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Last British Dam Buster To Be Guest Of Honour

28 March 2017

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We are delighted to announce that the last surviving British "Dam Buster", Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson DFM RAF (retired), will be the special guest at the Bromley game.

Now aged 95, 'Johnny' will be introduced to supporters prior to kick-off on Saturday before watching the Vanarama National League fixture from the Directors' Box as a guest of the Club's Board.

Born the son of a farm foreman in Hameringham, 'Johnny' proudly calls himself a 'yellow belly' and although he had a very unhappy childhood - his mother died when he was three and his father was very physically abusive - he was 'saved' by the local squire's wife and the local headmistress when they sent him off to Lord Wandsworth College in Hampshire, which at the time was agricultural college. Now a public school, Lord Wandsworth College lists England Rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson amongst its former pupils and 'Johnny' was also good at sport, playing full-back in the school football team whilst also turning in to a decent cricketer and middle distance athlete.

'Johnny' volunteered for the RAF in November 1939 just after his 18th birthday. After initial training he was sent the United States for pilot training - which he failed! On returning to the UK he re-trained first as a gunner and then as a bomb aimer and in March 1943 he was selected along with the rest of his crew to join Squadron X (later named 617 Squadron).

They knew nothing about the target only that they had been specially selected and it was to be a very low level attack.  The training was all about low level flying at night, eventually down to 60 feet. 'Johnny' delights in telling stories about how they were flying so low they were blowing the heads of the tulips around Spalding!

On 16th May 1943, 617 Squadron attacked three major dams in Germany.  They broke two.  Of the 132 aircrew who took part in the raid, 53 failed to survive. The rest is history and popularised by the film starring Richard Todd and the famous 'Dam Busters March'.

During the Second World War 'Johnny' flew 50 bombing missions before becoming an instructor. During his war service he flew from a number of stations around Lincoln including Scampton, Coningsby and Woodhall Spa.  He always says that Lincoln Cathedral had a special place in their hearts as when flying back once they saw the towers in the early morning gloom they knew they were home safely.

He retired from the RAF in 1963 and lived in Collingham becoming a teacher, first with primary school children in Newark and then as a specialist education officer for people with mental difficulties at Rampton and Balderton.  After final retirement he lived in Torquay, his wife Gwyneth's home town where he became a local councillor and chairman of the Torbay Conservative Association. After Gwyneth's death in 2005 'Johnny' moved to a retirement village in Bristol where he now lives. 

In 2014 he wrote his autobiography "The Last British Dam Buster" (there are only two left, the other a Canadian) and now spends his time speaking about his war time experiences and appearing in TV programmes. 

A father of three with seven grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren, 'Johnny' is also a very active fund raiser and a keen supporter of the new International Bomber Command Centre, which can be seen from Sincil Bank Stadium at the top of South Common off Canwick Road.

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