2017

28 November

Polish 317 Squadron pilot remembered.

 

Polish pilot P/O Stanislaw Kurowicki from 317 (Polish) City of Wilno Squadron was honoured at the Remembrance service on 11 November at Fairlop Waters Country Park, Essex, the former home of RAF Fairlop. Wreaths were laid accompanied by the Polish Flag and Polish National Anthem. P/O Stanislaw Kurowicki was killed in action on 11th September 1943.

 

P/O Stanislaw Kurowicki was posted to 317 Sqn at RAF Fairlop on 21st  August 1943. On 11th September he was in one of the squadron’s 11 Spitfires that took off at 18.00 as part of the Polish Wing fighter escort to a target at Rouen, France. Over the target P/O Stanislaw Kurowicki shot down a Focke Wulf FW 190 before announcing on the radio that he had been hit. He was last seen fighting with four FW 190s south west of Rouen. P/O Stanislaw Kurowicki was the only pilot from 317 Sqn killed during its stay at Fairlop. His grave is in St. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, France.

 

Information and some photos supplied by Robert Pliszka. Photos in the slide show can be viewed by clicking the image then the arrows.

22 November

Polish 'Lego' Spitfire

A model of a Spitfire in the colours of 303 Polish Squadron is available as a brick construction kit from the RAF Museum shop. The MkVb Spitfire, which has 290 pieces compatible with Lego,  has a retractable undercarriage, rotating propeller and a pilot figure.   A stand is also included in the set  which is suitable for age 6 and above. It is priced at £22.99 and is available via this link 

29 October

 

Polish Air Force Museum Northolt tour dates 2018

RAF Northolt, which hosts the only Museum dedicated to the Polish Air Force in Britain, has advised dates for organised tours to the Museum in 2018. These are on Saturdays as follows: 14 April, 2 June, 4 August, 17 September. 

 

Each tour will be limited to 20 people and applications should be made to the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee chairman Richard Kornicki via email: richardkornicki@gmail.com

Tours will start at 14.00 and if over subscribed additional tours will run on the same dates at 11.00 after checking in beforehand at the security office, which is accessed via the White House Gate. This is the first gate on the A4180 West End Road, when approaching from the A40 Polish Air Force Memorial roundabout and is on the left just before a Shell garage. 

As RAF Northolt is an operational base visitors attending by car will need to confirm, prior to the visit, vehicle make, model, colour and registration. Photo ID will also be required to access the base. For those attending by public transport the nearest Underground Station is South Ruislip, approximately 600 metres from the White House Gate security office. 

Visits to the museum might also be possible on other dates in special circumstances, subject to staff availability and operational requirements.

There are no charges for visiting the Museum. However, as the Museum is housed at RAF Northolt by kind permission of the Station Commander, funding for exhibits and conservation is all met privately through the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee and guides give up their time voluntarily. Donations to the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee are appreciated.

Visitors may also wish to perhaps use the opportunity to visit the Polish Air Force Memorial and adjacent Memorial Gardens at Northolt and the nearby Northwood Cemetery, Chestnut Avenue, Northwood, Middlesex, HA6 1HR, which is just a 20 minute drive from the Northolt Memorial. The Orchard, Ruislip, HA4 7DR, - now a Beefeater restaurant -  is also on route to the cemetery.

For information on the Museum and the nearby Battle of Britain Bunker at Uxbridge, please click the ‘Museum’ page above.

29 September

Kraków honours Polish pilot

 

A street in Kraków has been named Majora Pilota Stefana Janusa (Major pilot Stefan Janus street) after Wg/Cdr Stefan Władysław Janus DSO, DFC, VM, KW and three bars.

 

Stefan Władysław Janus was born on 22 March 1910 in Wola Duchacka, near Kraków. He had three brothers and all became airmen. In 1931 Janus joined the Polish Artillery Cadet Officers Reserve School at Włodzimierz Wołyński, and on graduation went to the Polish Artillery College in Toruń. He was commissioned in 1934. At the same time he completed a flying training course at the Air Force Officers Training Centre in Dęblin.

