Monday, 29 August 2016


He was a pilot, born on 14th March 1919 at Chmielnicki (now Ploskirow, Ukraine), the only child of Aleksander and Irena (nee Zurakowska).
Following the Russia/Poland war the family moved to Krzemieniec where Stanislaw spent most of his youth.  The idea of flying caught his interest from an early age.  Whilst still in high school he joined a flying club which offered summer camps that taught aviation.  In his second last year he learned flight theory and how to fly gliders; in the final year he was taught how to fly light aircraft.  Stanislaw finished lyceum and began his compulsory military service as an infantry cadet.  Following completion of this training he volunteered to join the Polish Air Force and was enrolled as an air cadet.
In the pre-war uniform of an air cadet
Stanislaw is second from the right in this group of cadets
At the start of World War II in 1939, when Poland was invaded by both Russia and Germany, he was still an air cadet.  Once it was clear that Poland could no longer hold out, the Polish Air Force drew up plans to fight and resist from outside the country.  Escape plans were developed and these included the cadets.
As a cadet at Deblin in 1939
His escape was organised by the Polish Air Command which provided a bus for their journey out of Poland.  He was one of about 40 military passengers.  They travelled to the town of Snyatin, close to the Polish-Romanian border and then crossed into Romania near the town of Czernauti where the Romanians had established a military camp and barracks in which the cadets were interned, after being disarmed.
Within a few days a Polish embassy official arrived at the camp and instructed everyone to get out of their Polish uniforms and to head to Bucarest  where they were to pick up their Polish passports and would also be given money for their journey.
A group of them then headed to the Port of Tulcea.  After about a week, he obtained a booking on a Romanian paddle steamer heading to Beirut, Lebanon.  Before being allowed to leave he was interviewed by Romanian port authorities.  The story he provided, along with a cash bribe, was that he was a student going to France.
Once having reached Beirut, he had to wait again for transport to France.  The Polish government had arranged for a French ship to pick them up and take them to Marseilles.  This was an uneventful journey and from there he went to Lyons via Istres.  There was an exhibition hall and a lovely park near the Lyons airport and the group stayed there for about two months until after Christmas.  Conditions were primitive and there were no proper beds or hot water and the group were glad to leave for RAF Eastchurch in England early in 1940.
Primitive conditions at Lyon-Bron.  Stanislaw is at the back left, wearing a hat
Conditions were much better in England but the British Government required them to take an Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown.  Stanislaw and a number of others declined to do so as their allegiance was to Poland.  As a result of this refusal they were sent back to France.

