A campaign calling for the last surviving British member of the Dambusters raid, George 'Johnny' Johnson, to be knighted is now being led by the RAF Association.
The campaign was started on the website change.org by Stephen Hadley from Kent. Momentum has built behind the cause, so Mr Hadley was pleased to ‘hand over’ the ongoing campaign to the Association.
Mr Johnson, 92, who now lives in Bristol, was a Flight Sergeant and bomb aimer during the famous 1943 raid on the dams in Hitler's heartland. He survived the mission and 49 other war-time raids with 617 and 97 Squadrons, but he and his colleagues have never been officially honoured.
Mr Johnson has campaigned for those who took part in the campaign to be officially recognised by the Government.
Nick Bunting, Secretary General of the RAF Association, said: “The RAF Association is here to support the RAF family, which includes Second World War veterans like George Johnson, as well as those currently serving.
"The Association welcomes the opportunity to recognise the immense bravery and sacrifice made by members of the Royal Air Force and is encouraging members to get behind this online petition.”
Mr Hadley started the petition after a friend shared a link on Facebook calling for Mr Johnson to be knighted.
He said: “When you look at what he achieved during the war it is simply incredible, but what is even more incredible is the fact that he has never had any official recognition of any kind. This is not just about Mr Johnson, it is also about recognising everyone who took part in the raid, their bravery was incredible."
When asked recently about being a hero, Mr Johnson modestly said: "For me, that word doesn't mean a thing. I had a job to do and I did it to the best of my ability, as all of us did. I'm just lucky, firstly, that I got back from the raid and secondly that I am still living."
One commenter on the petition website said: “The courage and leadership people like Johnny Johnson showed during WWII is one of the reasons I am proud (and able) to serve in the Royal Air Force. The sacrifices his colleagues made during the war helped keep our country free.”
Mr Johnson was part of Flight Lieutenant Joe McCarthy's crew in the Dambusters raid. After lining up the attack on the Sorpe dam ten times they dropped their 'bouncing bomb' from 30ft and damaged it. The raid claimed the lives of 53 airmen. The handful of survivors still alive include Les Munro from New Zealand and Frederick Sutherland from Canada.