Memorial to two Polish pilots unveiled in Kraków
A memorial plaque was unveiled on 17 November on the Wall of Honour at Kraków Aviation Museum to honour the memory of two Polish pilots, Cpt Mieczysław Medwecki and 2nd Lt. Władysław Gnyś, participants of the first aerial combat on 1st September 1939 of the second world war. Cpt Medwecki was the first aerial casualty and 2nd Lt. Gnyś was the first victorious pilot against the Luftwaffe. It was designed and unveiled by Stefan Gnyś, the son of 2nd Lt. Władysław Gnyś.
The bronze plaque in Polish and English is entitled: THE FIRST DEATH, THE FIRST VICTORY. It was constructed by renowned artisan Professor Jerzy Nowakowski. One special guest was 95 year old Professor Anna Medwecka-Kornaś, cousin to Cpt Medwecki. She is the only living relative who remembers him with clarity.
The speech by Stefan Gnyś can be viewed by clicking on the icon.
A YouTube video of the ceremony is available at this link www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPIAP30lIXU.
Photos in the slide show can be viewed and enlarged by double clicking the image then the arrows.
Polish and English inscription on the plaque
KPT. MIECZYSŁAW MEDWECKI PPOR. WŁADYSŁAW GNYŚ
7.06.1904 – 1.09.1939 24. 08. 1910 - 28.02.2000
„PIERWSZA ŚMIERĆ, PIERWSZE ZWYCIĘSTWO”
PAMIĘCI UCZESTNIKÓW PIERWSZEGO STARCIA POWIETRZNEGO
II WOJNY ŚWIATOWEJ
1 WRZEŚNIA 1939 O GODZ. 6.34 KPT. MIECZYSŁAW MEDWECKI
WRAZ Z PPOR. WŁADYSŁAWEM GNYSIEM ZE 121 ESKADRY MYŚLIWSKIEJ 2 PUŁKU LOTNICZEGO
STACJONUJĄCY NA LOTNISKU POLOWYM W BALICACH,
WYSTARTOWALI SAMOLOTAMI PZL P.11C NA PRZECHWYCENIE NIEMIECKIEJ
POWRACAJĄCEJ Z ATAKU NA KRAKÓW.
KPT. MIECZYSŁAW MEDWECKI ZGINĄŁ ZESTRZELONY PODCZAS STARTU,
BYŁ PIERWSZYM PILOTEM POLSKIM I ALIANCKIM POLEGŁYM PODCZAS
DRUGIEJ WOJNY ŚWIATOWEJ.
JEGO OFIARA NIGDY NIE ZOSTANIE ZAPOMNIANA!
PPOR. WŁADYSŁAW GNYŚ ZAATAKOWAŁ ODLATUJĄCE SAMOLOTY TYPU DORNIER
I ZESTRZELIŁ DWA Z NICH.
BYŁO TO PIERWSZE POLSKIE I ALIANCKIE ZWYCIĘSTWO W TRAKCIE DRUGIEJ WOJNY ŚWIATOWEJ.
“THE FIRST DEATH, THE FIRST VICTORY”
TO THE MEMORY OF THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE FIRST AERIAL COMBAT
DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
ON 1 SEPTEMBER 1939 AT 6:45 A.M. CAPT. MIECZYSŁAW MEDWECKI ALONG WITH 2ND LT. WŁADYSŁAW GNYŚ
OF 121ST FIGHTER SQUADRON, 2ND AIR REGIMENT, BASED AT A PROVISIONAL AIRFIELD IN BALICE,
TOOK OFF ON PZL P.11C FIGHTERS TO INTERCEPT A GERMAN BOMBER FORCE
RETURNING FROM AN ATTACK ON KRAKÓW.
CAPT. MIECZYSŁAW MEDWECKI WAS KILLED ON TAKE-OFF.
HE WAS THE FIRST POLISH AND ALLIED AIRMAN TO DIE DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
HIS SACRIFICE WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!
2ND LT. WŁADYSŁAW GNYŚ ATTACKED THE DEPARTING GERMAN DORNIER BOMBERS
AND SHOT DOWN TWO OF THEM.
THESE WERE THE FIRST ALLIED AERIAL VICTORIES DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR.
CZEŚĆ I CHWAŁAICH PAMIĘCI!
HONOUR AND GLORY TO THEIR MEMORY!
TABLICȨ UFUNDOWAŁ/FOUNDED BY STEFAN GNYŚ, 2018
RAF Ingham Heritage Centre Newsletter
RAF Ingham Heritage Centre has relaunched its quarterly newsletter Ingham White Eagle. The relaunch issue is available by clicking the icon.
RAF Ingham Heritage Centre celebrations
A report by LSJ News on Remembrance Day, Polish Independence and the Polish Air Force Centenary, at the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre in Lincolnshire on Sunday 11 November, is available on Facebook at the this link: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2183954294950915&id=168262646520100
Memorial to pilot F/O Ludwik Paszkiewicz 303 Polish Kościuszko Squadron.
