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Dambusters petition to honour Bristol veteran George Johnson hits 35,000 signatures

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 25, 2014

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The online petition to recognise George "Johnny" Johnson with a knighthood has hit yet another milestone.

He is the last surviving British member of the Dambusters, and served his country during the Second World War in Bomber Command and the elite 617 Squadron.

An online petition was launched by Stephen Hadley calling for George, 92, from Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol to receive a knighthood.

And the petition has clocked up more than 35,000 signatures, though Mr Hadley wants more to back the cause.

Mr Hadley has been overwhelmed by messages of support, including from the Royal Air Forces Association – the organisation which represents former members of the RAF and has the Queen as its Patron.

Aircrews in Bomber Command were expected to complete 30 operations, mainly at night, and very few ever achieved this, usually making the ultimate sacrifice with their life.

Mr Johnson continued to complete a further 20 operations with 617 Squadron, the required amount for a second tour of duty. Mr Hadley, who is from Kent, decided to launch his petition when he heard that David Cameron's barber had received an MBE for services to hairdressing.

The 55-year-old said: "I cannot believe that we've got to 35,000 people. At first I just wanted to get to 100 and I thought that would be enough.

"I was going to write a thank you note to everybody who signed, but I can't do that now. I'm just so shocked. Although what I would like to see is even more action from the RAF. It could be a big thing for them, and he is a fantastic person for them to back properly.

"I think the knighthood would be a gesture of recognition for all the Dambusters.

"Obviously we would want to give it to all of them, but he's the only left, so it would be symbolic of all of them really.

"What this man did for his country was unbelievable and the honour would not just be for him but also for everyone who took part in the raid.

"It is hard to imagine just how much courage these men had and it is about time that was recognised.

"They must have had ice running through their veins. If a barber can get an award then so should Mr Johnson."

Mr Hadley said he would like to see the petition reach 50,000 signatures.

Nick Bunting, the Secretary General of the RAF Association, said: "The RAF Association is here to support the RAF family, which includes Second World War veterans like George Johnson, as well as those currently serving.

"The association welcomes the opportunity to recognise the immense bravery and sacrifice made by members of the Royal Air Force and we will be inviting our members to get behind this online petition."

Mr Johnson was part of Flight Lieutenant Joe McCarthy's crew in the Dambusters raid. After lining up the attack on the Sorpe dam ten times they dropped their 'bouncing bomb' from 30 feet and partly damaged it.

The raid claimed the lives of 53 airmen.

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