Carol Vorderman launches petition to get last surviving Dambuster a knighthood

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Carol Vorderman has launched a petition to get the last surviving Dambuster a knighthood, branding the decision to leave him off the honours list "disgraceful".

George "Johnny" Johnson was part of the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron, which conducted a night of raids on German dams in 1943 in an effort to disable Hitler's industrial heartland.

The 95-year-old, from Bristol, is the last surviving member of the Bomber Command crews who used Barnes Wallis's revolutionary bouncing bombs - releasing them 60ft above ground.

But despite being nominated for the accolade, Vorderman said it is "disgraceful" the former Squadron Leader has not been recognised in this year's New Year's honours list.

"Really, the reason he is the last surviving Dambuster should be enough (for the knighthood), but it is what he has done since then that is quite incredible," Vorderman told the Press Association.

"I hadn't realised someone had nominated him, which they had. Then to be snubbed I thought was absolutely disgraceful.

"He is already 95 and when he was asked to step forward he had no hesitation, just as all those in Bomber Command - none of them had any hesitation.

"If you were part of Bomber Command you had more chance of surviving the Battle of the Somme - that is how many died, it was about half, a 50/50 chance and they were all volunteers.

"They were incredibly brave and they have been treated disgracefully since then - even today they haven't got a medal."

The former Countdown presenter said she has felt motivated to start the petition because "there is a personal connection" between her and the Second World War veteran.

Vorderman, a trained pilot, also revealed she will be personally submitting another honours nomination in a bid to get him a knighthood.

"If Olympians, quite rightly, can get theirs so quickly then there's no reason why Johnny can't. I will be putting in a formal nomination with all the letters of support," she said.

An ambassador for the RAF Air Cadets for the past two years, Vorderman said she first met Mr Johnson last summer at an event on Clifton suspension bridge.

She said in the years since he left Bomber Command he has been a teacher, a counsellor, and has raised huge amounts of money for charity.

"He is an amazing man, he is one of the most charming people you could ever wish to meet - and modest, just wonderful," she said.

So far more than 21,500 people have signed the petition, Vorderman added: "It is going up by four or five thousand an hour now, it is just accelerating - it is amazing."

:: To sign Carol Vorderman's petition visit www.change.org/p/give-britain-s-last-surviving-dambuster-hero-a-knighthood.