Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A MARK OF SUCCESS

When I started this blog, I was unsure if anyone was even reading it!  I was delighted if I received as little as 30 hits per day.  Eventually, I was excited when the number of hits went well past that level and I was really pleased on Christmas Day of this year (2016) when it reached 150,000.  This being my birthday, was a very special treat to me and made me feel that my efforts were worthwhile.  I must say that I find Germany and Russia in the top ten to be very surprising.
 
Some inane pop star might reach that number every day, but for a small personal blog - dedicated to a single Squadron - it was something special.  So, I would like to thank you all for reading it.  As of now, the score is 150,147 and has been viewed in 142 countries.  The top ten countries are as follows:
 
 

Thursday, 22 December 2016

MIECZYSLAW WALENTY SZKLARSKI (AKA SCOT)


He was born on 11th March 1913 in the County of Lubaczow, to Roman Szklarski and Katarzyna (nee Hamuda).  He began his education at the Piramowicz School in Przemysl on 1st September 1919 and stayed there for the first three years, completing his education there in 1922.  After that, his father, who worked for PKP (Polskie Koleje Panstwowe), the Polish state railways, was moved to Domazyr near Lwow.  Following that, he passed the entry examination for the Koscuiszko Gymnasium School in Lwow, where he stayed until 1928 after being accepted for higher education.  He was forced to leave school because his father could no longer support the cost, because of events leading to the Wall Street Crash in 1929.
 
Family photograph showing Mieczyslaw standing
in front of his mustachioed father on the right c1913

He stayed with his parents until October 1931 and, in May 1931, he applied to Panstwowej Komendy Uzupelnien in Grodek Jagiellonski for help to enrol him in the army.  He was accepted as fit for army service and remained there from October 1931 until September 1933 in 61 Eskadra of the 6th Air Regiment, based in Lwow.  From January to April of 1932, he trained as a mechanic and then did practical training as an assistant aircraft mechanic (apprentice?) until September of that year.

After this, he was placed on the reserve list and returned to civilian life.  He applied to a private school to finish his studies in the humanities, but had to give it up because these were the Depression  years and his family could not support his studies.  He applied to Government Agencies such as the state railways, the Police, the Post Office and the Ministry of Trade, but without success.

In September 1937, he was recalled for four weeks refresher training in 62 Eskadra of the 6th Air Regiment and then returned to his civilian life but remained on the army reserve list.

In April 1938 he applied to Malopolski Zwiazek Mleczarski (roughly equivalent to the British Milk Marketing Board) and was accepted for three months unpaid training in the accounts department of one of the 1,475 co-operatives then extant.  He worked there from 1st May 1938 until 30th July 1938 and obtained good references but was not retained as paid staff.

Three months later, he was accepted as an assistant in the Trade Department (Commercial Office?) of the railway station at Hmirdyczow-Kochawina where he was paid 1 zloty 50 groszy per day but it only lasted until the end of 1938, when the budget for that post ran out.  At the time of writing (February 2016) that would just about buy one cigarette, half a bar of chocolate, a small bread roll or pay half the postage on a single letter within Britain!  I realise that there has been vast inflation over the intervening years but, even then, that must have been very low pay.

Two weeks later, on 15th January 1939, he took up a post at the paper works at Kochawina, near Stryj, where he worked until 14th September 1939 as a clerk.  During this time, with war imminent, he did a further four weeks training (19th June to 15th July) as a reservist with 6th Air Regiment.

He was lucky, in that he was not conscripted by the Russians, and left the area, escaping to Hungary via Ujhely and Miskolc to a little place named Merohoveod, where he remained until April of 1940.  During this time, he made contact with an illegal underground group in Eger who helped him to get to Budapest (where he arrived on 12th April 1940).

Mieczyslaw on the right with other escaping Polish airmen
in Split, Jugoslavia 26th April 1940
 
Mieczyslaw second from the left with other escaping
Polish airmen in Split, Jugoslavia 26th April 1940

Later that night, he joined a group of Poles and they moved to the border with Jugoslavia.  Two days later, they made a night crossing of the River Drava and made their way to Zagreb, where they arrived on the 18th April.  Six days later, they arrived at Split, where they waited for a boat to evacuate them.  On 27th April 1940, they boarded the SS Patris and sailed for Marseilles, where they arrived on 1st May 1940.
Ticket and identity document for his journey on SS Patris from Split to Marseilles

There appears to be some dispute about where the Poles gathered, but Sgt Szklarski’s own report states that they were initially dispersed to Carpiagne the home of the 4th Regiment of Dragoon Guards.  He was moved to the barracks at Lyon (Lyon-Bron?) on 4th May and left there on 17th May  1940  ‘as a member of 108 Batallion (Park) in Montpellier.  He remained there as a working assistant mechanic until the fall of France.

