Sunday, 25 May 2008


Well that's the whole Blog transferred (and deleted from AOL) so it's time to move on and keep it updated. At least I can find this one! And there's a great deal to post. With over 250 hits and no comments, I wonder what's going on with that once excellent provider. My other blog had over 1100 hits and scores of comments before it closed.


Originally posted 22nd May 2008
After recent disappointments, I have just acquired a copy of the book 304 Squadron and it has proved a revelation. It has given me a fuller report of the last flight of Jan Stanislaw Waroczewski and also 2 photographs of R1268 (NZ - T). This is incredible because it was only 22 days old when it crashed and had only been in the hands of the squadron for 8 days,so it is really surprising that photographs even exist. I am only waiting for permission from the author and publishers before reproducing the photographs and the expanded story on this journal.


Originally posted 15th May 2008
Things have been very quiet over the last couple of weeks and I have still not received the photographs from Jan Waroczewski's niece; I think I'll have to abandon all hope on that one. However, being an optimist, I guess that someone out there will have one so my new quest is to find it!. I've still not received a response from Wilhelm Ratuszynski, which is a big disappointment as I sent him some good information that he has not previously published and all I wanted in return was an address.


Originally posted 1st May 2008
In my wildest dreams, I hoped for a photograph of Jan Stanislaw Waroczewski, who has become a personal hero, and I had hoped to get one from his niece - but those hopes are now fading. I also hoped that I'd get something interesting/useful from Wilhelm Ratuszynski after supplying him with information on a crash (R1268) that he had not recorded. Sadly, I have not had the response I had hoped for from either of them. In short, I have had nothing at all from either of them. However, being the eternal optimist, I live in hope.


Originally posted 30th April 2008
These photographs show 304 Squadron pilot Antoniewicz and his crew together with their aircraft. They were in the front line against the German U Boat menace in the Atlantic, the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay. In the picture above Antoniewicz is in the centre; in the one below he is third from the left. The white paintwork on the Wellington tells you that this aircraft was in Coastal Command.

This crew are credited with seriously damaging one U Boat and sinking another through accurate bombing. Thanks to Peter Sikora for the photographs.


Originally posted 30th April 2008
This is a modern picture of West Edmondsley Farmhouse, a Grade II listed building, which was courageously avoided by Flying Officer Waroczewski during the crash landing of R1268 on 14th December 1940. Photograph courtesy of Durham County Council (The Durham Record, taken in 2004)


Originally posted 22nd April 2008
My knowledge of 304 Squadron is growing daily and I have had a great deal of help along the way. However, there is still a lot I don't know and I am desperately short of photographs to illustrate the manuscript whether it finally emerges as a book or a website or both. If you can help, please e-mail me. Although I have had help from Polish sources, most of what I have has come from British and Irish ones and I am a bit disappointed at the number of Polish organisations that have not even replied to my contacts.


Originally posted 22nd April 2008
I have now followed up the two contacts I made today, and I have spoken to the lady who I am now sure is the niece of Flying Officer Waroczewski. I have sent her all the information I have on her uncle and she has surprised me with the information that her father and another uncle also served with the squadron. She has also agreed to let me have some photographs to copy and that has really made my day.Meanwhile, my other new contact has also agreed to help with information and photographs and he has already made some enquiries on my behalf. With the help of these two people, I now feel like I am making real progress.


Originally posted 22nd April 2008
I have had a response from one of my new contacts, who has promised me a photograph of the crew of a 304 Squadron Wellington which sunk a U-Boat (probably either U441 or U1191, both of which were lost at about the same time between the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel) on 18th June 1944. He also has other photographs of 304 Squadron during its days in Coastal Command, on anti-submarine patrol.


Originally posted 22nd April 2008
I have just come home from work and found two e-mails which negate my previous comments about Polish sources. One is from a Polish Air Force historian who is willing to help and has a collection of 304 Squadron photographs. The other is from a lady who is the niece of Jan Stanislaw Waroczewski; she has given me more information and she, too, has photographs. I have to check these two sources out, but the signs are good. Watch this space!


