On Monday 21st October, 649 (Dursley) Air Cadet Squadron were delighted to welcome more than 70 guests including VIPs, cadets, their parents and local company and organisation representatives to the squadron headquarters at Kingshill House. The event saw the return of Squadron Leader (Retired) George ‘Johnny’ Johnson, the last surviving participant from the Second World War ‘Dambuster’ raid.
The evening began with a welcome followed by a brief presentation on Sqn Ldr Johnson who then proceeded with a very personal account on his views on Bomber Command during the war. This was followed by a question and answer session where guests had the opportunity to ask about his experiences that he hadn’t covered in his speech.
The evening then progressed into a socialising opportunity where refreshments were served in exchange for donations to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the leading welfare charity for the RAF family who are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. The event raised £75 for the charity. During this time guests, Squadron staff and cadets had the opportunity to meet the Squadron Leader personally. This made for a memorable evening for all who attended, as he posed for photographs and signed copies of his book, The Last British Dambuster. Live background music was provided by the ‘Dambusters Quartet’ who assembled especially for the event and provided topical wartime tunes.
It was the efforts of Civilian Instructor, Josh Rowles who coordinated the evening and was the host of the event. He said “This is the sixth event where I’ve organised an evening alongside Johnny, every time I hear him speak, I learn something new about his experiences. He’s a fascinating gentleman, and the Squadron are honoured to have him return to speak to us for a second time.”
Cadet Sergeant Samuel Drewett commented on the evening: “It was an amazing insight into the life lived by the last remaining Dambuster.” Cadet Benjamin Phillips, who had been looking forward to the evening, said: “It was both educational and enjoyable, Sqn Ldr Johnson is a truly remarkable man, it was amazing!”
To conclude the evening, Sqn Ldr Johnson posed with all attending members of 649 Sqn for a photograph. On behalf of the Squadron, CI Rowles and Sqn Ldr Farr presented Sqn Ldr Johnson with a gift of thanks before dismissing the Squadron. Officer Commanding 649 Squadron, Sqn Ldr Farr commented: “It was lovely to see Sqn Ldr Johnson captivate such a diverse audience, from air cadets aged 12 to others aged 80+. The respect and admiration for Sqn Ldr Johnson both during the event and on social media following the event was heartwarming.”
For more information on how to join us as a cadet or as a staff member, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org