Dambuster survivors

Somebody has recently asked me privately how many of the original Dambusters are still alive. The answer to that is six. I am not going to name all of them here, as I think that one of them no longer does any public events. Of the five who still appear in public there are two in the UK. At the time of the dams raid, George (Johnny) Johnson was Sgt G L Johnson, the bomb aimer in the crew of AJ-T, piloted by Joe McCarthy. The crew dropped their bomb on the Sorpe Dam. 

Ray Grayston also lives in England. As Sgt R E Grayston, he was the flight engineer in Les Knight’s crew, AJ-N. They were the crew which dropped the mine which finally breached the Eder Dam.

The only pilot still surviving is Les Munro, one of two New Zealanders on the Dams Raid. Flt Lt J L Munro flew AJ-W on the raid, and was also supposed to attack the Sorpe Dam. Unfortunately, crossing the Dutch coast near Vlieland, they were hit by flak, which put the intercom and the VHF radio out of action, as well as damaging the compass and the tail turret pipes. With no way of speaking either to each other on board, or to other aircraft, they had no option but to return to Scampton with their mine still intact.

The final two Dambusters who are still active returned to their native Canada after the war. Both were gunners: Fred Sutherland and Grant MacDonald. Sgt F E Sutherland was the front gunner in Les Knight’s crew, AJ-N. Flt Sgt G S MacDonald was the rear gunner in Ken Brown’s crew, AJ-F. Like AJ-T, they attacked the Sorpe Dam, but failed to breach it. 

In my dealings with these gentlemen, I have to say that they were all models of courtesy. They have all told their stories hundreds of times and yet their patience and willingness to provide information is outstanding. We owe them all a huge debt as they keep the story of the Dams Raid alive.

3 thoughts on “Dambuster survivors

  1. Michael December 31, 2020 / 12:27 am

    I met Mr Jonny Johnson at his retirement home in November 2019.
    Self effacing quietly spoken gentleman. He revealed some personal family details
    and I sensed he preferred not to go over the laborious retelling of his WW2 May 1942
    mission. He chatted light heartedly about generalities and the staff at his retirement home.
    I stayed overnight in a very pretty little guest house which had ever facility plus a delicious
    breakfast ! So on my second day he graciously suggested I return for another couple of hours which went by as quickly as the previous day, plus a second freshly cooked lunch in the Cricketers Restaurant, a short walk from Mr Johnson’s well appointed comfortable room.
    Lancaster pictures, family and friends all adorning every available wall space. Well worth my journey and fascinating time spent in the company of this unique WW2 Lancaster bomb aimer !
    I asked if he would mind signing my paper back books for 3 friends , all of which he gallantly agreed . A true man of ordinary folk who risked all so we may sit peacefully throughout our
    hopefully long lives as free women and men, And those that perished we must for ever remember,.,

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