Johnny Johnson’s tribute to fellow Dambuster Les Knight. [Pic: Melvin Chambers]
Guest post by Melvin Chambers
On Monday 4 May, the Dutch Remembrance Day, the last surviving Dambuster Johnny Johnson sent an RAF-themed Roundel wreath to the Netherlands to be placed on fellow Dambuster Les Knight’s grave in the village of Den Ham.
Johnny sent the wreath as honorary president of a veteran’s self-help group called Group 617, a self-help group in the UK. Set up and run by military veterans, its chairman Russ Taff Kitely said Johnny cares deeply about the comrades he lost during the war. He also cares deeply about today’s veterans who suffer traumas. The group currently helps more than 60 veterans in need.
As sunset approached four vintage aircraft from the Egmond Vintage Wings group (based at Hoogeveen Airport) paid a personal tribute to Les Knight with a fly-past and Missing Man tribute. The formation flew above Den Ham where Knight sacrificed his life to save the village from disaster and to save his crew, who all survived the war.
Lead pilot Tom Wilps said : “It was too good an opportunity not to bring out this personal tribute from us pilots to an extraordinary pilot. We know of Les Knight’s great sacrifice and took into account the position of his monument in our flight plan to honour him.”
The sky was absolutely clear and the four aircraft performed their tribute as villagers came out of their homes and watched in surprise.
Johnny Johnson’s handwritten inscription reads: “Sincere thanks for your contribution to 617 Squadron and particularly your care for your crew. ‘The Lucky One.’ Johnny Johnson MBE DFM”
The wreath being laid by Les Knight Charity committee member Hans Dekker on behalf of Johnny Johnson. [Pic: Melvin Chambers]
At the going down of the sun… four vintage warbirds make a personal fly-past salute to Les Knight [Pic: Egmond Vintage Wings]