Saturday, 3 April 2010

ZDZISLAW STANISLAW PIECZYNSKI




He was a radio operator, born on 28th April 1916 at Sulejów p. Piotrków  and posted in on 12th April 1942 from 18 OTU RAF Bramcote as a wireless operator and air gunner.  He was killed on Z1088 which disappeared on a mission to Cologne on 28th April 1942.  It is believed to have been shot down near Villers la Ville, Belgium.  He is buried in the Charleroi Communal Cemetery.  He was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari.
Photo © ARS Group

ZYGMUNT STANISLAW PIECHOWIAK

He was a radio operator, born on 4th April 1920 and was posted in from 18 OTU RAF Bramcote on 27th April 1942.  He was a crew member of a Wellington that was jumped by 6 Ju88 fighters whilst on anti-submarine patrol near Bishop Rock on 16th September 1942.  In a 12-15 minute battle, fought at 30 feet above sea level, this crew destroyed one enemy plane, saw large pieces break off the tailplane of another and scored hits on three more.  In return they had a two yard square section of wing torn off by cannon fire and their petrol tank was pierced.  They managed a power climb into the clouds and the action was broken off.  He was killed on R1413 which was shot down by three Junkers Ju88 German fighters of V/KG40 on 16th October 1942, whilst on patrol over the Bay of Biscay.

The fatal blow was delivered by Uffizier Steurich on the second attack after R1413’s rear gunner had knocked out one engine on the first attack by  Leutnant Dieter Meister, putting him out of the combat.

WLADYSLAW PATLEWICZ


He was an air gunner, born on 20th January 1915 and known to have been a member of 304 Squadron on 16th December 1942 but transferred to 138 Squadron at RAF Tempsford.  On 17th September 1943 his Halifax bomber BB309 was shot down at Slagille, Denmark on its way back from Poland.  The mission was part of Operation Neon 3 which involved successfully dropping weapons and two agents into occupied Polish territory.  They were detected by the German Radar Station “Seehund” and a Junkers Ju88 night fighter was scrambled and shot the Halifax down.  It crashed into a house, killing three adults and two children but six other children miraculously survived.

Four of the crew were killed instantly, one died later of his  injuries (severe burns) and another suffered a broken arm and leg but escaped from the hospital, with the help of the local Resistance, to neutral Sweden three weeks later.   There was an immediate burial of the dead in shallow graves in the church yard without a service much to the chagrin of the local priest.  He arranged for them to have a proper burial with a Christian service rendered in English.  The expenses, including coffins and flowers, were covered by A.P Moller, a Danish shipping magnate.

The German fighter, flown by Lieutenant Richard Burdyna from IV/NJG3, also crashed.  One report claims that it was hit by return fire from the Wellington, but the general consensus is that the aircraft was circling the wreckage and flew into power cables, killing the pilot and his two crewmen.  The Polish dead are buried in Slagille Kirkegaard Cemetery, Denmark and the German crew were interred in Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The seventh member of the crew, Sergeant  Roman Puchala, suffered only minor head injuries and escaped across the fields and was sheltered on a local farm, where he was captured after a few hours. He was initially taken to Dulag Luft, a Luftwaffe transit camp  near Frankfurt am Main, Germany for interrogation and then on to Stalag Luft VI Gross Tychow, near Tychowo, Poland..  Finally, he went to Stalag 357 at Fallingbostel  in Lower Saxony, Germany. 

KONRAD PASKIEWICZ

He was posted in to the squadron on 20th March 1941 and promoted to Flight Sergeant on 12th February 1942.  He survived the crash landing of R1002 (NZ – L) on 15th July 1941 near Stiffkey, Norfolk, which was hit by flak on a mission to Bremen. He also survived the crash landing of R1697 at RAF Lindholme on 24th April 1942.  The aircraft jettisoned its bombs from 16,500 feet over Flensburg, following a surprise attack by a Messerschmidt Me110 fighter.  The aircraft was damaged and the pilot (Squadron Leader Czetowicz) and rear gunner (P/O Apanasik) were struck by bullets but all survived.  He was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari on 21st November 1941 by Air Vice Marshal Ujejski, having previously been awarded theCross of Valour on 28th June 1941.

KAZIMIERZ PAKULA

He was born in 1920 and arrived in Plymouth in June 1940, aged 20.  He underwent a nomadic training regime within Britain before joining 304 Squadron; initially he was dispatched to St Andrews, Fife, which appears to have been a major gathering point for Poles.  He  then went to RAF West Kirby near Liverpool and then RAF Blackpool (Squires Gate) for training.  He learnt English and became an interpreter with 306 Squadron at RAF Turnhill (Shropshire) and then on to RAF Padgate. 

