Friday, 19 February 2010


Progress is a word that seems to have disappeared from my vocabulary at the moment.  I have entered one of those phases where nothing is happening.  The flow of information has dried up; I am in the paradoxical state of despair and optimism.  No information is forthcoming but I've been there before and it will come back.  In these times I get a bit depressed and think of the dozen, or so, people who have promised information and photographs and then ducked below the radar and turned up with nothing; I think of people I have contacted who have a potential bucket of information and totally ignore my approaches and I think of the people who have said that this is a well worthwhile project and then disappear.

But I am the eternal optimist and keep going.  OK Despair cancelled!  I still have a lot of information to post here and I'm not the first researcher to be frustrated.  The good news is that I have a potential publisher and this story can still be told.

No matter what, the memory of these brave Polish airmen will be on this site for a long time.  I care - do you?  If anyone out there can help, please contact me.

You may have noticed that I am doing these entries alphabetically (as and when I have time off work to make them).  Wait for Janicki, Jozefiak, Waroczewski and others and then you will see what I am driving at.

Friday, 5 February 2010


He was an air gunner, born on 19th July 1916 at Kiszki p. Biłgoraj.  He was posted in to the squadron on 3rd January 1942 and killed on Z1088 which disappeared on a mission to Cologne on 28th April 1942.  It is believed to have been shot down near Villers la Ville, Belgium.  He had previously survived the crash landing of DV437 on 12th April 1942.  He is buried in Charleroi Communal Cemetery.

Photograph courtesy of Aircrew Remembrance Society


He was born on 14th February 1922 in Ostroleka, 100 kms north of Warsaw , the seventh child of the family. He was brought up on the family farm at Susk Stary. He was educated locally right up to the outbreak of WWII in 1939. Then the farm and the family found themselves first under the Nazi German occupation force from the west and then under Soviet Russian forces of occupation from the east.

In June 1941 the family was deported to Siberia . They were put on a train in cattle wagons without food. The journey lasted for two weeks until they reached Topchikha, not far from the city of Novosibirsk . There, KGB officials told them they were second class citizens and they were not to mix socially with local Russians. They were not prisoners but they worked "under direction" on a huge collective farm on a starvation diet - right through the winter of 1941 when temperatures reached -30 degrees centigrade. 

In mid 1942 he managed to slip away without any travel permits to try to join the Polish Free Army at Tashkent in the very south of the Soviet Union, today's Uzbekistan . Several times as he moved from train to train he just, almost miraculously, avoided arrest - which would certainly have meant a concentration camp in the Gulags; he lost his wallet and more importantly his identity papers. But he had that real sense that God was with him and that he was being protected. On and off trains for a week, with only fruit he could scavenge to eat, he crossed present day Kazakhstan until he finally reached the city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

This was to be the new start for his war. He was issued with new identity papers but because of a clerical error he found himself, like our Queen, with two birthdays – his official birthday 15th February as stated on his identity document and his real birthday 14th February

He joined up in Tashkent and he signed on for pilot training. He was sent to a transit training camp but conditions became awful as his group waited on the Caspian Sea coast for a crossing to Persia (now Iran ). No shelter, horrendous sun beating down and they were sold badly polluted drinking water which brought on serious dysentery from which he thought he would die - and a number of his comrades did die there. When he reached Palhavi in Persia he was almost unconscious; but an army buddy carried him the four kilometres to the camp hospital.

Later and still somewhat weak he travelled over the hills from Persia into Iraq where he found the Arabs friendly and welcoming. Next a train down to the port of Basra where he was seriously ill again with jaundice. Then a boat down the Gulf to Pakistan. For two months he was in Karachi before being put on a boat to Bombay in India . Finally he was put on a vessel to England via Durban in South Africa . It was the `Empress of Canada' passenger liner turned into a troop ship. It carried this Polish army and air force contingent as well as Greek refugees. However travelling up the coast of West Africa it was torpedoed by the Italian submarine, Leonardo da Vinci, and on 13 March 1943, he was shipwrecked. Defective lifeboats led to 400 deaths but Dad found himself on board an over-full lifeboat and he watched as the Empress of Canada went down like the Titanic before his eyes. For four days the ocean current took them 200 miles through shark-infested waters until they were sighted, picked up and taken to Freetown, Sierra Leone - and eventually on to Liverpool.