 En route to St Jean de Luz, Mieczyslaw is in the dark
shirt and braces in both pictures
 
Note the pointed roof of the French railway wagons
Loading up on the ill fated Arandora Star
 
Mieczyslaw still in French uniform

At that time, he was under the control of a Captain of Artillery, Loboda – and another named Tregano – and he left Montpellier en route for St Juan de Luz, where he boarded the SS Arandora Star.  This vessel was torpedoed and sunk, with enormous loss of life, just a few days later; the majority of victims being Italian and German internees and prisoners of war.  He arrived in Liverpool on 27th June 1940 and, five days later, was sent to RAF Weeton  in Lancashire and later to RAF Blackpool. 
Square bashing in basic training at RAF Weeton, 1940

He was there until 23rd August 1940, when he was attached to the newly forming 304 Squadron at RAF Bramcote.  He started work as a clerk there on 28th August 1940.

Between 1st and 11th October 1941 he was at the Polish Depot at Blackpool.  On 1st October 1941 he was accepted as medically fit to be trained as an airman and was sent to No 7 Air Gunnery School at RAF Stormy Down near Bridgend, Glamorgan  for training as an air gunner on 12th October 1941 – a course that he completed on 21st November 1941, after which he was sent to the Blackpool Depot. 

Gunnery Course at RAF Stormy Down
October - December 1941

On 9th December of that year, he was transferred to 18 OTU at RAF Bramcote near Nuneaton in Warwickshire.  The purpose of the Operational Training Unit was for tactical training and for crews to be formed and to learn to act as a cohesive unit because their lives depended on each other; it was important that they developed trust in each other.

He remained there until 26th April 1942, when he was returned to 304 Squadron at RAF Lindholme near Doncaster in Yorkshire .  Two days later, he reported there and began his service with them.

Coastal Command made serious mental and physical demands on aircrews, often requiring flights of 10 or 11 hours over featureless ocean and that frequently in appalling weather.  To stay alive, they had to be alert and maintain their concentration for long periods.  This may often have been boring and inactive but it would often keep U-boats submerged and a lower risk to merchant shipping.  In spite of this, there were moments of excitement.

25th June 1942, flying out of RAF Dale in Pembrokeshire, his crew was detailed to Bomber Command to attack Bremen but failed to locate the target and went on to their secondary target of Bremervorde in Lower Saxony where they dropped six 500lb bombs from a height of only 1,250 feet.  They were unable to observe the results because of concentrated flak and an attack by a Messerschmidt Me110 night fighter.  They were hit several times but all the crew were safe.

11th August 1942 his crew attacked a U-boat, dropping six depth charges from a height of only 50 feet and just 36 seconds after it submerged.  They circled for 18 minutes and saw residue and wreckage but were unable to confirm a kill.  However, it is likely that some considerable damage was done.

24th September 1942, flying at a height of only 2,000 feet they were attacked by a Junkers Ju88 and were fired upon but no hits were taken.  They dived down to 1,000 feet and took refuge in a cloud bank after which the fighter broke contact and left.

8th November 1942, flying out of RAF Talbenny in Pembrokeshire, they were again detailed to Bomber Command and took part in a bombing raid on shipping between Bordeaux and Grave Point on the Atlantic Coast of France.  They made a run at 5,500 feet dropping four bombs and, five minutes later, a second run at 5,000 feet dropping five bombs.  The explosions were seen but poor visibility made it impossible to observe the results.
 
Receiving the Cross of Valour at RAF Talbenny, November
1942.  Mieczyslaw is between the Officers in peaked caps

12th December 1942, flying out of RAF Dale, they suffered a starboard engine failure and flew for some time on only one engine.  They put out a Mayday call and jettisoned their bombs and depth charges but the engine kicked in again and after 1 hour 22 minutes they were able to cancel the Mayday.

26th January 1943, they were again detailed to a bombing mission over Bordeaux.  They dropped five 500lb bombs from a height of 6,000 feet and observed the explosions which started fires that could still be seen ten miles away after they turned for home.

