Sunday, 25 March 2012


A lot more research is going to be needed but the following items have come to light. On 5th November 1942, it is recorded in the Station ORB, at RAF Talbenny, that he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant with the quite unusual qualification of Bombing Leader. Six days later, it records the award of the Virtuti Militari (5th Class), but quotes his earlier rank.

He was born on 27th November in Wegrzce near Krakow and completed his conventional education in 1932. He then went to the Officer Cadet School in Ostrowia Mazowiecka, North eastern Poland, for three years, graduating in 1935 as a Second Lieutenant and being posted to 22 Infantry Regiment in Piotrkow.

In 1938 he enrolled on a navigators’ course which he completed and was posted immediately to 26 Observer Squadron in Krakow. During the September Campaign he was active in reconnaissance until 20th September 1939, when he was evacuated to Romania via the border town of Kuty. He was interned but security was not tight and he escaped and made his way back to Poland.

From there he assisted with the evacuation to Hungary and, in late April 1940, he was ordered to make his escape to Hungary. During May 1940, he travelled through Jugoslavia to the Port of Piraeus, near Athens, in Greece from where he took a ship to France and joined the Polish forces there. Soon after his arrival, France capitulated and he escaped once again - via Bayonne and probably the port of St Jean de Luz which was the main route for Polish airmen coming to England. He then travelled to the Polish Depot at Blackpool where he completed further training and became familiar with British aircraft and the English language.

He was posted to 304 Squadron and served at RAF Stations Lindholme (Yorkshire), Tiree in the Outer Hebrides (off the West Coast of Scotland), Dale and Talbenny (both in Pembrokeshire, Wales). The maximum time span was between 20th July 1941 and 30th March 1943 but he served at all of them, being mentioned in all their Operational Records Books. He may have stayed with them for his full tour of 30 missions – or even more - but that is yet to be established. At this time, the Squadron was mostly in Coastal Command and involved with anti-submarine warfare and convoy protection. In the earlier days he would have been involved with bombing Germany and Occupied Northern Europe.

He was seconded to RAF Manby in Lincolnshire for a Bombing Leaders course on 18th April 1942 and was promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 5th November 1942.

Being presented with his Virtuti Militari by Air Vice Marshall Ujejski 
11th November 1942 at  RAF Talbenny

During his service, he was awarded the Virtuti Militari, 5th Class which was presented to him by Air Vice Marshall Ujejski at RAF Talbenny on 11th November 1942 – which was a significant date for poles and British alike. Being Armistice Day, for the British, and National Independence Day, for the Poles. He also won the Cross of Valour three times, at least one of which was presented to him at RAF Lindholme by General Kopanski on 25th April 1942. In addition he was awarded the Air Medal three times.

In 1947 he was honourably discharged and returned to Poland where he undertook a variety of jobs. He was arrested and briefly imprisoned, at one point, under the Stalinist puppet government, but was “rehabilitated” and given an appointment at the People’s Army Cadet School in Radom. That year he was sent to Vietnam as a part of the Military Mission of Reconciliation. He retired in 1967, having achieved the rank of Major. He died on 21st September 1995 in Warsaw.
Relaxing with a fellow airman - undated but no POLAND shoulder flash

Photos courtesy of Peter Jefferies and text with thanks to Kamil Nowak

Saturday, 17 March 2012


During the September Campaign he served with 1st Air Regiment and, on 19th September 1939, he was evacuated to Hungary and interned in the camp at Eger which became a satellite concentration camp for Jews later in the war. Security was not tight and he escaped and made his way to France, in the company of a group of his colleagues. Later, he escaped from France and arrived at RAF Blackpool, the main Polish Depot where he trained as a meteorologist before being posted to 304 Squadron.

Like most Poles he wanted to fight and he successfully applied to become aircrew as a wireless operator/air gunner. For a while he remained with them on anti-submarine warfare duties and was awarded the Cross of Valour for his skill and courage in fighting off an attack by a German fighter.

