Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Les Munro the Last surviving Dambusters pilot, dies aged 96

The last surviving pilot from the Dambusters raids died at the age of 96. Les Munro passed away yesterday morning in the hospital in Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty in his nativeNew Zealand.


His death means there are just two survivors from the 1943 bombing raids on Germany’s Ruhr dams: George “Johnny” Johnson, from the UK, who was a bomb-aimer; and Canadian front-gunner Fred Sutherland.

In a statement, the New Zealand Bomber Command Association announced the “extremely sad news”, saying: “Our New Zealand Bomber Command Association patron, and well known Dambuster pilot, Les Munro passed away last night following a spell in hospital with heart problems. So, so sad. He was a mighty man.”

Along with Leonard Chambers, who died in 1985, John Leslie Munro was one of two New Zealand members of the Dambusters crew. He joined the Royal New Zealand air force in 1941, qualifying as a pilot the following year.

On 16 May 1943, as part of 617 squadron, Munro piloted a Lancaster bomber in Operation Chastise, later immortalised as the Dambusters raids. Although Munro’s aircraft suffered flak damage and was forced to turn back before it could carry out its attack on the Sorpe dam, the raids were successful in devastating the Möhne and Edersee dams.

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