The Last British Dambuster: One Man's Extraordinary Life and the Raid that Changed History

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9780091957742: The Last British Dambuster: One Man's Extraordinary Life and the Raid that Changed History

"I was anxious to fight. Hitler was the bastard that had started all this and he needed sorting out. We were under threat. Everything we stood for - our country, our families and our way of life - was being attacked by this maniac. He could not be allowed to win. So for me, and many others like me, there was no alternative. We were in a pickle and something had to be done." Johnny Johnson, the last British Dambuster alive to have taken part in one of the most daring and ingenious air raids of all time, is 92 years old and one of very few men who can directly recall the drama of that fateful night. He can also vividly remember his childhood spent working on a farm with his controlling father, the series of events that led him to the RAF and the rigorous training that followed. But it was the decision to join 617 Squadron and the events that followed that have truly stayed etched in his mind. On 16 May 1943, Johnny, alongside 132 specially selected comrades, took off from Scampton airbase in Lincolnshire. For 6 weeks they had been trained to fulfil one mission that was considered near impossible: to destroy three dams deep within Germany's Ruhr Valley. They were instructed to fly low and in formation, before carefully dropping a newly designed bomb using a unique method of attack. It was a risky mission but, against the odds, Johnny and his crew survived. Sadly, 53 comrades did not. For the first time, Johnny relives every moment of that fatal night - and the devastating aftermath - in his extraordinary memoir. He recalls with unique wit and insight the difficult training conducted in secrecy, the race against time to get ready before his finger hovered over the bomb's release button as the ground raced just 30 feet beneath him at 220 knots, and the sheer strength and bravery shown by a small squadron faced with great adversity and uncertainty. Johnny's story is like no other and will embody a whole squadron, leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come.

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Product Description:

The remarkable recollections of George 'Johnny' Johnson, Britain's last surviving Dambuster.
     Johnny Johnson is 92 years old and one of very few men who can recall first-hand the most daring and ingenious air raid of all time. He can also vividly remember his childhood spent working on a farm with his controlling father, the series of events that led him to the RAF and the rigorous training that followed. But it was his decision to join 617 Squadron, and the consequences, that have truly stayed etched in his mind. 
   On May 16, 1943, Johnny, alongside 132 specially selected comrades, took off from Scampton airbase in Lincolnshire. For six weeks they had been trained to fulfil one mission that was near impossible: to destroy three dams deep within Germany's Ruhr Valley. It was a daring task but, against the odds, Johnny and his crew survived. Sadly, 53 comrades did not.
   For the first time, Johnny relives every moment of that fatal night -- and the devastating aftermath. He recalls with unique wit and insight the difficult training conducted in secrecy, the race against time to release the bombs, and the sheer strength and bravery shown by a small unit faced with great adversity and uncertainty. Embodying a whole squadron, and leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come, Johnny's story is like no other.

About the Author:

Sergeant George Leonard Johnson was born in Lincolnshire in 1921, the sixth child of a farm foreman. Following the death of his mother he experienced an unpleasant childhood, before fate intervened and he was accepted into Lord Wandsworth Agricultural College. On the outbreak of World War Two, George volunteered for the RAF and was accepted for pilot training. Having completed his Initial Training Wing, he was posted to the USA but he quickly re-mustered as an air gunner after failing to complete the full training. In July 1942, he was posted to 97 Squadron in the UK, as a 'spare' bod, but soon became an important bomb-aimer. A chance meeting introduced him to Flight Lieutenant Joe McCarthy. They were soon flying together on a number of major raids before they were selected to join 617 Squadron, a specially chosen Squadron tasked with raiding the German Dams in the Ruhr Valley. 617 Squadron became the RAF's low-level bombing specialists. George went on to complete a further 19 operations with 617 Squadron before moving on in April 1943. He remained a weapon's instructor until the end of hostilities. Post-war he served with 100 Squadron, flying the Lincoln and later the Shackleton with 120 Squadron Coastal Command. After a period in the Far East he returned to the UK for a final tour, retiring as a Squadron Leader in 1962. Following the death of his wife, who he adored for over 60 years, he moved to Bristol where he is supported and much-loved by an extended family of 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 18 grandchildren.

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