 

Janus was posted to 22nd Light Bomber Squadron of the 2nd Air Regiment in Kraków. After completing an advanced flying course at Grudziądz, he joined the 122nd Fighter Squadron in Kraków. Later he was appointed a flying instructor in Dęblin.

 

In September 1939, together with a group of cadet officers, Janus crossed the Hungarian border. He continued through Yugoslavia and Greece to France and from there was posted to a training unit in North Africa.

After arriving in Britain, on 22 September 1940 Janus was posted to the newly formed 308 (Polish) City of Kraków Squadron. From 22 June 1941 he commanded ‘A’ Flight. On 17 November 1941 he took command of 315 (Polish) City of Dęblin Squadron. In May 1942 Janus was appointed Commander of the 1st Polish Wing at Northolt.

 

On 26 January 1943 Janus collided with another pilot over France and was captured. He remained in the POW camp Stalag Luft III in Zagan until the end of the war. After returning to Britain he was an operations officer at RAF 11 Group Head Quarters at Uxbridge. In 1953 Janus joined the RAF, where he stayed until his retirement in 1965.

 

Janus died on 11 November 1978 in East Farleigh near Maidstone, Kent. His ashes were taken to Poland and are buried at Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków. Janus is credited with destroying six enemy aircraft and damaging one.

 

Information provided by Peter Sikora. Photos in the slide show can be viewed by clicking the image then the arrows.

22 September

 

Northolt Commemoration Ceremony  

 

The annual and 57th Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen during World War II was held at the Polish Air Force Memorial, Northolt on Saturday 2 September.

 

The Ceremony opened with a Trumpeter and Drummer from the RAF Auxiliary Air Force Band sounding the Assembly prior to the Parade of Standards led by the replica Polish Air Force Wilno Standard.

 

Polish Air Force Memorial Committee Chairman Richard Kornicki CBE DL, followed with his introductory address, welcoming dignitaries, veterans, guests and the public.

 

Richard Kornicki said that we come together again to commemorate the achievements of the Polish Air Force in the West and to honour the memory of the Polish airmen whose names are engraved on the granite walls behind the Memorial. He added that Polish airmen created remarkable bonds and links with communities, which are now stronger than ever and cited several examples. These included the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło’s first engagement, on her inaugural UK-Poland Intergovernmental Consultations visit last year, to lay wreaths and meet veterans with the British Prime Minister Theresa May at the Memorial, followed by a reception at 10 Downing Street.

His address was followed by the Polish Roll-Call of the Fallen, carried out by the Officer Cadets of the Polish Air Force Academy, Dęblin; Prayers; the Last Post and a minute’s silence ended by Reveille. Invited dignitaries, representing national and local government, various organisations and associations laid wreaths on the Memorial. They were followed by veterans and descendants of the Polish Squadrons and Units commemorated on the Memorial. 

 

The hour-long ceremony ended with the Polish and UK national anthems. Unfortunately the flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was cancelled due to engine problems. In his closing remarks Richard Kornicki thanked all those involved with the Ceremony for their help, in particular Air Cadets from Middlesex Wing, 308, 315, 316 and 317 Squadrons for without them this Ceremony simply could not take place. Music to an exceptionally high standard was provided by the National Marching Band of the Air Training Corps.

 

He then called on Alexsander Smaga and colleagues representing the Ribbon of Memorial project in Kraków, to take a sample of Northolt earth to be buried in Kraków, representing the support provided by the Polish Air Force for the work of the Home Army throughout the war.

Following the Ceremony guests transferred to RAF Northolt for a reception and lunch in the Station’s Sword and Wheel Club, while being entertained by Polish dancers. RAF Northolt Station Commander, Group Captain Mike Carver and Acting Republic of Poland Defence Attaché, Lt Col Artur Miśkiewicz, awarded PAFMC Commendations to people who, with no personal connections with Poland, have made an exceptional contribution to preserving the memory of Polish Airmen.

