A team of cyclists completed a two-wheeled ‘flypast’ in front of Britain’s last surviving Dambuster Squadron Leader George ‘Johnny’ Johnson MBE DFM on Monday 17 May in tribute to the Dambusters raid that took place 16-17 May 1943. The 12-strong group cycled 19 miles before arriving in Bristol – one mile for each of the Lancaster crews which flew in Operation Chastise, 78 years ago.
The outdoor event was opened by Peaches Golding, Lord Lieutenant of Bristol, with Johnny and a small group of guests in attendance. The cycle past, which set off from the RAFA Club in Westbury on Trym, was organised by a friend of Johnny’s, Chris Della-Porta.
Chris, who lives in Bristol, said: “The RAF Benevolent Fund’s Dambusters Ride is a fitting tribute to Johnny’s centenary, but as he may not be able to make it to the main event in July, we decided we would bring the Dambusters Ride to Johnny – quite literally! This was a really special day for everyone to remember the bravery and sacrifice made all those years ago.”
The Dambusters Ride is set to raise more than £92,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, which supports serving RAF personnel, veterans and their families with emotional, practical and financial help.
Operation Chastise was a pivotal moment during the Second World War when 19 Lancaster crews targeted three dams in the heart of Germany’s war machine. It was a risky raid, dropping the revolutionary bouncing bomb at low level, and the cost was high. Of 133 crew who took part, 53 were killed in action and three were taken prisoner of war.