The Shoreham Aircraft Museum in Kent unveiled a memorial stone to 303 (Polish) Kościuszko Squadron pilot F/O Ludwik Paszkiewicz on Saturday 29 September at Crowhurst Farm, near Sevenoaks, Kent with the kind permission of the landowner.
A congregation of around 100 gathered in the summer sunshine to honour the memory of F/O Ludwik Paszkiewicz who paid the ultimate sacrifice in fighting for freedom.
The memorial is close to the site where F/O Ludwik Paszkiewicz was shot down and killed on 27 September 1940. His Hurricane I, L1696, RF-T crashed at Borough Green, Wrotham. He is buried at Northwood Cemetery, London, grave no.
H 224. He was decorated with the Silver Cross of Virtuti Militari, the Cross of Valour and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.
The replica Polish Air Force Wilno Standard was presented at the unveiling of the memorial followed by laying of wreaths. A flypast and salute was performed by a Hurricane from the nearby Biggin Hill Heritage Centre.
F/O Ludwik Paszkiewicz, who was the Polish Commander of B Flight, accounted for 303 Squadron’s first victory in the Battle of Britain on 30 August 1940. During a training sortie he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 110. He went on to destroy a further five enemy aircraft. The squadron, flying Hurricanes from RAF Northolt, went on to be the most successful squadron in the Battle of Britain with 126 confirmed victories, achieved in less than half the Battle period.
The Shoreham Aircraft Museum has been established for 30 years and in 2006 decided to erect permanent memorials to all those Battle of Britain pilots who lost their lives within a ten miles radius of Shoreham Village. Ten memorial stones, including this latest one for F/O Ludwik Paszkiewicz, have so far been unveiled.
The Museum is owned and managed by Geoff Nutkins and full details of previous memorials are available on its website http://www.shoreham-aircraft-museum.co.uk.
Photos, kindly provided by Trevor Page, can be viewed and enlarged in the slide show by double clicking the image then the arrows. All photos are copyright of Trevor Page.
Polish Air Force Museum Northolt tour dates 2019
RAF Northolt, which hosts the only Museum and exhibition dedicated to the Polish Air Force in Britain during WW11, has advised dates for organised tours to the Museum in 2019. These are all on Saturdays as follows: 2 February, 13 April, 1 June, 3 August, 5 October and 7 December. Tours start at 14.00.
The Museum is open to anyone interested, but because RAF Northolt is an operational RAF Station, visits must be arranged in organised tours. 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: email@example.com.
Visits to the museum might also be possible on other dates for group bookings, subject to staff availability and operational requirements.
For more information on the Museum and exhibition click on 'Museum' above.
Northolt Commemoration Ceremony
The annual and 58th Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen during World War II was held at the Polish Air Force Memorial at South Ruislip on Saturday 1 September. The occasion marked the centenary of Poland regaining her independence, and the 70th anniversary of the unveiling of the Memorial. The significance of the occasion was marked by the presence of HRH The Duke of Kent, to whom a number of Polish Air Force veterans were presented.
The ceremony opened with a 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 address, welcoming dignitaries, veterans, guests and the public and was accompanied by a flypast of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Dakota. The full address can be view by clicking the appropriate icon below.
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 that flew alongside the RAF from 1940 to 1945.
The hour-long ceremony ended with the Polish and UK national anthems. Music was provided by the National Marching Band of the Air Training Corps. Guests then transferred to RAF Northolt for a reception and buffet lunch in the Station’s Officers’ Mess, while being entertained by Polish dancers. PAFMC Commendations were awarded to people who, with no personal connections with Poland, have made an exceptional contribution to preserving the memory of Polish Airmen.
A surprise addition at RAF Northolt was a fly past from Duxford of the Historic Aircraft Collection’s former 315 and 317 Polish Squadron MK Vb Spitfire BM 597, which then landed and taxied to park in front of the Officers’ Mess. The Spitfire, piloted by Fl/Lt Dave Harvey, was flown by 13 Polish pilots during the war, including the PAFMC Chairman’s father Col. Franciszek Kornicki.
The Memorial programme, speeches and commendations can be viewed by clicking the relevant icons below. Photos in the slide show can be viewed and enlarged by double clicking the image then the arrows. All photos Crown copyright unless otherwise stated.
Programme Speech Commendations
“Hurricane” - a story of 303 Squadron.
The feature film “Hurricane” will be released in Poland on 17 August and in the UK on 7 September. Distribution is currently being finalised and initially it will be limited to 100+ cinemas in the UK. If enough people go to see it, the following week it will be released in even more cinemas. International distribution is also currently being negotiated.
For the Polish Air Force aficionados, “Hurricane” is NOT a documentary, but an interesting and enjoyable feature film based on the true story of the Polish pilots in 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain period. The central character is Jan Zumbach played by Iwan Rheon. The trailer to the film can be viewed at the following link: https://youtu.be/IV5e2HA6XkU.
