Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Andrew Charles Mynarski

In memory of:

Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski

June 13, 1944

Military Service


Service Number:

J/87544

Age:

27

Force:

Air Force

Unit:

Royal Canadian Air Force

Division:

419 Moose Squadron (Moosa Aswayita)

Citation(s):

The following details are given in the London Gazette of October 11th, 1946. Pilot Officer Mynarski was the mid-upper gunner of the crew of a Lancaster attacking Cambrai, France on June 12th, 1944. The aircraft was hit by an enemy fighter; both port engines failed, extensive fire broke out, and the captain ordered the crew to abandon the plane. As P/O Mynarski moved towards the escape hatch he saw that the rear gunner could not leave his turret, which was rendered immovable when the hydraulic gear was put out of action by the failure of the port engine. The Pilot Officer unhesitatingly moved back through the flames and tried to release the gunner, although his own clothing and parachute were on fire. All his efforts to move the turret and free his comrade were in vain, and eventually the gunner told him to try to save his own life. Reluctantly P/O Mynarski moved to the escape hatch and there, as a last gesture, turned towards the trapped gunner, stood to attention in his flaming clothing, and saluted before jumping. French people watched his descent and he was eventually found, but was so badly burned that he died. The rear gunner escaped miraculously when the plane crashed and testified that, but for his gallant rescue attempt, P/O Mynarski could have left the aircraft in safety and would doubtless have escaped death. Although he must have been aware that he faced almost certain death, P/O Mynarski courageously and willingly accepted the danger. He lost his life by a most conspicuous act of heroism which called for valour of the highest order.

Honours and Awards:

Victoria Cross

Additional Information


Born:

October 14, 1916
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Son of Anna Mynarski, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Brother of Stephanie. He was the son of Polish immigrants. He was educated at King Edward and Isaac Newton Elementary Schools and at St. John's Technical School. To help support his family after his father's death, he worked for four years as a leather worker in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Andrew Charles Mynarski was a quiet man with a good sense of humour. He enjoyed woodworking and loved to design and build furniture. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force just before his 25th birthday. He trained as an Air Gunner and was posted to Number 9 Squadron in October, 1943. In March, 1944, after training with No 1664 HCU he was posted to 419 (Moose) Squadron to fly Lancasters from RAF Middleton St George.

The crew took off for their 13th mission together on the night of June 12, their target, the rail marshalling yards at Cambrai, France. It would be the crew's 13th sortie. While waiting to go, the crew couldn't help but think of these omens. Andrew found a four leaf clover in the grass by the planes. He insisted that his closest buddy in the crew, tail gunner Pat Brophy, should take it.

After their plane was hit, and the crew bailed out, Andrew noted that his buddy, Pat Brophy was caught in the rear turret. He attempted to rescue him, now knowing that his parachute and clothing had caught fire. Realizing that he could not save his friend, he stood at attention and saluted Brophy and jumped. Brophy was blown safely away from the plane when some of the explosives on board blew on hitting the ground, Mynarski regretfully, hit the ground, but was burned so badly, died within hours.

Pilot Officer Mynarski was the first member of the R.C.A.F. to be decorated with the Victoria Cross in the Second World War. His Victoria Cross is on display at the Air Command Headquarters in Winnipeg.

Pilot Officer Mynarski was honoured with the erection of a 10 foot bronze statue of his likeness at Middleton St. George, England; home to the 419 Squadron's 6th Bomber Group. On the 4th of June 2005 at a ceremony attended by the families of Mynarski's crew, the statue was unveiled. The Winnipeg Statue Project is gaining ground with donations,to erect a twin statue which will find its home in the North end corner of Winnipeg. The students and staff at Andrew Mynarski School,also raised funds to purchase a plaque to commemorate Pilot Officer Mynarski at their school.

Commemorated on Page 402 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. Request a copy of this page.

