12/13.06.1944 No 419 Squadron Lancaster X KB726 VR-A P/O. Arthur de Breyne
Operation: Cambrai, France.
Date: 12/13th June 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 419 (Moose) Squadron
Type: Lancaster X
Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham
Location: Gaudiempre, France
Pilot: P/O. Arthur De Breyne RCAF Age 22. Evaded capture
Nav: Sgt. Roy E. Vigars 1852652 RAFVR PoW No: 244 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland)
Fl/Eng: F/O. A. Robert Body RCAF Evaded capture
W/Op: Sgt. Jack William Friday R/186609 RCAF Age 22. PoW No: 214 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau (Bakow, Poland)
Air/Gnr: W/O.2. Andrew Charles Mynarski J/87544 VC. RCAF Age 27. Died of injuries received. (1)
Air/Gnr: W/O.2. W. James Kelly RCAF Evaded capture
Air/Gnr: F/O. George Patrick Brophy RCAF Evaded capture
REASON FOR LOSS:
KB726 Lancaster took off at 21:44 hrs from Middleton St. George. Engines destroyed by devastating canon fire from a JU-88 German night-fighter (2) and the hydraulic lines caught fire in the rear fuselage.
Crew of KB726 L-R: Pat Brophy, Jim Kelly, Roy Vigars, Art de Breyne, Andy Mynarski, Jack Friday, Bob Bodie.
The following details are given in the London Gazette of October 11th, 1946:-
P/O. 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 from his injuries.
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.
(1) Mynarski Lakes, south of Southern Indian Lake
was named after P/O. Mynarski in 1949 - also he was named as a member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973.
(2) According to Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2' it was probable that they were shot down by Oblt Friedrich Thörl of Stab 1./NJG4 at around 00:21 hrs. This was his 4th abschüsse of the war (6 in total). He was killed on the 12/13th September 1944 during an air combat. (see Kracker Archive on this site)
W/O2. Andrew Charles Mynarski V.C. Meharicourt Communal Cemetery Brit. Plot. Grave 40. Son of Anna Mynarski, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
With thanks to the sources as quoted below.