A WOMAN who led a campaign to commemorate the heroic actions of a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot officer during the Second World War has welcomed his memorial aircraft into the country.

Betty Amlin and her son, Edsel Amlin, were part of the official party that welcomed the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster into RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire on Friday, August 8.

The craft, normally based at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Ontario, Canada, is visiting UK to take part of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and will visit the North-East later this month.

It is dedicated to Andrew Mynarski, a Canadian airforceman killed while saving a comrade from a blazing Lancaster bomber in June 1944.

Mynarski was stationed at the Middleton-St-George RCAF base, now Durham Tees Valley Airport.

And ten year ago Mrs Amlin, 89, whose late husband Jimmy Amlin served in the RCAF, launched a £70,000 fundraising campaign to erect a statue of the brave Canadian outside the St George Hotel.

She remains an active member of the Middleton-St-George Memorial Association, which is planning a range of activities to commemorate the Lancaster’s arrival at Durham Tees Valley Airport on Thursday, August 28.

Mrs Amlin, from Sedgefield, County Durham, said she felt very emotional watching the craft touch down on British soil.

“It was a wonderful occasion and I am really proud of our family’s connection with the RCAF,” she said.

“I was invited to go into the Lancaster and it felt like I was part of history when I went to the spot where Andy was positioned.

“I am very much looking forward to its visit to Middleton St George.”

Edsel Amlin, 59, who took over from his late father as an official standard bearer for the RCAF, said: “When she landed there were tears in my eyes. We need to preserve these old planes; we shouldn’t just scrap them.

“They are a piece of history and should be looked after so future generations can see them.”

Pilot Officer Mynarski, of the 419 squadron, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic sacrifice during the mission, from Middleton-St-George to France.

He is buried in the Meharicourt Communal Cemetery, near Amiens.