Thursday, 11 June 2009

N2840


N2840 (GR-?) 18th July 1941

This aircraft was shot down during a bombing raid to Rotterdam from RAF Syerston; it was brought down by a German intruder and crashed at Cowtham House Farm, Balderton, just 2 miles from Newark, Nottinghamshire. The entire crew was killed; they were F/O B Kuzian, Sgt Tomaszewski, F/O B Klatt, Sgt J Sylwestrowicz, Sgt J Podziemski and Sgt M Czerniejewski. All the crew are buried in Newark upon Trent Cemetery. Many websites have failed to include this in 304 Squadron’s losses as the aircraft was borrowed from 301 Squadron.

R1002

This photograph shows the crew of R1002 (NZ – L) who were on board at the time it was lost. From left to right: F/SGt Paskiewicz, F/Lt Ostrowski, P/O Siuda, F/Sgt Szewczyk, P/O Trzebski and F/Sgt Gebicki all of whom survived the crash virtually uninjured.

R1002 (NZ-L) 14th July 1941

This aircraft took off at 22.40 on 14th July 1941 from RAF Syerston on a mission to bomb Bremen. On the return journey it was hit by flak and lost the starboard engine. With considerable skill, the pilot, Sgt Janusz Trzebski managed to get the Wellington back to England on the remaining engine. They had made radio contact with RAF Langham in Norfolk and were expecting a flare path to guide them in. Unfortunately there was an air raid in progress and the flare path could not be lit up. It was a moonless night, with low cloud and the pilot had to descend to a very low level whilst they looked for the airfield. They flew in at near rooftop level and at the last moment saw the roof tops of a small village; he had no power to climb but managed to avoid the village before stalling and being forced into a belly landing at 02.38 on the morning of 15th July 1941 in nearby woodland at Stiffkey, Norfolk – just two miles from the airfield. Impact with the trees sheared off the wings but the fuselage missed the larger trees . The Wellington was a total write off but all the crew and all the villagers survived with no serious injuries. The Commanding Officer’s comments on the crash card were that it was a creditable performance in conditions of fog and heavy rain. Luckily there was no fire. It is rumoured that a local Home Guardsman approached with rifle at the ready, believing from the voices that they were German fliers. Their RAF uniforms and assurances that they were Polish allies convinced him and they were taken to hospital, uninjured but badly shocked.
This photograph shows the crew of R1002 (NZ – L) who were on board at the time it was lost. From left to right: F/SGt Paskiewicz, F/Lt Ostrowski, P/O Siuda, F/Sgt Szewczyk, P/O Trzebski and F/Sgt Gebicki all of whom survived the crash virtually uninjured.

SGT JOZEF NILSKI _ SURVIVOR OF R1392


NILSKI Sgt Jozef P-781069

He was born on 10th January 1919 at Warsaw and he served with the 4th Air Force Regiment from 30th September 1937 until 18th September 1939 – the day after the Russian Invasion of Poland and fought in the Polish campaign. After this he crossed the Romanian frontier and made his way to France where he joined the Polish Air Force under French Command and was sent to the Polish Air Force Reserve Depot at Lyon-Bron.

©Zyg NilskiHe was assigned for service in the United Kingdom and arrived on 7th March 1940 and, two days later, joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve at RAF Eastchurch in Kent. After the surrender of France, in June 1940, the Polish Air Force was formed under British command and he joined it with effect from 6th August 1940. He was a wireless operator and air gunner and was under training as a navigator.
On 16th July 1940 he was posted to the Polish Air Force Training Centre at RAF Hucknall and then, on 10th October 1940, he wass assigned to 304 Squadron at RAF Bramcote, transferring with the Squadron to RAF Syerston in December 1940 and then on to RAF Lindholme in July 1941.
On the late evening of 27th May 1941, his crew took off for a bombing mission to Boulogne and on the return journey one engine was hit by flak and the plane went out of control and plunged several thousand feet. The pilot gave the order to bale out and one crew member did so, over the English Channel. His body was never found and he has no known grave. A little later the pilot again gave the order but no one jumped as they were still over the sea. Gradually they limped back to England and the order was given again; two of the crew jumped and were both injured. The aircraft crashed very shortly afterwards, near Hastings, killing the three remaining crew members. In the ensuing fireball the pilot was burned beyond recognition and the other two crew were also badly burned.
Reports vary on the injuries sustained by Sergeant Nilski and his fellow survivor but both were out of action for several months. After breaking his ankle and being hung up in a tree, Sergeant Nilski made his own way to a Police Station some two and a half hours after the crash. He was taken to hospital in Tonbridge Wells in Kent.
He married ten days later.
On 30th August 1941 he was transferred to the Polish Air Force Depot at RAF Blackpool, which was quite normal for injured airmen who were not ready to return to active duty.
He was never to return to active flying but remained in the PAF as a Leading Aircraftman (ground crew). The remainder of his service was as follows:

