A solution may have been found to keeping veteran "Dambuster" Les Munro's medals in New Zealand.

Lord Michael Ashcroft has offered to donate $150,000 to the upkeep of London's Bomber Command Memorial if Mr Munro withdraws his medals from auction.

Philanthropist Lord Ashcroft will donate GPB75,000 to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which looks after the memorial, in return for Mr Munro donating his medals to the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland.

MOTAT has offered to cover the auctioneer's fees and out of pocket expenses.


Mr Munro's awards, including the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, were expected to fetch between $80,000 and $100,000 at auction.

The 95-year-old veteran had put the medals up to be auctioned on March 25 to raise money for the upkeep of the memorial, which commemorates his fallen comrades.

A consortium of New Zealand museums had been in talks with Mr Munro to find a way to keep the medals in New Zealand, but yesterday said they could not bid as a consortium, and did not have the resources to do so individually.

Lord Ashcroft donated more than $2 million to build the Bomber Command Memorial, which commemorates the airmen who died while flying with the Bomber Command, known as the "Dambusters", during World War Two.

His proposal has the support of the NZ Bomber Command Association, and if successful, MOTAT will develop a travelling exhibition on the history of the Bomber Command.

He has also offered to personally collect the medals from the auction house in London and fly them to New Zealand.

Lord Ashcroft is a philanthropist and businessman who founded Crimestoppers UK and helped set up a similar service in New Zealand. In 2007 he offered a reward of $200,000 for the return of the medals stolen rom the Waiouru Army Museum.