No more Dambuster pilots

05Munro1-web-articleInlineThe last one passed a couple of days ago.  Their mission was to knock out dams with a specially-developed bomb that had to be dropped from only about 60 feet up…kinda close to the deck to be flying, especially when you’re flying a heavy bomber with no terrain-following capability because it’s World War II and such things hadn’t yet been invented.

Part of a generation that’s disappearing at an ever-faster rate:

CDR Salamander: Fullbore Friday

On the night of May 16, 1943, a squadron of bombers set out from Britain to conduct strikes against heavily fortified dams in the Ruhr Valley of Germany, using bombs that bounced on the water before exploding. Of the 133 crew members who started the mission, only 77 returned.

The last surviving pilot of those who came back was John Leslie Munro, who died Tuesday at 96 in Auckland, New Zealand.

His death, announced by the New Zealand Bomber Command Association on its Facebook page, elicited tributes from around the world, including in Britain and in his native New Zealand, for his role in the daring “Dambusters” mission that struck at the industrial heartland of the Nazi war effort and lifted Allied morale.

Mr. Munro, who was known as Les, was part of the Royal Air Force’s 617 squadron, which was assigned to destroy three dams with specially designed bombs shaped like cylinders that had to be dropped from about 60 feet.