In May 1944 he transferred to 1586 Special Duties Flight, based at Campo Casale, Brindisi, Italy and from here, he flew many missions to Albania, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Jugoslavia and Poland. There is a vague report that he was seriously injured in a forced landing in December 1944 and remained in a Polish field hospital in Italy, recuperating from his injuries until May 1945. I have not been able to confirm this – but he was definitely not on board the only aircraft that 301 Squadron (successors to 1586 Flight) lost in that month. However, the description I have seen says it was a forced landing and mentions no fatalities, nor does it claim the aircraft was written off. If this is true, the aircraft – most probably a Halifax – would not be listed as a loss.

On his return to England, he enrolled on a one year meteorology course, which he completed in August 1946. Two months later, he returned to Krakow in Poland and took a job as a weather forecaster for the Polish airline LOT. In 1949 he went to work for PIHM, the state meteorology department, and naturally applied his skills to aviation weather forecasting. He stayed there until 1959 when he left to become manager of the airport at Nowy Targ. From 1969 until 1989 he was employed by LOT as their manager in Krakow for the first four years and then as their manager in Milan, Italy.

He died on 12th January 2005 and was given full military honours at his funeral in the Rakowicki Cemetery in Krakow.


Fresh information from two colleagues tells me that 301 Squadron still had, and used, serviceable Liberators after the official changeover date. In addition, he and his regular crew were on board the following flights in the apparent time period. Even if he had been injured in the first, he was flying again after about two weeks on the second. This makes me doubt that any serious injury occurred – even if he received hospital treatment.

1944 December 15th - Halifax II BB440

After only 17 minutes in the air, the starboard inner engine suffered a drop in pressure and the mission was abandoned; there were no injuries. The 12 containers were jettisoned in the base dropping zone and the engine was out, and caught fire, on landing but the aircraft landed safely, fifty five minutes after take-off.

1945 February 1st/2nd - Halifax V LL465

This was another unsuccessful mission; the aircraft developed engine trouble and the mission was terminated - 15 containers and 18 packages, a total net weight of 4,971 pounds were jettisoned. The port outer engine caught fire but was extinguished by feathering and the aircraft landed safely with no injuries reported.

Thursday, 15 March 2012


Here is another list of former members of 304 Squadron.  If you have any information - however little -on any of them, please contact me on Alternatively if you have any photographs of them or documents/press cuttings about them, please send me a scan - Please DONOT send precious originals.  Together, we can give them their rightful place in this tribute site.