5th October 1941
300 Squadron at RAF Hemswell
18th December 1941
305 Squadron atRAF Lindholme
10th January 1942
301 Squadron at RAF Hemswell
21st November 1942
50 Group at RAF Watchfield
7th November 1942
301 Squadron at RAF Hemswell and, from 19th April 1943, at RAF Tempsford
22nd November 1943
5091 Mobile Signals Unit at RAF Chigwell
28th February 1944
84 Group at RAF Northolt. As far as I can find out, 5091 MSU was part of 84 group which had, by then, become part os 2TAF (Second Tactical Air Force) made up mainly of squadrons of the RAF and RCAF (about 2,000 aircraft) under joint command with the army. They spent the first half of 1944 training to assemble and dismantle fully operational, but temporary, airfields to move at the speed of the advancing armies and therefore always able to operate from forward positions.

On 15th November 1943 2TAF was formed as part of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force which was under the command of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory and was formed as a precursor to the invasion of Europe. It was a very successful force and in its last few days of operational activity (early May 1945) its aircraft – Typhoons and Tempests devastated Axis shipping in the Baltic and destroyed many transport aircraft and fling boats which were trying to make a Dunkirk style evacuation of Norway. A further 141 aircraft were claimed as destroyed during its operations against shipping in the Baltic. On 16th July 1945 2TAF re-grouped and reformed as the British Air Force of Occupation in Germany. Sgt Nilski and his former crew mate, Sgt Jozefiak, were both involved in this force.

1st August 1944
Back to 5091 Mobile Signals Unit on posting to France (Second Tactical Air Force) supporting the Invasion forces after D_Day
14th January 1945
10 OTU in the UK
23rd February 1945
Air Crew Training Centre at RAF Hucknall
22nd June 1945
Polish Initial Training Wing at RAF Croughton
8th November 1946
Demobilised from the PAF and enlisted in the Polish Resettlement Corps
10th July 1947
Honourably discharged into civilian life with a conduct rating of very good

As well as his various British and Polish campaign medals, he also won the Polish Cross of Valour. Although his injuries kept him from operational flying, he never ceased to make the effort and to make his contribution to the war effort. He remained in England and sadly he died in 1974 at the young age of 55.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

JOZEF NILSKI

Sgt Jozef Nilski (survivor); photo supplied by his son Zygmunt Nilski

R1392 (NZ-N) 28th May 1941

This aircraft was hit in the port engine by flak whilst on its way home from a bombing mission over Boulogne, France, one crewman baled out either over the target or over the sea and his body was never found. The pilot managed to regain control and another two crewman baled out over England and survived, one landing in a tree where he was left suspended by his parachute. At first, the other survivor was mistaken for a German flier then he was assisted and taken to hospital. The plane crashed at Darwell Hole near Brightling in Sussex. P/O Waroczewski, who was killed in this incident was a survivor of the crash of R1268 in December 1940. He is also remembered on Panel 75 of the War Memorial at RAF Northolt The other fatalities were: F/O Cezary Wieczorek, P/O Bronislaw Kuszczynski and Sgt Jozef Drozdz. Sgt Jozefiak and Sgt Nilski survived but suffered serious injuries

