Johnny Johnson: 99 and counting

Pic: IWM

Today is Johnny Johnson’s 99th birthday!
Sqn Ldr George Leonard Johnson MBE, DFM: we salute you.

Above: Six of the men who flew in the crew of AJ-T on the Dams Raid on 16/17 May 1943. From left to right: Johnny Johnson (bomb aimer), Don MacLean (navigator), Ron Batson (front gunner), Joe McCarthy (pilot), Bill Radcliffe (flight engineer), Len Eaton (wireless operator). Absent on day of photograph: Dave Rodger (rear gunner). Photograph taken in July 1943.

20 thoughts on “Johnny Johnson: 99 and counting

  1. Terry November 25, 2020 / 8:12 am

    I had the immense honour to meet Johnny a couple of years ago. It was a privilege to hear him recite his story of his Dams Raid. He is living history and an amazing man.
    HAPPY 99th BIRTHDAY Johnny.

    • Caroline Howell November 28, 2020 / 10:02 am

      Please accept my belated comment. My dear old cat died last Friday and I’ve found it hard to think of much else.

      Johnny seems to be, and have been such a modest and honourable man. I read his biography, and that of AJ-T’s pilot, Big Joe McCarthy. I was absolutely disgusted at the award of an MBE, so long after the war, both for him personally, and as (now) the last representative of the Operation Chastise crews. He most definitely should have been given a KBE for himself and on behalf of his colleagues.
      Bomber Command crews, all volunteers, were ‘discarded’ from the national and political consciousness, when they were no longer needed and became an inconvenient reminder of, in particular, carpet bombing of German cities. Far too late, the award of a knighthood to Johnny Johnson, the last British Dam Buster, would have gone some small way towards recognising the skill, bravery and sacrifice of these young heroes.
      I thought his response to being awarded an MBE was most gracious. While ‘celebrities’ are knighted, those like our Dam Busters got nothing for the greater part of a century, and when the award finally came it wasn’t even made of precious metal.
      Thank you Johnny. May you enjoy the rest of your well earned retirement. I won’t forget you.

  2. Dave Masterson November 25, 2020 / 8:12 am

    99 Wow!

  3. Christopher Leworthy November 25, 2020 / 8:32 am

    His insistence on going round the Sorpe Dam time after time to try and get it dead right, rather than just drop the bomb and head for home, was bravery from the top drawer. A Happy Birthday to him

    • jessica crawford November 25, 2020 / 7:42 pm

      Yes indeed it was incredible bravery

  4. Tony Knight November 25, 2020 / 9:28 am

    I’ve met him a few times, nice man, good luck to him , I wish him well !

  5. allanhatch November 25, 2020 / 9:50 am

    It is about time that he was given a Knighthood. They are not as prestigious now because a racing driver may be given one.

  6. priscilla littmoden November 25, 2020 / 10:44 am

    Happy birthday Johnny. bless you xxx

  7. JAN November 25, 2020 / 12:15 pm

    Happy Birthday Johnny, take care and stay safe

  8. Peter Merchant November 25, 2020 / 12:35 pm

    Surely that is a famous picture of Guy Gibson and crew?

    And Congratulations to Johnny Johnson on 99 years.

    • charlesfoster November 25, 2020 / 12:44 pm

      No, it’s McCarthy and his crew.

  9. Gary James November 25, 2020 / 3:17 pm

    Happy birthday Johnny!

  10. Phillip Feneron November 25, 2020 / 4:23 pm

    Happy Birthday Johnny, my father was one off the Dambusters on that raid with you Bazil Feneron.👍

  11. John Spencer November 25, 2020 / 5:10 pm

    Wishing Johnny Johnson a very Happy 99th Birthday, let’s make it to a 100 with a much belated Knight hood. Having been privileged in meeting you in person, you are a true inspiration and Gentleman like so many of your generation who gave so much in giving us the freedom that we enjoy today.

  12. jessica crawford November 25, 2020 / 7:38 pm

    Best wishes to Mr Johnson on his 99th birthday! I really enjoyed reading about his life story in his biography.
    Thank you from a Canadian relative of Dambuster John (Jack) Thrasher.

  13. Phil Robertson November 26, 2020 / 3:10 am

    The word hero is so often used inappropriately. However, in relation to Johnny Johnson’s case the word defines the man. It is with great pleasure that I read of the 99th Birthday of this legendary figure. I wish you continued good health and obvious further longevity. I have stood on the MÖhne Dam and Eder Dams and marvelled about the degree of difficulty that 617 Squadron had to cope with all of those years ago. To think that I share this world with one of the men who flew that night makes me proud. Respect to you Sir!

    Phil Robertson Perth, Western Australia

  14. warren November 26, 2020 / 4:19 am

    Wizard Show [ Old ] Chap !!!!! Happy Birthday Sir

  15. Steve Ross November 27, 2020 / 8:02 pm

    Happy 99th, Mr. Johnson! This American, six years old when you and your crew flew the Dams Raid, has latched onto your story, and that of your pilot, Mr. McCarthy, because he was the only American to take part in that op. I’m currently modeling T-Tommie’s approach to the target and the moment of the Mine’s drop. If successful, I’ll submit photos.

    • Caroline Howell November 28, 2020 / 10:15 am

      Steve, if you haven’t done so already, read Joe’s biography.
      Big Joe McCarthy by Dave Birrel.
      I am trying to collect the signatures of the crew of AJ-T. I still need three. I won’t stop looking!

      • Steve Ross December 1, 2020 / 1:17 am

        Caroline — I’m something of a researcher by trade so I’ve collected a fair amount of info about Joe. But I can’t find a copy of his bio selling for any price I can afford. Amazon has two sources both priced off the charts. If you know of a source other than kindle I’d appreciate hearing about it.

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