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Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson

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Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson

Old 7th Mar 2017, 19:21
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Squadron Leader George 'Johnny' Johnson

Gents,
I'm the first in line to lambast the BBC, but today they've just surprised me.
Johnnie was a bomb aimer on OP Chastise (Dams) and tasked with the Soerpe Dam.

BBC Points West this evening ran a moving and (i found), respectful report on his return to the Dam.

If you skip the local news of the usual lowlife, at the end of the programme is a further interwiew regarding the Bomber Command gong (or lack of).

This should be availible on iplayer - news-west points west

JS

Last edited by jetslut; 7th Mar 2017 at 19:22. Reason: Poor upbrining and grammar
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Old 8th Mar 2017, 06:34
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Squadron Leader George `Johnny` Johnson

Good morning. Just wonder if you have read `The Last British Dambuster` written by George, aided by his son.? Can highly recommend it.

Regards JeanB
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Old 8th Mar 2017, 07:14
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Sorpe Attack

Had tea with George when he lived in Torquay.
He explained why they had to drop their mine (as a bomb) across the earth banked dam.
Although there was no flack (due to it being deemed safe from attack) there was also little time for the Lanc to get down to height 'across' the dam due to a church spire and steep sides of the location.
George relates how the rear gunner was getting quite excited after several attempts and kept saying (Drop the B......... thing); he did when it all lined up and it hit the earthen dam top, but as they were the only machine left in that wave it was not enough.
After the war George stayed on in the RAF to become a Squadron Leader involved with the ICBM sites (Thor I think)
Absolute disgrace how bomber command was treated after the war.
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Old 8th Mar 2017, 07:16
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I was just indeed astounded by the BBC screening this, it is a national disgrace that no campaign medal was issued for those doing probably the most dangerous job of the war. Usually the BBC is full of politicly correct revisionist rubbish but in this case they managed a ballanced report for this the program makers should be commended ( but tucked away on a regional program I suspect it failed to catch the eye of the London luvvies ).

The crews of Bomber command have the respect of all informed national opinion for their bravery and sacrifices.......... we'll all informed opinion excepting the very Govenment who sent them on this dangerous and nessesary task and still show disrespect having since 1945 failed to issue a campaign medal.
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Old 8th Mar 2017, 09:55
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My own tribute in oil paint on canvas that will last forever:


How many knew that the Mohne Dam had already been partially breeched before the fifth and final mine (bomb) struck home? .. and that with hindsight, it actually only took two bombs accurately delivered to destroy the dam. (Three of the five, including Gibsons, missed the target)

Having been to the Sorpe in person; the 'Upkeep' weapons were never going to work. Though if it was deemed important; one has to wonder why it was not re-attacked with a 'Tallboy' which would have been much more effective.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 08:10
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Awarded an MBE in the latest Honours List - and has stated he intends to ask the Queen's permission to dedicate the award to the 59,000 Bomber Command personnel who died during the war.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 10:08
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Many congratulation to Sqn Ldr Johnson.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 12:08
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George 'Johnny' Johnson

Well overdue, and typical that he should dedicate the medal to those who served in Bomber Command.
As alluded to in an earlier post I was privileged to be taken through his part of the operation which entailed dropping the mine (as a bomb) across the dam wall.
He spoke very warmly about his 'as he put it' my Coney Island Lifeguard pilot, and also the words of encouragement from the rear gunner on the Nth run to 'Drop the B.....y thing'. A gentleman, still complete with humour and 'banter'.
Was invited to have lunch with Harry Hughes (Pathfinder) last week. It turns out he lives near my local 'strip' and frequents the nearby golf club for lunch.
Still bright as a button and his story in 'Five of the many' which is well worth a read.
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 01:12
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one has to wonder why it was not re-attacked with a 'Tallboy' which would have been much more effective.
It was, by 9 Squadron on 15th October 1944 and they got at least 8 direct hits including one slap bang on the center of the dam. Though you can only see 6 craters on the air side and crest of the dam in the photo below, at least one exploded waterside and another water side Tallboy UXB'ed and had to be defused in the late 1950's. No it was no more effective as the Tallboy had a lighter charge to weight ratio than Upkeep and the dam design was much more resistant to shockwaves than the Möhne and Eder were.



