Saturday, 20 March 2010


He was born on 29th May 1916 in Dabrowa Gornicza and, on leaving school in 1937, he took a job as a clerk.  His father died young and there were several children to support but he was still conscripted into the army in 1938.  He asked to join the air force and was posted to the second Air Regiment in Krakow.  He trained as a ground radio mechanic and was assigned to a squadron of Karas but after war broke out he was evacuated to Romania where he was interned.
He escaped on the first day, crossed into Jugoslavia and reached the Polish Consulate in Belgrade.  As a serving airman, they assisted him to travel to Greece and then on to France by sea from Athens to Marseille, where he arrived on 23rd October 1939 and was moved on to the Polish Air Force base at Lyon-Bron.
Pomimo starań Kosinia o zwolnienie z służby wojskowej (zmarł jego ojciec, a rodzina liczyła kilkoro dzieci) w 1938 r. otrzymał powołanie Wyjechał do Grecji i 15 października 1939 r. na pokładzie polskiego statku "Pułaski" z Aten odpłynął do MarsHe was sent to Rennes to train as a radio telegrapher but was shipped out on the fall of France and went to Oran in Algeria.  From there he went to Casablanca and got on board a British ship which took him, via Gibraltar, to Glasgow.
He went to the Polish Depot in Blackpool from where he did further radio training at RAF Benson, the signal school at Yatesbury and finally to RAF Stormy Down in Wales where he was trained as an air gunner.  On his return to RAF Blackpool, he was posted to 18 OTU at RAF Bramcote.  There he trained on Wellington bombers and was assigned to 301 Squadron at RAF Hemswell.
With them he flew several missions to bomb French and German ports and industrial cities.  On one such mission, on 8th July 1942, his aircraft took off for Wilhelmshaven, Germany but one of the engines failed almost immediately and they crash landed at the air base.  The aircraft was damaged but the crew were safe.  For the next few weeks their targets were the industrial cities of Germany and these were the most heavily protected with night fighters and flak.
Late in August 1942, his aircraft had another engine failure and they had to turn back with a full load of bombs (which they would have preferred to jettison over the sea, for obvious reasons).  The landing was hard and the aircraft lost its undercarriage and belly landed on the runway.  Fortunately the bomb load did not explode and no one was seriously hurt.
Then it was back to normal with more missions to Germany and a few gardening expeditions.  Gardening is air force slang for sowing mines in the sea lanes outside German controlled ports.
On the night of 6th December 1942, they were bombing Mannheim, Germany and were damaged by anti-aircraft fire.  They were slowed down and were in the air almost seven and a half hours, which was too long for a Wellington.  They ran out of fuel and were ordered to bale out before the Wellington crashed into the sea near the English coast.  Kosina and two others survived but three of the crew died.  The normal routine was to fly 30 missions before retiring from operational flying and this was his 31st flight but the two engine failures did not count and he had to fly one more.  He flew the last mission in January 1943.
He worked on ground radio at RAF Hemswell until March 1943 when he moved to 18 OTU at RAF Finningley as an instructor, moving to 10 OTU at RAF Abington in the same capacity in December 1944.  He later moved to RAF Faldingworth and RAF Snaith.
At the end of the war he transferred to 304 Squadron and remained with them until December 1946, flying on their unarmed transport fleet of Warwicks and Halifaxes.  For a three month spell he was temporarily seconded to RAF Crosby on Eden where he trained on Dakota transports.  The reason for this is not totally clear as he was already flying on transports and did not need the kind of conversion training necessary for pilots.
On demobilisation he took a civilian job flying between the UK, India and Pakistan but, for family reasons, he gave that up and went to work for British Railways as a senior technician controlling rail traffic on a large section of track near central London.  He retired in 1983 and moved to Lincoln in eastern England.  After the war he travelled to Poland several times and finally retired therein his home town in October 2002.
Photo © www.polishairforce

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