The aircraft struck a tree and the remaining crew were very badly burned in the ensuing fireball. F/O Waroczewski was burned beyond recognition. The bodies were taken to RAF Hawkinge and returned to Newark for burial. Amazingly, the tree they hit is still standing today. The event was included in the squadron ORB:

“The funeral of F/O WAROCZEWSKI, F/O KUSZCZYNSKI and P/O WIECZOREK, who were killed when A/c No. R 1392 was destroyed in KENT after an operational flight took place at 10.30 hours in NEWARK CEMETERY and was attended by G/C KARPINSKI of No. 1 Group, G/C WASKEIWICZ of the Polish Inspectorate General, and many Officers and other personnel. F/O KARCZEWSKI was Officer in charge.”

When in his 80’s Sgt (later S/Ldr) Jozefiak returned to the crash site and built a memorial to his dead colleagues.

R1473

R1473 9th May 1941

This Mk 1c was the British advisor to 304 Squadron’s aircraft, flying out of RAF Syerston, and was shot down by flak near Lingen-Em, whilst on a bombing mission to Bremen. Five of the crew were killed, one survived and became a Prisoner of War. The dead are buried at the Reichswald War Cemetery in Westphalia, Germany. F/Sgt Wady survived; the dead were: F/O F S Webb, F/O G J Lynes, F/Sgt S R Gear, Sgt W C Hamilton and W/Cdr W M Graham.

R1443

R1443 6th May 1941

Whilst on a night bombing mission from RAF Syerston to Le Havre, France, this aircraft was shot down by an enemy fighter. All crew members were killed. This was 304 Squadron’s first operational loss. P/O Feliks Sobieralski’s body was washed ashore on September 14th 1941 and was buried in the Noordwijk General Cemetery in the Netherlands. The other fatalities were P/O Stanislaw Duchnicki, P/O Antoni Sym, Sgt Stanislaw Bialek, Sgt Leon Hampel and Sgt Wladislaw Zolnowski.

R1212


Funeral of the crew; photograph supplied by the Aircraft Remembrance Society

R1212 15th April 1941

This aircraft was on a training mission and lost one, or both, engines and crashed whilst coming in to land near Flintham Woods near Newark, Nottinghamshire. Flying Officer Rudolf Christmann, Sgt Antoni Berger and Sgt Wieslaw Pietruszewski were killed; Flying Officer Galczynski, Sgt Ananowski and Sgt Jarosz survived.

R1014

This photograph, courtesy of Wojciech Zmyslony, shows the preparation for the funerals of the four men who were killed on R1014.
R1014 6th February 1941

This aircraft crashed shortly after take off from RAF Syerston, coming down at Station Farm near Bleasby, Nottinghamshire. The plane was on a training flight and the cause of the crash is not known. Sgt Cymborski, Sgt Jonczyk, Sgt Lichota and Sgt Tofin were all killed.

AIRCRAFT LOSSES

This is the first of a series of postings on aircraft lost by 304 Squadron.

R1268 (NZ-T) 14th December 1940


This was a cross country training mission out of RAF Syerston (Newark); the crew were lost and running perilously short of fuel. The aircraft crashed near Edmondsley, 5 Miles west of Durham City. Inexplicably flying with a crew of only 4 instead of the usual 6. This accident was 304 Squadron’s first actual loss, although it fails to get a mention in most accounts. It should be mentioned that this was one of the worst winters of the Twentieth Century and the aircraft, flying at 3500 feet, was heavily iced up.


The pilot had selected an emergency landing ground but lost sight of it because the cockpit windows iced over. An eye witness states that the pilot made a hard turn to avoid the farmhouse and hit trees on higher ground. This undoubtedly saved lives as the farm hands were almost certainly having lunch in the farm buildings.