He, like the proverbial cat, had nine lives and he'd probably gone through at least five before reaching Britain at the age of 21. There followed billeting at the Polish Depot in Blackpool where he learned English; then Cranwell for radio telegraphy training.

He first flew on old Wellington bombers where yet again he had a narrow escape over the Solway Firth in Scotland when the plane nearly hit a mountain on a night training exercise. For the rest of the war he was with 304 (Polish) Squadron, part of Coastal Command, based first at RAF Benebecula in the Outer Hebrides off the West coast of Scotland and then at RAF St Eval in  Cornwall, two very remote outposts with few amenities and Arctic weather in winter.  He served as an air gunner and radio operator.

He and his wife Jean married in 1947 and after his demobilisation he was offered a training course as a Painter and Decorator.  He soon set up in business on his own, with a handcart and with Len his apprentice, trading as `Ted Fieldon'. He went on to become a painting and decorating contractor employing over 20 men at one stage. In 1963, together with his cousin Joseph, he bought Preston's bakery in Normanton High Street. With his insistence on investment in modern ovens and baking equipment it became a successful enterprise.

His first 12 years in Britain were really years in exile from Poland ; but when it became clear that the Communist regime was there to stay he applied for British citizenship and, like his sons, enjoyed dual - British and Polish – nationality. Yet, as early as 1959, with great courage he travelled overland to visit his family in Poland . Following warnings from the Foreign Office neither he nor his wife were really sure he would be able to get back safely. But he did; and in the early 1960s he twice took the whole family to Poland in a Ford Thames dormobile. He eventually saved up to have a house built in Warsaw and from the mid 1970s till the end of the 1990s he spent almost every summer holidaying in his former homeland of Poland.

He had many health crises over the years with angina, an aneurism, terrible stomach ulcers, and bouts of pneumonia and it's a remarkable feat to have reached 87 years. Some would put it down to the golf which he loved and played several times a week till almost the very end.  Bronchial pneumonia exacerbated by emphysema and long term lung damage finally overcame him and he died on 16th October 2009 at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, Yorkshire.

The photographs are by kind permission of his son, Julian Filochowski


He was a pilot, born on 22nd October 1916. Before the war he was a technical officer in the Polish Army but joined the Air Force in January 1938.

He fought in the September Campaign and subsequently made his way to France where he fought with the French Air Force until France capitulated and he escaped to Britain.

It was whilst he was in the army camp in Gloucester that he volunteered for the Air Force in July 1940. He attended Flying Training Schools and was promoted to Flying Officer in September 1941. In April 1942 he joined 18OTU and 3 Air Gunnery School and then in November 1943 he was posted to 304 Squadron where he stayed until the end of the war He is known to have attacked a German U-Boat on 20th February 1945 but was unable to confirm the extent of any damage. During his time with the squadron he was seconded to 6OTU at RAF Silloth in Cumberland (now Cumbria) between April and July of 1944. He was demobilised in April 1945, just days before the end of the war and at this time, he had flown 44 operational missions. He had won the Cross of Valour and the Polish Air Force Medal three times each.

He survived the war and immediately afterwards took a degree at the University of London; he emigrated to Canada in about 1974 and lived in Toronto, Ontario. After the war he became a writer and produced several non-fiction books and novels based on his wartime experiences.


This has reminded me that I do not have photographs of all the airmen. If anyone can help with photographs or information, please do so.  The most important thing is to remember these brave men and their contribution to our lasting freedom.


He was a pilot, born on 14th October 1911. He was posted to 304 Squadron on 14th February 1942.  This was after an incident in which a fire broke out in the bomb bay of Wellington R1610 on 7th February 1942 and he baled out successfully.

He was killed on X9829 which was shot down by a night fighter near the estuary of the River Ems close to Manslagt, during a raid on Rostock on 24th April 1942.  Luftwaffe records show that it was shot down by Hauptman Hans-Georg Schutze. He flew with 4/NJG2; shot down and confimed Wellington 304 squadron X9829 at 03.37 hrs over the River Ems near Pilum, 15 kilometres North West of Emden.  Hauptman Schutze was killed shortly afterwards in air combat on the 17/18th May 1942. He was credited with 5 kills, this Wellingtom was his 4th.  He is buried at the Sage War Cemetery, Oldenburg, Germany.


