When 'Springbrook' was built in 1954 as the residential
area for married officers for RCAF Penhold, the name of the community
was 'Mynarski Park'. Forty years later, private developers (who had
purchased the land from the Department of National Defence after the
base was closed a year earlier) renamed the area 'Springbrook'.
the name was initially preserved when the recreational facilities were named 'Mynarski
Recreation Centre'. In September 2004, Willow Crescent Playground was
renamed Mynarski Memorial Park with the dedication of a memorial plaque.
So who was Mynarski?
Charles Andrew (Andy) Mynarski was born in Winnipeg on October 14, 1916,
the son of recent Polish immigrants. In 1940 he joined the Royal
Winnipeg Rifles that were a militia unit and served only a short time.
In September 1941, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was
posted to No. 3 Manning Depot in Edmonton. After initiation, he went to
No. 2 Wireless School in Calgary but had trouble with learning Morse
Code. He was then posted to No. 3 Bomb and Gunnery School at MacDonald,
Manitoba, graduating just before Christmas as an air-gunner earning his
Andy was sent overseas in December of 1942. On June 12th 1944, he was
assigned as a gunner aboard a Lancaster bomber in a raid on Cambrai,
France. The aircraft was hit by an enemy fighter (a German Junkers 88)
and the pilot was forced to order the plane abandoned after fire broke
Pilot Officer Mynarski prepared to parachute to safety with the
other members of the crew when he realized that the tail gunner (Pat
Brophy) was trapped in his position, and made his way through the fire
in an attempt to free him. However, it was not possible for the tail
gunner to be released from his position, and he told Mynarski to save
his own life and bail out. As a final gesture, Mynarski turned and
saluted his comrade before abandoning the plane. Unfortunately both
Mynarski's clothes and parachute had been set on fire during his rescue
attempt and he later died of his burns.
Ironically, the tailgunner
miraculously survived the crash and was able to give testimony to
Mynarski's heroism. Mynarski was later posthumously awarded the Victoria
Cross and his heroism in sacrificing himself in a bid to save another
became the stuff of legends in the RCAF.
Map of the Former Mynarski Park at CFB Penhold
History of CFB Penhold Base 1939-1995