The pilot, F/O Waroczewski, was later killed on 28th May 1941 after his aircraft, R1392, was seriously hit by flak over Boulogne and crashed near Darwell Hole, Brightlingsea, Sussex. He is buried in the military part of Newark Cemetery. F/O Kostuch suffered injuries which kept him away from the squadron until 17th March 1941. He is believed to have transferred to 301 Squadron and he was later awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari Silver Cross, 5th class and the British DFC. Little is known of his service after that except that he was posted to 300 Squadron on 21st March 1945 from the Polish Depot at Blackpool. F/O Stanczuk was killed in a road accident in 1943 and Sgt Boczkowski does not appear again in available records. However he moved on to 300 Squadron and was serving at RAF Hemswell in 1942 as part of the crew of the “Assam Bomber” BH-T, a Wellington that was bought by subscription by the people of South Africa. He is also known to have been in the crew of BH-W. He was a recipient of the Order of Virtuti Militari on7th September 1942 and is known to have survived the war and emigrated to Canada.

Monday, 19 January 2009

KAZIMIERZ OLEJARCZYK

A man who never knows when to give up. In the true spirit of the fighting Poles, he is still active in Polish affairs in America - well, he's only 89 years old! See the following extracts from American websites:
Born in New Jersey of Polish-born parents, Olejarczyk went to Poland as a baby with his parents, whose extreme patriotism made them long for their homeland once it had been re-established as a sovereign nation following World War I. Ultimately, economic hardships in the newly re-formed Poland forced his father back to the States for employment while Olejarczyk remained behind with his mother, not rejoining his father until 1940. Thus began a lifelong loyalty to two nations, and during World War II, prior to the United States’ involvement, he volunteered for the Polish Air Force in Canada to help in the liberation of Poland (‘Recognize a need and fill it’). The following year he transferred to the American Air Force and was assigned as a bombardier-navigator with the 586th Bomber Squadron, flying B26s in Europe.After working many years as an analytical engineer for GM, Olejarczyk retired and devoted all of his time to the PAC following the 1981 Solidarity movement’s activities in Poland, when issues of Polish affairs faced by the organization became too absorbing for ‘part time’ attention. Thanks to his wife Bronia, whom he describes as ‘the love of his life’ (and who he met in kindergarten!), Olejarczyk is to this day a hallowed figure about the PAC Federal Credit Union, and who, regardless of age, is still identifying needs and filling them.
AND
Mr. Olejarczyk was born in New Jersey, but grew up in Warsaw. While he was studying engineering at the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. Young Kazimierz volunteered for the Polish Air Force in exile (RAF) and transferred to the U.S. Army Air Force in 1944. At war’s end, he moved to Michigan, where he earned a BBA from the Univ. of MI and MBA and MA from the Univ. of Detroit. He worked for General Motors Fisher Body for 33 years, retiring as a senior analytical systems engineer. He also taught Mathematics and Political Science at the Univ. of Detroit. During that period he also reported for the Voice of America and translated for Radio Free Europe.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