Andrew Charles Mynarski is a recipient of the Victoria Cross.
Complete list of Canadian Victoria Cross Recipients

Burial Information


Cemetery:

MEHARICOURT COMMUNAL CEMETERY
Somme, France

Grave Reference:

British Plot, Grave 40

Location:

Meharicourt is a village and commune 32 kilometres east-south-east of Amiens and some 7 kilometres south of the road from that town to St. Quentin. The Communal Cemetery is on the north-western side of the village on the road to Rosieres. In the north-eastern part of the cemetery, in a special British plot, are the graves of 41 airmen. Of these, 21 belonged to the Royal Air Force; 12 to the Royal Canadian Air Force; 6 to the Royal Australian Air Force and 2 to the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Information courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Digital Collection

Send us your images
  • Memorial – Father J P Lardie's comments as inscribed on the Bomber Command Memorial Wall in Nanton, AB … photo courtesy of Marg Liessens
  • Memorial – Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski is also commemorated on the Bomber Command Memorial Wall in Nanton, AB … photo courtesy of Marg Liessens
  • Memorial – Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski is also commemorated on the Bomber Command Memorial Wall in Nanton, AB … photo courtesy of Marg Liessens
  • Andrew Charles Mynarski
  • Photo of Andrew Mynarski – Submitted by Operation Picture Me
  • Photo of Andrew Mynarski – Submitted by Operation Picture Me
  • Group Photo – Submitted by Operation Picture Me
  • Newspaper clipping – In memory of the men and women memorialized on the pages of the Winnipeg Evening Tribune. Submitted for the project, Operation: Picture Me
  • Newspaper clipping – In memory of the men and women memorialized on the pages of the Winnipeg Evening Tribune. Submitted for the project, Operation: Picture Me
  • Photo of Avro Lancaster – The Avro Lancaster flown out of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario, one of only two airworthy Lancasters in the world, is known as the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster in honour of Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski, and is painted in the markings of his aircraft.
  • Field – This is the site where his plane crashed on June 13, 1944.
  • Monument – Monument marking the spot where Mynarski's plane crashed on June 13, 1944.  Pilot Officer Mynarski was the first member of the R.C.A.F. to be decorated with the Victoria Cross in the Second World War.
  • Close up of Monument
  • Inscription – In the meadow behind this monument, the bomber L'Ancaster VRKB 726, of the 419 (Moose) Squadron R.C.A.F., crashed during the night of June 12-13, 1944.
In memory of Pilot/Officer Andy Charles MYNARSKI V.C., 
27 years of age
French Remembrance
Arras and Area
  • Meharicourt Communal Cemetery
  • Grave Marker
  • Statue of Andrew Mynarski – The statue of Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski, V.C., located at RAF Middleton St. George, England,  the home of the 419 Squadron of 6th Group Bomber Command.  It was sculpted by Keith Maddison. 

The statue depicts the salute P/O Mynarski gave his friend, Tail Gunner Pat Brophy believing that Brophy would not make it out of the spiralling plane as it plunged to the ground after being hit by the enemy in a night raid. In this photo, Mynarksi is shown saluting toward Canada. A fund raising initiative is underway in Winnipeg, Manitoba to raise funds to have a twin sculpted statue.
  • Photo of Andrew Mynarski Statue – Submitted by Operation Picture Me
  • Plaque – Submitted by Operation Picture Me
  • Photo of church in Gaudiempre – Photo of church in Gaudiempre with plaque on the wall dedicated to Mynarski, and all French citizens who helped those allied airmen who had been forced down in France.
Photo courtesy of Wilf Schofield, England.
  • Photo of Plaque – Inscription on plaque:
"In this village on 13th June 1944, a Lancaster of the Royal Canadian Airforce marked 'VR.A KB726' crashed. This plaque, dedicated to the memory of Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski VC, was unveiled on 13th June 1981 by his fellow crew members in homage to & in recognition of the Passeurs du Nord affiliated with the Royal Air Force Escaping Society assembled here on this day, & all French citizens who have helped those allied airmen forced down on this soil of France."
Photo courtesy of Wilf Schofield, England.
  • Statue of Andrew Mynarksi
  • Statue of Andrew Mynarksi
  • Memorial – Barrie Military Park, Canadian Victoria Cross Recipients, Cenotaph
  • Andrew Mynarski VC memorial trophy

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