8th March 1943, they were attacked by a Junkers Ju88 and tracer was seen to pass across their flight path but no hits were recorded and the pilot made a sharp turn to port an successfully reached cloud cover.

17th July 1943, flying out of RAF Davidstow Moor in Cornwall, they were one of three aircraft sent out on an air sea rescue mission but it had to be aborted due to bad weather conditions and very poor visibility.  They were unable to make it back to base and diverted to RAF Dale.

In total, he flew 50 missions whilst with 304 Squadron and possibly a further six with 18 Operational Training Unit as his records state 56 operational flights. In this time, he served at RAF Lindholme (Yorkshire), RAF Tiree (Inner Hebrides), RAF Dale (Pembrokeshire - 2 separate postings), RAF Talbenny (Pembrokeshire), RAF Docking (Norfolk), RAF Davidstow Moor (Cornwall), RAF Predannack (Cornwall) and RAF Chivenor (Devon).

Presentation of the Virtuti Militari by the Polish President
in exile President Władysław Raczkiewicz.  Mieczyslaw is
the last airman on the right

Virtuti Militari Certificate
 
During this service, he was awarded the Cross of Valour on three occasions and the Virtuti Militari on 7th May 1943.  He remained with the Squadron until he became tour expired and was transferred to the Polish Depot on 13th September 1943.  Ten days later he was transferred to Polish Headquarters in London where he had administrative duties until 5th May 1944.

He was recommended for Officer training at the college shared by the Polish Army and Air Force - the Szkola Podchorazych Piechoty i Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej.  It is not known precisely where this establishment was located but he appears to have attended at a time between the move from its location at Auchtermuchty in Fife and its new premises in Crieff, Perthshire.  His records state that it was near North Berwick which is in East Lothian.  He was there from 6th May 1944 until 2nd August 1944.  In any event, he passed the course and was granted the rank of Pilot Officer with seniority from 1st October 1944.  The most likely location was Archerfield House at Dirleton, which had a cadet school, a woman's auxiliary school and an Officer training unit and this building was large enough to accommodate the training but billeting would probably have been elsewhere.
 
Archerfield House, Dirleton, East Lothian

Following this, in November 1944, he was posted to the Polish Depot where he served in the Training Department until 20th April 1945 when he was briefly seconded to Bentley Priory at Harrow, Middlesex, HQ of Fighter Command and the home of the Royal Observer Corps.  On 26th June 1945 (with effect from 1st April 1945) he was promoted to Flying Officer and transferred into the Research and Experimental Pool at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, Hampshire as an administrator and Adjutant to the Polish forces there.

On 9th June 1945 he married Mary Eileen Hunt at Blackpool.
 
Mieczyslaw with Mary


In August 1947 he was in Hereford at the Royal Air Force Secretarial Branch, Training Establishment where he was undertaking further training during his time with the Polish Resettlement Corps, from
which he was finally discharged in December 1948.
 
After the War had ended Mieczyslaw led a parade in the town of Shrewsbury.  This was far from where he was serving and could have been in honour of the Allied Victory or could have been part of the Polish Soldiers' Day celebration but I am inclined to think that a more likely explanation was that it was a memorial service for his brother Tadeusz, a fellow Officer, who was unfortunately killed in a road accident in that town on 26th August 1947.





Series of photographs showing the Air Force parade to
St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury probably in memory of
Tadeusz Szklarski

However, it is during his time at RAE Farnborough right through to his discharge from the Polish Resettlement Corps that details of his service become very sketchy and give credence to otherwise unsubstantiated family lore that he was involved in some kind of clandestine work that he described to one member of the family as potentially very dangerous. 
 
He rose rapidly from NCO rank to Flying Officer which does not seem to square with him then being buried in an administrative role.  His military records describe him as intelligent and very capable of performing any task given to him.  Again this seems an unlikely waste of talent.  There are stories within the family which suggest that he was training for a return to Poland to carry out dangerous and secretive work.  This work was allegedly halted only after the first groups to go in were killed by the Polish Communist/Russian authorities.

I have to stress that there is no solid evidence for this idea but there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to back it up.  A significant number of Polish airmen were recruited by the American OSS, who were the immediate predecessors of the CIA, to recruit deniable agents for espionage purposes in Albania and other Central European countries under the code name OBOPUS-BGFIEND and with help from MI6 under the code name VALUABLE.

