Just weeks after celebrating his 101st birthday, Johnny Johnson has died, and tributes are being paid to the brave airman.
Johnny was the last surviving original member of the Dambusters, members of the RAF's 617 Squadron who were assembled to bomb three dams in Germany's Ruhr Valley on the night of 16-17 May 1943 – also known as Operation Chastise.
And this year marks 80 years since the risky raid, in which the revolutionary bouncing bomb, the brainchild of engineer Barnes Wallis, was dropped at low level on Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr Valley.
The mission was a success, but the cost was high; of 133 aircrew who left, 53 were killed and three became prisoners of war.
A statement by the 617617 Squadron Association said: “It is with great sadness we share that George Leonard ('Johnny') Johnson passed away yesterday, 7 December 2022, at the age of 101. Johnny was the last surviving original member of 617 Squadron and of Operation Chastise, the "Dambusters" raid of 1943. He was the bomb aimer in the seven man crew of a Lancaster aircraft, piloted by Flt Lt Joe McCarthy.
“From all of us at 617 Squadron Association, we extend our deepest condolences to Johnny's family and friends.”
Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association have paid tribute to Johnny, saying in a statement: “Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association would like to mark the passing of George Leonard 'Johnny' Johnson MBE, DFM. The last of the Dambusters. 25 November 1921 − 7 December 2022. Per Ardua Ad Astra [through adversity to the stars]”.