Sunday, 30 May 2021

STANISLAW ROMAN BECKER




He was born on 30th December 1913 in Kosow, Stanislaus Province (now Ukraine), the son of Władysław and Adeli Becker. He graduated from the 4th grade of the State Industrial School and the aviation school in Lwow. In 1932 he joined the Polish Army and was posted to the 2nd Air Regiment as a flight engineer. 

He served in the September campaign and was shot down in combat after which he made his way back to his unit in Lutsk but was then ordered to evacuate to Romania. He crossed into Romania on 19th September 1939 where he was disarmed and interned. Some weeks later he slipped away from the camp and made his way across the Black Sea and into the Mediterranean to The Levant (now Syria) and from there to Marseilles, France where he rejoined the Polish forces. 

In June 1940, when the French capitulated, he made his way to Great Britain and was sent to the Polish Depot at Blackpool where he underwent further training on British equipment and was finally posted to 304 Squadron where he served as a fitter. Not content with that, he volunteered as aircrew and, after further training, he was posted to 300 Squadron. 

Later in the war he and his crew volunteered for 1586 Special Duties Flight and was posted to Brindisi, Italy where his duties were supply drops to insurgent groups particularly the Armia Krajowa during the Warsaw uprising. Late in 1944 he was posted back to Great Britain and was posted to 301 Squadron in its transport function. 

After the War, in 1948, he returned to Krakow in Poland where he remained until his retirement in 1978 and he became very active in veterans groups and aviation groups. During his military career he received the Cross of Valour and two bars, the Medal Lotniczy and British campaign medals. He died on 29th December 2001 and is buried in the Queen Hedwig Street cemetery at Mielec. The photo was taken towards the end of his military career.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

EUGENIUSZ JOZEF BARDECKI

Eugeniusz Józef Bardecki

Can anyone please help with information on this man who was possibly a member of the Squadron.  Readers in the Ontario area of Canada may possibly have known him.  A wartime photo would be very useful too.

Service No 782197

Born 10th March 1920

At Kołomyja, Poland (now Ukraine)

Died in 1994

At Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Rank LAC/plutonowy

Trade: Mechanic

Last served with 663 Squadron but believed to have previously served with 304 Squadron as 663 was only established in September 1944 at RAF Eboli in Italy.  He is also mentioned by name and number in 304 Squadron records, having apparently arrived there on 5th December 1940.

Awarded 3 x Medal Lotniczy and British campaign medals

Friday, 19 March 2021

EUGENIUSZ JAWORSKI - NOT OF 304 SQUADRON

 

This is the man who changed identities with Jozef Franciszek Jaworzyn to help his 16 year old friend join the Polish Air Force in exile.

Warrant Officer (plutonowy) Eugeniusz Jaworski

Pilot

Serial No 784055 

Serving with 61 OTU

Born 24th November 1921

At Łuniniec, Poland (now Belarus)

Died 27th April 1944

Buried at Market Drayton, Shropshire, England

In the aftermath of the September campaign  16 year old Jozeph Franciszek Jaworzyn and Eugeniusz Jaworski became friends.  This was some time between the fall of Poland and their evacuation from France on the Arandora Star.  They arrived in Glasgow together and their service numbers were only five apart.  On the journey the two conspired, with a few other Polish pilots under training, to give the young Jaworzyn lessons in the elements of flying so that he could bluff his way to become a pilot.

When they arrived, Jaworzyn failed his medical on account of his under nourished condition and his slight stature.  He immediately applied for a second medical and was granted one, three weeks later.

This time Jaworski took the medical and passed!  From that time, their identities were changed and no one was any the wiser until Eugeiusz Jaworski's untimely death on 27th April 1944.

In the meantime, Jozef Franciszek Jaworzyn succeeded in becoming a bomber pilot with 304 Squadron and Eugeniusz Jaworski went to 61 OTU at RAF Rednal, Shropshire where he trained as a Spitfire pilot.