Other agents were parachuted into Poland in small numbers by the Americans - again using Poles for deniability.  The British authorities had an ongoing agent insertion programme right up until 1955 when it was stopped because too many agents were being caught or killed as the scheme was compromised.  This was done by sea, using an ex-Kriegsmarine E-Boat with enhanced radio communications and long range fuel tanks and crewed by former German naval crews under the guise of fishery protection.

Interestingly, one of the CIA pilots was Stanislaw Jozefiak who was in 304 Squadron at the same time as Mieczyslaw Szklarski.  The rates of pay for these agents was also a long way above what they could earn in a normal job at the time.

This is a matter for speculation only, as it is very unlikely that the records will be released in the lifetimes of these men or their children.  A large percentage of the MI6 records of the time were destroyed in a fire and the rest are liable to be buried indefinitely in the "National interest".  It is also interesting that the Soviet Bloc was very well informed in advance of all these activities and a prominent diplomat in this area was one Kim Philby. 

During the course of his military service he received gallantry and campaign medals from Poland and campaign medals from Great Britain and France.

Mieczyslaw's array of medals
 
Mieczyslaw left all forms of public service in 1948 and registered as an alien on 3rd January 1949.  This meant that he was obliged to regularly report to the Police and could not set up in business or work other than as an employee without the express permission of the Home Office until he received, on 1st February 1951, his British Citizenship and Naturalisation Certificate No BNA 17531 under his adopted name of Scot.
 

Typical pages from the Aliens Registration Book
 
He worked sporadically as a dental mechanic for a variety of dentists in Hertfordshire, Blackpool, Kendal and Windermere until the mid-1950s when he went to work for Duple the coach builders at Marton, Blackpool.  He worked mainly on the production line and then as an Inspector for his last few years there until his retirement in about 1978.  He was also employed on one of the pleasure steamers on Lake Windermere.   He died on 15th October 1986 in Blackpool and is buried in Carleton Cemetery.

What follows is a selection of his personal documentation recording his military life.  They do not necessarily fit in to specific sections of this text but record major milestones in his life:

Final Record from the Polish Air Force
 
Polish Air Force Certificate of Honour
 
 Certificate of Demobilisation from l'Armee de l'Air
 
Reverse of previous document.  Note
the rubber stamp which denies him the
right to live in France and the right to a
French Ration Card
 
Certificate of Admission into the Polish Resettlement Corps
 
Testimonial in support of his Naturalisation
 
Grant of Citizenship 1951 - also rescinds
his need to remain as a Registered Alien
 
With many thanks to Kevin Scot (Szklarski) for the unprecedented use of his family archive and incredible collection of photographs.

 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

CAN ANYONE IDENTIFY THE LOCATION OF THIS PARADE ?

UPDATE: IDENTIFIED AS ST CHAD'S CHURCH, SHREWSBURY

The following pictures were taken at an Air Force church parade of some sort.  They were taken very late in the War or very soon after it ended.  The only thing that is certain is that they were taken in the British Isles as the man leading the parade was F/Lt (later S/Ldr) Mieczyslaw Walenty Szklarski, formerly of 304 Squadron (Polish) and later served with the RAF based at the Royal Aerospace Establishment at Farnborough.  Except during bombing raids and anti-submarine patrols, he never served outside Britain once he arrived here, via France, in the early days of the War.
 
To enlarge any item, please click on the picture.  If you can identify the location, please contact me on nevillebougourd@gmail.com
 


The picture above shows what looks like a telephone box but not painted red.  If it is a telephone box (by no means certain).  Yellow ones were only used in the Channel Islands - but may not have been painted yellow during WW2.  White ones were only used on the private telephone system in Hull.
 


 

Friday, 2 December 2016

STANISLAW MAZUR VEL BUTYNSKI


Stanislaw Mazur vel Butyński was born on 12th October 1915 in the village of Zablocie just across the river from the town of Strumien in Cieszyn, Poland.  He was the son of Jozef and Zofia (nee Czuban) Mazur vel Butynski.  His father was killed in the First World War and his mother died of an infection on his sixteenth birthday so he did not have an easy start to life. 


Stanislaw's home town - Strumien

Stanislaw's school photo and below a detail from it

 
 
Stanislaw's school band photo and below a detail from it
 
 
Even in his early teens, summer holidays meant work. 
Here he is shown, with his uncle, bringing in the harvest.
 
