dummy run”.

“We pulled up, circled round and had another go with the same result.

Read – The Greatest Generation

“Nine times we came in and nine times we aborted the attack.

“It was bloody difficult getting down to 30ft above the dam from that height, particularly with the steeple in the way.

“Getting down on exactly the right line was even more of a challenge.

-The Sun

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