Thursday, 15 January 2009



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.