He was born on 5th March 1905 at Filipowo near Suwalki, Poland.  In September 1939 he was a tactical officer in the Polish 10th Bomber Division and he was involved in two missions dedicated to attacking German armoured divisions.  Following the invasion of Poland he escaped to France and subsequently England.  Once here, he was allocated to 12 OTU and then transferred to 18 OTU in December 1940 and the following month he trained as a navigator at the Air Observer and Navigator School.  He returned to 18 OTU in September 1941.   

He was posted in to 304 Squadron on 1st April 1942, as an observer, from 18 OTU RAF Bramcote and he was killed on DV441, flying out of RAF Lindholme, which was shot down over the sea by a fighter, during a raid on Bremen on 26th June 1942.  His was the only body found from this aircraft and it has been suggested that he was given a military burial at sea (perhaps he was picked up by an outbound German vessel?).  I have seen several reports that his body was recovered but I cannot find him in any of the military burial sites, so this story may well be true.  In Tadeusz Krzystek’s famous list of Polish Airmen, it states that the Red Cross advised that his body was washed ashore on 1st July 1942 and he was given a funeral at sea with full military honours.

The ORBs from 300 Squadron suggests that he flew three missions with them between February and April 1941.


He was born on 4th June 1899 in Lvov.  He joined the army and fought in the Polish-Bolshevik war.  He graduated as an officer and then opted to join the Air Force.  He attended the flying school in Bydgoszcz then returned to Lvov with the 6th Air Wing. Between 1927 and 1932 he commanded 64 and then 63 Flights.  At the beginning of the war he escaped to France via Romania and became to the 3rd Air Group before moving on to England.

He joined 10OTU then moved to 304 Squadron.  On 22nd December 1940 he took over as Squadron Commander but remained an operational flier and took part in their first operational mission to bomb the fuel tanks at Rotterdam the following summer (24th April 1941).

On 13th November 1941 he moved on to take command of No16 Flying Training School and between April 1943 and November 1945 he held the same position with 18OTU.  He then became Polish Liaison Officer to the RAF and Bomber Command.

After the war he settled in England and died on 22nd February 1974 in London; he was cremated at Mortlake crematorium, Richmond, Surrey.

He flew many operational missions and he was awarded the Cross of Valour, for bravery in action, by Air Vice Marshal Ujejski on 28th June 1941 and won it again on two further occasions.  He was also awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari.


©ARS Group

He was a navigator/air gunner, born on 10th August 1912 and killed when R1443 was shot down on 6th May 1941 by a night fighter near Le Havre, France.  He was posthumously awarded the Cross of Valour, for bravery in action, by Air Vice Marshal Ujejski on28th June 1941; he was also a recipient of the Order of Virtuti Militari fifth class.  Immediately before the war he was a member of 21 Eskadra Bombowa Lekka, flying mainly in PZL23B Karas.

Photograph courtesy of the Aircrew Remembrance Society


He was a radio operator/air gunner, born on 23rd November 1917.  He was killed on the way to an anti-submarine sweep when HX384 was struck by ferocious cross winds on 12th August 1942.  It was blown over the cliffs by the runway at RAF Dale.  He is buried at Newark upon Trent Cemetery.  He was awarded the Krzyz Walechznych (Cross of Valour) by Air Vice Marshal Ujejski on 21st November 1941 and won this medal on two other occasions.  He also won the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari.

Photograph courtesy of Aircrew Remembrance Group

Thursday, 4 February 2010


He was a mechanic and was born on 25th May 1918 in Bochnia, a small town in Southern Poland, about 35 kilometres from Krakow.  Shortly before the war he joined the army and was assigned to the 2nd Air Regiment in Krakow and on the outbreak of war he was among the first to be hit by the Luftwaffe bombing campaign as his airfield was destroyed.

He crossed the border into Romania and was immediately interned and marched to a camp at Pitesti, a major  city in the Wallachia region.  After some time there, he heard that the British and French were recruiting air and ground crew and he made his escape.  He was caught and returned to the camp where he was subjected to severe punishment.  Shortly afterwards he escaped again.  This time he was successful and made his way by sea to Beirut, Lebanon.

From there he went to Haifa in Palestine (now Israel) and on to Alexandria in Egypt.  Ultimately he made it to Marseilles and was posted to Le Bourg with many other Poles.  His next moves are unclear but he came to England and spent three months at RAF Eastchurch, learning English and doing initial training on British aircraft.