Originally posted 21st April 2008
A man of considerable fighting pedigree, he fought with Polish (Army) forces until the collapse of the September Campaign in 1939, then joined the Polish Resistance. After capture by the Russians, and internment in a Siberian labour camp, they released allied prisoners of war when Hitler broke his pact and invaded Russia. He continued to fight with reconstituted Polish Army forces from 1941 until 1943, when he came to the UK via Basra in Iraq.
This indomitable fighting spirit led him, like so many others, of whom I have no details, to join the Royal (Polish) Air Force at the PAF Depot at Blackpool, Lancashire. He went on to the No 13 Training Wing at Torquay, Devon and the Air Crew Despatch Centre No 31PD in Canada, then the No 6 OTU at Harrogate, North Yorkshire. In 1945 he went to 304 Squadron (Coastal Command) at St Eval, Cornwall where he was involved in anti-submarine warfare, and then on to RAF East Wretham, although not with 304 Squadron, serving with the Polish Resettlement Corps until 1948.

Photo courtesy of Jan Kaliciak


Originally posted 20th April 2008
There was no cogent reason for the destruction of Poland, other than the German dream of lebensraum, which led to the deaths of 5 million Poles, the devastation of a country and the ultimate defeat of Germany and the final collapse, after 12 years, of a Reich that was designed, intended and stated to be there for a thousand years. In the summer of 1939, Germany turned its Blitzkrieg on Poland and Great Britain did the honourable thing, followed its treaty obligations and declared war on Germany. Sadly, at the end of the conflict, Britain and America caved in to the whims of Josef Stalin and gave away Polish sovereignty to Russia. A real slap in the face to our staunchest ally and an act of such ignominy towards the many thousands of Poles who fought for us during the War years. I hardly dare say that the battle hardened Poles were the fourth largest force fighting for our freedom at that time. In fact their fighter pilots were the most successful during the dark days of the Battle of Britain. Although battered by the German Blitzkrieg (German pilots were battle hardened by their efforts in the Spanish Civil War) and with most of their aircraft destroyed on the ground, the Poles fled to France, where they fought on against the hated enemy. With the almost immediate collapse of the French forces, the Poles might have given up, but they fought bravely on and made their way to Britain, the last bastion of resistance to the German might.
Travelling via diverse and tortuous routes, they came in their thousands to build up a core of fighting forces to resist the Germans. With refugee status, they were under no obligation to fight but still they provided a land army, naval presence and 15 Air Force squadrons to keep the battle going.
After taking a mauling by the Luftwaffe, the Poles were defeated on the home front, devastated by the swift collapse of France and ran to Britain. But they did not run for cover; they ran to fight another day, only waiting to be re-equipped by the British. When that re-equipment came, they proved themselves to be without equals in courage and fighting spirit.
This is the basis of the Polish fight back and what follows is my assessment of 304 Squadron as a representative sample of Polish forces and the history of their efforts.
The squadron was formed at RAF Bramcote, on 23rd August 1940 from 185 men, including 31 Officers, most of whom saw action in Poland and France with 2nd Air Regiment (Cracow) and 6th Air Regiment (Lwow) and with the French Army. This became 304 Silesian Squadron, commanded by Wing Commander Bialy with Wing Comander WM Graham as its British adviser. It was attached to No 1 Bomber Group and was given 16 Fairey Battles for training purposes. The main problems were the language barrier and the lack of instructors on an aircraft which was unfamiliar to the Polish fliers. At the time, the Battle of Britain was in full swing and bombers were relegated to a back seat. In December 1940, the squadron converted to Vickers Wellington Mk Ic medium bombers. At this time, the squadron suffered its first (accidental) loss when R1268 crashed near Edmondsley, 5 miles west of Durham on 14th December 1940, during the transition period between RAF Bramcote and RAF Syerston.
This crash has not been recognised in many sources, including the history of the squadron, written by Wilhelm Ratuszynski, and the general impression is that the first loss was on 15th April 1941 when Wellington R1212 lost power in both engines simultaneously and crash landed on hilly ground, killing three crew membersTheir first operational mission was on 24th April 1941 when Flying Officer Sym and Flight Lieutenant Czetowicz flew a mission to bomb fuel dumps in Rotterdam. This was to be the precursor to attacks on Bielefeld, Brest, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Nuremburg and Osnabruck. After a long series of raids on Europe, the squadron sustained heavy losses and, on 10th May 1942 was re- assigned to Coastal Command. This was originally a temporary measure but was soon confirmed as permanent.