The deception was discovered after an unfortunate training accident when two Spitfire MkIIa aircraft P7608 and P8079 from 61 OTU collided in mid-air over Maesbrook, Shropshire.  That flown by W/O Lis severed the tail unit of Jaworski's aircraft and both pilots were killed.

          Extracted from Aicrew Remembered, with thanks to Kelvin Youngs

    Correction of false entry in 304 Squadron records

Eugeniusz Jaworski photographed when using Jozef Fraciszek Jaworzyn's identity

I am indebted to Kelvin Youngs and Aircrew Remembered for some of the information and to Piotr Hodyra and Krzystek's List for the photographs.




Saturday, 27 February 2021

JERZY DUNAJKO


He was born on 3rd February 1917 into an ethnic Polish family in Wiazma, Russia. 
His parents were Stefan and Florentine (nee Kwiatkowska) Dunajko.  His father was a veterinary surgeon.  The family returned to Poland and he grew up in Biala Podlaska where he was educated until 1932.  His higher education was at the School of Crafts and Industry at Brest nad Bug (now Belarus).  After graduating he worked locally at the Podlasie Aircraft Factory until he was conscripted into the army in October 1938 and posted to the 5th Air Regiment.

He did his military training and served with the 55th Squadron but from April to August 1930 he trained as an air gunner with the 59th Squadron on Lublin R8 bi-planes and later PZL 23 Karas light bombers.

On 16th August 1939, having completed his training, he was posted back to the 55th Squadron and on 31st August of that year the squadron moved to Marynin airfield near Radzynia Podlaski from where they fought in the first week of the September Campaign before moving to Marian airfield close to Lutsk.

He is known to have been part of a three man crew in which he was the air gunner; the navigator was Sergeant Jakub Ciolek (later killed when Wellington Z1386 (GR-P) of 301 Squadron was shot down by flak at Lorient, France on 6th August 1942) and the pilot was Sergeant Franciszek Skarpetowski (who flew with 305 Squadron and survived the War).  Their only known sortie was to bomb and strafe a German column on the road between Radom and Czestochowa on 3rd September 1939.

Once they reached Lutsk they were ordered to hand over their aircraft to the 31st Reconnaissance Squadron and travel to Romania where they were to pick up new aircraft shipped from Great Britain and return to Lutsk.  This was a futile mission because the ship carrying the aircraft was diverted away but in any case they were disarmed and interned when they arrived in Romania on the morning of 18th September 1939.

They were taken to a camp at Radauti then moved to Mihai Bravu then finally to Campulung Muscel where it was discovered that some of those who had crossed through the Danube delta had picked up malaria and blackwater fever - this included Jerzy Dunajko and the illness prevented an early escape because he was unfit to travel.  Nevertheless, the Polish diplomats in Bucarest were busily organising false identification documents and travel documents to get as many men as possible to France from where they could rejoin the Polish forces.

There is no clear evidence of the route he took  out of Romania but it is believed that he travelled by sea to Marseilles and that would mean that he sailed from either Constanta or Balcic (now in Bulgaria) and through the Dardanelles and the Aegean Sea and across the Mediterranean via Syria, North Africa or Malta.  In any event, he arrived in France on 20th November 1939 and a week later he was based at Lyon-Bron where he stayed until the fall of France was imminent and then was evacuated to the port of Ste Jan de Luz on the Atlantic coast near the Spanish border.

This was no easy evacuation as the troops waiting to travel to England were harassed by the Luftwaffe and the evacuation vessels were also being bombed  by the Luftwaffe and stalked by U-Boats of the Kriegsmarine.  Eventually he was embarked on the Arandora Star and reached Liverpool on 27th June 1940.

Two days later he was posted to RAF Kirkham where he would probably had the usual induction to King's Regulations, the British way of doing things and the inevitable square bashing.  He would also learn the rudiments of the English Language.  On 18th August he returned to the Polish Depot at Blackpool and on 2nd September 1940 he was posted to 18 OTU at RAF Hucknall for an air gunnery course and to join a crew and train with them before being posted to a squadron.  However he was removed from this course on 24th June 1941 and transferred to ground crew at Blackpool Depot but no reasons are apparent.  There was no suggestion that this was for disciplinary reasons and it seems likely that it was because of a recurrence of his malaria which would affect his balance and would cause him difficulties with his inner ear when flying.

