3 Mar 2015

Dambusters pilot to sell medals

5:44 pm on 3 March 2015

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is contacting a former war hero Les Munro to make sure his plans to sell his war medals overseas comply with the law.

Les Munro at the Bomber Command Memorial in London.

Les Munro at the Bomber Command Memorial in London. Photo: SUPPLIED

Squadron Leader Les Munro, 95, is one of only two New Zealanders to take part in the famous Dambusters raid during the Second World War.

He has announced he will sell his gallantry medals.

He hopes to raise up to $100,000 which will go towards the upkeep of the memorial near London's Hyde Park dedicated to the 55,573 airmen killed during the war.

Mr Munro said the monument would need a lot of money to maintain it and he hoped the proceeds of the sale of his medals - one of them a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery - would help pay for that.

"My reasons for donating my medals and my flying log books to the RAF Benevolent Fund and, more particularly, the Bomber Command Memorial, were prompted by my visit to the Memorial in May 2013.

"I could not help but think of the cost of its ongoing maintenance and with the feelings of the descendants of those 55,573 in mind believe that every effort be made to maintain the memorial in the best possible condition, said Mr Munro.

He considered himself a 'fortunate survivor' of the war, and said his time as a serviceman moulded him as a man and gave him the confidence in his own ability.

"And, very importantly, it taught me to get on with my fellow men and to value comradeship.

"It is because of that sense of comradeship - and the equal importance of the act of remembrance - that I now part company with my medals and flying log books for the benefit of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London."

The Dambusters raid, using bombs that bounced on the water, breached dams in German's Ruhr factory district and weakened that country's industrial capacity.

Munro says the momument will need a lot of money to maintain it and he hopes the money from his medals will help pay for that.

The ministry for culture and heritage history operations manager David Butts said he wanted to talk to Mr Munro about possible impact of the Protected Objects Act on any sale.

"We will need to work with the auction house and with the person selling the medals to ensure that they have made an application to export the medals under the Protected Objects Act."

Mr Butts said now they were alerted to Les Munro's intentions they would be contacting him immediatley.