Old white man of the day

Another “last of” for our old white man today.  The last survivor of the Dambuster squadron. Quote:

Les Munro was born on 5 April 1919 at Gisborne. […] He enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force on 5 July 1941. He was originally turned down because of unsatisfactory scholastic ability, but studied by correspondence and was finally accepted.

Munro learned to fly in Tiger Moths at the RNZAF’s Flying Training School at Bell Block near New Plymouth, and on graduation chose to fly bombers so was posted to Canada for initial bomber training. […] He moved to England in October 1941 for further training, and joined 97 Squadron at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire. There, he flew Avro Manchesters and then Avro Lancasters in 1942/43 and while there his DFC was gazetted, on 11 June 1943.

On 25 March 1943, Munro, along with Flt Lt Joe McCarthy and S/Ldr David Maltby, were transferred to 617 Squadron to be part of the secretive Dambusters raid forming at RAF Scampton. The squadron was created to attack the dams of the Ruhr in an effort to wreck the industrial capacity of Germany. It was initially called Squadron “X”, as the speed of its formation outstripped the RAF process for naming squadrons. Twenty-one bomber crews were selected from existing squadrons in 5 Group. These crews included RAF personnel of several different nationalities, as well as members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), who were frequently attached to RAF squadrons under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Of the 19 Lancasters that flew on that full-moon night, only 11 returned. Munro, as pilot of W-Willie, was scheduled to bomb the Sorpe dam. Over the Netherlands, his aircraft was damaged by flak which knocked out all communications, so it turned back to land in Lincolnshire, still carrying its mine. His DSO was awarded while he was with 617, on 28 March 1943. End of quote:

The flak knocked out the internal comms and without the precise coordination between the pilot and the crew to start the bomb spinning beneath the plane 10 minutes before it was dropped and for the plane to be at exactly the correct point and height before release, there was no point pressing on and Munro knew that if he continued on, he would be a hindrance to the mission. Quote:

Munro was promoted to Squadron Leader on 14 February 1944 and was posted to command 1690 BDTF Squadron (Bomber Defence Training Flight) on 13 July 1944. His logbook shows that when departing Scampton to bomb Bremen with four 500 lb general purpose bombs, his aircraft crashed and burned shortly after takeoff, but the crew escaped.

Munro took part in Operation Taxable in conjunction with the D Day landings in Normandy in which the Lancasters flew precise, elongated circuits dropping Window (aluminium strips), to convince German radar installations that a huge flotilla of ships was approaching Cap d’Antifer. The ruse was successful and the last of the 617 squadron Window droppers witnessed German shore batteries firing on the “Ghost” convoy.

Munro described the operation in his logbook as:  “The creation of a tactical surprise to support the landing of troops on the opening of the second front. The most hazardous, difficult and most dangerous operation ever undertaken in the history of air warfare. Involved flying within at least nine miles of the enemy coast without fighter cover, and in conditions of bright moonlight and at a height of not more than 3000 ft (three thousand) at which the aircraft was open to attack by the deadliest of all weapons – light flak.”

Munro’s co-pilot on this operation was Wing Commander Leonard Cheshire, the squadron’s commanding officer who later was awarded the Victoria Cross.

He was released from the Royal Air Force on 5 February 1946, a veteran of 58 missions, and he retired from flying. In a 2006 interview, Munro said of his war experiences that he “…would be the first to admit that I was pretty lucky. Most blokes who survived even a couple of operational tours would say that luck was on their side.”[…]

Munro attended the 60th Anniversary commemoration of the Dambusters raid, along with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in May 2003 at RAF Lossiemouth. He was also present, along with Richard Todd, the actor who played Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the 1955 The Dam Busters film, for the 65th anniversary commemoration held at Derwent Reservoir (Derbyshire) on 16 May 2008. As the last living pilot of the strike team, Munro joined the production crew in Masterton as technical adviser on a remake of the film.[…] End of quote:

But that’s not all: there’s more. In an act of selflessness, he was prepared to sell his medals. Quote:

In March 2015, Munro intended to sell his war medals and flight logbook at auction to raise funds for the upkeep of the RAF Bomber Command Memorial in London. The auction was pulled after Lord Ashcroft donated £75,000 to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund towards the upkeep, with a further NZ$19,500 donated by the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, where the medals will go on display. On 14 April 2015, he was one of eight New Zealand servicemen who were awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Ambassador to New Zealand.[…]  He died in August 2015. End of quote:

Lord Ashcroft is an “evil” capitalist and former member of the Conservative party; one of those ghastly people who give away their own money, a concept that those who despise old white men would not understand.


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In solidarity with the those in the world’s most despised demographic, WH has decided to ‘come out’ as an old white male. WH enjoys exercising the white-male privilege that Whaleoil provides for him by writing the occasional post challenging climate change consensus; looking at random tech issues that tweak his interest, as a bit of a tech nerd; or generally poking the borax at anyone in public life who goes on record revealing their stupidity. WH never excelled on the sports field because his coaches never allowed him to play in his preferred position on the right-wing. WH also enjoys his MG.

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