After six months he transferred to St Andrews (RAF Leuchars?) and then, for training on Tiger Moths, to RAF Hucknall (Nottinghamshire).  After this he went to the Navigation School at Eastbourne, the observer training at RAF Jurby (Isle of Man) and then on to RAF Silloth (Cumbria).  Finally, he joined 304 Squadron and flew 50 missions with them before being posted out to North Berwick in East Lothian, for Officer training.

JOZEF SERGIUSZ OSTROWSKI


He was a pilot, born on 9th September 1905.  He graduated in 1928 and was assigned to the 1st Air Regiment in Warsaw.  From June 1938 until the outbreak of war, he commanded the training squadrons. 

He made his way to England and, after training, he is believed to have been a Flight Commander with 304 Squadron between April 1941 and May 1942.  After completing his tour of duty he moved to Staff Headquarters.  He was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari and the Order of the British Empire.

He survived the war and died in London on 16th September 1982; he was cremated at Putney Vale and his ashes were buried in Highgate Cemetery.

ALFRED OSADZINSKI

He was a pilot, born on 13th September 1917. He was commissioned on 30th September 1941 and known to be in service on 1st February 1942.


On 9th March 1942, he took off on a mission to bomb the Krupp Works at Essen. Because of poor conditions at RAF Lindholme, he took off from RAF Swanton Morley and on his return, landed at RAF Oakington due to lack of fuel. During his crew debriefing his aircraft, R1602, was struck by another during dispersal; both were destroyed by fire – the official verdict was damaged beyond repair.

He was killed when X9764 was shot down by a night fighter near Geetbetz, Belgium on 6th April 1942. He is buried at Heverlee War Cemetery, Leuven, Belgium. Luftwaffe records show that it was shot down by Oberleutnant Heinrich Petersen and Fw Leidenbach of 6/NJG1 Geerbetz 10 KM North West St. Trond at 02.28hrs

The list compiled by Tadeusz Krzystek gives his service number as P-1570 but it was not unusual for a newly commissioned officer to be given a new number. A little more difficult to explain/understand is the fact that he is also listed as being born on 12th September 1919

ONOSZKO-JACYNA

He was a pilot, born on 7th February 1910 and was previously with the squadron and was then  posted back from 18 OTU, RAF Bramcote, on 28th July 1942.  Aleksander Onoszko-Jacyna was a test pilot at the Experimental Aviation Workshops in Warsaw and later a pilot with Lot Polish Airlines.  He left Poland in December 1939 and, like many others, he took a tortuous route to the west.  He travelled via Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Jugoslavia, Italy and France before arriving in England where he joined the squadron.

He survived the war and emigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada where he died on 8th July 1994.  He was cremated and his ashes were returned to Poland. 

MICHAL OMIELJASZKO

He was a pilot, born on 18th April 1914 and known to be in service on 28th January 1942.  He was killed on the way to an anti-submarine sweep when HX384 was struck by ferocious cross winds on 12th August 1942.  It was blown over the cliffs by the runway at RAF Dale.  He is buried at Newark upon Trent Cemetery.  He won the Cross of Valour three times and the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari.

Photo © ARS Group

TADEUSZ OLES

He was a navigator, born on 27th January 1910 posted in from RAF Bramcote on 21st September 1941 and killed on R1413 which was attacked and shot down by three Junkers Ju88 German fighters from V/KG40 on 16th October 1942, whilst on patrol over the Bay of Biscay.

The fatal blow was delivered by Uffizier Steurich on the second attack after R1413’s rear gunner had knocked out one engine on the first attack by  Leutnant Dieter Meister, putting him out of the combat.

KAZIMIERZ JOZEF OLEJARCZYK




He was born on 1st December 1919 and was a navigator, known to be in service 8th July 1943.  He was born in New Jersey, USA but returned to Poland with his parents when he was still a baby.  At the outbreak of war he volunteered for the air force in Canada and, after training, joined 304 Squadron in England.  In 1944 he transferred to the American Air Force and was assigned as a bombardier-navigator with the 586th Bomber Squadron, flying B26 bombers in the European theatre of war.  After the war he worked for General Motors for 33 years and also taught Mathematics and Political Science at the University of Detroit.  Since retiring he has continued to work for the benefit of the Polish community in Michegan, USA and was still active in 2009 aged 89.  He also reported for Voice of America and acted as a translator for Radio Free Europe and maintained close ties with his Polish roots throughout his working life.

