Page 3 Profile: Les Munro, veteran pilot


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That’s a lot of precious metal to be carting around…

Squadron Leader Munro, 95, the last surviving pilot from the 1943 Dam Busters raid, has announced plans to sell his prized medals in hopes of raising £50,000 for the Bomber Command Memorial fund, a newly-built site dedicated to the airmen killed during the Second World War.

Remind me, what was the Dambusters raid again?

It was the one with the bouncing bombs, an attack on German dams carried out on the night of 16-17 May 1943 by the Royal Air Force. Codenamed “Operation Chastise”, it inspired the 1955 film starring Michael Redgrave.

What role did Sqn Ldr Munro play?

He was one of the 19 commanding officers on the raid on dams in the Ruhr industrial heartland. Eight men were killed but the operation was a success, with two dams breached by Dr Barnes Wallis’s “bouncing bombs”.

How did the squadron leader fare?

The Lancaster bomber was struck by an anti-aircraft flak shell over Holland, knocking a gaping hole in the fuselage forcing him to return to Britain. On the eve of D Day in 1944, he dropped aluminium strips in the English Channel to trick German radar operators into thinking the invasion was taking place at Calais rather than Normandy to the south.

Sounds like he played a crucial role in the war effort…

Sqn Ldr Munro was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for the raid as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery shown during 58 sorties over Europe.

And now he is selling them?

He said the £50,000 expected from the sale will pay for the maintenance of the memorial for one year.