Friday, 5 December 2014


He was born on 5th January 1910 at Lagiewniki, a district of the city of Bytom,  but little is known of Sgt Edward Muszala before his arrival from 18 OTU at Bramcote in Warwickshire on 16th October 1942.  His first fellow crew members were Sgt Jan Bakanacz, Sgt Franciszek Targowski, F/O Jan Skweirczynski, Sgt Wilhelm Pokoj and Sgt Wiktor Muller.

He initially arrived at RAF Dale, Pembrokeshire, Wales and transferred with the Squadron briefly in November and December to RAF Talbenny, also in Pembrokeshire before returning to RAF Dale.  In March 1943 he moved on to RAF Docking in Norfolk and then in June 1943, he moved to RAF Davidstow Moor in Cornwall until he finally moved, in December 1943, to RAF Predannack, also in Cornwall.  During this time, he flew at least 45 anti-submarine warfare missions.

On 18th May 1943, at RAF Docking, the Squadron Operations Record Book states that notification had been received from Polish Headquarters that Sgt Edward Muszala had been awarded the Cross of Valour AND a bar to that medal.

In his role as an air gunner in Coastal Command, he and his fellow crew members had to endure many hours of boredom, flying over featureless sea - but always remaining alert against the possibility of action and danger.  The main thrust was anti-submarine warfare, but there was also the possibility - as will be seen - of normal bombing, harassment of enemy shipping and search and rescue.

On 4th December 1942, he was on patrol with his crew when they came across an enemy freighter of about 3,000 tons.  They had earlier come across an unidentified twin engined aircraft and had to bear in mind that it could be hostile and could still be in the area.  However, they dropped sharply from 5,000 feet to 4,000 feet before releasing six 250lb depth charges and two 250lb bombs which hit the sea about 50 yards off the port side of the vessel.  They were seen to explode but the damage could not be assessed.

On 5th January 1943, during the course of their normal patrol in Wellington HF836, two surfaced U-boats were seen in the vicinity of Bishops Rock.  Both started to submerge immediately but the crew raced to the attack and dropped 3 depth charges which burst about 10 yards ahead of the swirl left by one of the U-boats.  The aircraft continued to circle the area and dropped a further 3 depth charges which exploded about 5 yards ahead of the conning tower.  There was no conclusive result but a large oil patch appeared on the surface.

The crew had a break from the monotony on 26th January 1943when they were selected for an attack on the port of Bordeaux.  In spite of the enemy putting up a smoke screen, they were able to confirm that five of their 250lb bombs exploded inside a warehouse complex.

On 26th March 1943, whilst on patrol, they sighted a wake and, almost immediately, saw a surfaced U-boat 2 points on the port bow and about two miles distant.  They dived immediately but the U-boat saw them and entered a crash dive.  At a height of about 150 ft and only about 5 seconds after the U-boat submerged, they released six depth charges which exploded along the track of the U-boat.  Shortly afterwards oil and debris were seen to come to the surface.  After 23 minutes, this oil patch had spread to about 300 yards diameter but there was no further activity and the aircraft resumed its patrol.  The official assessment was "probably damaged".

On 12th August 1943, near the end of its patrol, their aircraft experienced hydraulic problems and was forced to jettison its load of bombs and depth charges.  They made a successful landing, but without flaps to slow it down, the aircraft overshot the runway and was extensively damaged; the crew were unhurt.

He next appears in the Special Duties role with 301 Squadron at RAF Brindisi where he flew at least 11 missions mainly supplying the Italian resistance fighters and the Partisans in Jugoslavia and making drops of propaganda leaflets.  These flights were mostly carried out in Handley Page Halifaxes and Consolidated Liberators.

At this stage of the War, the Special Duties Flights and Squadrons were putting in maximum effort and sharing aircraft which can make it difficult to research.  For instance, Halifax LL118 FS-P (148 Squadron) was transferred to 301 Squadron as LL118 GR-C and this was really a paper transaction as they were both at the same air base and flying very similar missions.  The aircraft were battered from hard and frequent use and the previously mentioned LL118 was struck off charge and scrapped when it was only fifteen or sixteen months old.  Research into this and the Italian missions is ongoing.   

He survived the war and returned to Poland where he was last heard of in Bytom in 1986.  His medal entitlement was, at least the Polish Cross of Valour and bar and the British Campaign medals Air Crew Europe Star, Atlantic Star, Italy Star, 1939-1945 War Medal and Defence Medal.

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