He was sent to the Polish Depot at RAF Blackpool and was allocated to 304 Squadron ground crew at RAF Syerston.  He stayed with the squadron during most of its time in Coastal Command and transferred to 663 Artillery Observation Squadron, based in Italy, probably in the summer of 1944.  By this  time he appears to have been aircrew although it is not certain whether he was a pilot or an observer, flying in unarmed Auster planes.  He stayed in Italy until 1946 when he returned to Britain.

After the war he settled in Britain and worked in the motor industry until he retired in 1984.  He died in Devon on 23rd November 2008.


He served as Sergeant Ryszard Tadeusz Sniezkowski (probably to protect family still living in Poland).  He was born in Galicia, Poland on 6th April 1917 and fought with the Polish army and air force before he escaped to France when the Russians invaded.  When France capitulated in 1940 he came to Britain and volunteered for the RAF in Liverpool.  He served with 304 and 307 Squadrons (flying Bristol Beaufighters and Vickers Wellingtons) before joining No 10 Air Gunnery School at Walney Island, Barrow in Furness.  He led a charmed life from the very start; he was just coming in to land at an aerodrome in Poland when a German bomber dropped three bombs across his path but they all failed to explode.  In December 1941 he was seriously injured when the engine on his Beaufighter failed on a patrol over the Solent in Hampshire.  It took him a year to recover and then he was posted to the Air Gunnery School.  The Polish Government in exile awarded him the Cross of Merit.

After the war he worked for Leyland Motors in Preston, Lancashire; he maintained his interest in aviation and was involved with crash site investigations and recovering the wreckage of downed planes.  He last handled the controls of an aeroplane at the age of 89 and died at Preston on 2nd January 2009 aged 91.


He was born on 11th March 1910 in Wilno (Vilnius, Lithuania) and on 12th April 1929 he was conscripted into the Air Force and posted to the Air Force Officer Training School in Deblin.  He decide to make a career of it and, in  May 1931, he enlisted as a regular and was sent to the Flying Training School in Bydgoszcz where he graduated as a pilot.  His first posting was to the 6th Air Wing in Lvov and during his time with them he attended the Advanced Flying Training course at Grudziadz..  He then studied at the Infantry Officer Cadets School at Bydgoszcz where he was posted to Pilot Officer and then Flying Officer.  He flew with 2nd Air Wing (21 and 22 Combat Flights) in Krakow.

At the beginning of the war he was flying in bombers.  He escaped to France, via Romania, and became a flying instructor at Rennes before making his way to England where he did conversion training to Wellington Bombers at RAF Bramcote with 304 Squadron.

He was a Flight Commander and, on 16th August 1942, he became Squadron Commander.  He held this position until 28th January 1943 when he was posted to the Air Academy and joined the Polish Inspectorate .

He was an active flier as well as the Squadron Commander.  He took part in a bombing raid on Hanover on 26th January 1942.  In May 1942, he and his co-pilot received a commendation for bravery for an incident that occurred on 24th April of that year.  The aircraft they were flying was severely damaged by machine gun and cannon fire from a fighter over Rostock.  The aircraft was out of control and Squadron Leader  was wounded.  They managed to regain control and limp home.  In spite of the undercarriage and the hydraulic system being unserviceable, they made a successful belly landing at RAF Lindholme, without further injuries to the crew.  This occurred during a visit to the station by General Sikorski, head of Polish forces.  The commendation was signed by Air Vice Marshall Ronald Graham.  He was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari on 21st November 1941 by Air Vice Marshal Ujejski.  He had earlier been awarded the Cross of Valour.  The text of the citation:


The Commander-in-Chief wishes to bring to the notice of all ranks in the Command the courage and determination and skilful airmanship displayed by Acting Squadron Leader K. CZETOWICZ and Flight Sergeant ZIOLKOWSKI, K., both of No. 304 (Polish) Squadron.

On the night of 24th April, 1942, this officer and N.C.O. were Captain and 2nd Pilot respectively of a Wellington 1C aircraft detailed to carry out an operational flight to Rostock. On the outward journey a surprise attack was made on the aircraft by an enemy fighter which opened fire with machine gun and cannon, wounding the rear gunner in the arm. The Captain, while at the controls, also received wounds in the right arm as the result of which he momentarily lost control of the aircraft, but by great effort, and despite the pain he was suffering, he managed to regain control at 12,000ft.

