One of only two New Zealanders to take part in the famous "Dam Busters" air attack on Germany during World War II is to auction his medals to raise money for the upkeep of the Bomber Command Memorial that commemorates his comrades who were killed.
Les Munro, 95, is the last surviving member of the pilots who took off for the raid, later immortalised in the film The Dam Busters.
London auction house Dix Noonan Webb said Mr Munro had decided to auction his awards and other items there on March 25. They are expected to fetch 40,000 pounds (NZD $81,798) to 50,000 pounds (NZD $102,247).
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The money will go to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, guardian of the memorial at Green Park in London which commemorates all the 55,573 dead of Bomber Command, including 1679 New Zealanders.
Mr Munro, who, as a member of the elite 617 'Dam Busters' squadron, took off for the raid against German dams in May 1943, was forced to turn his Lancaster bomber back after flak destroyed the plane's communications systems.
He became a key figure in the history of 617 squadron. He took part in a series of important precision raids and on the eve of D-Day played a central role in an operation which fooled the German forces into thinking that an invasion fleet was sailing towards the Pas de Calais rather than Normandy.
Mr Munro said: "My reasons for donating my medals and my flying logbooks 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 should be made to maintain the memorial in the best possible condition."
He said it was a travesty that the memorial was not unveiled until 2012 - 67 years after the end of the war.
View Les Munro's statement about his decision to sell the medals here.