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.