Control of the aircraft, which had been rendered very difficult by the extensive damage sustained, was then taken over by the second pilot, the bombs jettisoned by the Navigator, and course was set for base. Despite the heavy damage which had rendered the hydraulic system and the undercarriage unserviceable, the second pilot made a successful belly-landing without further injury to the crew. The safe return of the aircraft to base can only be attributed to the
fortitude and great skill shown by both the Captain and 2nd Pilot.

He was awarded the DFC on 5th September 1942, citation:

“This officer has completed all his missions as captain of aircraft and his determination in the face of strong enemy opposition or in adverse weather has contributed to the successes attained. He has taken part in five raids on Cologne and three on Bremen besides numerous other important enemy targets. He has set a splendid example to all.”

There is another citation drafted on 26th April 1942:

“Squadron Leader Czetowski continues to display skilful airmanship and judgement and has proved himself to be an ideal Flight Commander. On four occasions his aircraft has been damaged by anti-aircraft fire before reaching the target, but undeterred he has completed his missions and pressed home his attacks. He has displayed skill and courage of a high standard.”

There is no evidence of an award following this citation, either a bar to the DFC or another award.  In addition to the previously mentioned awards, he also won the Cross of Valour on four occasions

After the war he settled in England and is believed to have changed his name to Cunningham; he died in London on 25th January 1983 and was cremated at Enfield, Hertfordshire.


He was born on 28th March 1918 at Potapowicze, Poland (now Belarus).  In 1938 he graduated from the School of Aviation in Bydgoszcz. W 1939 walczył przeciwko nacierającym Niemcom. In September 1939 he fought against the Germans during the invasion of Poland and when his unit was disbanded, he went east to try to rescue his family. W czasie próby ratowania swojej rodziny został schwytany przez Rosjan i osadzony w obozie sowieckim gdzie spędził kilka lat. He was captured by the Russians and spent some time in a prison camp.

His escape route is unknown but he was probably one of those released by the Russians to join Anders’ army before making his way to Britain.

He served briefly as a wireless operator and air gunner with 304 Squadron (known to be in service on 8th July 1943) and later with 301 Squadron and 138 (Special Duties) Squadron and flew about 60 operational missions

He was based at RAF Brindisi and was on board Handley Page Halifax bomber JP283 (GR-G) which was shot down by a night fighter over Hungary, near Szantes about 150 kilometres from Budapest, on 2nd August 1944 whilst on a supply drop to the Polish resistance network – in support of the Warsaw Uprising.  He baled out and was injured and became a Prisoner of War.  He was captured by the Hungarians and handed over to the Germans and ultimately released by the British Army in 1945.  He had survived the Nazi enforced 700 mile Death March through Northern Germany during the winter of 1944/45; many hundreds of airmen died along the way.  Because of his escape by parachute he became a member of the Caterpillar Club – eligible only to those whose life had been saved by a parachute.

He survived the war but could not return to Russian occupied Poland and settled in England, where he became an aviation engineer and a test pilot.  He worked for Rockwell Collins in the field of aviation electronics, working on the design and installation of autopilots, gyros and navigation equipment.

He emigrated to Iowa, USA in 1966 and was appointed by the US Department of State to conduct research into autopilots.  During the Nixon administration he was involved in the installation of an autopilot on Air Force One.

He died on 8th April 2009 and is buried at Sharon Hill Cemetery, Kalona, Iowa.


He was a navigator, born on 20th November 1899.  He was appointed to Acting Squadron Leader on 1st May 1942 and temporary Commander of B Flight. 

The first attack on a U-Boat by a Polish bomber is believed to have been by the crew of Flight Lieutenant  Buczma on 26th May 1942 and the British Admiralty recorded it as probable damage.

His exploits earned him the Order of Virtuti Militari for courage in battle.  He survived the war and died on 5th February 1980 in Poland.


He survived the war and made the transition to Transport Command (still with 304 Squadron) where their new function was transporting food and medical supplies to Greece and Jugoslavia.  Whilst doing this  he was in an accident on a routine training flight.  On 18th January 1946 the Vickers Warwick in which he was flying caught fire on  landing at RAF Chedburgh, Sussex.