The crews of Bomber command have the respect of all informed national opinion for their bravery and sacrifices.......... we'll all informed opinion excepting the very Govenment who sent them on this dangerous and necessary task and still show disrespect having since 1945 failed to issue a campaign medal.
The campaign medal issue is a lot more complicated than most people think. It wasn't that a medal wasn't offered...It was, it's that Harris wanted EVERYBODY in the Command, including the ground staff to get it and Churchill said NO.

Last edited by MAINJAFAD; 18th Jun 2017 at 02:38.
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 12:17
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My views on this matter are probably well known but I will repeat them for what they are worth.

First to lay one misapprehension to rest - Bomber Command were not "uniquely" denied a campaign medal, as I have often seen asserted. No formation in any of the three services (or the Merchant Navy) received a campaign medal specific to that formation - all were theatre awards. There were of course clasps on the various stars (eg "Battle of Britain" on the 1939-45 Star, and "1st Army" and "8th Army" on the Africa Star), but no separate medals as such. In recent years, of course, the "Bomber Command" clasp has been introduced for wear on the 1939-45 Star, and perhaps that decision should have been made immediately post war rather than in 2012. Incidentally that clasp is only awarded to former aircrew.

The trouble is, if you make a decision, even at this very late date, to award a Bomber Command Medal or Star, where do you stop? Won't Fighter Command chaps have a case to make as well? What about the submarine service? What about about the Merchant Navy who did in fact have their own medal in WW1? They had horrendous losses and even suffered the indignity of having their pay stopped from the moment their ship was sunk - they have a case if anyone has!

Let it lie, I say,
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 14:12
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Originally Posted by Islandlad View Post
This is new to me, which means nothing; however, can you direct me towards some detail on the www.

It shines a different light on all I knew - which is not very much.

I will do a search on PPRuNe etc
A bit of a mistake on my part, a medal wasn't offered, but I suspect that had Harris asked for just one for the aircrew, he would have got it (the decision on what was going to be awarded was made before Dresden) . Somebody wrote a paper about the public perception of Bomber Command has changed over the years for the RAFHS a few years back and it was in one of their journals (No. 58). Part of that paper covered how the awards of campaign medals and stars for the 39-45 war came about and Harris's input into the process. Harris wanted a campaign medal for all of his staff, aircrew and those on the ground, seeing that without the efforts of the later, there would have been no campaign. Churchill made the final call on what medals were issued and he decided that all personnel who never left the UK would only get the Defence Medal (originally he only wanted personnel who had actively engaged the enemy in the UK to get such an award, such as the Army's AA Command). Harris felt that was an insult to his command as its role was very much offensive and that his ground crews did just as dangerous work (if not more so) as the ground crew in the tactical air forces did, but they got medals from just being in theater for the required time period. It also the reason that Harris rejected a peerage in 1945 (he was offered one).
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 23:56
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but I suspect that had Harris asked for just one for the aircrew, he would have got it
In a sense he got it, as the Aircrew Europe Star was only awarded to aircrews, not their supporting groundcrews. However although the majority of its recipients were from Bomber Command, all flying operations over the European mainland counted, including fighter operations, SOE flights etc. I have even seen an ACE star awarded to an Able Seaman RN who was the gunner on a Swordfish. I understood he was in action over the beaches at Dunkirk, but never had that verified.

I still think it highly unlikely he would have got a medal purely for "his" aircrews, as it would have departed from the principle of theatre awards only.
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 13:32
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By the end of the War the Air Staff (and Churchill) had gone right off Harris IIRC - like Montgomery he had been built up to the public and it was impossible to sack him but he had little political capital left
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