Sunday, 21 March 2010

LESLAW ROMAN MIEDZYBRODZKI

He was born on 24th March 1912 and known to be in service with 304 Squadron on 8th July 1943.

At the relatively late age of 27, he had completed his University education and was working in a Polish Air Force maintenance depot whilst waiting to be called up for his national service.  On the day that war broke out, the depot was attacked and suffered extensive damage.  It was decided to move the whole unit further east – probably towards Lwow (now in the Ukraine) – to make it safer from German attack.  Before they reached their destination, Russia had attacked them from the east and the whole unit crossed into Romania.

Internment seemed inevitable but he made his way independently to the Polish Legation in Bucarest and volunteered to join the Polish Air Force in exile.  He was provided with a passport and sent by train to Belgrade where the Polish Air Attache endorsed his passport and sent him, via Italy, to France.

Whilst waiting to join the air force, France capitulated and he made his way to St Jean de Luz in the Pays Basque near Biarritz in France, very close to the Spanish border.  At this little harbour town he took passage on the Polish liner turned troop ship, Sobieski bound for Plymouth.  From there he went by train to Liverpool and spent his first days in England in a tented encampment on Aintree race course.

He went on to the Polish Depot at RAF Blackpool and then RAF Kirby where he was assigned to the newly formed 302 Squadron and sent to RAF Leconfield near Beverley in East Yorkshire, where he served as ground crew.  In 1941 he was sent for pilot training and flew Airspeed Oxford light bombers/trainers at No 16 Flying Training School, RAF Newton near Nottingham.  He gained some experience flying as a second pilot in an OTU and was then posted to 304 Squadron.

In May 1944, flying NZ-N, he attacked 2 U-Boats which he found on the surface and engendered the only ever 2 way battle between U-Boats and Polish aircraft.  One submarine was seriously damaged, as was the Wellington, but it was successful in getting back to Britain with no serious injury to its crew in spite of the rear turret being riddled with holes.  As well as other serious damage, there was a direct hit on the starboard wing which left a hole big enough for a man to pass through.
 
He found these U-Boats using the Leigh Light which was a very useful piece of equipment but its installation reduced the forward armament to a single machine gun.  In spite of suffering hits and a fire breaking out, he pressed on with the attack, taking no evasive action to avoid the flak.  He was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari Silver Cross, 5th class and the British Air Force Cross.  At the end of the war he was posted to the Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire where he worked as an engineer and test pilot and finally he was posted to RAF Farnborough and retired from the Royal Air Force in 1961.

He then went to work in the defence industry for Ferranti Systems again as an engineer and test pilot.  He finally retired in 1983.  He died in Edinburgh on 18th January 2001, shortly before his 89th birthday.

2 comments:

matt said...

I'm trying to contact Witold Miedzybrodzki regarding his father - could he please email me on mattm197@hotmail.com ?

matt said...

I'm trying to contact Witold Miedzybrodzki regarding his father - could he please email me on mattm1970@hotmail.com ? - I posted the wrong email here before