A HIGHLY decorated Second World War hero who survived 92 bombing missions and helped to raise funds for a long-awaited memorial has been denied a place at its unveiling.

Former rear gunner Freddie Johnson, 91, won six medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry, during five years’ service on Wellington and Halifax bombers – during which time he was shot down twice, once behind enemy lines.

He has always been unhappy about the lack of official recognition for the efforts and sacrifice of bomber crews and in recent years helped to raise money for the £6.5 million Bomber Command memorial in Green Park, London But he still has not been able to get a ticket for the ceremony on June 28, when the sculpture, which features seven bomber air crew members, is expected to be unveiled by the Queen.

His daughter, Mandy Stewart, said that when her brother tried to obtain a ticket for their father, he was told they had all been taken up by relatives of people who had served in Bomber Command.

“We feel that precedence should be given to those who were actually there,” she said.

“He’s a member of the RAF Association so it couldn’t have been that hard to trace him and invite him to the ceremony.”

Mr Johnson said: “I would have loved to have gone. I was very pleased when I heard it was being built.”

His wife Jean said: “It’s a shame. He is bitterly disappointed.

“There can’t be that many veterans left who saw such long service and were presented with so many medals.”

Sue Richmond, chairman of the York branch of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), said a number of members were attending the event and she was not aware of anyone else who had been unable to get tickets.

“I think it’s a terrible shame that somebody with this record could not get a place, although I do appreciate the difficulties involved in organising an event like this.”

A spokeswoman for the memorial organisers said she was extremely sorry that Mr Johnson and other veterans had been unable to get tickets to the event.

“The problem is we have been absolutely overwhelmed by demand for tickets,” she said.

“We have a licence limiting us to 6,500 guests which we cannot exceed, and have prioritised two groups – people who lost relatives such as husbands and fathers, and veterans who flew in the planes.

“But we still probably have at least 1,000 people who would like to attend but cannot come.

“Other events will be staged at the memorial later in the year and we would hope that people who cannot get a ticket this time will be able to attend one of those functions,” the spokeswoman said.