BAK Sgt Franciszek P-794777 (also known as Frantisek Bonk)
He was born on 13th October 1923 at Vitazovce, Czechoslovakia) now Slovakia of a Polish father and Czech mother. As a young man he served on the Polish ship “Batory”. He was in the USA, probably New York, several weeks before America entered the war. At this time (October 1941, he appears to have volunteered to join the Polish forces in Great Britain.
Subsequently he came to this country and arrived at the Polish Depot at RAF Blackpool where he was selected for training as an airborne wireless operator. He underwent Radiotelegraphy basic training at RAF Blackpool then moved to RAF Cranwell Signal School for advanced training and then to RAF Evantone No 8 Air Gunner School in Scotland. He was then posted to 6OTU at RAF Thornaby on Tees.
His first operational posting was to 304 Squadron, on 14th May 1943, and flew many anti-submarine and convoy protection missions with them until 5th July 1944, when he returned to 6OTU, which had moved to RAF Silloth, as an instructor.
After re-training on the bigger, four engine, Handley Page Halifax he was sent to Naples, Italy on secondment to 301 Squadron (1586 Special Duties Flight) which was based at Brindisi and carried out Special Operations to Poland and resistance groups elsewhere in Europe. Within a month he was back in Britain at RAF Blackbushe. At this point he was ferrying supplies to allied forces in the Mediterranean. On 27th July 1945 his Vickers Warwick aircraft HG226 flew out of Italy, made a stopover in Athens and a second in Lyons, France. On the last leg to RAF North Weald, the Warwick encountered severe local electrical storms and was struck by lightning. It crashed near Chonas L’Amballan, France and the whole crew were killed.
The duality of his names appears to have arisen from his Polish/Czech origins rather than the usual desire to protect family members at home.