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  1. ITV Report

Petition calls for the last surviving British Dambuster to be knighted

George 'Johnny' Johnson took part in the famous Dambuster mission. Credit: PA

A petition for the last surviving British Dambuster to be knighted has been delivered to Downing Street after it attracting over 200,000 signatures.

George "Johnny" Johnson, 95, was part of Royal Air Force 617 Squadron, who took part in the famous 1943 raid aimed at disabling Hitler's industrial heartland in Germany.

Despite being nominated for an accolade, the former squadron leader was not recognised in the New Year Honours list.

TV presenter Carol Vorderman, launched the petition after becoming "very upset" to learn that Mr Johnson had been "snubbed", and presented it alongside RAF veteran John Nichol.

Carol Vorderman and John Nichol with the petition outside Number 10. Credit: PA

Vorderman, who is an honorary RAF Group Captain and ambassador for the air cadets, told ITV News: "I said 'this really isn't right, so let's start a petition and put in a new nomination for him for this year.'"

She added that the response to the petition "shows the depth of respect that the British public have for Johnny and those who served with him".

  • Johnson: Any honour is an honour for the squadron

Earlier this month from his home in Bristol, Mr Johnson said he was "absolutely amazed" at the public's response to the petition.

But although he said he would accept an honour if he was offered one,Mr Johnson insisted it would be to remember his squadron and not himself.

The veteran holds a picture of Lancaster bombers at his home in Bristol. Credit: PA

I try to emphasise to people that I am the lucky one and I am still alive. It is the squadron that I served with, represented and still represent. Any honour that comes in my direction is an honour for the squadron.

– George Johnson
The 617 Squadron pictured in front of a Lancaster bomber Credit: PA

The Dambusters operation

Members of the RAF 617 squadron, an elite Lancaster bomber unit, took part in the allied bombing campaign against Germany.

The Bomber Command crews used revolutionary bouncing bombs releasing them 60ft above ground on the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams.

A 'bouncing bomb' during testing in early 1943 Credit: PA

Although the raid was fairly successful, the squadron failed to breach the Sorpe dam.

However, flooding from the other two dams caused disruption in a large number of towns.

Of the 133 airmen who left on the missions, 53 did not return. There were also nearly 1300 losses on the ground.

Despite this, the action boosted British morale and the aircrew were hailed war heroes.

The 617 Squadron's story was also brought to the big screen in the 1955 film The Dam Busters.