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RIP, The Last of the Dam Busters

(Image: Lucasfilm)

Yes, that’s an image from the climactic trench run scene at the end of Star Wars. It’s not an error. That scene was inspired by the 1955 British war film The Dam Busters. That movie was a retelling of a real-life and truly extraordinary raid conducted by the Royal Air Force during World War II. 

(Photo: Alan Gibson/New Zealand Herald/Associated Press)

Flight Lieutenant John Leslie Munro, the last of the heroes who participated in that daring strike at Germany’s industrial heartland, died on Monday at the age of 96.

The raid was a marvel of both martial courage and technical innovation. In order to destroy heavily fortified dams providing electricity to the Nazi war machine, engineers invented special bombs that would bounce on the water in a particular way, then impact on the dams, then detonate. Of the 133 men who participated in this dangerous but successful raid on May 16, 1943, only 77 returned to Britain.

Munro was the pilot of a Lancaster bomber on the mission. Flak blew a hole in it, but he managed to bring it safely back to base. After the war, Munro returned to his native New Zealand and became a farmer. He also served as mayor of the town of Waitomo on the North Island. You can read his obituary in the New York Times.

-via Popehat


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