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Colleague's tribute to the last of the Dambuster pilots

By Dominic Harris

The last British survivor of the Dambusters bombing raid has recalled an astonishing training ground stunt pulled off by Les Munro as he paid tribute to the pilot following his death.

Squadron Leader Munro, from New Zealand, was the last surviving pilot of the famous 617 Squadron which carried out the "bouncing bomb" raid to destroy dams in Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

The 96-year-old died from heart problems in Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand, his friend Ron Mayhill said.

His death leaves two surviving crew members of the famous RAF Dambusters raids - Briton George 'Johnny' Johnson, a bomb aimer who retired as a squadron leader, and Canadian former front gunner Fred Sutherland, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and retired as a flight sergeant.

Speaking from his Bristol home, Mr Johnson (93) told of his sorrow at his colleague's death. He said: "I think I would like to pass on my complete sympathy to Les's partner and his two sons. I am very sorry to hear that he has gone. I shan't see him any more at reunions and I feel very sorry about that."

Mr Johnson recalled a feat of incredible - and possibly rather dangerous - flying Mr Munro performed while training.

He said: "On one occasion we were flying back from the bombing range at an absolute maximum of 60ft, probably less, and this other aircraft flew underneath us - and that was Les. Although he wouldn't admit it at first, he subsequently said perhaps it was possible that it was him. We were quite sure it was him."

Belfast Telegraph


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