Thursday, 8 January 2015


He was born on 3rd May 1911 in Krakow and in the summer of 1934 he undertook a military aviation course at Luck (now in the Ukraine and known as Lutsk).  In the year between September 1934 and September 1935 he attended the air force Officer Cadet School at Deblin and then returned to his job in Geodetics (earth sciences) but he continued in service as a reserve pilot – something similar to the British Territorial Army or the American National Guard.

On the outbreak of war he made his way, via Romania, to France and joined the Polish Air Force at Lyon-Bron and when France capitulated, he came to England where he was assigned to the Polish Depot at RAF Blackpool.  He went on to 6 Air Observers Navigation School then joined 18OTU and finally he was posted into 304 Squadron on 10th August 1942 where he stayed until 12th April 1943 when he was transferred to 6OTU as an instructor.  This date is quoted in “Commanders of the Polish Air Force Squadrons in the West” by Jozef Zielinski and Tadeusz Krzystek; however in “304 Squadron” Mariusz Konarski lists him as being in service, as a Flight Lieutenant, on 8th July 1943.

On 2nd September 1942, he was flying as co-pilot to Marian Kucharski when they attacked a large surfaced U-boat with 6 depth charges and 2 anti submarine bombs.  They also strafed the decks of the submarine and saw a number of men fall or dive into the water.  This was the Italian submarine Reginaldo Giuliani and was severely damaged.  Fuel shortage, forced them to leave the scene, but intelligence proved that it had been forced to limp into an apparently neutral Spanish port of Santander for repairs which lasted two months.  The damage was severe and was assessed by British Intelligence as "Probably damaged" but, in fact, the vessel was never again used for hostile action and became a transport vessel for precious cargoes such as mercury to their Japanese allies.

He spent a year with 6 (Coastal) OTU as Officer in Charge of the Polish Flight but returned on 1st December 1944 when he was appointed Commander of B Flight and from 3rd January 1945 he became the Squadron Commander until 1st September of that year when he was succeeded by Wing  Commander Witold Piotrowski.

He was not just a desk officer but flew operationally with his men; he unsuccessfully attacked a U–Boat on the night of January 12th/13th 1945.  He was the pilot of Wellington HF303 E when they noticed a veil of smoke just above the surface; he descended and turned to attack but all that remained was a wake about 150 yards long and three or four yards wide.  He dropped two depth charges from 200ft and the crew noticed that the sea was boiling over an area about 20 yards across and two black objects were floating; one was triangular and the other appeared to be like a plank of wood but they both disappeared after a minute.  Photographs were taken, markers were dropped and a search was carried out but there were no further signs of wreckage or a damaged submarine.

He then moved on to the Polish Air Force HQ.  In June 1946 he returned to Coastal Command and on 20th February 1947 he became the Polish Liaison Officer to Coastal Command.  He retired from the Air Force and settled in England.  He died on 11th July 1979 in Runcorn, Cheshire (now Merseyside).

He was awarded the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari and the British Distinguished Flying Cross and Order of the British Empire.

Footnote: the Squadron classified this as a Grade B sighting of a schnorkel but the Admiralty concluded that there was no evidence of damage to a U-boat and classified it as inconclusive.  They also suggested that the black objects were inexplicable unless they were Torpex residue from the depth charges.

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