STANISLAW OBIOREK

He was a pilot, born on 23rd September 1914 and  killed when Z1082 was shot down, by a night fighter, on a mission to bomb and disrupt the railway station  at Wilhelmshaven on 10th January 1942.  Luftwaffe records show it was shot down by Lt Adolf Kaiser 6./NJG2 Over Wadden Sea near Terschelling at 22.00 hrs.

Immediately before the war he was a member of 21 Eskadra Bombowa Lekka, flying mainly in PZL23B Karas.  He is known to have been shot down at that time but parachuted to safety.  Two of seven 304 Squadron aircraft were lost on that mission.  He was also the recipient of the Virtuti Militari, fifth class.

JOZEF NILSKI



He was born on 10th January 1919 at Warsaw and he served with the 4th Air Force Regiment from 30th September 1937 until 18th September 1939 – the day after the Russian Invasion of Poland and fought in the Polish campaign.  After this he crossed the Romanian frontier and made his way to France where he joined the Polish Air Force under French Command and was sent to the Polish Air Force Reserve Depot at Lyon-Bron.
He was assigned for service in the United Kingdom and arrived on 7th March 1940 and, two days later, joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve at RAF Eastchurch in Kent.  After the surrender of France, in June 1940, the Polish Air Force was formed under British command and he joined it with effect from 6th August 1940.  He was a wireless operator and air gunner and was under training as a navigator.
On 16th July 1940 he was posted to the Polish Air Force Training Centre at RAF Hucknall and then, on 10th October 1940, he was assigned to 304 Squadron at RAF Bramcote, transferring with the Squadron to RAF Syerston in December 1940 and then on to RAF Lindholme in July 1941.
On the late evening of 27th May 1941, his crew took off for a bombing mission to Boulogne and on the return journey one engine was hit by flak and the plane went out of control and plunged several thousand feet.  The pilot gave the order to bale out and one crew member did so, over the English Channel.  His body was never found and he has no known grave.  A little later the pilot again gave the order but no one jumped as they were still over the sea.  Gradually they limped back to England and the order was given again; two of the crew jumped and were both injured.  The aircraft crashed very shortly afterwards, near Hastings, killing the three remaining crew members.  In the ensuing fireball the pilot was burned beyond recognition and the other two crew were also badly burned.
Reports vary on the injuries sustained by Sergeant Nilski and his fellow survivor but both were out of action for several months.  After breaking his ankle and being hung up in a tree, Sergeant Nilski made his own way to a Police Station some two and a half hours after the crash.  He was taken to hospital in Tonbridge Wells in Kent.
He married ten days later.
On 30th August 1941 he was transferred to the Polish Air Force Depot at RAF Blackpool, which was quite normal for injured airmen who were not ready to return to active duty.
He was never to return to active flying but remained in the PAF as a Leading Aircraftman (ground crew).  The remainder of his service was as follows:
 

 

5th October 1941
300 Squadron at RAF Hemswell
18th December 1941
305 Squadron atRAF Lindholme
10th January 1942
301 Squadron at RAF Hemswell
21st November 1942
50 Group at RAF Watchfield
7th November 1942
301 Squadron at RAF Hemswell and, from 19th April 1943, at RAF Tempsford
22nd November 1943
5091 Mobile Signals Unit at RAF Chigwell
28th February 1944
84 Group at RAF Northolt. As far as I can find out, 5091 MSU was part of 84 group which had, by then, become part os 2TAF (Second Tactical Air Force) made up mainly of squadrons of the RAF and RCAF (about 2,000 aircraft) under joint command with the army.  They spent the first half of 1944 training to assemble and dismantle fully operational, but temporary, airfields to move at the speed of the advancing armies and therefore always able to operate from forward positions.
On 15th November 1943 2TAF was formed as part of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force which was under the command of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory and was formed as a precursor to  the invasion of Europe.  It was a very successful force and in its last few days of operational activity (early May 1945) its aircraft – Typhoons and Tempests devastated Axis shipping in the Baltic and destroyed many transport aircraft and fling boats which were trying to make a Dunkirk style evacuation of Norway.  A further 141 aircraft were claimed as destroyed during its operations against shipping in the Baltic.  On 16th July 1945 2TAF re-grouped and reformed as the British Air Force of Occupation in Germany.  Sgt Nilski and his former crew mate, Sgt Jozefiak, were both involved in this force.
1st August 1944
Back to 5091 Mobile Signals Unit on posting to France (Second Tactical Air Force) supporting the Invasion forces after D_Day
14th January 1945
10 OTU in the UK
23rd February 1945
Air Crew Training Centre at RAF Hucknall
22nd June 1945
Polish Initial Training Wing at RAF Croughton
8th November 1946
Demobilised from the PAF and enlisted in the Polish Resettlement Corps
10th July 1947
Honourably discharged into civilian life with a conduct rating of very good.

