Pic: © Claire Hartley
Sqn Ldr George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE DFM will reach his 100th birthday in November, but in anticipation of this great event on Sunday 28 July a charity from Penarth organised an early summer birthday party for him at White Waltham airfield in Berkshire. Group 617 is a non-profit organisation set up by veterans which has the aim of supporting other veterans and civilians of all backgrounds with mental health issues caused by experiences during service.
It was founded in 2011 by Russ Kitely and Johnny Johnson is its honorary President. In their words, Group 617 provided the “brains and workforce” behind the event. Also present were members of Bristol University Air Squadron, the RAF and the RAF Air Cadets. With fantastic weather, the party were treated to air displays from Team Raven, an RAF Chinook from RAF Odiham and a Gloster Meteor from Martin-Baker. The Bristol University Air Squadron presided over the transport arrangements for the Johnson family.
Guests admire the flypast by Team Raven. (Pic: Claire Hartley)
Amongst the other guests was Valerie Ashton, the daughter of Sgt Victor Hill, who was the front gunner in David Maltby’s AJ-J on the Dams Raid. He went missing in action on an aborted operation to attack the Dortmund Ems canal in September 1943. Johnny Johnson was pleased to meet Valerie, and share reminiscences about his time in 617 Squadron with her father.
Left to right: BUAS Officer Cadet Josh Rowles, Johnny Johnson, Valerie Ashton. (Pic: Ashton family)
Thanks to Josh Rowles for help with this post.