On 11th July 1941 he was posted to 304 Squadron at RAF Syerston as a wireless mechanic but he was only in post for a couple of months before his malaria flared up again and it was quite serious as he spent several weeks in the military hospital at RAF Cosford from 23rd September to 9th December 1941  Shortly after that he was sent on a short radio training course at Chelmsford, Essex.

By the end of 1942 his malaria flared up again and he was admitted to Haverfordwest County Hospital from 11th - 30th December.  He stayed with 304 Squadron until 23rd April 1943 when he was transferred to RAF Detling to become a ground based wireless operator with 318 Squadron.

In this role he travelled to Egypt and Palestine to prepare for the invasion of Italy.  The squadron was finally posted there in May 1944 to provide fighter support to the Polish and other Allied forces there.  He was moved to 5500 Mobile Signals Unit to facilitate communications between the Squadron and the ground forces and he continued this duty until his return to England in August 1946.  Unfortunately his malaria flared up several times and he was treated in field hospitals on these occasions.

On arrival back in Britain he was briefly assigned to RAF Coltishall but, within days, he was sent to No 4 (Polish) ACHU (Air Crew Holding Unit) at RAF Cammeringham, Lincolnshire where he probably stayed until its closure in December 1946 and he then joined the Polish Resettlement Corps which assured him a wage and a place to live for a contract period of two years between leaving the Polish Air Force and final demobilisation at the turn of the years 1948/1949.

After becoming a civilian, he did manual work and then found a job with George Brough Ltd in Nottingham.  Until the outbreak of war they were motor cycle manufacturers and after the war they specialised in precision parts for other motorcycle companies and for the newly emerging aerospace industry.

He became a British citizen on 27th May 1963 and he sadly died on 14th June 1971 at the early age of 54, leaving a wife and two sons.  He is buried at Wilford Hill Cemetery in West Bridgford, Nottingham.








With acknowledgements to Wojciech Zmyslony for information and the photograph 

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

TEOFIL PAJĄCZKOWSKI

 


He was an armourer, born on 20th December 1917 at Kulczyn, Poland to Aleksander and Bronislawa Pajaczkowski and probably served his National Service there around 1936 - 1937.  He was recalled to service on 7th December 1938 and was attached to 112 Eskadra, Ist Air Regiment in the Polish Air Force and fought with them during the September Campaign.  At the start of the War they were located in Warsaw.

Pre-war photograph - probably from  his National Service

When the Russians attacked from the rear his unit made their way to the Romanian border where they were disarmed and interned.  However the Romanians were sympathetic and it was easy to slip away when the Polish Embassy supplied them with false papers, money and travel documents.  His route is unknown but would have been either via Balcic (now Bulgaria) or Constanta and then via the Black Sea and the Mediterranean  to Marseilles.  Or overland via Jugoslavia and Northern Italy to France.

Once in France they were placed in a camp at Septfonds where they suffered poor sanitary conditions and had little to do as the French seemed in no hurry to use their services.  After the capitulation they evacuated to the port of St Jean de Luz, close to the Spanish border, where they waited for a ship to take them to Great Britain'

This was no easy evacuation and they were constantly bombed and strafed by the Luftwaffe.  There were also U-boats of the Kreigsmarine lurking in the Atlantic and some of the escort ships were drawn away from the evacuation, leaving the evacuation ships to sail with little or no protection.

On arrival in Great Britain, he was posted to RAF Kirkham between Blackpool and Preston, Lancashire.  This was part of a complex of training sites clustered around Blackpool and became the main training site for Polish Airmen.  It was known as the Polish Depot.  He would spend a few weeks here learning the basics of the English language, King's Regulations and square bashing.