After finishing his education in Oswiecim (on the outskirts of which the German occupiers would later create the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp, now a memorial and museum) at the age of 19, he was conscripted into the army and served with 5th Air Regiment in Lida where he trained as a pilot around 1936.  In 1939, when war with Germany was imminent, he was mobilised and rejoined his regiment.  The photograph above shows him wearing the Pilot's Gapa and the badge of the 5th Air Regiment.

Detail from a poster in the secondary
school in Strumien depicting him as a pilot
 
At a very early stage in the war, he was sent to Romania to collect fighter aircraft shipped from Britain.  Unfortunately, on 17th September 1939, Russia attacked Poland and those aircraft were diverted elsewhere.  Being in Romania his group were interned and disarmed and they were sent to a camp in the Danube Delta, probably Tulcea.
 
Whichever camp he was sent to, he managed to acquire a forged discharge certificate which showed that he was a former Polish soldier and therefore now a civilian.  This was a great advantage as it allowed him to live openly as a non-combatant in a Polish School in Bucharest.  It was also a bit risky because the name he adopted was his mother's maiden name.

False Army Discharge Papers forged in the Internment Camp

However, that was a short lived advantage because he picked up a serious illness in the Delta and he was transferred from the internment camp at Tulcea to the healthier camp at Campulung Muscel where he was treated for a severe bout of malaria.  He almost died but eventually recovered and was then able to take part in a carefully staged escape plan supported by the Polish Embassy and sympathetic Romanian Officials.

Security in the camps was very lax but they were being surreptitiously monitored by German agents who were aware of the efforts being made to evacuate Polish fighting men to France.  He was supplied with a genuine Romanian identity card which had been provided to the Polish Embassy pre-stamped with official Romanian seals and issued in a false name.  He was also provided with money and travel documents.  He had the insignia stripped from his uniform and the uniform itself was altered to resemble a civilian suit.



Front and reverse of fake "genuine" Romanian ID

His method of "escape" was to simply walk out of the camp at a pre-arranged time and jump onto the running board of a passing car.  He was driven to Bucharest but through an area of German sympathisers and they had to drive through a road block and were fired upon but with his forged papers and civilian suit, once in Bucharest he was able to live openly. 

His next initial destination was the Black Sea port of Balcic where he stayed for about a month whilst waiting for his travel arrangements.  Later, he travelled the 70 miles or so to Constanta where he embarked on the Romanian ship "Transilvania" bound eventually for Beirut.  The vessel sailed on 21st December 1939 and took six days to reach Beirut.

 Military open air Mass at Balcic, Romania (now Bulgaria)
 
Stan's souvenir postcard of the Transilvania

The route taken was almost certainly via Istanbul, Piraeus (Athens) and on to Beirut where they changed ships, possibly to the SS Warszawa, and travelled to Marseilles via Tripoli in Libya.  Once in France they were placed in the military transit camp at Camp de Carpiagne before eventually being moved to the Polish camp at Lyon-Bron.

 
Camp de Carpiagne - overall view

Camp de Carpiagne - Hut 13 (front left) was Stan's barracks
 

 
Internal and external views of his Armee de l'Air ID
 
In due course he was moved to the Polish Depot at Lyon-Bron but he did not particularly enjoy his time there as he was not put to work in any significant way except digging trenches and other menial tasks - a situation mirrored by many Poles in France.  His main complaints were the poor living conditions within the barracks such as sleeping on the floor on a straw palliasse, poor rations, lack of hot water and an infestation of rats during the night.  He did get the occasional trip to Paris to cheer him up.
 
 
Stan and friends in Paris 1940
 
However, he was a trained pilot from his National Service days and he was selected by the RAF for pilot training in England and transferred there in early 1940. 
 
 
Stan (marked by red arrow) and fellow pilot trainees in London 1940
 
As a trained pilot he was expected to quickly learn the differences between handling British and Continental aircraft.  The main ones being that most British aircraft had retractable undercarriage and the controls were totally different and in different positions.  They also had to learn King's Regulations and they were expected to have a reasonable standard of English.  Unfortunately, it was discovered that he had malaria and was not fit to fly so he was very quickly transferred back to France - much to his dismay.
 
He was returned to a transit camp at Bressuire, which he jokingly referred to as a prison, on 29th April 1940 but he was only there for four days before returning to Lyon-Bron.  It was barely worth the journey back as the French capitulated only six weeks later and the Poles were evacuated to the small port of St Jean de Luz just on the French side of the border with Spain.
 