As well as his various British and Polish campaign medals, he also won the Polish Cross of Valour.  Although his injuries kept him from operational flying, he never ceased to make the effort and to make his contribution to the war effort.  He remained in England and sadly he died on 23rd April 1974 at the young age of 55.

Photo © Zyg Nilski

 

JULIAN MORAWSKI

He was known to be in service on 14th January 1942. On 28th April 1942 he was shot down over Chatel-Censoir, France on the return leg of a bombing mission to Cologne.  Two of his crew were reputedly killed (but there is evidence that all the crew survived and eventually returned to England ) and two more were injured; they were taken to local hospitals and may have escaped or been made prisoners of war.  Julian Morawski walked into the village of Montillot was hidden by the locals and taken to a remote village, Charbonniere, where he remained until the Resistance took him through the Free French Zone  and into Spain. 

He was interned in the camp at Miranda but escaped and returned to England.  He subsequently transferred to 307 night fighter squadron and then 138 Special Duties squadron. 

He was killed on 13th July 1943 when Halifax JD155 was shot down during a supply drop to the Resistance in Normandy (Operation Roach 94).  His aircraft crashed near the Chateau d’Lillebec St Paul-sur-Risle.  He is buried in the Grainville-Langannerie cemetery; the gravestone wrongly attributes the date of death as 13th July 1944  He was awarded the Krzyz Walechznych (Cross of Valour) by Air Vice Marshal Ujejski on 21st November 1941.  He was also awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari Silver Cross, 5th class.

IGNACY MEITLIS

Here is a mystery man from 304 Squadron.  He was a Jewish member of the squadron and seems to have disappeared from the records.  If there is anyone out there with information on him, please pass it on.  I have seen a record where the name is spelled MEITLIS and it is also possible that he served under a pseudonym to protect family in Poland.  If you have any information please pass it on.

NOTE: I have changed the spelling in the title of this post, following a contact from a member of his family, but I cannot respond to her message directly because there was no return email address in the comment. 

Please contact me again on nevillebougourd@gmail.com 

As of 7th October 2014, I have received no further information from this person, but I have learned that he was a pilot with the rank of Flight Lieutenant and had service numbers P-794265 and P2068.  He was born on 10th February 1923 in Krakow and died in 1970 at Kfar Netter, Israel. 

 

JERZY TOMASZ MONDSCHEIN

In spite of the enormous publicity generated by the film "The Great Escape" and a multiplicity of spin off books and other materials, the real Jerzy Mondschein is hard to find.  When you think that this man was virtually a martyr among 50 other contemporary martyrs and we are now in an age of information technology, it seems incredible that there is no personal information and not one reasonable quality photograph available.  Unless someone out there in cyberspace can send me a biography and a decent picture.  Yes, I believe in Santa Claus, Leprechauns and the Tooth Fairy........

JERZY TOMASZ MONDSCHEIN

He was an observer, born on 18th March 1909.  He was murdered as a POW.  Returning from a raid on Manheim, On 8th November 1941, the aircraft was out of fuel and the pilot attempted to land his plane on an airfield in Belgium.  He landed at St Trond near Liege, which was a Luftwaffe fighter base.  The crew all survived and were made Prisoners of War, but not before destroying all papers that might be useful to the Germans and setting  the aircraft on fire. 

Various sources mention that F/O Jerzy Tomasz Mondschein, aged 35, was one of 50 Officers executed on 29th March 1944 after an escape from Stalag Luft III (The Great Escape).    Prisoner of War No P0913 F/O Jerzy Tomasz Mondschein, born 18 March 1909, recaptured in the Reichenburg area and murdered at Brux 29 March 1944 by an unknown Gestapo killer; he was cremated at Brux.  His ashes were later buried in the Old Garrison Cemetery at Poznan, Poland.  It is a sad irony that he was incarcerated in Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Zagan) which is in Upper Silesia, Poland.  Unconfirmed reports suggest that he was a concrete expert and built all the trapdoors for the tunnels.