 

The Memorial programme, speeches and commendations can be viewed by clicking the relevant icons below. Photos in the slide show can be viewed by clicking the image then the arrows. All photos Crown copyright unless otherwise stated. An amateur video of the Ceremony, made by Thomas Ozel, can be viewed by clicking this link.

 

Programme   Introduction    Closing remarks   Commendations

 

Next year's ceremony will take place on Saturday 1st September, 2018 at 12.00.

21 September

New Station Commander RAF Northolt

 

Group Captain Mike Carver has taken over as Station Commander of Royal Air Force Northolt.

 

He officially took command of the Station on 28 July, taking over from Group Captain David Manning.  A highly experienced Pilot, Mike Carver was commissioned into the RAF in 1986 and served the majority of his flying career on the Hercules transport aircraft of Number 24 and 47 Squadrons.  A veteran of operations flying in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, he has also served in a number of staff roles in both Permanent Joint Headquarters and Air Command.  These experiences will be a perfect background given Northolt’s role as the Royal Air Force’s strategic site in London, and home to 32 supported units from across Government and Defence including 32 (The Royal) Squadron, which provides Air Transport to the UK’s Governmental and military leaders.

 

“I’m delighted and honoured to have been appointed as Royal Air Force Northolt’s Station Commander, particularly with RAF100 next year,” said Mike Carver. “It’s already very clear to me what a professional, spirited and dedicated team Northolt possesses.  Northolt is both a highly diverse and key strategic airbase for the United Kingdom and I am very much looking forward to playing my part in maximising the opportunities that these will offer.” 

For further information please contact RAF Northolt Media & Communications Officer, Sq/Ldr James Tenniswood via email:NOR-BSWMCO@mod.uk

Click image to enlarge.

14 September

Polish records appointment.

The Army Personnel Centre (APC) has appointed Monika Helman as Administrative Officer at the APC Disclosures 5 (Polish) office at RAF Northolt. Monika replaces Barbara Kroll, who has retired and is working alongside Executive Officer Margaret Goddard. Monika can be contacted via email NOR-PolishDiscOfficeAsst2@mod.uk.

 

The APC Disclosures 5 (Polish) has access to the approximate 300,000 service records of ex-servicemen and women who served in the Polish Army, Navy and Polish Air Force under British command during WWII. 

 

For enquiries please contact:

Ministry of Defence

APC Disclosures 5 (Polish) 

Building 1 (Ops)

RAF Northolt

West End Road

Ruislip

Middlesex

HA4 6NG

UK.

T: +44(0)208 833 8603

E: NOR-PolishDiscOffice@mod.uk

28 August

Memorial to pilot F/O Bolesław Józef Sawiak 315 Polish City of Deblin Squadron.

A memorial to 315 (Polish) City of Deblin Squadron pilot F/O Bolesław Józef Sawiak was unveiled at a dedication service outside Ratoath Community Centre, near Dublin, The Republic of Ireland, on Wednesday 23 August, the 75th anniversary of his death.

 

Over 100 Polish and Irish local residents and dignitaries gathered to pay tribute to F/O Bolesław Sawiak. Prayers were offered by Father Gerry Stuart and Father Janusz Lugowski, Chaplin to the Polish community in the Diocese of Meath. The Polish Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland, Ryszard Sarkowicz, together with Government Minister Regina Doherty unveiled the memorial and laid a wreath in honour of F/O Bolesław Sawiak, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in fighting for freedom.

The memorial is close to the site where F/O Bolesław Sawiak’s Mk Vb Spitfire, BL959 PK-T crashed landed. He was mortally wounded and was taken to the military hospital, Saint Bricin's in Dublin, where he died a few hours later. He was 23 years old and is buried in Formby, Merseyside.

On 23 August 1942 F/O Bolesław Sawiak was in aerial combat with a Junkers Ju88 4U+KH from 1 Staffel Aufklarungsgruppen 123 with its crew of Lt Paul Störmer (pilot), Hauptmann Gottfried Berndt (observer), Oberfelwebel Karl Hund (wireless operator) and Unteroffizier Josef Reiser (air gunner). It was shot down following combined action by F/O Sawaik, 504Sqn Sgt Hawkins and Sgt Francis and 152Sqn F/Lt Sizzer and F/Sgt McPherson. The Ju 88 crashed landed near Carriglong, Co. Wexford and all the crew were captured.

