Last surviving member of The Dam Busters remembers his fallen friends (exclusive)

Sam Ashurst
Contributor

This year marks 75 years since the legendary Operation Chastise, the military raid that inspired the classic film The Dam Busters. And tonight, The Royal Albert Hall will play host to a special commemorative gala event set to be screened in nearly 400 cinemas across the country.

To mark the occasion, we have an exclusive video featuring the last surviving member of the raid, Johnny Johnson, discussing his memories of his fallen colleagues.

“I have to say, that I feel privileged and, yes, honoured, at being able to talk part in that raid,” Johnson says in the emotional video. “Having said that, now I have to constantly remind people that I’m the lucky one. I’m still alive. And what I’m doing, and what they’re saying to me, is not for me. It’s for the Squadron, and I am purely representing the Squadron.”

“Of the 19 aircraft that took off, three came back. They had to come back early. Of the 16 that went on, only eight came back. We lost eight aircraft. Three crew members had been able to escape from one of the aircraft, but it meant that 53 air crew had been lost as well, and that was a tremendous loss for one squadron, for one night’s operation, and everybody felt very strongly about it.”

Tonight’s gala evening supports the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity.

From 7.15pm – 8.15pm proceedings will be simulcast into close to 400 cinemas nationwide and the event will culminate, in both the Royal Albert Hall and in cinemas broadcasting the stream, with a screening of The Dam Busters, starring Sir Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd, in 4K definition.

“One of the greatest British films of all time in one of Britain’s greatest venues. It’s going to be an unforgettable night of commemoration and nostalgia,” host Dan Snow says.

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