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Last surviving Dambusters Pilot Les Munro died

Les Munro was among the pilots who took part in the legendary Dambusters operation of World War II in 1943.

Aug 5, 2015 16:48 IST
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Les MunroThe last surviving Dambusters pilot, Les Munro, died on 4 August 2015 in New Zealand following heart problems. He was 96.

Les Munro was among the pilots who took part in the legendary Dambusters operation of World War II in 1943. The operation consisted of using bouncing bombs to attack German dams. Out of 133 crew members, only 77 returned after the war. There are now only two surviving crew members of the Dambusters missions.

Munro retired in 1946, although he became a local hero with a street named after him in his home town of Te Kuiti, in New Zealand’s North Island. However, Munro was still flying at the age of 95 and had co-piloted an Avro Anson plane in January 2015.

Munro was born into a farming family on New Zealand’s east coast and got enlisted in the New Zealand air force in 1941.

Dambusters mission

• On the night of 16 May 1943, 19 bombers left RAF Scampton near Lincoln in three waves. The first wave headed to the Mohne and the Eder Dams, the second and third headed to the Sorpe dam.
• Out of the 133 crew that set off, only 77 returned including Squadron Leader Munro, who made it home after flak destroyed the internal and external communications in his Lancaster bomber over the Netherlands.
• The Sorpe Dam was damaged but the Mohne and Eder Dams were destroyed, flooding the Ruhr valley and killing an estimated 1300 people, mostly civilians.

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