New tribute to Les Munro unveiled

Tom and Graeme Munro helped unveil a new tribute to their grandfather and father John Leslie ‘Les’ Munro’s at Mount RSA. Photos: Tracy Hardy.

Mount Maunganui RSA has produced a new tribute to late Dam Buster Squadron Leader, hero of the community, and 'super man” John Leslie ‘Les' Munro.

A huge photo of a Lancaster bomber, identical to the one Les piloted, plus several pieces of art depicting his life before, during, and following World War Two were unveiled during an official ceremony.

Joining representatives from the Mount RSA to unveil the tribute this morning were Les' son and grandson, Graeme and Tom, renowned photographer Alf Rendell, Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless, and local MPs Simon Bridges and Todd Muller.

The wall art, plus posters and information on the famous movie The Dam Busters which premiered in Wellington in 1955, have gone up on display alongside a life-size glass figure of Les at the RSA's Munro Restaurant which was renamed in his honour in 2014.

'This tribute is excellent, it has taken a while to put together, but the Mount RSA has done a fabulous job, it's come up really well,” says Les' son Graeme Munro.

'My favourite thing about the tribute is it depicts all of dad's life, from his time on the farm, through to his war service, up to his post-war years when he was in community service and representing people in the Waitomo/King Country area.

'Dad would have been very humbled by this. He wasn't one looking for public attention, he would have been abashed by this type of display.”

Les' son Graeme Munro with renowned veteran photographer Alf Rendall who officially cut the ribbon during this morning's ceremony.

Some of the wall art depicting Les' life, plus memorabilia of the film ‘The Dam Busters' which premiered in Wellington back in 1955.

Mount RSA club support manager Peter Moss has fond memories of the 'very staunch RSA man” who he also describes as an 'absolute gentleman, he was a really super man”.

In 2014 Les gave the club permission to use his name for the restaurant, and then in 2015 they received a donation from the daughter and son-in-law of the Mount RSA's vice-president to put towards a full size glass figure of Les.

'We had a bit of change left over so we decided to add to the glass figure of Les and make it a full size tribute.”

The photo of Lancaster is not the one flown by Les as it no longer exists, explains Peter. Instead, they've gone with a photo one currently flying in Australia and Les' 617 squadron number was added to it.

While the wall art which appears alongside it was professionally made in Cambridge and depicts Les' life from his days on the farm in Gisborne, his role with the legendary Dam Busters, through to his mayoralty in the Waitomo District, his time on the Nelson RSA executive board and more.

All up, $8500 was spent on the wall art and Peter would also like to thank all the adjuncts, sports/service clubs and individuals who made contributions towards 'this fitting tribute”.

'We wrote to all the sports clubs and adjuncts, and they all generously donated towards this tribute we've opened today. We hugely appreciate their generosity and thank them for their efforts.”

Graeme addressing the crowd during this morning's ceremony.

Bugler Brian Geoghan.

NZ Cadet Forces Flight Sergeant Brindley-Richards.

NZ Cadet Forces Corporal Donavan.

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1 comment


Posted on 01-04-2017 15:54 | By morepork

Good to see recognition for a man who never sought it, but who went the extra mile and always tried to help his fellows. Most of us who were born after the War can have no real idea of what these bomber pilots went through, but we can appreciate their courage and dedication to duty and service. They were called to do a dreadful duty that would inflict both mental and physical scars on them, at the time and in the years to come. Les Munro was an inspiration and the personification of the Kiwi spirit at its best. He deserves this.

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