Friday, 19 December 2014


He was born on 17th November 1921 at Sidorow, Poland (now Ukraine), elder son of Jan and Karolina.  When the Russians invaded Poland, the family was forcibly relocated; at three o'clock in the morning on 10th February 1940, they were woken and given a little time to pack before being taken to the railway station at Husiatyn, put in a cattle wagon and sent on a three week journey to Kulicze in the Altaisky Krai region.  Once there, they were put to work in the forest or the sawmills.  They made a long slow journey out, via Krasnovodsk and Pahlevi in Iran after Operation Barbarossa.

It is not clear whether Kornel was with them and joined the Polish forces in Iran or he had already joined the military and was away when the family was taken.  The first mention I have found of his military service was at RAF Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, Wales; this was not the normal route into 304 Squadron.  He completed his training with 3 (Coastal) OTU on 2nd January 1944 just two days before that unit was disbanded and absorbed into 6 (Coastal) OTU.

He joined the crew of Flight Lieutenant Boguslaw Pilniak and flew a full tour of duty with them, during which time he had some notable moments.  Perhaps it is no co-incidence that F/Lt Pilniak was at 3 (Coastal) OTU on a familiarisation course with Wellington bombers and that their courses ended at the same time. 

On the night of 13th/14th July 1944, flying in Wellington XIV HF420 Q out of RAF Chivenor in Devon, they spotted a U-boat on radar and got a visual sighting of the periscope.  In an impromptu attack, they lost height rapidly and dropped six depth charges across its swell and directed other forces (a Sunderland flying boat and three frigates) to the area.  Meanwhile they noted many bubbles, several black objects in the water and a substantial oil patch.  They dropped marker flares for the naval vessels (which were only 17 miles distant) and stayed in the area until shortage of fuel forced them to leave.  They landed at RAF Predannock in Cornwall.  

 Report of attack on U-boat

Air Commodore JB Lloyd, in his letter of assessment of the attack, made encouraging comments on it, such as "bubbles look promising" and " looks as if the U/B was in trouble" without actually crediting a kill or probable damage.
 Admiralty comments on the attack on a U-boat

On another occasion, on  27th January 1945, this crew were on a transit flight from RAF Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides to RAF Limavady in Northern Ireland when they spotted smoke and a flickering flame.  Investigation showed up two schnorkels but they were unable to attack either U-boat as they were ferrying the aircraft and not carrying depth charges or marker flares.  However they stayed in the area and guided other aircraft and a naval escort group to the spot before lack of fuel forced them to leave.

Photograph of the crew - F/Lt Pilniak is third from right, Sgt Nakoneczny is extreme right. The photograph is from the collection of Egbert and Jeane Hughes (Pilniak personal archive)
Little else is known of Kornel's military career except that he was awarded the Field Service Emblem to his Polish Air Force Flying Badge in May 1944. 

After the war and demobilisation, he emigrated to Canada to join the rest of his family; he died in Mississauga, Ontario on 17th January 1994.

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