The pilot, W/O Bojarczuk, was killed but W/O Borek and W/O Zurek survived.  Mieczyslaw was pulled from the burning aircraft with his clothes on fire.  He suffered a badly broken right leg and the tendons in his right ankle were severed.  He was sent to a convalescent unit at RAF Colleton Cross in Devon.  He remained there until his discharge from the Air Force on 11th April 1947 after which he became part of the Polish Resettlement Corps.

He married an English girl in 1952 and raised a family over the coming years.  In 1955 he moved to Bristol where he trained as an aircraft engineer.  In the mid 1970s he qualified as a teacher and followed that profession until he retired.  Subsequently he did voluntary work as an  interpreter for the United Nations in Bristol.  He was one of those presented with Maundy Money by the Queen at a ceremony in Bristol Cathedral.  He was known to be living in Cadbury Heath, Bristol in 2009

Photograph courtesy of Mike Borek


He was a wireless operator and air gunner, born on 1st November 1911 at Warsaw.  He was awarded the Order of the Virtuti Militari Silver Cross, 5th Class whilst serving with 304 Squadron.   On completion of his tour he was posted to 6OTU at RAF Thornaby on Tees as an Instructor on 13th December 1942.  He was later transferred to 301 Squadron.  He was killed whilst on special duties with 138 Squadron delivering supplies to the French Resistance on Operation Roach 94/92.  On 13th July 1943 his Handley Page Halifax JD155 (NF-M) was shot down at Chateau de Lillebec near St Paul sur Risle, France and he is buried in Pont Audemer Cemetery, France in a collective grave.

Photograph courtesy of Aicrew Remembrance Society


He was an air gunner/radio operator born in July 1914 in Tarnow and he was mobilised in 1939.  Shortly afterwards he was evacuated to Romania and from there, via France, to England.  He trained as a radio telegraphist and was assigned to 304 Squadron, with whom he flew two operational missions and was known to be in service on 8th July 1943.  He was promoted to Warrant Officer and transferred to 301 squadron, serving on special duties.  He was killed on 17th August 1944 when Handley Page Halifax JP220 had both starboard engines shot away by flak or fighters over Warsaw and the port engines overheated causing it to crash land, hitting farm buildings at Debina near Bochnia.

They had been dropping supplies to support the Warsaw Uprising.  At least some of the crew survived and were spirited back to England by the Armia Krajowa  (local resistance) via Odessa but Bohanes had baled out and was machine gunned by a night fighter on his descent.  He had already won the Cross of Valour four times but was awarded the  Order of the Virtuti Militari Silver Cross 5th class posthumously for this mission.  He is buried in the British Cemetery at Krakow, Poland.  I have seen several reports saying that local people and family members covered his grave with flowers at the time of the funeral; he died very close to his home.  In an incredibly risky mark of respect, soldiers of the local Armia Krajowa resistance fired a volley over his grave.

On 1st August 2004 a ceremony of remembrance was held at the site of his crash and it was attended by many, including Ludwik Krempa, a former 304 Squadron pilot.

Memorial to Stefan Bohanes, near the scene of the crash


He was a pilot, born on 14th March 1919 and survived the accidental crash of R1268 on 14th December 1940 at West Edmondsley, Co Durham although he suffered quite extensive injuries when this Wellington Mk1c ploughed into trees on a hillside after successfully avoiding a farmhouse.  At some point, he transferred to 300 Squadron and was serving at RAF Hemswell in 1941/42 as part of the crew of the “Assam Bomber I” BH-T (?), a Wellington that was bought by subscription by the people of Assam in North East India.  He is also known to have been in the crew of BH-W.  He is recorded in 300 Squadron ORB as being posted to 18 OTU on 27th March 1942, possibly on completion of his tour of duty or on temporary assignment. He was a recipient of the Order of Virtuti Militari on 7th September 1942 and is known to have survived the war and emigrated to Canada, probably in 1948.


He was born on 4th February 1904 at Winnica Podole. He trained as a pilot at the Aviation Cadet School in Deblin and graduated on 15th August 1933 as a Second Lieutenant and was attached to 6th Air Regiment as an observer. Between 17th May and 6th October 1934 he was back on the strength of the Cadet School to complete his training at the Squadron Pilot School in Sadkow.

He fought in the September Campaign between 1st and 16th September 1939 and was then evacuated to Romania, then on to France, and finally to Great Britain where he eventually joined 304 Squadron.

