After 10 years of research, I was recently invited to take a trip to Poland to be present at a ceremony in honour of 304 Squadron and it's adoption by the 44th Naval Aviation Base at Siemirowice on the Baltic coast. This is the military group who now perform the anti-submarine warfare and air sea rescue functions previously performed by 304 Squadron and they have painted one of their aircraft in the livery of 304 Squadron - a nice gesture - in memory of those who died..
The nominal purpose was the presentation of a drawing of NZ-E to the base by Alastair Graham whose father was the first Senior British Liaison Officer responsible for the running of the Squadron during WWII. He did not polish a chair with the seat of his pants and was a fighting Officer who was killed in action when his Wellington Bomber was shot down over Germany early in the War.
There is still a strong relationship between the 44th Naval Aviation Base, families of Poles from the Squadron who still live in Britain, the Air Cadets in Hastings who also memorialise 304 Squadron and Polish and British military historians. This was very evident on the day.
The big surprise, for me, was being called up to receive an award from the base commander for my work in keeping alive the memory of the Polish Airmen who fought from Britain after Poland and France had been overwhelmed. The Islands of Last Hope as the Poles affectionately called us. They had an equally affectionate name for the Wellington Bomber, which they loved, - they called it the Flying Cow.
I was deeply touched to receive this award and to be so royally treated by the many Poles who attended the ceremony. My special thanks go to Alastair Graham who arranged for me to attend in the first place.
I would also especially like to thank Jarek Andrychowski (former base commander), Andrzej Szczotka (current base commander), Eugeniusz Boblinski (former Senior Officer) and the military historians Mariusz Konarski, Wojciech Matusiak and Milosz Rusiecki (with whom I have corresponded and co-operated over the years) and finally Jarek's mother who provided hospitality in her home after the event - she too was a pilot in her day!
It was an honour and an experience I will never forget.