SOFULAK      Sgt J

SOJA     Cpl Antoni P-780824
SOJKA     L/Ac Karol P-793114
SOKOLOWSKI     P/O Bohdan Zygmunt
SOKOLOWSKI     F/Sgt Czeslaw P-706814
SOKOLOWSKI     Sgt Czeslaw P-784225
SOKOLOWSKI     F/Sgt Jan P-793561
SOLECKI     Sgt Jerzy P-782888
SOLECKI     Sgt Zygmunt Jan P-792899
SOWINSKI     Sgt Wladyslaw
SPACZYNSKI     L/Ac Czeslaw P-707361
SPALINSKI     Bronislaw P-794970
SPERBER     Sgt Abraham Zachariasz P-794557
SPIRYDOWICZ     L/Ac Jerzy P-792961
SPUREK     Sgt Wladyslaw
SPYRA     F/Sgt Julian P-705477
STANCZUK     F/Lt Edmund P781875
STANCZUK     Sq/Ldr Edward Tytus P-0049
STANCZYKIEWICZ     F/O Szczepan Marcin
STASIAK     Sgt Edward
STASIEROWSKI     L/Ac Marian P-703574
STAWICKI     F/Sgt Hieronim P-793897
STECYK     L/Ac Jozef P-707359
STEFANIAK     Sgt Antoni P-705727
STEFANSKI     L/Ac Antoni P-703310
STEINHARDT     F/Sgt Tadeusz P-706411
STENDERA     Sgt Jozef P-705623
STENOCKI     F/O Stefan M P-0885
STOMA     F/O Marian
STRACZEK     Sgt Marian Jan P-793156
STRAIGIS     Sgt Stanislaw Walter (Stanley) P-794805
STRAK     Sgt Piotr P-703723
STRAUCH     F/Sgt Franciszek P-706658
STREK     Sgt Roman P-781633
STRENG     Sgt Tadeusz Ernest Adolf P-709556
STRZYZEWSKI     Sgt Jacek P-784302
STUDENY     L/Ac Stanislaw P-793850
SULIKOWSKI     W/O Waclaw P-784722
SURMA     F/Sgt Zygmunt P-781149
SURYN     F/Lt Leon
SUWALSKI     Sgt Kazimierz P-780356
SWIERKOWSKI     L/Ac Stanislaw Jan P-792545
SWIERZB     Cpl Ludwik P-782163
SYLWESTROWICZ     Sgt Jan P793771
SYM     P/O Antoni
SYMONOWICZ     L/Ac Wladyslaw P-782959
SZANTROCH     F/Sgt Zdzislaw Jan P-793313
SZAR     L/Ac Jozef Jan P-782937
SZCZEPANIAK     Sgt Stefan P-704236
SZCZODROWSKI     F/O Marian P-76740
SZCZUR     Ac1 Michal P-707358
SZCZUROWSKI     P/O Ryszard Zygmunt P-76788
SZCZUTKOWSKI     Cpl Florian P-781802
SZELAGOWSKI     L/Ac Mieczyslaw Marian P-782150
SZERSZUN     F/Sgt Waclaw P-703940
SZEWCZYK     F/Sgt Kazimierz P-783263
SZEWERDA     Cpl Wilhelm Zygfryd P-793940
SZKLARSKI     Sgt Walenty Mieczyslaw P-2827
SZKODA     Sgt Jozef P-704148
SZKUTA     F/Lt Alojzy P-76625
SZLACHETA     F/Sgt Kazimierz P-782187
SZLAZAK     L/Ac Eugeniusz P-783311
SZMINDA     F/O Romuald Antoni P-2193
SZOSTAK     L/Ac Tadeusz P-706088
SZOTT     Sgt Piotr P-704238
SZOTT     Sgt Zbigniew P-706782
SZPEK     Sgt Jan P-793244
SZPINALSKI     F/Sgt Boguslaw P-703941
SZULGIN     Sgt Henryk P-704340
SZUMILOWSKI     L/Ac Jan P-706367
SZUSTER     Sgt Wladyslaw P-781804
SZWEDOWSKI     Sgt Roman P-792213
SZYCH     Cpl Zdzislaw P-705063
SZYMANSKI     Sgt Leon P-703984
SZYMANSKI     W/O Tadeusz Roman P-704336
SZYMKIEWICZ     Cpl Teofil P-780365
SZYMURSKI     Sq/Ldr Kazimierz P-2010
SZYNDLER     L/Ac Boguslaw William P-780138
SZYNWELSKI     L/Ac Antoni P-708659

Sunday, 11 March 2012


He was born on 10th January 1920 in Luborzycy near Krakow and in 1939 he graduated from the University in Vilnius (now Lithuania). He was interested in aviation from an early age and was a member of the Aero Club in Vilnius. Between 1937 and 1939 he participated in gliding courses at the Gliding School in Ustjanowej and may have also flown powered aircraft there.

In the course of time, he met up with his brothers Henryk and Jozef and they remained in Vilnius for a couple of months, leading a more or less normal life under the Russians and in spite of a curfew. After investigation they found that Polish airmen were being evacuated from Kaunas in Lithuania so they went there, in December 1939, and easily acquired false papers. All three of them obtained evacuation papers to go to Sweden. The escape plan was to take a train to Latvia and then fly to Sweden.

On the day they were due to go, the commander refused to allow three brothers to travel on the same aircraft and Jozef was forced to wait for the next plane. German threats to shoot down neutral Swedish planes carrying Polish airmen ensured that there was no next plane. The two brothers spent Christmas Eve in Stockholm and were then flown to London and on to France where they joined the Polish Air Force at Lyon-Bron.