On 16th December 1941 he took off in Vickers Wellington R1064 from RAF Lindholme, in Lincolnshire, on a mission to bomb the docks at Ostend in Belgium. His aircraft was seen to plunge into the sea and the whole crew perished; the cause remains a mystery. His was one of the four bodies recovered and he was buried in the Duinkerken Town Cemetery, France.

He was posthumously awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari on 21st November 1941 by Air Vice Marshal Ujejski for bravery in action. He also won the British Distinguished Flying Cross for courage and exemplary leadership after twenty bombing missions over France, Germany and Continental Europe (more than 120 hours). This was recommended on 31st July 1941 by Air Vice Marshall Oxland.


An informal pre-war photo
Photo courtesy of Aircrew Remembrance Society
DFC Recommendation courtesy of Chris Kropinski
Informal photo courtesy of Lech Blazejewski


He was born into a privileged family on 16th June 1897 in Krakow.  In 1916 he was conscripted into the 57th Infantry Regiment of the Austro-Hungarian army, spending come time as a cadet in the Officer training school at Opava, later serving on the Russian and Italian fronts.  He was captured and spent two years as a Prisoner of War.

In November 1918 he joined General Hallera’s “Blue Army” and by 1920 he was a Company Commander of the 48th Infantry Regiment in the Polish-Bolshevik War, eventually being posted to the 11th Infantry Division.

In May 1925 he crossed over to the Air Force with the 2nd Air Regiment and then the 3rd Air Regiment where he trained as a pilot.  His military career trail is confusing and he appears to have spent some of this time back with his old regiment.  In May 1926 he graduated from the flying school at Bydgoszcz  and was posted to the 11th Fighter Wing at Lida.  On 14th July 1928 he became Commanding Officer of 113 fighter squadron and later 121 squadron (2nd Fighter Wing) at Krakow. 

He was seriously injured at an air show in Katowice in May 1930 when he crashed whilst performing low level aerobatics.  He took a long time to recover and was unable to continue as a fighter pilot.  He suffered another crash in 1935 but his injuries were relatively minor and he eventually took over as Commander of two squadrons of light reconnaissance P23 Karas.  In 1938 he graduated from the Warsaw Air Academy

At the outbreak of war he was involved in reconnaissance and bombing missions against German tanks and artillery, in command of 2nd Bomber Squadron and on 7th September 1939 his crew shot down a Messerschmidt Bf109 fighter.  He eventually fled to France (Lyon-Bron) via Romania and Beirut.  There are unconfirmed references to him being interned in Romania and escaping.  The capitulation of France forced him and his men to escape again,  this time via Morocco to Glasgow.  He trained at RAF Blackpool then moved to RAF Bramcote as the first Commander of 304 Squadron, a position he held from August 1940 until December 1940 when he left following differences with the British advisor.  During this time he trained his crews on Fairy Battles and left the squadron just as they were converting to Vickers Wellingtons. 

He became Polish Liaison Officer at 25 Flying Training Group (RAF) but disliked being a desk jockey and requested to be sent back to the Squadron as a pilot; in January 1943 he got his wish and became second pilot to Squadron Leader Ladro.  He was involved in the battle in which they fought off four Ju88s and was wounded in the leg in that skirmish and it was to be his last combat mission.  At this time, he was the oldest active pilot in the Polish Air Force - aged 46.

In mid-1943 he went to Scotland to set up and command a training centre for Special Operations in which he, and other Polish airmen experienced in German aircraft trained the mechanics of 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight - nicknamed RAFwaffe - to maintain captured German aircraft and to salvage spares from crashed planes.  He was later active in these Polish special operations, moving to Italy in 1944 and parachuted into Poland, on the night of 27th April 1944, near Lublin where he took a high rank in the Armia Krajowa and was code named Kadlub.   He was eventually captured and imprisoned by the Russians (NKVD).

After the war he returned to Poland and lived there until his death on 2nd October 1984, aged 87.  In 1952 he was arrested, and imprisoned for several months, by the secret police.  He is buried in Bytom Municipal Cemetery.

He won many gallantry medals; the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari, the Cross of Valour (four times), the Gold Cross of Merit with Swords, the Silver Cross of Merit and the Cross of the Home Army.

Photograph courtesy of www.polishairforce