The Commemoration and Exhibition was organised by Ratoath Community Centre's Exhibition Team led by Community Centre chief executive Leo Cummins. It was based on earlier initial research by the Ratoath Heritage Group and new added research from Michael O'Reilly, Tony Kearns and Anna Krawiec and supported by Polish Air Force historians and joint authors Piotr Sikora and Łukasz Gredys of  "Polish Wings over Ireland" published in 2015. Details are available in the ‘Publications’ page above. Both authors conducted extensive research into F/O Boleslaw Sawiak's last flight and the results can be found in the book.

Photos in the slide show can be viewed by clicking the image then the arrows.

16 August

Polish Air Force Memorial Committee sponsors floral display. 

The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee has sponsored a floral display at the site of the RAF Bunker and 11 Group Operations Room at Uxbridge, best known for controlling RAF fighter operations during the Battle of Britain. 

 

The display is in front of the replica Mk1 Hurricane that commemorates the aircraft P3901 RF-E of 303 Polish Kościuszko Squadron. Hurricane P3901 was the Polish Air Force’s most successful fighter aircraft during the war and 303 Sqn’s most successful during the Battle of Britain. It was flown by several 303 Sqn pilots, including Acting Sqn/Ldr Witold Urbanowicz who claimed nine of his 15 Battle of Britain victories in this aircraft. His son, also named Witold Urbanowicz, unveiled the Hurricane memorial on 4 September 2010. P/O Franciszek Kornicki, the last surviving commander of the Polish squadrons in the West, also flew this aircraft after the Battle of Britain in late 1940.

 

The red and white display of geraniums, in the form of the Polish Air Force Chequer, was organised and planted by RAF Bunker volunteer and retired Brent Council Director of Cemetery and Mortuary Services Bob Langford. He was assisted by fellow RAF Bunker volunteer Richard Darby who made and installed the red and white wooden framed boarder. It is expected that the geraniums will be replaced in the winter, possibly with red and white pansies.

 

Photos in the slide show can be viewed by clicking the image then the arrows.

1/7

23 July

Battle of Britain Memorial Trust - Memorial Day

 

The replica of the Wilno Polish Air Force Standard was paraded by Sqn/Ldr James Tenniswood at the annual Battle of Britain Memorial Trust’s Memorial Day,  Capel-le Ferne, Folkstone on Sunday 9 July.

 

Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee by its chairman Richard Kornicki and the Polish Airmen’s Association by chairman Artur Bildziuk. The Polish Embassy in London was represented by the Polish Consul, Krzystof Grzelczyk and Acting Defence, Military, Naval and Air Attaché Lt/Col Dorota Kawecka.

Photos in the slide show can be viewed by clicking the image then the arrows.

                                                                                                       All photos © Tom Dolezal / www.fcafa.com

22 July

Polish Air Force Spitfire at Duxford Airshow.

 

The Historic Aircraft Collection’s MkVb Spitfire BM597, a combat veteran of Polish 315 and 317 Squadrons, took part in the recent Flying Legends airshow at Duxford on 8/9 July. Currently in the colours of 317Sqn, BM597 was first assigned to 315Sqn on 7 May 1942 and later to 317Sqn on 5 September 1942, both at RAF Woodvale, Merseyside.

 

Several Polish pilots flew this aircraft, including W/O Jan Adamiak, Sqn/Ldr Tadeusz Andersz, F/Lt Stanislaw Blok, W/O Aleksander Chudek, Sqn/Ldr Ludwik Martel, Sqn/Ldr Walerian Jasionowski, Sqn/Ldr Franciszek Kornicki, F/Lt Bruno Semmerling, F/O Marek Slonski-Ostoja, F/O Mieczyslaw Widziszewski, F/Lt Ksawery Wyrozemski, F/Lt Wladyslaw Zajac and F/Lt Jerzy Zbrozek.