 Stan's party en route to St Jean de Luz
 
This was a much less publicised evacuation than Dunkirk, a couple of weeks earlier, but almost as many men were taken off and brought back to England.  It was no walk in the park as they were constantly harassed by the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine's U-Boats and many lives were lost just getting to the ships.  Eventually, Stanislaw boarded the Arandora Star which was heavily overloaded, carrying three or four times as many men as she was designed to do. 

She had to sail far out into the Atlantic in order to avoid the German U-Boats and the long range Condor aircraft.  It took three days to reach Liverpool but she arrived safely and disembarked all the rescued men.  She was torpedoed on her very next voyage and went down with enormous loss of life - mostly German POWs and Italian internees. The following is a selection of photos of the journey from St Jean de Luz to Liverpool where they arrived on 27th June 1940.


 Stanislaw is on the left in the above picture
 
 Overcrowded but not defenceless
 
 
 
Once off the ship they were moved to a transit camp the location of which is unknown but was probably quite close to Liverpool as the vessel did not dock until late afternoon and it would take a considerable amount of time to get them all through the basic immigration procedures, fed and prepared to move on to Blackpool Polish Depot for airmen.  The following photographs show that it was not really prepared for such an influx of servicemen and was still, at that early point in the war, tented accommodation, although it appears to be in the grounds of a prominent property - a stately home or castle.
 
 Washing at stand pipes
 
 Issue of the most basic equipment
 
 Tented accommodation
 
New arrivals checking out the location
 



Stanislaw (Still in French uniform) with two RAF friends
26th July 1940

He had not long been in England when he had a quite serious recurrence of his malaria in the form of Blackwater Fever.  This is a nasty complication which basically causes red blood cells to burst and can lead to kidney failure.  He spent some time in hospital and, as part of his convalescence, he was invited to the home of one of his fellow patients in Chopwell, County Durham.  This was a pleasant experience for him and, as he waited for a bus to return to duty, he met a young lady named Margaret Stamp and fell for her instantly.  He had enjoyed his time in Chopwell and now he had a reason to come back!

 

Stan and Margaret in Chopwell, 1940

Once he had returned to duty, Stanislaw set about practising his English, polishing up on his trade and getting down to work learning all the new aspects of his work on British aircraft.  There was a war on and malaria had put paid to his hopes of flying but there was much work still to do.  In the initial stages he was attached to the Polish Depot at Blackpool and the technical training schools at RAF Weeton and RAF Squires Gate, which were all part of the same complex. 


The Barracks at RAF Weeton - not luxurious but heated,

with proper beds and comfortable

Once this was completed, on 12th September 1941, he was posted to 304 Squadron who were then based at RAF Lindholme, Yorkshire.  At that time he would be engaged on maintaining the Wellington Mk 1c bombers which were, at that time, part of Bomber Command and heavily engaged in bombing mainland Europe.

 

Record of his arrival at 304 Squadron
 
On 10th May 1942, by this time in Coastal Command, the Squadron moved to RAF Tiree in the Outer Hebrides where they had to spend very long hours flying over featureless ocean and therefore relied on the ground crew to keep their aircraft in top condition. 
304 Squadron Movement Order to RAF Tiree
 
They were only there for a few weeks until 13th June 1942 when they transferred to RAF Dale in Pembrokeshire, Wales.  The targets were the same, as were the long over-sea flights; only the locations differed.  During their time at RAF Dale, they were also detached to RAF Talbenny, also in Pembrokeshire, for a month but Stanislaw would have missed all or most of that period because of a long and persistent recurrence of his Blackwater Fever.
 
He was admitted to the County Hospital at Haverfordwest on 9th November 1942 and immediately transferred to Pembroke Woodbine hospital which became a small emergency hospital for the armed forces.  After a further seventeen days he was transferred to Scolton Convalescent Hospital where he remained for another eleven days.  He continued to suffer the effects of this illness until well into the 1950s.
 
He continued his service with 304 Squadron and moved with them to RAF Docking, Norfolk on 2nd April 1943.  Shortly afterwards he was sent to No 2 Armament Practice Camp at RAF Thorney Island near Chichester in Sussex but the reason is not clear.  It would probably be on loan to service the electrics on their gun platforms or, more likely, to carry out electrical work necessary to move their equipment to RAF Docking - where it would be part of his job to service that equipment.
 
