For Valour: Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski VC

The image shows a portrait of a man in a military uniform. He has neatly combed dark hair and is wearing a jacket with an insignia that includes a wing and the letters "AG." The uniform suggests he is likely associated with the air force or an aviation branch of the military.

Location: 12 June 1944, over France

Who: Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski (Can./J.87544) VC Royal Canadian Air Force 14 October 1916 – 12 June 1944

A black-and-white photograph showing a group of airmen standing in front of a Lancaster bomber aircraft. The men are wearing flight suits and life jackets, with parachutes and other gear placed on the ground in front of them. The aircraft's large landing gear and part of its fuselage are visible in the background.

Pilot Officer Mynarski (third from right) with whole crew.

During the period leading up to and immediately after Operation Overlord (Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944, colloquially, though incorrectly, called D-Day), Bomber Command was placed under the control of the Supreme Allied Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force, General Dwight D Eisenhower. Its role switched from predominantly strategic bombing of German cities to tactical support of the Allied armies in France.

The VC medal

On 12 June 1944, Pilot Officer Mynarski was an air gunner on Canadian-built Lancaster X serial KB 726 coded VR.A (Apple) of 419 (Moose) Squadron RCAF (captain Flying Officer Arthur ‘Art’ de Breyne) based at RAF Middleton St George [now Teesside International Airport]. This aircraft took off at 21.44 hrs for an attack on railway marshalling yards at Cambrai, France.

The delay between the date of the action (12 June 1944) and the award being Gazetted (11 October 1946) was because Mynarski’s heroic sacrifice only came to light when the remainder of his crew were repatriated from PoW camps at the end of the war.

A photograph of a Lancaster bomber aircraft in flight. The plane has a camouflage paint scheme with roundels on the wings and fuselage, and the markings "VRO-A" are visible on the side. The landscape below shows fields and patches of trees.

This Lancaster is marked in the colours and codes of the one in which Pilot Officer Mynarski won his VC. It is one of only two airworthy Lancasters in the world and is operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario.

London Gazette Friday 11 October 1946:

“The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the VICTORIA CROSS on the under-mentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery: — Pilot Officer Andrew Charles MYNARSKI (Can./J.87544) (deceased), Royal Canadian Air Force, No. 419 (R.C.A.F.) Squadron. Pilot Officer Mynarski was the mid-upper gunner of a Lancaster aircraft, detailed to attack a target at Cambrai in France, on the night of 12th June, 1944. The aircraft was attacked from below and astern by an enemy fighter and ultimately came down in flames. As an immediate result of the attack, both port engines failed. Fire broke out between the mid-upper turret and the rear turret, as well as in the port wing. The flames soon became fierce and the captain ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. Pilot Officer Mynarski left his turret and went towards the escape hatch. He then saw that the rear gunner was still in his turret and apparently unable to leave it. The turret was, in fact, immovable, since the hydraulic gear had been put out of action when the port engines failed, and the manual gear had been broken by the gunner in his attempts to escape. Without hesitation, Pilot Officer Mynarski made his way through the flames in an endeavour to reach the rear turret and release the gunner. Whilst so doing, his parachute and his clothing, up to the waist, were set on fire. All his efforts to move the turret and free the gunner were in vain. Eventually the rear gunner dearly indicated to him that there was nothing more he could do and that he should try to save his own life. Pilot Officer Mynarski reluctantly went back through the flames to the escape hatch. There, as a last gesture to the trapped gunner, he turned towards him, stood to attention in his flaming clothing and saluted, before he jumped out of the aircraft. Pilot Officer Mynarski’s descent was seen by French people on the ground. Both his parachute and clothing were on fire. He was found eventually by the French, but was so severely burnt that he died from his injuries. The rear gunner had a miraculous escape when the aircraft crashed. He subsequently testified that, had Pilot Officer Mynarski not attempted to save his comrade’s life, he could have left the aircraft in safety and would, doubtless, have escaped death. Pilot Officer Mynarski must have been fully aware that in trying to free the rear gunner he was almost certain to lose his own life. Despite this, with outstanding courage and complete disregard for his own safety, he went to the rescue. Willingly accepting the danger, Pilot Officer Mynarski lost his life by a most conspicuous act of heroism which called for valour of the highest order.”

A close-up of a gravestone with the inscription for Pilot Officer A.C. Mynarski, V.C. It states that he was an Air Gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force who died on June 13, 1944, at the age of 27. The gravestone includes the Royal Canadian Air Force insignia and the Victoria Cross symbol.

Pilot Officer Mynarski rests in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s British plot in Meharicourt Communal Cemetery, France.

Pilot Officer Mynarski’s Victoria Cross is displayed at Air Command Headquarters, Winnipeg, Canada.



Citation: London Gazette 11 October 1946

Additional biographical details: For Valour: The Air VCs Chaz Bowyer, Grub Street Publishing.


Portrait of Mynarski: RAF Museum

Lancaster Crew Photo: RAF Museum

Grave marker: The War Graves Photographic Project (

Lancaster: Doug Fisher/Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (

About the Author

Norman Brice: Volunteer

Volunteer Norman Brice

It all started very many years ago when, lying in my pram, I was awoken by what I later knew as Spitfires on their finals to RAF Biggin Hill, just a handful of miles away. As a schoolboy I was captivated by the annual September Battle of Britain Days at Biggin Hill with a vast range of visiting aircraft, including all three V-Bombers in gleaming anti-flash white.

Fast forward very many years past retirement I joined the RAF Museum London as a volunteer as a Vulcan and Cold War tour guide.