 PAF personnel in civvies at RAF Eastchurch before being sent back to France. 
Stanislaw is in the back row towards the centre
Stanislaw, on the left and a friend back in Lyons
With the rapid collapse of France, Germany's impending invasion of Britain and its shortage of experienced personnel, Britain changed its mind about its allegiance requirements and Stanislaw and his company were allowed to return.
Back at RAF Eastchurch, Kent
Britain sent a ship to Saint Jan de Luz which picked them up and delivered the group to Liverpool.  They then headed to Blackpool where the PAF Headquarters were located and where they were assigned to their various operational bases in England and Scotland.  Stanislaw's first posting was to RAF Benson in Oxfordshire to ferry aircraft.  This posting lasted for about six months.
At RAF Benson in 1940.  Stanislaw is in the back row, towards the centre, wearing a wedge cap
When he was posted to 304 Squadron, there was a brief period of time where nothing was happening.  To make the best use of such time he was told to report for a training flight with the crew of R1268 (NZ-T).  The purpose was to continue training of the two navigators attached to the flight as well as to allow Stanislaw to become more familiar with that specific aircraft type.
Due to severe icing and a shortage of fuel they were forced into making a crash landing near West Edmondsley farm just a few miles out of Durham.  All four on board were injured but there were no fatalities.
The airmen were given morphine and first aid by Dr Mukerji, the local GP from Craghead, which was the nearest village.  They were then taken to Chester-Le-Street Hospital and later transferred to York Military Hospital.  The crew were F/O  Marian Kostuch, F/O Jan Stanislaw Waroczewski (the pilot), Sgt Stanislaw Boczkowski (second pilot) and P/O Stanczuk.
It was actually on a cross country training mission.  The circumstances were that the pilot had selected an emergency landing site but his wings iced up and his windows iced over at 3,500 feet and he lost site of his chosen landing ground.  It must be remembered that this was one of the worst winters of the 20th Century.  The pilot saw the farmhouse at the last minute and his evasive action, a hard right turn, caused him to hit the trees on slightly higher ground.
A fellow researcher interviewed the surviving eye witness in December 2009 and was told that the aircraft approached from the direction of Blackhouse and did a complete 180 degree turn before pancaking and falling into a clearing in the trees.  This account squares with the sketch that he did at the time, which shows that the wings were still attached to the fuselage.  It is also borne out by the orientation of the aeroplane when it crashed and the fact that none of the older trees in the area show signs of an impact.  It also suggests that the Wellington stalled and simply fell out of the sky.  This may have saved the lives of the crew as the downward impact from a low level would be far less severe than a forward impact from a headlong rush through the trees and into the bankside.
The Squadron Operational Record Book is blank for the day of the crash but it was recorded in the Operational Record Book of RAF Syerston (Nottinghamshire).
On 18th March 1941 he transferred to 300 Squadron and was serving at RAF Hemswell in 1942 as part of the crew of the Assam Bomber BH-T, a Wellington that was bought by subscription of the people of Assam in North East India.  He is also known to have been in the crew of BH-W.  He is
The Assam bomber crew and ground crew.  Stanislaw is third from the right, standing
recorded in 300 Squadron ORB as being posted to 18 OTU at RAF Bramcote as a flying instructor on 27th March 1942, possibly on completion of his tour of duty as he had flown 30 missions.  A few months later he was assigned to Ferry Command to transport new planes from North America to Britain, India and North Africa.  One North American posting was in Montreal.  Thus he got to know that city quite well.  His final posting during the war was to Bushey Park in London which was the Headquarters of Bomber Command.
RAF Bramcote Instructors in 1943 - Stanislaw is second from the right
Bomber Command staff at Bushey Park - Stanislaw is third from the left in the third row
He survived another crash on 11th February 1942 where he piloted a flight on a bombing raid to Bremen which was hit by ground flak which damaged some of his controls.  He was given permission to land on a fighter squadron field but, due to the length of the field, the plane crashed against an embankment.  No one was hurt as a result of the crash and there was only slight damage to the aircraft.
While serving in 300 Squadron he met Maria Regina Boczkowska (nee Malinowska) who came from the same city (Krzemieniec) in Poland as himself.  She was a survivor of Stalin's deportations to Siberia and was later released to the Anders Army.  She escaped with her mother, Marcelina, to Palestine and then joined the RAF in England.  Their son, Richard, was born in Lincoln in 1948 and the next year the extended family emigrated to Canada.

Marcelina, Richard and Maria Regina in Lincoln
With the end of the war, he and Regina were aware of the arrests made by the Soviets and their puppets and executions of officers returning to Poland.  They were aware of the effects of Yalta where Poland was given up by Britain and the United States to the USSR - and the fact that the Russians were establishing the Ukraine as a new country that included the part of Poland from which they both came.  Finally the British encouraged the Poles to return home, work in British coal mines or just get out of the country.  A plan was hatched to leave for Canada - Montreal.
After being demobilised from RAF Cammeringham (near Lincoln) the new family (which also included Regina's mother Marcelina Malinowska nee Juszczyk who was serving with the RAF in Scotland), took advantage of Canada's offer to settle immigrants who were willing to set up a farm - even though they knew nothing about farming.  As it happened, Stanislaw's aunt, Waclawa, and her husband Col Mietec Karaszewicz had bought a farm in St. Rose, Quebec.  They called for the extended family to join them to help them farm.  Of course no one intended farming but it was a way of getting into the country and starting a new life.
The family left Britain by ship and landed (first for a few hours) in St John's, Newfoundland and finally in Halifax.  Almost immediately they moved to and settled in Montreal where a new Polish community was establishing itself.
Maria Regina and son Richard on board the Nova Scotia bound for Canada
Given his training and experience as a pilot for most of his adult life, Stan tried to find work in the aviation field including being a bush pilot.  Unfortunately at the age of 29 he was considered too old.  With a wife, infant and mother in law relying on him, he had to resort to menial low paid work (locomotive stoker, refrigerator repair man etc.) to survive financially.  Whist working he also went to school to learn architectural drafting.
Gradually conditions improved leading to better pay and a more settled life.  Together with Regina's help (she acquired a dress designer certification and worked in that industry for many years) they had a new home built and eventually managed to own it outright, acquired a car and managed to put their son through University.  Stan was an active member of the Polish RCAF Veterans Association for many years.  He and Regina retired from work and spent many a winter in Florida's warmer climate.
Stanislaw in Montreal, 2008
After a long and happy life, he died in Montreal, Canada in November 2014 at the age of 95.
All photographs used come from the Boczkowski family collection and are used by kind permission of Richard Boczkowski.