Saturday, 20 March 2010


He was born in Cieszyn in South Western Poland on 10th October 1921.  He made his way to France as a 16 year old potential flying cadet – he was actually pretending to be a displaced cadet.  In fact he claimed to be a trainee pilot in Poland and conspired with others to gain basic knowledge of procedures in the training school and to support him in his pretence.  In this way he hoped to bluff his way into the Polish Air Force; he succeeded in this but failed the medical due to a heart problem.  He switched identities with his friend Eugeniusz Jaworski who also, fraudulently re-took the medical for him.  Their duplicity was not discovered for many months and it is not clear what their punishment was (they both expected to be kicked out of the Air Force) but they were both retained as operational pilots.  Probably because they were desperately short of pilots by the time they were discovered.

When France capitulated, he made his way to St Jean de Luz, a small port in the Basque country, very close to the Spanish border.  From there he took passage on the Arandora Star to Glasgow, arriving there on 28th June 1940.  He was sent to RAF Weeton near Preston in Lancashire and was then posted to RAF Northolt where he acted as ground crew for six weeks before being moved to the flying training school at RAF Carlisle.  After basic training, he went to RAF South Cerney to train on two engine bombers.

In October 1941 he went to the Air Gunnery Training School at RAF Morpeth near Newcastle upon Tyne then on to RAF Blackpool for navigator training.  Finally, in August 1942, he was given his first operational posting to 304 Squadron at RAF Dale.  He remained with them for the rest of his service, flying many anti- submarine missions over the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay, more than once returning in a badly shot up aircraft.  He was a man of very diminutive physical stature and it is amazing that he could handle an aircraft as big, heavy and difficult to handle as a Wellington.  After the war he continued with the squadron ferrying supplies to Italy and Greece in unarmed Warwicks and Halifaxes.

During his time with the Squadron, he spent some time seconded to 60OTUwhere he combined his training with further operational missions.

Sadly, his friend (with whom he had switched identities) Eugeniusz Jaworski was killed in a flying accident on 27th April 1944.

In 1984 he wrote his memoirs “No Place to Land” but stopped before his demobilisation and little is known of him once out of the Air Force.  His book was published whilst Poland was still under Russian domination and names were suppressed to protect airmen who had returned to Poland and families of those who had not, so it provides little information.

During his time with the Squadron he was awarded the order of Virtuti Militari.  He survived the war and died in Chester on 17th February 2002.


sue said...

I was married to Joe having met him in 1968 when he was a Senior Research Scientist at ICI, Runcorn. After the war he had married and gone to Canada gaining a Degree at McGill University. He returned to this country to begin work at ICI. His passion was mountain walking - I don't think he would have been very pleased as being described as 'of very diminutive stature' as I am 5'7" and he was taller than me by several inches! I would be happy to share information with anyone who is interested - I would like to find out who put this original information up. Sue

ARCHIVE said...


I got the information on his diminutive size from his own book. Perhaps this was meant only from when he started out as a 16 year old and I have misinterpreted it. Please contact me on I would like to add the post war information to the blog. He was a fascinating man