How did Dambuster Johnny Johnson die? Cause of Death Explained

How did Dambuster Johnny Johnson die? Cause of Death Explained

The last surviving Dambuster George “Johnny” Johnson has died at the age of 101. Let’s see more details about the British Loyal Airforce Officer and his cause of death in the following paragraphs.

Who is George Leonard ‘Johnny’ Johnson?

George Leonard Johnson, MBE, DFM, often known as Johnny Johnson, was a British Royal Air Force officer who served as the last surviving original member of No. 617 Squadron RAF and Operation Chastise, the 1943 “Dambusters” attack. He was born on November 25, 1921, and died on December 7, 2022.

Around a third of the RAF Bomber Command, the crew did not survive the raid. The sixth and final child to be born to Mary Ellen (née Henfrey) and Charles Johnson was George Johnson, who was also referred to as Leonard by family members.

He was born in the English village of Hameringham, which is located in the East Lindsey region of Lincolnshire. When he was three years old, his mother passed away, leaving his farm foreman father to raise the family alone under fairly difficult circumstances.

Johnny Johnson characterized his father as someone who would punish him severely with corporal punishment as he grew up and came to despise him. Johnson said he never regretted his decision to skip his father’s funeral after he passed away in 1957.

How did Dambuster Johnny Johnson die? Cause of Death Explained

Royal Air Force

Johnson offered to join the Royal Air Force in 1940 as a navigator but was chosen for pilot training instead. But because of the challenges in handling a large number of recruits at the time, he was transferred to various locations throughout England, and it wasn’t until June 1941 that he was eventually dispatched to Florida to start his pilot training. 

Johnson was given the moniker “Johnny” because it is the custom in the British armed forces due to his last name. Johnson chose to work as an air gunner after failing to receive the necessary grade in his pilot training. 

Johnson was initially assigned as a spare (reserve) gunner when he was transferred to No. 97 Squadron RAF at RAF Woodhall Spa in July 1942. This however allowed him to fly with numerous crews in the squadron, his first operational sortie being a raid on Gdynia in Poland on 27 August 1942, forming part of the crew under the command of Squadron Leader Elmer Cotton.

En route to the target, the aircraft suffered an engine failure, forcing the pilot to abort the mission and return to Woodhall Spa. The following night, the crew was part of a successful raid on Nuremberg.

 Johnny johnson’s first Mission

Johnson’s first mission as a member of McCarthy’s crew was a severe weather raid on Munich on December 21, 1942. The Avro Lancaster was attacked by night fighters while travelling to and returning from the target; as a result, McCarthy was forced to make an emergency landing at RAF Bottesford after one engine failed completely.

Johnson completed a full operational tour with No. 97 Squadron by flying 18 more missions with this crew. He then took a leave of absence, after which he worked for six months in a non-combat training position. This brought an end to his operational tour.

How did Dambuster Johnny Johnson die? Cause of Death Explained

Operation Reprimand

On May 16, 1943, 19 Lancaster bomber crews assembled at a distant RAF station in Lincolnshire for an exceptionally daring mission: a nighttime raid on three fiercely guarded dams located in the center of Germany’s industrial region.

The unique bouncing bomb, which bounced in the water above torpedo nets and sank before detonating, was necessary due to the severely guarded nature of the dams.

To succeed, the raiders would have to fly through occupied Europe while coming under intense fire and then dump their bombs with incredible accuracy from just 60 feet above the ocean.

Mines dropped from specially modified Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron burst the Mohne and Eder Dams in the industrial core of Germany. Additionally, two planes targeted and destroyed the Sorpe dam.

A single aircraft (O-Orange) was said to have targeted a fourth dam, the Ennepe, but there was no reported damage. Floodwaters are thought to have killed up to 1,600 people, and eight of the 19 aircraft sent out to rescue them failed to arrive, losing 53 of its crew members and taking three hostages.

Celebrated his 101st birthday

Squadron Leader George Leonard ‘Johnny’ Johnson was made an MBE by the Queen (Dominic Lipinski/PA) Following the death of his wartime colleague Fred Sutherland in January 2019, Johnson became the last survivor of the original flying members of the 617 Squadron.

On 25 November 2022, Johnny Johnson, who retired from the RAF as a squadron leader, celebrated his 101st birthday.

Johnny Johnson’s Cause of death

The last surviving Dambuster died at the age of 101. He died peacefully at his care home in Westbury on Trym, Bristol, on Wednesday night surrounded by his family, a source told PA.

He was a bomb aimer during Operation Chastise, which was tasked with attacking German dams during the Second World War. Around a third of the RAF Bomber Command, crew did not survive the raid.

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