Monday, 30 May 2016


The photo may be colorised or it may be a genuine colour photo.  It is shown exactly as I received it and it appears to be a 304 Squadron aircraft in difficulties on the perimeter road of an airfield.  To me, it looks like RAF Benbecula but others think it is North Africa.
I don't think the long grass/heather is typical of North Africa and I hope someone may have a similar photo and can identify it.  I have one description of a similar event which took place in November 1944 but the fact that some of the men are shirtless in the photo makes that seem improbable.
It has also been suggested that the recovery vehicles are American.  That is not totally surprising bearing in mind that Lease Lend provided us with a lot of such equipment.  I also know that this equipment was in use in North Uist in the latter part of 1943 so I know that such equipment was in the area.
Q was the code letter for Wellington HF420 which first flew for 304 Squadron in June 1944 and continued well in to 1945.  However it could have been an earlier Q which was around some time after mid 1942 because it is painted in Coastal Command colours.
If anyone has any ideas or suggestions regarding the aircraft, the date or the location please pass them on.

Thursday, 19 May 2016


I am very happy to support a scheme to honour the men of 304 Squadron (among others) who were killed in crashes at, or near, Bleasby in Nottinghamshire.  This is being organised by Ken Ogilvie and I think it best to describe his fund raising methods in his own words:
This event is a day out at the Great Central Railway, going back in time to travel and dine in 1950s style, travelling in Pullman Car comfort, complete with a five course meal. The train will be pulled by a steam locomotive, both selected for us and driven on the day by Bill Brazier, a long time Bleasby resident.
Travel from Bleasby to and from Loughborough will be by coach leaving from the Waggon and Horses. For those who want to experience a cab ride in the locomotive at their own risk between stations on the line, this can be arranged, subject to numbers, and booked in advance.
Drinks can be pre-ordered to be served at your reserved seat at extra cost.
A choice of one of two starters and main courses will be available, and most special other dietary requirements can be catered for, all pre-ordered. A child’s meal will be served for younger passengers.
Access for the disabled can also be provided, again by prior arrangement.
We are taking bookings now for this excursion. A minimum number of 75 adult priced tickets must be sold to make the excursion viable.
The maximum number that can be catered for on the train is 126 people, including children.
No non-dining seats are presently available, although additional coaches may be added to the train if there is a demand for these seats, but only if the required minimum of adult priced dining seats have been sold.
In this edition of the Bleasby News, you will find an application form for excursion reservations. If you wish to book on this excursion, please complete and submit the form, remembering to attach your cheque which can be post-dated to 9th June, 2016. Each adult priced ticket cost £75 and includes a donation of £20 for the project. Child seats, including a child’s meal, cost £35 each, with no donation included, but there only a maximum of 42 child seats available. If you are able and willing to do so, it would help further if you would complete and sign the attached Gift Aid form, and attach it to your application. Completed forms can be either delivered in a sealed envelope to me at Forge Cottage, Bleasby, or handed to any Bleasby Local History Society Committee member, or alternatively handed in at the bar of the Waggon and Horses. Please be sure to include your contact details.
Cheques are to be made payable to St Marys Church – Memorial Fund. Cheques will only be presented for payment following a decision being made that the project will be viable. If a decision is made on 9th June that the project will not go ahead due to lack of support, your application form and cheque will be returned to you.
If you either cannot or do not want to take part in this event, but would like to make a donation to the Project, then please return your donation, with completed Gift Aid form if appropriate, in a sealed envelope to any of the above recipients. Please do not pay either for your tickets or your donation in cash.
Donations or payments should be sent to Ken Ogilvie at Forge Cottage, Main Street, Bleasby, Notts., NG14 7GH, England accompanied by the attached form.


Anyone wishing to book a place on this excursion, please email Ken Ogilvie and he will send you an application form email address 

Sunday, 15 May 2016


Hello and welcome to my new visitor from Nepal!  I was seriously surprised to see that I had received a hit from that country.  I hope you will enjoy the site and come back on many occasions.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


He was born on 25th August 1907 at Lwow, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine), one of 4 children of Jozef and Wiktoria Werbowski,  Jozef was a tailor and was comfortably well off.  The family kept dogs and horses and they holidayed and spent time skiing in the mountain resorts in their native Poland.
Skiing in Poland before the War

He remembered the hard times of his teens in the 1918-1920) period when he carried ammunition in the streets for the Poles who were fighting the Ukrainians.  He also remembered the fighting and the ultimate defeat of the Bolsheviks in the period immediately after the First World War when Poland established itself as a country once more and looked forward to an independent future.

