Thursday, 4 February 2010


He was born on 2nd January 1902 in Bolechowo near Dolina.  He attended an Officer Cadet School and just before Christmas 1918 he was taking part in the defence of Lvov whilst serving with the 1st Infantry Regiment.  The following February he went back to the Officer Cadet School at Krakow and passed out in May 1919.

He was promoted to Lieutenant on New Year’s Day 1920 and later that year served with 40th Infantry Regiment in Lvov.  He became a company commander and again fought in defence of Lvov.  In 1922 he retrained and took command of a balloon company in 5th Balloon Battalion at Brzest, a town on the Bug River, now on the border with Belarus.

For about 18 months from March 1924 he was in Bydgoszcz at a flying school and was then posted to the 6th Air Wing at Lvov.  In 1926 he attended a flying training course at an air school for officers in Grudjigdz and was later transferred to that school as commander of 4 Training Flight.  He then trained on a course for squadron commanders, returning to 6th Air Wing, as a tactical officer with 64 Flight, in 1930.  He later became its commander, until October 1937 when he became Squadron Commander at the Air Force Training Centre at Deblin until the outbreak of war.

When the Russians invaded Poland he was evacuated to Romania, crossing the border at Zalszczyki.  He boarded the ship Patris on 5th November 1939 and arrived in France a week later. He was put in command of a reserve squadron at the Polish Depot at Lyon-Bron, then in March 1940, moved to the training school at Blida near the base of the Atlas Mountains in Algeria, North Africa.

On the capitulation of France he moved to England and the Polish Depot at Blackpool, moving on to RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, where he had further training to prepare for combat.  From there, in 1941) he was assigned to 304 Squadron as a Flight Commander.  He was an active operational member of the squadron and not just a figure head.  In August 1941 he moved to 305 Squadron where he spent about nine months as Squadron Commander.  After this he became the chief training instructor at 18OTU at RAF Bramcote, Nottinghamshire.

His next move was to RAF Hemswell, in late 1942 or early 1943, where he became Polish Station Commander.  In August 1943 he became Polish Liaison Officer to Bomber Command where he stayed until April 1944 when he took over as Station Commander at RAF Faldingworth. 

He was demobilised in 1946 and settled in England.  From 1968 he was the President of the Polish Air Force Association, a post he held until his death on 16th August 1970 in London.

His military achievements and courage were recognised by Polish and British authorities alike.  He was awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari and the Cross of Valour (four times); the British awarded him the DFC and made him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Photo courtesy of Chris Kropinski

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