'The last Dambuster' honoured with cycle past 78 years after raid

Watch Robert Murphy's report

The last 'Dambuster' Johnny Johnson received a cycle-past as his 100th birthday approaches.

On this day 78 years ago, a then 22-year-old Johnny was a gunner in an RAF Lancaster bomber, one of 19 which attacked dams in the Ruhr Valley - Nazi Germany's industrial heartland.

Eight of the aircraft were shot down. Of the 133 men who flew on the raids, 53 were killed and three were taken prisoner.

Mr Johnson will celebrate his 100th birthday in November Credit: 17052021_JOHNSON_ITV

Now cyclists raising money for the RAF's Benevolent Fund biked 19 miles - a mile for each of the planes which took off - to Mr Johnson's sheltered accommodation in Bristol.

Mr Johnson told ITV News he believes the raids were worth the expense - both in financial and human cost.

"It proved to Hitler and the Nazi hierarchy, what they thought was impregnable, the RAF would get through and destroy. It caused some reduction in the armament in the Ruhr Valley.

"It was extremely successful. I feel proud, honoured to be one of the crews chosen to take part in that raid."

A larger charity event 'The Dambusters Ride' will be held later this year. Mr Johnson will be unable to attend that so today's ceremony was one he could watch.

Former Wing Commander Kirsty Bushell Credit: 17052021_Bushell_ITV

"One hundred and thirty three brave men went forward in an innovative and daring raid into the heart of German homeland, into their industrial base," said former RAF Wing Commander Kirsty Bushell.

"And he's the last survivor of that time. And he really does epitomise a generation who served with such great sacrifice and great bravery.

"And with Johnny's 100th birthday it's important that we remind a younger generation so that we bring it alive for people so they can see and meet people who took part in those campaigns so brilliantly."