May 12, 2021 1.42 pm This story is over 14 months old

100th birthday portrait of last living Dambuster up for auction

George “Johnny” Johnson

A special 100th birthday portrait of the last living Dambuster, Lincolnshire-born George “Johnny” Johnson, has been unveiled and put up for public auction.

Dan Llywelyn Hall sat with Johnny in Bristol in 2018 before inviting him to an exhibition of all the Dambusters’ portraits he’d made for the 75th anniversary of the Dams Raid.

May 16, 2021 marks the 78th anniversary since the Dams Raid, which is widely regarded as one of the most audacious operations in military history. 133 men set off in 19 Lancasters to destroy Adolf Hitler’s power-generating dams, but sadly 53 did not return. The story went on to inspire the popular Dambusters film.

The ‘Last of the Dambusters’ portrait of Johnny will be on display at Roger Jones auction house in Cardiff and be in a public auction at 10.30am on May 14.

Proceeds will benefit the charity 617 Group, which Johnny Johnson is president of and he is due to turn 100 years old on November 25 this year.

Artist Dan Llywelyn Hall sitting with George “Johnny” Johnson in Bristol in 2018. | Photo: Richard Brewis

Llywelyn Hall was the youngest artist to portray the Queen in 2013 and in 2009 he painted a portrait of the Last Tommy – Harry Patch. He has also painted portraits of popular entertainers such as Amy Winehouse and Barbara Windsor, as well as the Duke of Cambridge.

He said: “There is something poignant in depicting the last of a generation. Johnny – has with great eloquence – been a spokesman for his comrades about this contentious moment in history- and with asserted moral justification.

“This portrait marks that moment of a man at a milestone, the last voice.

“None of Bomber Command doing Churchill’s dirty work were properly recognised with a medal and the question remains: As a result, the likes of Johnny have had to make the moral argument for themselves as this slight of public recognition eluded them.”

The full portrait of George “Johnny” Johnson. | Portrait: Dan Llywelyn Hall

Johnny Johnson, who was born in Hameringham near Horncastle in 1921, said he “enthusiastically recognises” himself in the artist’s work and said with an approving smile that it’s “typical” of Dan’s portraits.

He said: “I look forward to my century and I am honoured to still be able to represent the men who went on the Dams Raid.

“It would be excellent if a new petition could finally see Bomber Command finally recognised with a medal.”

Speaking in 2018 after being given a consolation ribbon, he said: “Mine is still in the box, and there it will stay until we get a medal.”