WELLINGTON : The last surviving pilot of the top-secret World War II Dambusters raid on Germany has died aged 96, the New Zealand Bomber Command Association said Tuesday. New Zealander John Leslie Munro, known as Les, piloted one of the Lancaster bombers from the RAF's 617 Squadron during the raid in which specially developed "bouncing bombs" were used to destroy heavily fortified dams. "Our New Zealand Bomber Command Association patron, and well known Dambuster pilot, Les Munro passed away last night following a spell in hospital with heart problems. So, so sad.

He was a mighty man," the association posted on social media.

Earlier this year Munro donated his gallantry medals and flying log to New Zealand's Museum of Transport and Technology after they were saved from auction by British businessman and World War II enthusiast Lord Ashcroft.

Munro said at the time he was selling his war memorabilia to raise money for the maintenance of the Bomber Command Memorial in London.

During the Dambusters raid on May 16-17, 1943, Munro was tasked with taking out the Sorpe dam but his aircraft was damaged by flak over the Netherlands and forced to turn back to England.

Two of the three targeted dams were destroyed in the mission, causing catastrophic flooding in the Ruhr valley, destroying hydroelectric power stations and factories.