The killers are unknown but the executions of Mondschein and three others (F/Lt Lester J Bull DFC of 109 squadron RAF, F/Lt Reginald V Kierath and Squadron Leader John EA Williams DFC, both of 450 squadron RAAF) were orchestrated by local Reichenburg Gestapo leader Bernhard Baatz, Robert Weissman and Robert Weyland.  Baatz and Weyland lived on with impunity and with the complicity of the Russian authorities.  Weissman was later arrested by the French military authorities but his fate remains unknown.

Before their execution, the four escapees were interrogated in custody at Jelenia Gora prison.

MARIAN JERZY MODRZEWSKI

He was an air gunner, born on 24th April 1916 and killed on the way to an anti-submarine sweep when HX384 was struck by ferocious cross winds on 12th August 1942.  It was blown over the cliffs by the runway at RAF Dale.  He is buried at Newark upon Trent Cemetery.  He was awarded the Krzyz Walechznych (Cross of Valour) by Air Vice Marshal Ujejski on 21st November 1941; he won this medal on two further occasions and also won the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari.

Photo © ARS Group

WLADYSLAW MLYNARSKI

He was an air gunner, born on 2nd Februay 1916 and he was a crew member of a Wellington that was jumped by 6 Ju88 fighters whilst on anti-submarine patrol near Bishop Rock on 16th September 1942.  In a 12-15 minute battle, fought at 30 feet above sea level; this crew destroyed one enemy plane, saw large pieces break off the tail plane of another and scored hits upon three more.  In return they had a two yard square section of wing torn off by cannon fire and their petrol tank was pierced.  They managed a power climb into the clouds and the action was broken off.  Sadly, he was killed on R1413 which was shot down by three Junkers Ju88 German fighters of V/KG40 on 16th October 1942, whilst on patrol over the Bay of Biscay.

The fatal blow was delivered by Uffizier Steurich on the second attack after R1413’s rear gunner had knocked out one engine on the first attack by  Leutnant Dieter Meister, putting him out of the combat.

WLADYSLAW BONIFACY MINAKOWSKI










On the outbreak of war he was a soldier and evacuated to Romania where he was interned in a camp in Tulcea.  By November he had made it to France and moved on to England where he trained as a navigator.  He was posted in to the Squadron from 18 OTU RAF Bramcote on 27th April 1942 and he was known to be still in service on 16th September 1942.

On that date he was a serving crew member on a Wellington that was jumped by 6 Junkers Ju88 fighters whilst on anti-submarine patrol near Bishop Rock.  At their briefing they were informed that a new squadron of long range fighters had been seen in their patrol area on the previous day and had shot down a British Whitley and a Czech Wellington.  To prepare for the eventuality of an attack, they decided to patrol at an altitude of 2,000 feet so they could quickly drop to sea level to protect themselves from an attack from below.
They had been patrolling off the coast of Spain when they saw four aircraft patrolling and they immediately dropped to an altitude of 500 feet.  As soon as they were identified as German, the pilot dropped down to 50 feet; at this time they were aware of the presence of six fighters.  They were attacked by three Ju88s in turn on the front left side and were flying between 15 and 50 feet above the sea.  They were then attacked by two more from the front right side.  They were hit and the fuselage filled with smoke but there was no fire.  They managed a power climb into the clouds and the action was broken off
In a 12-15 minute battle, fought at an average of 30 feet above sea level, this crew destroyed one enemy plane, saw large pieces break off the tail plane of another and scored hits on three more.  In return they had a one yard by two yards section of wing torn off by cannon fire and their petrol tank was pierced in four places.  They counted at least forty three machine gun and cannon hits on the aircraft including four to the fuel tank and nine to the right engine.  Amazingly, none of the crew were injured.  He stayed with 304 Squadron until the end of the war and flew a total of 25 missions over France and the Atlantic Ocean.

He returned to Poland in June 1947 and rejoined the Polish army where he worked in intelligence and aerial photography and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  In May 1951 he was arrested and accused of spying for England.  He spent six months in a dungeon where he was subjected to torture and held in a cell measuring 2 metres by 90 centimetres (about 6 feet 7 inches by 3 feet).  After a hearing lasting twenty hours per day, he was convicted on 13th May 1952 and sentenced to death.  He was executed, by firing squad, on 7th August 1952 in the prison at Rackowiecka Street, Warsaw – the trial judge was powerless to commute the sentence because of the nature of the alleged crime.  He was vindicated and received a state pardon on 7th May 1956.  He is buried in the Military Cemetery at Warsaw but the exact location is unknown.

A sad end for a hero who was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari 5th class, the Cross of Valour (twice) and the Silver Cross of Merit.