Weekend marks 70th anniversary of Victoria Cross hero


This weekend’s annual memorial weekend to remember the wartime airmen of the Royal Canadian Air Force who flew from the then Middleton St George Airfield - now Durham Tees Valley Airport—will have special significance.

It marks the 70th anniversary of the heroic actions of Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski who was based at the airfield and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross after he lost his life whilst attempting to rescue a colleague when their plane was attacked and caught fire over France in June 1944.

The statue of Andrew Mynarski, which stands outside the building which was the officers’ mess during World War Two - and is now the St George Hotel - will be the centrepiece for the Memorial Service which will take place on Saturday, May 31, at 10.30.

Attending this weekend’s ceremonies will be former flight engineer Stan Instone who will be bringing with him a piece of the Lancaster bomber he was flying in when it was shot down over Germany after taking off from Middleton St George in 1945.

The piece of wreckage, identified by its serial number as coming from the aircraft, was presented to Mr Instone when he visited the crash site last year.

Other events over the weekend include a concert by the Band of the Royal Air Force College at the Civic Theatre in Darlington on Friday night and dinner dance at the St George Hotel on Saturday.

Says Airport Manager Shaun Woods, who will be among the airport representatives attending Saturday’s Memorial:

The Middleton St George Memorial Association members are rightly proud of the role played by the members of the Royal Canadian Air Force based here for much of the Second World War - many of whom gave their lives in defence of freedom.

We are delighted to show our support and recognise their bravery and the remarkable history of the airfield which first opened under RAF Bomber Command in 1941. In fact this year also marks the 50th anniversary of its opening as a commercial airport in 1964.

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