 

In July 2000 Sqn/Ldr Ludwik Martel and Sqn/Ldr Tadeusz Andersz were reunited with BM597 at Old Hay airfield, Kent. The last surviving Polish Squadron Commander Sqn/Ldr Franciszek Kornicki, also had the opportunity in 2004 at RAF Chailey, East Sussex and sat in the cockpit once again. Their three signatures are on the inside of the cockpit door.

 

In 1967 Spitfire BM597 was taken to Pinewood film studios and used as the master mould for the fibre glass replica Spitfires that featured in the film ‘Battle of Britain’.

Click photo to enlarge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Photo © Tom Dolezal / www.fcafa.com

30 June

Northolt Commemoration Ceremony  

 

The annual and 57th Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen during World War II will be held at the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt on Saturday 2 September. The ceremony will be conducted in both English and Polish and everyone is welcome. A Flyer is available by clicking on the following icon.

 

Following the Ceremony guests will transfer to RAF Northolt for a reception and buffet luncheon in the Station’s Sword and Wheel Club. An application form for the lunch is available by clicking the icon. Please note applications should be received by 30 July. Due to the high demand for places it cannot be guaranteed that all applications will be successful and additional guest numbers may have to be limited. If the event is over-subscribed cheques will be returned.

28 June

Armed Forces Day

The annual Armed Forces Day was celebrated and commemorated throughout the UK on Saturday 24 June, including a wreath laying ceremony at the Royal Air Force Commonwealth and Allied Air Forces Monument in Plymouth, Devon.

 

Wreath laying was led by RAF Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier. The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee was represented by Michael Parrott from the 307 Squadron Project. 

 

Lt/Col Dorota Kawecka, Acting Defence, Military, Naval and Air Attaché for the Republic of Poland represented the Polish Embassy in London.

 

Photos in the slide show can be viewed by clicking the image then the arrows.

8 June

Polish and Czech fighter pilots exhibition.

The Tangmere Military Aviation Museum in Sussex is running an exhibition on the Polish and Czech Fighter Pilots in the Second World War, particularly focusing on the pilots and squadrons that fought from the Sussex airfields. 

The exhibition is open each day from 22 July until 3 September (except 6 August - Family Day) between 11.00 and 16.00. It will include stories of the heroism of Polish and Czech pilots, models of their aircraft, medals of some of the aces, art work and a film of their time in Britain, 

For more information click on the following link. 

26 May

 

Launch of Educational Programme

 

For Your Freedom and Ours C.I.C. Educational Programme has been launched in Northern Ireland focusing on providing shared history and accredited programmes between Poland and Northern Ireland.

 

The campaign is available for youth and adult groups across Northern Ireland, including schools, youth programmes, community groups and residents' associations. More information is available by clicking this link. 

 

Details can also found at these Twitter and Facebook links.

 

Alternatively contact Project Coordinator Maciek Bator via email: maciek@foryourfreedomandours.com

9 May

RAF Northolt completes pedal to Poland

The team of cyclists from RAF Northolt has completed a gruelling 807 mile, 10-day journey from RAF Northolt to Poznan Air Base in Poland. 

The ride was part of the unit’s rigorous training and development programme, designed to develop the physical, mental and military skills of the personnel taking part.  With the team completing 53 hours and 34 minutes in the saddle, and climbing over 19,500 feet, it was an extremely arduous event requiring everyone to dig deep, both physically and mentally.  The most brutal day covered 126 miles with an ascent of 5,900 feet.

The Project Officer, Squadron Leader Neill Gowans explains: “This was the toughest physical and mental challenge I have faced in my career, and I say that as a former Marine.  Everyone in the team has learned a great deal about how to push past their limits both as individuals and as a team.  We also stopped on the way to develop our military knowledge by stopping along the route in places like Arnhem and Berlin to learn lessons about the historic air operations that took place there. But the reception we received from the Polish Air Force in particular was amazing and it was an honour to celebrate the shared links between our nations and Armed Services.  From the cyclists to our superb logistics team we have learned and experienced so much that we can use in our day-to-day jobs and on operations.  That we were able to raise so much money for the RAF Benevolent Fund was a superb bonus.”