Arrival and departure - from 304 Squadron's own records

His arrival co-incided with the creation of the new Land of Silesia 304 Bomber Squadron  and he was one of the first men to arrive there on 24th August 1940.  His postings took him to RAF Bramcote near Nuneaton, Warwickshire where he began his work on Fairey Battle light bombers.  These were slow and outdated bombers and, by November 1940, the squadron had converted to Vickers Wellington Mk 1c medium bombers.

Over time he served at RAF Syerston near Newark, Nottinghamshire; RAF Lindholme near Doncaster, Yorkshire; RAF Tiree, Inner Hebrides, Scotland; RAF Dale near Milford Haven, Wales; RAF Talbenny also near Milford Haven, Wales; RAF Docking in Norfolk; RAF Davidstow Moor near Camelford, Cornwall; RAF Chivenor near Barnstaple, Devon; RAF Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland and RAF St Eval near Padstow, Cornwall.

Teofil (in cab) with colleagues
 somewhere in Britain during WW2


Teofil (left) and friend probably just after
the end of the War

As the War was over and the Squadron was being transferred to Transport Command, there was no longer a need for armourers, gunsmiths etc and he became redundant as a ground crew member and so he was posted to No 17 Air Crew Holding Unit at RAF Snaith near Goole in Yorkshire where he remained until he was posted to the Polish Resettlement Corps or until there was a ship available to take him home to Poland which happened immediately after his discharge on 16th January 1947.  However there is some evidence that he may have spent time with 307 Squadron during this idle time.  If this information is accurate he would have also served at RAF Castle Camps near Cambridge and at RAF Coltishal near Norfolk.

Sadly, he died on 3rd March 1963 at the unusually early age of 45 and is buried in Wereszczyn Parish cemetery, Kulczyn, Poland.


Wednesday, 2 December 2020

WITOLD TADEUSZ GĄSIORSKI

 

Witold Tadeusz Gasiorski was born in the village of Myskowice in Eastern Poland, (now Ukraine) on 25th January 1921.  In his touth he was fascinated by the advancement of aviation and it was inevitable that he would try to pursue it as a career.  He was accepted at the Air Force Cadet School in Warsaw where he began training as a pilot.

Sadly, the outbreak of war shattered his dreams and he and the other cadets were arrested by the Russians, crammed into cattle trucks and deported to Siberia.  He was eventually interned in the gulag at Vorkuta, a coal mining town in the Komi Republic, Russia, situated just north of the Arctic Circle where he was underfed and overworked like all the other prisoners.

Following Operation Barbarossa, when the Germans turned on their former allies, the Russians released him and he is believed to have been passenger number 90 0n the British ship SS Llanstephan Castle from Archangelsk to Glasgow although his name appears to have been slightly miss-spelt (as W. Gasierski) on the passenger list.  He arrived there on 3rd October 1941.

He spent some time in hospital recovering from his malnourished state and was then sent to the Polish Depot at Blackpool where he learned the basics of the English language and British military ways and regulations before being sent for gunnery and wireless operator training.  This is a little odd because he had previously been training as a pilot but may have been due to selection differences in Britain.  Eventually he was posted to No 1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit at Silloth, Cumberland (now Cumbria) where he trained in British Battle tactics and was bonded into a crew.

304 Squadron hand written record of his arrival

After passing out at RAF Silloth he was posted to 304 Squadron based at RAF Lindholme on 19th January 1942 according to the Squadron's own records when they were based at Lindholme near Doncaster, Yorkshire which seems odd and suggests there may have been a mistake since he did not fly any sorties for them until 21st September 1943 when they were based at RAF Davidstow Moor in Cornwall.

He subsequently moved with them to RAF Predannack, Cornwall, RAF Chivenor, Devon and RAF Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland although he was only at the latter for about two weeks before he became tour expired and was transferred out to be an instructor with No 19 (Polish) Service Flying Training School at RAF Newton, Nottinghamshire.  He had served the Squadron well, having flown 47 Operational sorties with them and being involved with what is believed to have been an attack on a U-boat on the night of 24th/25th July 1944.  The Admiralty was left totally puzzled over the green smoke emitted and did not give any indication on whether they believed the U-boat to have been damaged or sunk in the absence of any wreckage coming to the surface.  The reports and the ir response are shown below:


During his military service he was awarded the Krzyz Walecznych (Cross of Valour) and two bars, the Medal Lotniczy (Air Force medal) and British campaign medals.

