Top officers from the Royal Canadian Air Force and the UK’s own RAF will join forces at Durham Tees Valley Airport to remember a World War II hero.
The airmen and women will be joined at the airport by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and The Worshipful Mayor of Darlington and Escort for a commemoration led by Rev Colin Lingard, former reverend of Middleton St. George.
The event is being held in honour of Andrew Mynarski, who was a member of The Canadian Royal Airforce during World War II and was based at Durham Tees Valley Airport (previously RAF Middleton St. George).
The Pilot Officer, who flew with the No. 419 “Moose” Squadron, was a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Aged just 27, the Winnipeg-born airman gave his life on 13 June 1944 after attempting to help rescue a trapped crew member aboard his Avro Lancaster bomber plane during an attack on the railway yards at Cambrai, France. His VC was awarded in 1946, the last such award to a Canadian airman for actions during World War II.
The Lancaster of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario, one of only two airworthy Lancaster’s in the world, is known as the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster in honour of Mynarski and is painted in the markings of his aircraft. The aircraft visited the UK and specifically Teesside airport back in 2014.
A statue of Mynarski now stands at the airport as a tribute to his heroic deed, where the memorial service will begin.
The commemoration will also coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, when the Allies successfully launched and executed the largest ever amphibious military assault as part of the liberation of France from Nazi Germany.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Andrew Mynarski was the very definition of a hero, giving his life to save a colleague. This statue is an enduring testament to his bravery, as are the return visits, year after year, by Canadian Officers to honour his sacrifice.
“This also serves as a poignant reminder and commemoration of all of those who have given their lives for our freedom, not least those involved in the D-Day landings 75 years ago. I’m delighted the airport can continue to celebrate the memory of these remarkable individuals.”
Commanding Officer of 419 Squadron Lieutenant Colonel Colin Marks – Canadian Royal Air Force – 4 Wing Base Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada – Tactical Fighter Training Squadron plus 7 crew including
Major Carl Cottrell
Captain Justin and Mrs Andrea Catania
Captain Anthony Gandouin
Master Corporal Rachael Skelhorn
Commanding Officer of RAF Leeming: Group Captain J Blythe Crawford OBE MST MA BEng (Hons) FRAeS RAF
Commanding Officer of RAF Linton-on-Ouse: Group Captain Keith D Taylor ADC MA BEng (Hons) RAF and Mrs L Taylor
Mrs Caitlin Barker – Logistics Officer – Canadian Royal Air Force
The Worshipful The Mayor of Darlington and Escort