Johnny Johnson remembering old comrade Les Knight

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]

4 thoughts on “Johnny Johnson remembering old comrade Les Knight

  1. Tony Knight May 20, 2020 / 1:39 pm

    I’m so impressed with the Dutch people and their continued dedication to the memory of our fallen heroes !

  2. Tony Peters May 21, 2020 / 9:09 am

    We will remember.

  3. Jane Woollard June 28, 2020 / 6:35 pm


    I am the granddaughter of Charles Lesley Woollard. Just wondering if you have any photos or pictures I could have copies off .

    Or information about his work .
    It’s my dads 70 in few years and Iknow his been out with my untie to ceremony.

    I just want to learn more and get a lovely pic for my dad

    If you can help that be great

    Regards jane woollard

    • charlesfoster June 28, 2020 / 9:56 pm

      Jane — The best person to contact is Melvin Chambers, who wrote this article. You can reach him at
      Hope this works for you — Charles Foster

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