Dambusters medals to stay in NZ thanks to Tory bogeyman

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Everyone on the left likes to hate Lord Ashcroft, except yet again he has come to the aid of New Zealand to retain medals won in World War 2.

Les Munro, the last surviving Dambusters pilot, has spoken of his delight at raising more than $160,000 for a memorial dedicated to his fallen World War II mates, while also being able to keep his historic war medals in New Zealand.

Mr Munro, 95, had planned to sell his medals at auction this week in order to make a donation to London’s Bomber Command Memorial for its ongoing upkeep.

There was concern from New Zealand museums, the Government, and the RSA at the possibility of losing such treasured historical objects overseas. But the medals will be kept in the country after Mr Munro accepted a $150,000 donation by British billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft.

Lord Ashcroft, who owns the world’s largest collection of Victoria Cross medals, will donate the money to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which looks after the memorial. In return, Mr Munro has agreed to donate his medals, including the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, along with logbooks and associated memorabilia, to the Museum of Transport and Technology (Motat) in Auckland. ?

“I’ve achieved my first priority, which was to make a donation to ensure that the men of Bomber Command who lost their lives during the Second World War will be remembered with pride for generations to come,” said Mr Munro, one of only two New Zealanders to take part in the daring World War II raid – the other being the late Leonard Chambers.

“As an aside, the agreement has enabled the medals to stay in New Zealand.”

Mr Munro, of Tauranga, said he was astonished and very touched by the interest generated by his quest to raise funds for memorial’s upkeep.

There was a delicate balance to be achieved between raising funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund and ensuring his medals were preserved for future generations of Kiwis to appreciate, he said.

“Lord Ashcroft’s very generous proposal represents the best way of attaining both these objectives. I am extremely grateful to him.” he said.

Lord Ashcroft was flying yesterday, but tweeted from his flight: “Very pleased. A win win for everyone.”

Well done to Lord Ashcroft, and well done to Les Munro.

Bomber Command veterans were few, the toll was terrible and it was even worse for members of 617 squadron.

We will remember them,

 

– NZ Herald

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