Witold's departure from 304 Squadron


At the end of the War, the village where he was born was absorbed into the Ukraine and was subjected to Communist rule so he decided not to return home and stayed in Britain.  He started a new life by his marrying Urszula Burger in 1945, she was a fellow Pole who had also been interned in the gulags  and only came to Britain via a long tortuous route but understood the hardships he had gone through.  Theyhad known each other since childhood.

Together they had three children and he became a bus driver in Rotherham, Yorkshire where they made a home and had a long happy life together until Witold's death in 2003 at the age of 82.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

JERZY KUPŚĆ

 


He was born into a Lithuanian family on 16th February 1917 at Ilecka Zaszczyta which is in the border area of Kazakhstan/Russia but his family were from the Kroszty estate near Rakiszki, Lithuania.  The family returned to Wilno, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania) and he was educated there, graduating from the Electrical Department of the Technical School in Wilno.

In January 1940 he became part of the purge of Polish citizens  and was arrested by the NKVD (precursors of the KGB) in Wilno.  This is probably because his father, Adam, was a land owner which went against the Communist ethos and was therefore a threat.  He probably spent a few weeks in a Russian controlled prison or makeshift prison before being deported to a Siberian gulag in the first wave of mass deportations on 9th/10th February 1940.  This consisted of 110 trains each with about 2,000 people crammed into its boxcars.  Their destinations were spread over the vast area covering Archangelsk, Sverdlovsk, Omsk and Irkutsk.  It is not known exactly where he was detained but it is probable that he was part of a family group held in Archangelsk - with his mother (named Kupska) at the head of the family.

After the signing of the Sikorski-Majski agreement, he was released from the gulag but was not on the passenger list of the SS Llanstephan which brought 200 released Poles from Archangelsk to Glasgow in October 1941 so it must be assumed that he was one of the many thousands who signed up to join Anders' Army in the Niddle East and, by a long and tortuous route, made his way to Krasnovodsk.  From there he would have been able to cross the Caspian Sea to Pahlevi in Persia (now Iran) and join Anders' main army.

Whilst he was there, he applied to join the Polish Air Force in exile and was accepted because of his education and technical training - so he would have had priority passage to England.

Once in England he would have been sent to the Polish Depot at Blackpool, a cluster of training establishments centred on RAF Squires Gate and at the absolute limit of the range of Luftwaffe bombers.  Also safe because Hitler is reputed to have wanted the town for his playground!  He would already have completed his National Service around 1935-1937 before hostilities broke out.  On completion of his training he was posted to 304 Squadron as a wireless mechanic and stayed with them until 16th April 1945 before transferring out and completing his service elsewhere.

Extract from hand written Squadron Records showing his departure date

With 304 Squadron he probably began his service at RAF Lindholme near Doncaster, Yorkshire and later moved to RAF Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland on 10th May 1942 and then to RAF Dale near Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, Wales on 13th June 1942.  Later he moved to RAF Talbenny, also in Pembrokeshire and back to RAF Dale on 1st December 1942.  His next move was to RAF Docking in Norfolk on 2nd April 1943 then RAF Davidstow Moor  near Camelford in Cornwall on 8th June 1943.  From there he went to RAF Predannack, also in Cornwall on 13th December 1943 and then to RAF Chivenor near Barnstaple in Devon on 19th February 1944.  On 21st September 1944 he moved to RAF Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland and finally to RAF St Eval on 6th March 1945.

He may have served with the Polish Resettlement Corps but eventually returned to Poland in 1947.  He worked, among other places, in the Przedsiebiorstwo Electryficacji Rolnictwa - an agricultural eectrification company.  Later still, as an electrical inspector in the building administration in Sopot on the Baltic coast.  He died in Sopot on 12th October 2000 and was buried there.