Last surviving Dambuster George ‘Johnny’ Johnson celebrates 100th birthday

  • Sq Ldr George 'Johnny' Johnson speaks to ITV News West Country.

The last surviving British Dambuster who took part in the daring World War Two raid has celebrated his 100th birthday.

Sq Ldr George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, who was born in Lincolnshire but now lives in Bristol, was a bomb-aimer during the 1943 attack on German dams.

He was just 22 years old at the time, and was responsible for dropping specially-adapted bombs in Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

The plan was to destroy dams, which would release huge quantities of water into areas used for war production.

But speaking to ITV News West Country, Mr Johnson said he and his co-pilots were not told about their targets until the night before the mission.

Mr Johnson (pictured far left) was 22-years-old when he flew in the operation.

“We didn’t know what the target was until the night before the raid,” he said.

“We had six weeks of training before that, with the infamous Wing Commander Gibson. He was difficult to get on with but he was a great attacking leader.”

On 16 and 17 May 1943, a total of 133 Allied aircrew took part in the attack aboard 19 Lancaster bombers.

They were armed with specially-adapted bombs which could effectively bounce on water.

Mr Johnson - who described them as “glorified dustbins” - was tasked with destroying the Sorpe Dam, which was codenamed Operation Chastise.

It was one of the most dangerous air operations of the war, with 53 men killed and three captured.

53 men were killed and three were captured during the operation.

“I virtually had control of the aircraft on the bombing run in, directing the pilot which way to go,” he said.

“My concentration was 100 per cent on the bomb site and the target and getting them lined up.

“Nothing else mattered during that time.”

In 2017, Mr Johnson was made an MBE following a long-running campaign which was supported by celebrities including TV presenter Carol Vorderman.

In the same year he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Lincoln.

In 2019, he had an inter-city train named after him by GWR.