A TOP officer from the Royal Canadian Air Force and a 99-year-old veteran joined forces to remember a World War II hero on Saturday.

Brigadier-General Paul Doyle, from the Canadian Royal Airforce, and Norman Bell, who turns 100-years-old in August and served during the war at Middleton St George, were among those paying their respects at Teesside Airport during a poignant commemoration held in honour of Andrew Mynarski.

The Pilot Officer, who was a member of The Canadian Royal Airforce during World War II and was based at the airport (previously RAF Middleton St. George), was a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

The Northern Echo:

Aged just 27, the Winnipeg-born airman gave his life on 13 June 1944 after attempting to help rescue a trapped crew member aboard his Avro Lancaster bomber plane during an attack on the railway yards at Cambrai, France.

READ MORE: Remembering Canadian airman Andrew Mynarski's extraordinary, self-sacrificing bravery 

His VC was awarded in 1946, the last such award to a Canadian airman for actions during World War II.

Speaking on Saturday at the memorial service, Geoff Hill, chairman of the Middleton St George Memorial Association, said: “We have to remember those who lost their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the country and their families and the people of the UK. He’s got to be remembered as well as all the other people who served.”

Brigadier-General Paul Doyle, who led the Canadian parade at Prince Philip’s funeral in April, and Norman Bell were among those who laid wreaths during the service. 

The Northern Echo:

Mr Hill said: “The Brigadier-General is the highest officer we’ve ever had. He wanted to come last year and lay the wreath but he couldn’t again. So he’s made sure he’s here this year.”

General Doyle, who has been in the UK for six months, said: “I’ve been in the Airforce for 30 years. Everyone in the Airforce knows Mynarski and Mynarski’s story. The Mynarski story is one I’m familiar with and one that I’m extremely humbled that the people around here keep his story alive, keep this going. 
“It’s unfortunate that this year we can’t have anyone from 419 squadron over here. I know over the past it’s something that the members of the squadron who come over  - it’s a highlight.”

READ MORE: Read the incredible story of Canadian airman Andrew Mynarksi here

The event was the first time Mr Bell, who lives and is from Liverpool, has come back to the airport since the war.

Speaking at the event, Mr Bell said: “I never knew that this went on. I was an engine fitter, so people say to me now, did you meet the aircrews and I never did - the people on the dispersals met the aircrews, so I never really met them, so it’s sad really in a way.

“But in another way if you know someone and they die, that’s worse. I’m delighted I was invited to come here today.”