A Polish-born pilot’s World War Two story

“My father was born in 1919 near Warsaw and in 1938 he joined the Polish Air Force, In Sept 1939 when the Germans attacked Poland and his flying school was bombed, he and many hundreds of his fellow students made an escape via Romania where they were interned by the Romanian Army. They then followed a roundabout journey by several trains and ships which took them to Bucharest, the Black Sea, Istanbul, Malta and Marseilles winding up at Lyon. When the Germans invaded France, attacked Lyon and bombed their airfield. He escaped again, this time via Perpignan to Oran, Casablanca and Gibraltar from where a British cruise liner took them to England arriving in Liverpool in June 1940.

“He then followed a long period of schooling, learning English and being assimilated into British ways, including a brief spell at RAF Leconfield, after which he resumed training at RAF Hucknell on Tiger Moths and then at RAF Newton on Airspeed Oxfords, concluding with his Wellington conversion at RAF Bramcote and a posting to 305 (Polish Squadron) at RAF Hemswell as an aircraft captain with the rank of Sergeant. On his seventh operation he lost an engine to anti-aircraft fire over Wilhemshaven, but could not feather the propeller, so, after a long struggle to maintain altitude, he had to ditch off the East Coast where after a few hours they were picked up by a RN fast patrol boat. In November 1943 he completed his 30 operations including three visits to Hamburg where he was nearly shot down again, but escaped after evasive action. He was promoted to Flight Sergeant awarded the DFM and the Polish Virtuti Militairi.

“He was then commissioned as a Pilot Officer and volunteered to return to Operations but was trained as a QFI and was transferred to 301 Polish Sqn flying Halifaxes.

“After the war he settled in Blackpool and was invited to join the Royal Air Force which he did in 1949 flying 10,000 flying hours and receiving the AFC finally retiring in 1974.”