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Munro Tribute And Medal Display at MOTAT

Media Release

Munro Tribute And Medal Display at Munro Tribute And Medal Display at Motat

A tribute to aviation war hero Les Munro and his collection of gallantry medals, including a Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, will go on display on Saturday 30 January. MOTAT visitors can view this in the Aviation Display Hall over the Auckland Anniversary long weekend.

Mr Munro made international headlines in March last year when he generously offered to auction his collection to raise funds for the upkeep of the Bomber Command Memorial in London which honours his fallen comrades. British philanthropist Lord Ashcroft stepped in and offered a donation of £75,000 to the RAF Benevolent Fund in return for the extraordinary airman withdrawing his medals from auction and gifting them to MOTAT.

“The Museum is honoured to be the custodians of these precious items for the benefit of all New Zealanders” said MOTAT CEO, Mr Michael Frawley. “MOTAT has a close association with NZ Bomber Command and the utmost respect Les Munro and his colleagues. They made a huge contribution to the Second World War effort and we commemorate their courage and sacrifice.”

Lord Ashcroft personally flew the medals and memorabilia back to New Zealand in April where Squadron Leader Les Munro presented them to MOTAT at a special ceremony in front of his favourite aircraft, the Avro Lancaster. He was pleased that the medals could remain on home soil and at MOTAT, in close proximity to the legendary bomber in which he flew most of his operations.

Lord Ashcroft, PM John Key, Les Munro, Michael Frawley at Medal Presentation 15 April 2015, MOTAT

Mr Munro was the last surviving pilot of the Dambusters Raid of 16 May 1943. The mission aimed to destroy dams of the highly industrialised Ruhr Valley, striking deep at Germany’s electrical infrastructure and the nation’s morale. Of 19 Lancasters dispatched that night only 11 returned. Mr Munro was also later involved in Operation Taxable, a mission to confuse the Germans about the location of the D-Day landings at Normandy. Mr Munro went on to survive the war and spend a remarkable 30 years in public service in New Zealand. He passed away at age 96 in August 2015.

MOTAT is open from 10am to 5pm daily (including Auckland Anniversary). Entry to the Aviation Display Hall to view the Les Munro tribute and replica medals is included in the general admission fee.


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