They were transferred to RAF Tiree and had to accustom themselves to much longer flights over water on anti-submarine patrols. The first attacks on submarines were made in May 1942 and the first successful attack was credited, by the British Admiralty, to Flying Officer Skarzynski.
Low level flying over water was an extremely stressful activity but the Polish airmen coped admirably. About a month after their arrival at RAF Tiree, on 13th June, 1942 they were transferred to 19 Group and sent to RAF Dale and RAF Talbenny in Pembrokeshire, South Wales.
From here, their operations changed to anti-submarine patrol and convoy protection in the Bay of Biscay. This was a more dangerous area of operations, but gave the Poles a better chance to have a go at German U-Boats. On 25th June 1942, seven of their Wellingtons joined a 1,000 bomber raid on Bremen and one aircraft was lost. The pace of war was dramatically increased and it is a credit to the ground crews that they kept the squadron airborne. On August 13th 1942 Flying Officer Nowicki and his crew engaged and sunk a surfaced U-Boat with only three depth charges. The squadron became such a menace to submarines that an increasing number of German fighters were diverted to attack the bombers.
On 30th March 1943 the squadron transferred to 16 Group at RAF Docking in Norfolk and were given Mk XWellingtons. It was intended that they should become torpedo bombers, but fortunately it was realised that theywould be too slow, and an easy prey for German fighters. On 10th June 1943 they returned to 19 Group, transferred to RAF Davidstow Moor in Cornwall and resumed anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay. They were re-equipped with Wellington Mk XIII’s which were specially equipped to detect submerged submarines. In September, they were again e-equipped with Mark XIVs which carried additional detection equipment and the newly developed Leigh Light which enabled them to detect surfaced submarines by night – a considerable tactical advantage.
Towards the end of the year, Luftwaffe fighters became more frequent and the Wellingtons of 304 Squadron took a battering but they were again re-equipped with Mk XIV’s which carried the Leigh Light and enabled the crews to detect surfaced submarines at night. On 13th December 1943 they were transferred to RAF Predannack, Cornwall and, in spite of bad weather conditions, the pace of battle speeded up with significant contacts with enemy aircraft and submarines.
1943 had been a very bad year for 304 Squadron and they sustained many losses. Shortly afterwards they returned to 19 Group and resumed anti-submarine activities over the Bay of Biscay.
On February 19th, 1944, the squadron transferred to RAF Chivenor near Barnstaple in Devon. The squadron flew 110 sorties totaling 1074 hours, in spite of bad weather.
In March 1944, Sergeant Baranski was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for shooting down a German fighter in a near sea level encounter; such was his accuracy that the fighter exploded before crashing into the sea. For the rest of the summer, there were many contacts with enemy aircraft and in spite of taking tremendous punishment, most of the Polish aircraft made it home without serious injury to the crews. June and July was the squadron’s most successful period with 3 probable submarine kills.
In September 1944, the squadron was transferred to 15 Group and moved to RAF Benbecula to hunt submarines in the North Atlantic.
Early 1945 (January) saw the squadron command taken over by Wing Commander Zurek, who presided over Squadron Leader Pilniak and Squadron Leader Krsepisz who commanded A and B flights respectively. There were several unsuccessful attacks on U – Boats in this month.
On 5th March 1945, the squadron moved to 19 Group at RAF St Eval in Cornwall. They were paid a particular compliment at this time, when Air Commander Pritchett wrote a comment in the squadron diary; “They fly when seagulls won’t”.
On May 11th 1945, one of the squadron’s Wellingtons captured a German U – Boat and they flew their last operational sortie on May 30th 1945. On 14th June 1945 they transferred to Transport Command, flying out of RAF North Weald in Essex.
In August, they were re-equipped with Vickers Warwicks Mk I and Mk III and then, in January 1946 with Handley Page Halifaxes. Wing Commander Piotrowski took charge in September 1945. Most of their time was then spent ferrying supplies to Greece and Italy until they were disbanded in December 1946.
Wherever possible, I have credited the copyright holders of photographs used but I have been given photographs where the true copyright holders cannot be identified. In such cases, I will be happy to give due credit, if anyone can identify the owners. This is not a profit making document and is intended only as an historical record