This was followed by a happy time when Poland had regained its freedom and it was an optimistic place for a few years.  After completing his education he joined the army as an Officer cadet and was commissioned into the mounted artillery in 1928.
Pre-war career soldier

He was a career Officer and stayed there until 1935 when he transferred to the air force - which, at this time, was still part of the army.  At the outbreak of war he was a Tactical Officer with 65 Eskadra of the 6th Bomber Division.  He was also trained as an observer (navigator) and as such, he was in the thick of the fighting from 1st to 18th September 1939 when his unit was ordered over the border into Romania, where he was disarmed and interned.

Emblem of 65 Eskadra Bombowa
With assistance from the Polish Embassy in Bucarest and after exchanging identities with his brother in law, he obtained false papers and an exemption certificate from military service (which stated he was a teacher and not fit for military service) he set about escaping from Romania.  Early in the war this was not too difficult as the Romanian authorities tended to turn a blind eye - especially when assisted with a suitable bribe.

Military Exemption Certificate

A false passport in his brother in law's name and with visas to cover all eventualities

As with all Polish military staff, he would have been provided with money, travel documents and whatever else was necessary to get him to France in order to rejoin the Polish forces.  His passport shows that they covered all the bases with entry visas for France and Great Britain and a transit visa for Italy.  The latter suggests that he was to take an overland route via Northern Italy into France. 
He left for France on 23rd December 1939.  On arrival there he was sent to Lyon-Bron where the conditions were very poor and the men were expected to sleep on straw mattresses on the floor and wash in cold water.  It was not a popular place.

French ID Card

There was little for the Poles to do and it must almost have come as a relief when the French capitulated and the Poles could make a run for Great Britain.  They were evacuated to Port Vendres, a small port in the South West of France, near the Spanish border.  It was a time of considerable anxiety as all of the British, Polish, Free French and Czech military personnel were trying desperately to get out of France.

His route is uncertain but he boarded the vessel MV Apapa which is likely to have gone to Britain via Gibraltar.  The vessel left Port Vendres around 17th June 1940 and arrived in Liverpool on 7th July 1914.  From there it was just a short train ride to the Polish Depot at Blackpool.


MV Apapa
Due to some very serious medical problems, he was not able to take part in the active fighting but maintained his service with the Polish Air Force in exile by acting as the Adjutant  with No 8304 Technical Section of 304 Squadron and later with the main Squadron itself.
After the War, on 28th January 1947, he enlisted in the Polish Resettlement Corps where he was still on the books of the RAF but had all the time and stability to retrain and make the transit to civilian life.  He remained there until 14th April 1948 when he relinquished his commission and moved into civilian life.
During his many visits to the Paderewski Polish Military Hospital in Edinburgh, he met Margaret Collie and they were married in 1943, having a daughter in 1947.
Kazimierz with two of his nurses from the Paderewski
Hospital.  The one on his right became his wife in

Once he had left the Air Force, they ran a small boarding house in Edinburgh.  After a few years they changed to a small medical nursing home but his eyesight deteriorated to the point where he could no longer help with the work.  Eventually he undertook some specialist training and became a very skilled leather worker with the Scottish National Institute for War Blinded.  He was plagued with problems with his eyes for the last 25 years of his life but he never let it get him down and he never gave up - retraining as a leather worker.  Ten years after the War, he wrote to his old subordinate, John Comper, he talked of old times and of being beset with health problems but he had not given up and he never felt sorry for himself.
Both of his parents and one of his sisters died during, or just after, the War but he did manage to make contact with his brother who visited him in Scotland after the War.  He also kept in touch with his former assistant, John Comper, with whom he became good friends.
Sadly he developed heart problems and he suffered a coronary and died on 24th January 1966 at the relatively young age of 58.  He is buried in Edinburgh.

As a postscript, a letter has been uncovered which was written to his former aide, John Comper, about 10 years after he had left the forces.  It shows his humility and calm acceptance of the handicap of blindness.  He is not bitter or angry and has accepted his misfortune with good grace.  A lesson to us all.  The letter is reproduced below.

With thanks to Barbara van Rooyen for access to her family archives
And to Ben Haslam for the use of the letter from Kazimierz to John Comper