In addition to the training value, the ride has been a great vehicle to celebrate and cement further the close ties between RAF Northolt, Polish veterans and the Polish Air Force whilst raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund, an independent charity that provides assistance to RAF personnel, veterans and their families when they are in need.  So far over £7,500 and counting has been raised for the charity.

Donations can be made on the Virgin Money Giving website  or directly at this link

27 April

Polish Air Force Museum Northolt tour dates

RAF Northolt, which hosts the only Museum dedicated to the Polish Air Force in Britain, has advised dates for organised tours to the Museum. These are on Saturdays as follows: 27 May, 5 August, 30 September and 2 December. 

 

Each tour will be limited to 20 people and applications should be made to the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee chairman Richard Kornicki via email: richardkornicki@gmail.com

Tours will start at 14.00 after checking in at the security office, which is accessed via the White House Gate. This is the first gate on the A4180 West End Road, when approaching from the A40 Polish Air Force Memorial roundabout and is just before a Shell garage. 

As RAF Northolt is an operational base visitors attending by car will need to confirm, prior to the visit, vehicle make, model, colour and registration. Photo ID will also be required to access the base. For those attending by public transport the nearest Underground Station is South Ruislip, approximately 500m from the White House Gate security office. 

Visits to the museum might also be possible on other dates in special circumstances, subject to staff availability and operational requirements.

There are no charges for visiting the Museum. However, although the Museum is housed at RAF Northolt by kind permission of the Station Commander, funding for exhibits and conservation is all met privately through the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee and guides give up their time voluntarily. Donations to the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee are appreciated.

Visitors may also wish to perhaps use the opportunity to visit the Polish Air Force Memorial and adjacent Memorial Gardens at Northolt and the nearby Northwood Cemetery, Chestnut Avenue, Northwood, Middlesex, HA6 1HR, which is just a 5 mile, 20 minute drive from the Northolt Memorial. The Orchard, Ruislip, HA4 7DR, - now a Beefeater restaurant -  is also on route to the cemetery.

For information on the Museum and the nearby Battle of Britain Bunker at Uxbridge, please click the ‘Museum’ page above.

20 March

RAF Northolt to pedal to Poland

A team of cyclists from RAF Northolt will participate in a fund raising 750 mile ‘Pedal to Poland’ bike ride from the Polish War Memorial to the Poznan Airbase in Poland, with all proceeds going to the RAF Benevolent fund.

 

Leaving on 23 April, the ride will also form part of the unit’s rigorous training and development programme and provide an opportunity to celebrate and cement further the close ties between RAF Northolt, Hillingdon, the local Polish community and the Polish Air Force.  A Polish military cycling team will join the RAF Northolt cyclists at the German border and ride the final leg to arrive at the Poznan Air base on 3 May, Polish Constitution Day, a national holiday.

 

The group, led by RAF Northolt Station Commander, Group Captain David Manning, also an experienced triathlete, will stop off at places of military significance on route.  He said: "The route has been chosen so that we will have the opportunity to reflect and remember those who fought in both World Wars while building, further, the strong links between RAF Northolt, the Polish Air Force and our local Polish communities. We are also taking the opportunity to raise funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund who allocated charitable support to Northolt worth over £80,000 over the last two years to bolster the welfare support to my personnel. I must thank Councillor Ray Puddifoot and his team at Hillingdon Council for their support of this activity and their overall continued support of RAF Northolt."

 

Regular updates will be available on Twitter (@RAFNortholt) and Facebook (rafnortholtoff) and local news outlets, such as GetWestLondon. 

 

Donations can be made on the Virgin Money Giving website http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/pedal2poland or

directly at this link. 

 

The full press release from RAF Northolt can be viewed by clicking the icon.

                    Centre, RAF Northolt Station Commander Gp/Cpt David Manning with the pedal to Poland team.

 10 March

Short films

 

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently produced a series of short films for the British Embassy in Poland. They portray the stories of Polish people and people of Polish heritage in the UK and two have a Polish Air Force interest.