Originally posted 22nd April 2008

The main weapon used by 304 Squadron in their bombing missions to France and Germany and their anti-submarine role over the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay was the Vickers Wellington medium bomber. Designed by Barnes Wallis on the Geodetic principle, which enabled it to absorb incredible punishment and still stay airborne. Lovingly known as the Wimpey (after the cartoon character) or the Flying Cigar. (Photo from Wikipedia)


Originally posted 21st April 2008

When I write about the heroic Poles who fought for us, it is so easy to forget that they were real people. Ordinary men who were sent out to do an extraordinary job. I was brought down to earth when I received my first photograph (see below) which was taken in about 1943 when this ordinary man, Wladislaw Tadeusz Kaliciak, was in the Polish Army. He later became a member of the Polish Air Force and flew with 304 Squadron. His was an amazing story, which will appear later, and typifies the indomitable fighting spirit of the Poles. Thanks to his son, Jan Kaliciak, for the photograph


Originally posted on 22nd Feb 2008
I have learned from my own research that the aircraft was manufactured in the Vickers Armstrong factory at Chester and that it had only been delivered to the Royal Air Force three weeks before the crash. In fact it had only been delivered to 304 Squadron six days before its destruction.Now, my friend Michael has sent me information that it was on a practice cross country flight in bad weather when the wings iced up and the windows iced over at 3500 feet. The pilot lost sight of his chosen emergency landing ground, crashed into some trees on a hill top and ended up in a dip in the ground due to his efforts to miss the farm house.  I believe that it was also one of the worst winters on record.I have already related the fate of Flying Officer Waroczewski, who sustained a fractured wrist and facial lacerations and was shot down and killed the following year, but what of the other three? Flying Officer Kostuch injured his wrist and suffered facial lacerations enough to keep him off flying duties until 17th March 1941. Flying Officer Stanczuk fractured his leg and suffered facial and chest lacerations. Sergeant Boczkowski received chest injuries and facial lacerations. As far as the latter three crewmen go, I have no further information. So if anyone out there has any information, please leave a comment here or e-mail me


Originally posted on 21st Feb 2008
Even though I have just started this Blog, I have had remarkable success. A fellow enthusiast, who was just surfing the net, saw it and e-mailed me. We exchanged information; I gave him details of the crew and he gave me a photocopy of an eye witness account of the crash, complete with a faded, but very good, sketch of the scene. It appears that the aircraft broke in half on impact and, as this happened in fairly dense woodland, it is a miracle that all the crew survived.If I can get permission from the copyright owner, I will post a copy on this Blog in the near future. Hopefully, I will also be going to have a look at the crash site too - subject to permission from the land owners.


Originally posted on 21st Feb 2008
On Sunday, a radio station in Cambridge broadcast this story on their programme "Polish Waves" which goes out monthly in English and Polish. They are going to appeal to the families of ex-Polish Air Force personnel for any information on 304 Squadron. Most of the original air and ground crew will be dead now, but I'm hoping for stories and photographs from their children and grandchildren. Cambridge has a large Polish community, many of them descended from the aircrew who were based at the many airfields that were in the area during the Second World War. So there's always a chance


Originally posted on 8th Feb 2008
The second bomber mystery is a Mk 1c Vickers Wellington which crashed on 1st October 1941 near Micklefield, close to Leeds, West Yorkshire. There is very little information on this crash except that the pilot was Sergeant Lozowicki and he had a crew of three mechanics. The aircraft was taken away and salvaged, or rather repaired as it flew again and was lost after being shot down over the Bay of Biscay on 16th October 1942 with a totally different crew. The original crew all survived but one member was injured and treated at RAF Church FentonIts final destruction is well documented but there is virtually nothing on the earlier crash landing. My main interest was in R1268 but I have become passionate about anything concerned with 304 Squadron and I am also trying to find out anything I can about R1413 to help my friend who has done so much to help me. So if anyone out there has any information from their fathers or grandfathers, please pass it on.