On 7th June 1943 the Squadron moved to RAF Davidstow Moor in Cornwall where he was responsible for the servicing of the electrics on Wellington Bombers that were patrolling the Bay of Biscay and the Western Approaches to the English Channel and were more likely to be fired upon by shore batteries, naval ships and fighters.  From 14th-28th October he was sent to RAF Angle in Pembrokeshire, presumably on an appropriate training course at the Coastal Command Development Unit.
 
In December 1943 the Squadron moved to RAF Predannack in the far south of Cornwall and in March 1944 to RAF Chivenor in Devon.  Then on 21st September 1944 on to RAF Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides for one of the worst winters on record.  In this place they worked up to twenty hours a day in appalling weather conditions and slept in damp and cramped Nissen huts.  There was a guide rope fixed to the ground to give them anchorage and protection against ferocious winds as they walked up the slope to the hangars.  This information came from the family of Sgt Marian Bogatek who, as a sergeant electrician, was probably Stanislaw's immediate superior.  At this time they were transferred (on paper only) to 8304 Service Echelon.
 
Benbecula in the snow
 
Even skilled men do guard duty!
 
On 24th September 1944, Stanislaw returned to Chopwell and married Margaret Stamp at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Chopwell. Because of the difficulties of spelling and also pronouncing his name he was always just known as Stan Mazur.  In fact his son Michael tells me that he was about ten years old before he knew the rest of his name!
 
The wedding of Stanislaw Mazur vel Butynski and Margaret Stamp
 
 
Press announcement of the wedding
 
Stan and Margaret in civvies
 
In March 1945 the Squadron moved to RAF St Eval in Cornwall where their main duties were to protect the Western Approaches to the English Channel.  This was particularly important since the invasion of Europe was in full swing and the constant flow of men and materials across the Channel had to be protected from U-Boats coming in from the Atlantic.  During his time there he would most probably have worked on the Wellington Bomber piloted by Rudolf Marczak who had the distinction of sinking the U-321, which was the last U-Boat sunk in British coastal waters in the Second World War.
 
The War in Europe ended on 8th May 1945 and Stanislaw was transferred, with what was left of the Squadron to RAF Chedburgh in Suffolk.  This marked the transfer of the whole Squadron to Transport Command.  Their duties from this point included transporting much needed supplies around Europe including freshly minted currency to replace the worthless currency issued by the German Generale Gouvernment and also to ferry released Prisoners home.  It was also a new challenge to the ground crew including Stanislaw.  They now had to maintain Vickers Warwicks and Handley Page Halifaxes.
 
From here they moved to RAF North Weald in Essex on 8th July 1945 until 6th September 1945 on which date they made their final move to RAF Chedburgh in Suffolk.  For Stanislaw this became simply routine maintenance of aircraft that spent a few months flying around Europe then were relegated only to training flights.  This was effectively the end of his service; on 15th January 1947 he visited No 4 Polish Resettlement Unit at RAF East Wretham where he signed up for the two year PRU course.
 
Stan's last meal ticket in the service
in the name of St. Mazur! 
Front and rear views
 
This gave him the security of pay at his current rank plus a place to stay whilst he retrained and improved his English and stayed as a non-active member of the RAF.  He actually only stayed until 19th April 1947.  He did not wish to return to Poland under Russian and/or a puppet Polish Communist government so he decided to settle in his wife's home town of Chopwell in County Durham.
 
Together they opened S & M Mazur, a general dealer's store in the village and kept it for many years until he retired.  The first shop was in Blyth Street shortly after the War but he moved to South Road around about 1960. 
 
S & M Mazur's first shop in Blyth Street, Chopwell
 
Stan serving a customer from the mobile shop
 
He also ran a mobile shop for those in outlying areas  The business was then passed on to his daughter who continued to run it for a long time but it is no longer in the family.
 
Stanislaw died on 28th May 1998, in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Gateshead, at the age of 82.  He was cremated and his ashes were buried in St John's churchyard in Chopwell.
 
By way of an epilogue, what follows is a montage of documents relating to his military service and some photographs of the Air Force equivalent of trench art which he made during his spare time.
 



 
 
 
Stanislaw's genuine military release document
 
 Stanislaw's Official Record
 
Stanislaw's Naturalisation (British Citizenship)
from The London Gazette 17th December 1948
 
Support document for Stan's  naturalisation papers and his
British Nationality
 
 
With thanks to Michael Mazur vel Butynski for all his insights, the use of his personal family archive and his personal comments and advice whilst I have been working on this story