Thursday, 30 September 2010

ALEKSANDER OKROJ

He was an instrument mechanic, born on 27th February 1915 at Radom. In 1931 he joined the training school in Bydgoszcz and qualified as an aircraft mechanic in 1934. He was sent straight from the school to the 2nd Air Regiment in Krakow. He was promoted to corporal on 1st January 1939 and transferred a few weeks later to Warsaw where he trained as an instrument mechanic. He took part in the September Campaign, working under difficult and dangerous conditions before being evacuated.

His route is not known but he arrived in France on 20th January 1940 and was posted to the 108th Air Battalion at Montpellier but, on the fall of France, he made his way to England arriving here on 1st July 1940.

Nothing is known of his training regime in Britain but he served with 304 Squadron until they were disbanded in December 1946. He ended his service with them as head of the section responsible for maintenance of instrumentation. During his service he was awarded the Bronze Cross of Merit and the Air Medal (three times).

After his demobilisation, he set up his own watch repair business in the Nottingham area, where the squadron had spent so much time. He died on 5th November 1976.

ADAM JAN PIENIAZEK

He was born on 2nd January 1920 in Zagorze in the Province of Lwow and finished his schooling in 1937. The next year he enrolled in the Pilot Training School in Swiecie but his training was curtailed by the outbreak of war and all the students were evacuated to Romania on 17th September 1939.

He made his way to France by an unknown route but he requested a move to England and arrived here on 19th February 1940. After language training and basic training he was selected to train as a pilot on 1st October 1941 and completed the course at the beginning of May 1942.


He was then sent, on 2nd May 1942, to the No 6 Air Gunnery School and begun his operational training with 6OTU at Silloth in Cumberland (now Cumbria) on 1st January 1944. Three months later, on 7th April 1944, he was posted to 304 Squadron at RAF Chivenor in Devon from where he flew anti-submarine missions until 2nd February 1945 when he was posted to No 3 School of General Reconnaissance, probably at RAF Squires Gate, Blackpool.


On 5th September 1945 he was transferred to RAF Kinloss at Forres on the Moray Firth, Scotland as an instructor. He remained there until his final discharge in January 1949 but he rejoined the RAF in July of that year. He finally retired from the service on 15th February 1962.


During his career he was awarded the Cross of Valour twice and the Air Medal. He was also granted the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.


In his retirement he took work as a delivery driver for a dairy. He died at the early age of 48 on 19th March 1968 at Fiveroads, Llanelli, Wales

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

HENRYK HIERONIM WROBLEWSKI


He was a pilot, born in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1921 to a Polish family, His mother was a housemaid to a Russian general and his father was a member of the Czar's Palace Guard. In 1922 the family returned to Poland and settled in Vilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania).

On the day Russia invaded Poland he joined a small Polish unit as a volunteer and they set off to travel west but they were cut off by the advancing Russian army and so, on 20th September 1939 they entered Latvia where they were interned in a camp at Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia. When Russia occupied the Baltic States his status virtually changed to that of a Prisoner of War and he was moved to a camp at Liepaja on the Baltic coast, near a Russian naval base.

Out of boredom he volunteered to work on a farm near Riga but he caught influenza and was sent to a camp at nearby Ulbroka to recuperate. In summer 1940 he went to work on a farm near Krustpils in southern Latvia but on August 1940 he was returned to the camp but Russian troops soon took over and on 1st September 1940 the Poles were taken to the railway station and placed in goods wagons before being shipped to Babinowo in Russia. From there they were taken to a camp at Juchnowo.

On 1st May 1941 they were taken to the railway station and packed into goods wagons; they travelled via Moscow to Murmansk, on the Kola Bay near the Barents Sea, where they embarked on a vessel named Clara Cetkin. They were intercepted by a Finnish submarine and told that Germany had attacked Russia and that Finland and Russia were no longer at war. They disembarked on the Kola Peninsula into a tented camp and were immediately put to work on the construction of an airfield.

After a couple of weeks they were put on a ship named Aldan and taken to Archangelsk and put on a train and eventually arrived at Suzdal, north east of Moscow. The latter part of the journey was an enforced march under armed guard and with little or no food and water. They were housed in a former monastery which provided better conditions than their previous camps.

On 1st August 1941 they were allowed to join Anders’ Polish army which was being formed from Polish deportees to Russia. On 2nd September 1941 they were freed and marched for seven days to Saratow on the River Volga where they actually joined Anders.

The Polish Government in exile in London had asked for volunteers to join the newly forming Polish Air Force in England. He volunteered and on 25th November 1941 set off by rail to Koltubanka, north of the Caspian Sea. They waited there for transport to Kermine, Uzbekistan, leaving on 30th January 1942 and about three weeks later took ship on the Caspian Sea at Krasnowodsk.

They landed at Pahlevi in northern Persia (now Iran) and on 27th March 1942 arrived in Tehran where they stayed until 3rd April 1942. They finally reached Bandar-Shahpur (now Bandar-Khomeini) on the Persian Gulf where they boarded the City of Canterbury, a British troop ship, bound for Bombay (now Mumbai), India, arriving on 23rd April 1942. From there they continued on Avatea, a New Zealand troop ship, arriving in Cape Town, South Africa on 7th May 1942. Six days later they made the final leg of their journey on the Bergen Fjord, a Norwegian troop ship which arrived in Glasgow on7th June 1942.

He went on to train as a pilot and joined 304 Squadron. He survived the war and was last heard of in Norwich in 1998. There is a suggestion that he may have changed his name to Anders.

Thanks to Julian Hoseason for the photograph and information see his excellent website http://www.polandinexile.com/