Notification of deaths

W/O Jan Tadeusz Baxter (Zabłocki)  300Sqn Pilot  03.04.1920 - 12.03.2021

 

Jan Tadeusz Baxter, one of the last surviving pilots of the wartime Polish Air Force,  died on 12th of March, just short of his 101st birthday. Born in 1920 with the surname Zabłocki, he was selected for pilot training in Poland but did not complete his training before the outbreak of war. He escaped through central Europe to France, and from there to Britain where he was initially stationed at RAF Swinderby on ground duties with 300 Squadron of the Polish Air Force. After pilot training in Britain and Canada, in 1943 he was posted back to 300 Squadron, now at RAF Ingham, flying Wellingtons mainly on mine-laying duties. He converted to the Halifax and then served in 1586 Special Duties Flight at Brindisi. Between March and May 1944 he flew 27 operational night sorties, 11 of which were to Poland, dropping supplies for the Home Army. He described how "Flying low over the DZ [Drop Zone] during the Drop, I opened the side window and felt a rush of clear Polish air ... The flights to Poland were exhilarating and, if the missions were accomplished, they gave a lot of satisfaction to myself and the crew. More than once I had the moving experience of seeing the lights of my home town, Kraków, in the distance." After his tour at Brindisi, he returned to England to serve as an instructor. He stayed in Britain after the war, flying commercially, including making 242 flights during the Berlin Airlift. In 1951 he joined the RAF and served in flying roles in Aden and Malaysia as well as home postings. He is survived by his widow and two sons by his first wife.

Col Mieczysław J Stachiewicz  301Sqn  Pilot  21.05.1917 - 30.04.2020

W/O Jerzy E Główczewski  308Sqn  Pilot  19.11.1922 - 13.04.2020

Following the German and Soviet invasions he was forced to head south to Romania. A year later he had to flee again and made his way to Haifa in Palestine. Here he initially joined the Independent Carpathian Brigade but then volunteered for pilot training in the Polish Air Force and arrived in Britain in 1942. In late 1944 he joined 308 City of Krakow Squadron. After the war he returned to Poland and worked on the rebuilding of Warsaw followed by lecturing in the US and the modernisation and reconstruction of the ancient city of Aswan in Egypt. He settled in New York as an architect and lectured at the Pratt Institute and was the author of several books.

W/O Roman M Golicz  300Sqn  Air Gunner  06.12.1925 - 06.04.2020

W/O Julian Michalski  304Sqn  Navigator  05.02.1919 - 03.04.2020

He joined the Polish army in 1937 and on the Russian invasion his unit moved into Hungary. Disarmed, they were permitted to travel through Yugoslavia and Italy to France. When France collapsed they moved to Spain and then to Algiers. As all transport to Britain was reserved for airmen, they drove across the Sahara to Nigeria. The British High Commission in Kano sent them by sea to Egypt where they joined the Polish contingent in Alexandria. He fought at Tobruk and was then sent to Britain by sea escorting enemy prisoners. On arrival in Liverpool he volunteered for the Polish Air Force and was sent to Canada for training as a Navigator. Returning to Britain at the end of 1943 he was allocated to 304 Sqn, Coastal Command, on convoy protection and anti-submarine missions from RAF Benbecula. After the war, he returned to his studies, became a lecturer and eventually professor at Birmingham University.

Lt Wanda Szuwalska-Gaweł 300Sqn  Clerk 18.01.1923 - 26.03.2020

Deported to Siberia as a teenager in 1940, she arrived with her family after a 3-week rail journey. She was put to work clearing forests alongside her father. After the 1941 Polish/Soviet agreement, she got out through Uzbekistan to join Anders’ army in Persia. Volunteering for the Polish WAAFs, she travelled from Alexandria on a warship through the Mediterranean to Britain, arriving at the end of 1943. As a WAAF she served in 300, Land of Mazovia, Squadron and then from 1944 at Fighter Command HQ , Bentley Priory.

W/O Marian Jankiewicz  315Sqn  Pilot  18.01.1923 - 02.09.2019

He was arrested by the Red Army in 1939 aged 16 and sentenced to 16 years hard labour in Siberia. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, under a Polish/Soviet agreement Poles were released and allowed to make their own way to join Polish forces. Making his way via Persia and India, he reached the UK and joined the Polish Air Force. On completion of flying training he was posted to 315, City of Dęblin, Squadron flying Mustangs as bomber escorts. Post-war he served in the RAF until 1968 and then until 1987 with the Air Force of the United Arab Emirates

                                         'May they rest in peace'