After the fall of France, he managed to escape to Britain, with his brother Henryk, where he completed his training and was posted to 304 Squadron.

He later volunteered for 1586 Flight (Special Duties) and was posted to RAF Brindisi in Italy. From there he flew several missions to Poland in support of the Armia Krajowa and was piloting Liberator EW278 (G-RU)  on 10th September 1944 when it was shot down by German fighters over Senta, Jugoslavia. He, and two of his crew, were killed and are buried in the military cemetery in Belgrade. Five of the twenty aircraft on that mission were shot down that night.

During the course of his military career, he was awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari and the Cross of Valour (twice)

Photograph courtesy of Henryk Franczak’s niece, Helena

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


He was born in Cieszyn on 24th December 1920. He graduated from the SPLdM military school in Deblin in 1939 but was captured by the Russians on 18th September 1939 – the day after they invaded Poland – and taken to the prison in 15th Century Dubno Castle (now Ukraine) – a transit camp for those bound for the gulags. He was moved to Siewzeldorlag camp in the autonomous republic of Komi (Russia) arriving there on 15th June 1940. The following year he was moved to Juza camp in the Russian Province of Iwanowska and on 24th October 1941, he arrived at Aktiubinsk camp in Khazakhstan where he appears to have stayed until he was released to join the Polish forces.

After being released from Russian captivity, he suffered from a severe illness, probably aggravated by malnutrition, he joined the newly forming Polish forces in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) in 1942 but he became ill again and remained in hospital until the spring of 1943.

He was then taken, via Baghdad, Iraq, to the Suez Canal where he boarded a ship and sailed for Glasgow in Scotland. He was accepted for the Air Force and probably sent to the Polish depot at RAF Blackpool, where he would complete his basic training and begin to learn English.

He was eventually posted to 304 Squadron where he was probably a member of the ground crew whilst he waited for his place in 16 Service Flying Training School at RAF Newton near Nottingham. He trained there as a pilot and qualified in 1945. Afterwards he was transferred to RAF Dunholme Lodge in Lincolnshire.

On 30th September 1946 he married Maria Machowska, who was in the Womens Auxiliary Force at RAF Hucknall in Nottinghamshire. She had also been arrested and sent to Mucznaja Labour Camp in Archangel, Russia, on 11th March 1940. After his honourable discharge in 1947, they returned to Poland with their first born son Zbyszek. They later had another son, Kazimierz and a daughter.

After that Ernest worked in a coal mine as a planner and manager. He died on 8th December 1990 in the mining hospital at Bytom, Poland.  He is buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Bracka Street, Katowice.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


This is virtually all I knew about Sgt Ernest Faja

FAJA Sgt Ernest P-706799

He was a pilot and was born on 24th December 1920. He survived the war and returned to Poland in 1946. He is known to have served for much of the war in 304 Squadron and spent the latter part of his service with 16 SFTS at RAF Newton during which time he was married to Maria Machowska.

The following came from his son, Kazimierz:

In your mail you ask about some details from his life. I have some of them but not much:

He was born on 24th December in 1920 in Cieszyn, Poland. He attended to school of aviation in DÄ™blinek, Poland, but I don’t know which years he spent in army. After war (in 1946) he married Maria Machowska. She also was in army but as a medical staff (volunteer). Also in England was born their first son - my brother - Zbyszek. In the same year they came back to Poland, where me and my sister was born. After that Ernest worked in coalmine as a planner and manager. He died on 8th December in 1990 in mining hospital in Bytom because of health problems.

Can anyone help with information on Ernest Faja, or do you recognise anyone in these pictures?
                                         Pre-war picture of Ernest in Poland
Ernest Faja and fellow airmen - location and date unknown - probably before he came to England as there is no sign of RAF insignia or POLAND shoulder flash
Wedding day photograph, 30th September 1945 at Church of the Holy Cross, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire

If anyone can help, please contact me on or leave a message here, but please also include a return email address which I will edit out before posting your response.

Photos courtesy of Kazimierz Faja