One features Polish Air Force Memorial Committee Chairman, Richard Kornicki and RAF Northolt Station Commander 

Gp/Cpt David Manning, and can be viewed by clicking this link​.

 

The other features former 300 Sqn air gunner, Jan Black-Stangryciuk and can be viewed by clicking this link. 

10 January

 

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight recognises Polish pilot for 2017 season

 

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has confirmed for the 2017 season that its Mk XVI Spitfire, TE311, will be painted to represent the personal Mk XVI Spitfire, TD240, of Gp/Cpt Aleksander Gabszewicz VM KW DSO DFC. Polish Air Force historians Wojtek Matusiak and Piotr Sikora and artist Robert Grudzień have provided the BBMF with photographs and artwork to ensure accuracy of the painting, which will be funded by Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association.

 

The BBMF’s Mk XVI Spitfire, TE311, is a low back, bubble-canopy version with clipped wingtips and built at Castle Bromwich just after the war. Following service in various units it was grounded in the mid 1950s and transferred to RAF Tangmere as the gate guardian for 12 years. It was subsequently used in ground sequences for the film ‘Battle of Britain’. Afterwards it was allocated to the RAF Exhibition Flight and used at air shows for the next 30 years as a static exhibit.

 

The Spitfire was subsequently delivered to the BBMF’s home base, RAF Coningsby, in January 2000. After a meticulous re-build to flying condition, lasting 11 years, TE311 was returned to an immaculate and extremely authentic standard. It took to the air again, for the first time in 58 years, on 19th October 2012.

 

The Mk XVI Spitfire, TD240, was delivered to the 131 (Polish) Wing in mid April 1945 and assigned to Gp/Cpt Aleksander Gabszewicz, who was the Officer Commanding the Wing from 12th July 1944.

 

The individual letter ‘G’ for Gabszewicz, was applied, as well as the ‘Group Captain’ insignia under the cockpit and the code letters ‘SZ’ for 316 Sqn, which Gabszewicz commanded from November 1941 until June 1942. Although 316 Sqn was not part of the 131 (Polish) Wing, all of Gabszewicz's personal aircraft had the ‘SZ’ code letters, as a sign of affection for his former unit. Also a ‘boxing dog’ emblem, and much bigger than on his previous Spitfire, was painted on the aircraft’s nose. The emblem was first introduced on Gabszewicz’s Mk IX Spitfire EN526 in 1943 and subsequently applied to all his personal aircraft. However, there are photographs taken around 1941 showing the emblem on his Mae West life jacket. The artist was Sgt Wojciech Milewski, who was also a talented boxer.

 

At the time Gabszewicz received TD240 the 131 (Polish) Wing was stationed at Varrelbusch (B.113) airfield in occupied Germany. He flew six operational sorties in TD240, including four on dive bombing of enemy positions. When Gabszewicz left his command of 131 (Polish) Wing on 31st May 1945, and went to the head quarters of 84 Group, TD240 was taken over by Sq/Ldr Bolesław Kaczmarek, commander of 302 Sqn. Although the ‘SZ’ code letters were changed to ‘WX’ and individual code letter ‘G’ to ‘V’, the 302 Sqn badge replaced the ‘Group Captain’ insignia and was applied alongside the women's name ‘Janetka’. Gabszewicz's personal boxing dog emblem remained.  When the 302 Sqn code letters were changed to ‘QH’ in August 1945, TD240 still carried the letter ‘V’. On 10th October 1945 W/O Kazimierz Chomacki crash landed TD240 and was not repaired.

 

Gp/Cpt Aleksander Gabszewicz was decorated with the Gold and Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari, Polish Cross of Valour and three Bars, DSO and Bar, DFC and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. He died on 10th October 1983 and his ashes were subsequently dispersed over Warsaw and Dęblin in 1992.

 

Thanks to Piotr Sikora and Wojtek Matusiak for providing the historical background information and photo. The artwork of the Mk XVI Spitfire TD240, produced for the BBMF, is copyright and courtesy of Robert Grudzień.

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