Friday 18th May 2018
Squadron Leader George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE, DFM, the last British Dambuster, flew on board the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s (BBMF) Lancaster today (17 May) for an historic flight to mark the raid’s 75th anniversary.
Johnny flew in the bomb aimer’s position, the same position he had in 1943, as the aircraft flew over the dams of the Derwent Valley, just as he did 75 years ago whilst training for the 617 Squadron raid on the German dams (Operation CHASTISE).
Afterwards, Johnny declared:
“It has been a wonderful trip and it’s surprising how 75 years just disappear. Over the Derwent Dam, the time was gone – just like that; I was back there …thinking about the times that we went there. I have to say the first time I noticed the hilly area we were going to, I wondered what the hell we were doing down at 60 ft, but there it was, that was the job. And it all came back just like that, it was wonderful. Thank you very much.“
Officer Commanding BBMF, Squadron Leader Andrew Millikin said:
“We are thrilled that we were able to finally mark this amazing anniversary in such a poignant way”.
“It was always our intent to pay tribute to Johnny as the last British Dambuster by carrying out this sortie on 16th May and we were bitterly disappointed that the weather stopped us yesterday. We seized the opportunity to complete this mission today with Johnny on board, flying a shortened sortie. Sadly, the quick turn of events did not give the necessary time to organise the essential safety measures to handle the large volumes of traffic that would have been present had we announced the flight, but we felt it was important to fly Johnny on this historic day.”