Originally posted 5th Feb 2008

It was early afternoon, around 1.30 pm, on 14th December 1940, a Wellington bomber which had got lost over the North Sea ploughed into trees on high ground near West Edmondsley Farm. Well, planes do come down in wartime, but not usually on this sleepy little hamlet. The impact point was in the woods close to the Wardle’s Bridge Inn.Out of fuel, the plane was seen to make a hard right turn to avoid the farm, a Grade II listed building, and the people in it. At the crash scene the Wellington’s back was broken and the nose area, presumably the Perspex front gun turret was broken open and in the stream. The pilot was still strapped in his seat.There were four crew members aboard, unusual as a Wellington normally carries six, and all were injured, three of them quite badly but all were alive. The alarm was raised and the injured were taken to the farm dairy, using an old door as a stretcher. They were given morphine and first aid by Dr Mukerji, the local GP from Craghead. They were taken to Chester-le-Street Hospital and later transferred to York Military Hospital.The crew were Flying Officer M. Kostuch, Flying Officer Jan Stanislaw Waroczewski, Sgt J Boczkowski and P/O Stanczuk. Flying Officer Waroczewski was later to become something of a hero, as will be explained later.There were various reports of this accident and most were generally accurate but a few errors had to be sorted out before the real picture emerged. The plane was said to be a Mark III Wellington from 604 Squadron flying out of RAF Syerston. 604 was a fighter squadron (flying Mosquitoes, Beaufighters, Gladiators and Blenheims) and did not fly out of RAF Syerston and the Mark III did not come into service until six months after the crash, nor did 304 Squadron ever fly Mark IIIs. However, 304 Squadron had just moved to RAF Syerston and flew Mark Ic Wellingtons.It was actually on a training mission, not a bombing mission, as reported. 304 Squadron did not fly operational missions (i.e. bombing raids) until the following AprilOnce this was established, I tried to track down the crew. I still could not identify the two unnamed crew members and M Kostuch does not appear in any further records I have seen, except an entry in the Squadron’s Operational Record Book which says that he returned to the squadron on 17th March 1941. A fellow amateur researcher found more details and passed them on; the two missing crewmen were Sergeant Bogradowski and P/O Stanczac (the spelling on the latter is uncertain). Jan Stanislaw Waroczewski was born on 25th December 1911 at Suchiednow in the Province of Kielci, Poland. In spite of his injuries, he returned to the squadron and was, sadly killed in another Wellington (R1392) on 28th May 1941. His aircraft was hit by flak whilst he was on a bombing raid over Boulogne and one of his crew baled out but was killed. The pilot regained control of the aircraft and managed to get it back to England. Another two crew members baled out and survived but the plane crashed at Darwell Hole, near Brightlingsea, Sussex. Flying Officer Waroczewski and the two remaining crewmen were killed. His body was taken back to RAF Syerston (Nottinghamshire) and he was buried in Newark Cemetery – he was twenty nine years old. He is also remembered on Panel 75 of the War Memorial at RAF Northolt.


Originally posted 5th Feb 2008
Around about September 2007, I heard the story of a Wellington bomber that crashed just outside the village where I was born. Having a love for local history, I thought it would be a nice little project to occupy my time, soI started investigating. It was incredibly difficult to find any really concrete information on either the crash or the crew.During the course of my research, I made contact with a man who was doing precisely the same and who was having the same sort of trouble.By an incredible coincidence I was looking for an aircraft that crashed in County Durham and he was looking for one that crashed near his home village in West Yorkshire. Both crews survived, both crashes were accidents rather than being caused by enemy action and both aircraft belonged to 304 Squadron and were crewed by Silesian Poles. Both aircraft were Mk 1c Vickers Wellington Bombers They were R1268 NZ-T which crashed near West Edmondsley Farm, 5 miles north west of Durham and R1413 NZ-? which crashed at Micklefield near Leeds. More detailed information will appear in subsequent postings.We have both had considerable help from various experts and we have both been stonewalled by so called experts who had no knowledge of the incidents. Between us, the two talented amateurs have outdone those experts and found out a great deal! We are continuing to build on our knowledge and anyone with any information can post a message here or e-mail me


Originally posted 5th Feb 2008
The following is the basis of a number of attempts to create a blog; failed attempts and with no help from AOL when things went wrong. What's the point of having a blog you can't access? Well this is the last attempt before I move to another provider. I have e-mailed AOL to this effect on several occasions; the first time they promised assistance but failed to deliver, and on every other occasion they took the easy way out and ignored my contacts.Being the eternal optimist, I'll try again, so here's what I've done so far