STANISLAW JOZEFIAK - A LIVING LEGEND

STANISLAW JOZEFIAK'S TURRET ON R1392



Stanislaw Jozefiak was born on 10th September 1919 on a farm in Skalmierzycach near Ostrow Wielkopolski, a town in Central Poland. Between 1937 and 1939 he attended an aviation school where he was trained as a radio operator and air gunner. In September 1939 he was one of a group of students who were evacuated to Romania where he was interned in a camp at Timisoara, about 60 kilometres from the Jugoslavian border.
The following month he escaped and crossed into Jugoslavia, but was recaptured after five days and returned to the camp. He escaped again, in November 1939, and made it to the Polish Embassy in Bucharest, Romania from where he was taken to the port of Constanta on the Black Sea and on to Beirut, Lebanon on board the Romanian ship Transylvania en route to Marseille, where he arrived on November 1939. He made it to the Polish depot at Lyon-Bron. On 20th January 1940, he set sail from Le Havre, France to Southampton, England. On arrival in England, he learned English and finally qualified as a radio operator and air gunner and was promoted to Sergeant.
He was assigned to 12 OTU at RAF Benson and on to RAF Penrith. On 7th April 1941 he was transferred to the newly formed 304 Squadron at RAF Syerston. It was here he teamed up with his permanent crew until the fateful mission to bomb Boulogne, France on the night of 28/29 May 1941. After completing the mission on Wellington bomber R1392, the aircraft was hit by flak which destroyed one engine. Amazingly the pilot recovered control of the aircraft, which was plummeting towards the sea, and they limped back to England on the remaining engine. One of the crew baled out over Boulogne and his body was never found. Sergeant Jozefiak and another crew member baled out over England and both were injured, Sergeant Jozefiak broke his leg and spent several months in Sussex County Hospital. He had been taken there by the local Home Guard, who initially mistook him for a German pilot. The pilot and the other two members of the crew were killed when the aircraft crashed at Darwell Hole, Sussex. Many years later, as an octogenarian, Stanislaw Jozefiak returned there and build a monument with his own hands. The brass plaque and Polish eagle were supplied and made by apprentices at Rolls Royce – who made the engines for the original Wellington bomber.
At the end of January 1942, he returned to his Squadron and flew, with various crews, a total of 53 missions – far more than the obligatory tour of 30 normally expected of aircrew. His targets were mostly ports and industrial cities in France and Germany (with Bomber Command) and then against submarines in the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay (with Coastal Command).
He then went on to RAF Blackpool, RAF Hucknall and various other RAF stations where he trained as a pilot flying Tiger Moths and Miles Masters. On 14th September 1944 he was assigned to 639 Squadron RAF which was an anti-aircraft co-operation unit, flying Hawker Hurricanes.
On 23rd January 1945, he moved to RAF Rednal where he flew Supermarine Spitfires, eventually moving, on 2nd June 1945, to 317 Vilnius Squadron, PAF and serving in Germany where he stayed until the dissolution of the squadron on 18th December 1946. He was promoted to Squadron Leader and was awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari and the Cross of Valour (three times).
On demobilisation he joined the Polish Resettlement Corps, finally becoming a civilian in 1949. He settled in the City of Derby, where he worked at a textile factory. In 1951, he took a job as a pilot with the American CIA but later returned to the factory, ending up as its head of security. Later he bought a furniture and carpet store which he ran until his retirement. At the time of writing, (January 2009) he still lives in Derby and maintains strong ties with Poland. In1996 he wrote his autobiography: “God, Honour and the Homeland”
Photographs kindly supplied by Stanislaw Jozefiak himself.

Friday, 9 January 2009

CO-OPERATION - THE KEY TO PRESERVING HISTORY

I have recently been contacted by another amateur historian who was seeking permission to use one of the photographs posted here. I don't hold the copyright so I had to e-mail the people who do. They answered immediately granting permission. This triangle of amateurs could teach the experts a lesson. In my researches I have been hampered or ignored by many of the so called experts; they are quite happy to accept information but very reluctant to pass it on. Of course, I don't mean ALL of the experts (but I do mean a majority of them.) I suppose some of them make money from publications and will do nothing to encourage competition - even non-profit genuine historians. Long live the amateur!

A HISTORY OF 304 SQUADRON

I have recently been contributing to a Polish forum and over 1,275 people have read my postings on 304 Squadron. The forum owners have decided to publish a short history of the Squadron on the associated website (in February, I think). I initially joined the forum with the intention of drawing on the knowledge of these Polish people to expand on what I have already learned; that was not successful but the interest shown has helped me achieve my other objective - to preserve the memory of thse brave Poles.

A LARGELY UNRECORDED LOSS


R1602 10th March 1942

This aircraft was unable to operate from its base at RAF Lindholme due to bad weather conditions and the extreme wet state of this aerodrome. It took off from RAF Swanton Morley on a mission to bomb the Krupp Works at Essen. Not all the aircraft were able to bomb the primary target but all did bomb military targets. On its return, P/O Alfred Osadzinski was forced to land at RAF Oakington because of fuel shortage. Whilst he and his crew were being debriefed, another incoming aircraft struck R1602 and both aircraft were destroyed in the ensuing fire. This is another loss that is largely ignored by many of the so called experts and is not listed as a loss on any of the major sites. It was an accidental loss but occurred at the end of a bombing mission, before the aircraft reached its home base and is arguably an operational loss.