Saturday, 20 March 2010


He was born on 31st March 1914 at Nowy Sacz, Poland; at his senior school, he became interested in gliders and qualified as a glider pilot in 1932. He joined the army in September 1933 as a member of the infantry. He finally chose aviation and joined the aviation school in Deblin where he trained to fly and became a pilot instructor. He later moved to the school in Grudziadz from which he graduated in 1937 and was promoted to Second lieutenant and posted to 24 Squadron, attached to the 2nd Air Regiment in Krakow; in July 1939 he was transferred to 22 Squadron.

On the outbreak of war, he was evacuated to Romania where he was interned in camps at Frecatei, Slatinie and Effori. He escaped and made it through Jugoslavia to Greece where he boarded a ship to Marseille, France where he fought in bomber squadrons until he left for England where he first went to RAF Blackpool then, in August 1940, to RAF Bramcote. He had initially tried to escape by air, but failed and eventually got there by sea – unfortunately there are no details available.

He was posted to 304 Squadron in 1941 and took part, as co-pilot, on their first operational night mission to bomb the fuel tanks at Rotterdam. On the night of 2/3 August 1941 he set off on a mission from RAF Lindholme to bomb Hamburg but, because of fog and a shortage of fuel, he crash landed at RAF Hemswell. Due to the poor visibility he had not realised that it was an aerodrome. No one was hurt and the aircraft was repairable.

He remained with the Squadron until 15th May 1942 and flew 48 operational missions, well above the required 30. During this time, he flew on a raid to Rostock (24th April 1942) on which the pilot and an air gunner were injured by machine gun fire from a German fighter and the aircraft was badly shot up. He took over the controls and successfully belly landed the plane at RAF Lindholme. He then moved on to 18 OTU as an instructor.

After leaving the Squadron, he trained in special operations and on the night of 27/28 of April 1944 he went to Poland, parachuting into the Lublin area, probably from one of the Special Operations flights from Campo Casale, near Brindisi, in Italy - where he joined up with the Armia Krajowa and took part in resistance activities. He was one of the Cichociemni operating under the Special Operations Executive, where he operated under the code names Orczyk and Kord, after recovering from a leg injury incurred during the drop.

He was awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari by Air Vice Marshall Ujejski on 21st November 1941, the Cross of Valour (four times) and the British Distinguished Flying Cross which was approved on 5th September 1942. The citation reads:

“This officer has completed 18 of his operational minions as captain of aircraft and three as second pilot. He has participated in four raids on Cologne and in attacks on other important industrial targets in Germany; also in attacks on harbours in occupied countries. Only on one occasion has he failed to reach his main objective. Flying Officer Iszkowski has displayed excellent leadership and his determination, whatever the odds, has contributed materially to the successes achieved.”

After the liberation of Poland, by the Russians, he became one of the many victims of the Stalinist regime there. He came from a family of school teachers and, at the beginning of September 1944, he became a teacher in Lublin. By the end of 1944, he was arrested by the NKVD (KGB) and sentenced to death under trumped up political charges. This was eventually commuted to ten years in prison – of which he served two. He spent the next few years trying to earn a living but he was politically questionable and was removed from several key jobs including Instructor at the Gliding School. In 1956, he was completely rehabilitated and restored to the rank of major in the reserves – having been demoted to private in 1948.

After his rehabilitation, he again became active in the field of aviation - education and aviation sport. He played a major part in organizing the Aero Club, which was formed in 1957 at Podhalanski in Nowy Sacz. He played a major role in Polish aviation sport as a player, organiser and chairman of the committee of judges. He wrote several aviation training books and articles –including a training manual for bomber crews which he wrote in prison whilst still under sentence of death. He also wrote his memoirs, which were not completed and, regrettably, never published.

For his peace time service to aviation, after the war, he was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit in 1959. He died on 29th August 1962, at the early age of only 48, in Nowy Sacz and is buried there.

Photo courtesy of www.polishairforce

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