‘Polish’ Spitfire in RAF Centenary flypast.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Mk XV1 Spitfire, recently repainted in the personal colours of Polish pilot Gp/Cpt Aleksander Gabszewicz, formed part of the RAF’s Centenary flypast of 100 aircraft over Buckingham Palace on 10 July.
The ‘Gabszewicz’ Spitfire was directly astern of the Lancaster, which was flanked and escorted by two further Spitfires and two Hurricanes. The entire flypast can be viewed at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvtMxsYOj94.
Photos, kindly provided by the BBMF, can be viewed and enlarged by double clicking the image then the arrows.
For more details of the BBMF’s Mk XV1 Spitfire, painted in the colours of Gp/Cpt Aleksander Gabszewicz, see the post of
7 June directly below.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight honours Polish pilot
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has completed the flight testing of its Mk XVI Spitfire TE 311 ready for the 2018 display season. It has been repainted to represent the personal Mk XVI Spitfire, TD240, of Polish pilot Gp/Cpt Aleksander Gabszewicz VM KW DSO DFC. Polish Air Force historians Wojtek Matusiak and Piotr Sikora and artist Robert Grudzień provided the BBMF with photographs and artwork to ensure accuracy of the painting, which has been funded by Lincolnshire’s Lancaster Association. Clive Denney, managing director of Vintage Fabrics, based at Audley End Airfield, Essex, applied the artwork, including Gabszewicz's famous personal 'boxing dog' emblem.
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 19 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 12 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 port side of 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 31 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 10 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 10 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 original photo. The artwork of the Mk XVI Spitfire TD240, produced for the BBMF, is copyright and courtesy of Robert Grudzień.
Photos in the slide show can be viewed and enlarged by double clicking the image then the arrows.
Polish pilot’s headstone amended
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has kindly amended the headstone on the grave of 302 (Polish) “City of Poznan” Squadron pilot Sgt Stanisław Wyszkowski in Northwood Cemetery. The ‘Z’ was missing from his surname on the original headstone.
Polish 304 Squadron airmen to be commemorated
Polish airmen of 304 (Polish) “Land of Silesia” squadron, together with British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand aircrew, are to be commemorated on a new memorial to be dedicated on 1 September in the village of Bleasby, Nottinghamshire.
The Memorial was conceived to honour airmen who were killed in operational and training accidents while flying from nearby RAF Syerston. Made from polished granite the Memorial is in the form of a Lancaster tail plane and separate propeller circle. The names of 40 airmen are engraved on the tail fins and propeller feature.
This Bleasby Community project, led by Ken Ogilvie, involved the Bleasby Local History Society, Bleasby Parochial Church Council and Bleasby Parish Council. Over £15,000 has so far been raised by the village from organised events, talks and voluntary donations, together with a grant from Nottinghamshire County Council. Fundraising is ongoing to raise a further circa £1,000 to complete the foundations, landscaping and the possible construction of a backdrop wall, as well as for future maintenance.
Donations can be made at this link
The concept for a Memorial came from a local Nottingham architect Keith Clark and Bleasby villager Derek McGrath. The detailed design and manufacture was assigned to Michael Wright of D & M Stonemasons in Nottingham. The granite was sourced from India where it was also cut and polished prior to final finishing, engraving and assembly by D & M Stonemasons.
The names of the seven 304 Squadron aircrew, who are all buried in Newark upon Trent Cemetery, are engraved on the propeller circle feature of the Memorial.
Pilot Sgt Stanisław Tofin, Observer Sgt Wojciech Lichota, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sgt Jan Adam Cymborski and Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sgt Józef Jończyk, were killed on 6 February 1941 when their Wellington 1c R1014 crashed at Station Farm, Bleasby, shortly after taking off from RAF Syerston.
Pilot F/O Rudolf Christmann, Pilot U/T Sgt Wiesław Pietruszewski, and Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sgt Antoni Berger, were killed on 15 April 1941 when their Wellington 1c R1212 crashed into Flintham Woods. It was attempting to overshoot its landing due to wind turbulence at RAF Syerston, having suffered problems with the aircraft’s port engine. Three other members of the crew P/O Zbigniew Gałczyński, Sgt Tadeusz Aranowski and Sgt. Jan Franciszek Jarosz, were injured, two very seriously.
For further information please visit
Photos, courtesy of Kelvin Youngs, can be viewed in the slide show by clicking the image and then the arrows.
Plumetot Memorial Competition
The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee is delighted to announce the launch of a £10,000 competition to design and produce a Memorial to the Polish Air Force on the site of the Normandy airfield that was the first home to the Polish Wing after the Invasion. Initial proposals must be submitted by the end of April with a view to the Monument being unveiled around the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019. Details of the competition in English, Polish and French are available in the attachments below. A fund-raising campaign will be launched shortly.
Shortly after D-Day, 19 Advanced Landing Grounds were created in Normandy. One of these was ‘B 10’ Plumetot, a few miles behind Sword Beach. It was used by a range of RAF units from 10 June 1944 and from August to September it was home to 131 Polish Wing, comprising 302, 308 and 317 Squadrons, all of which had previously served at Northolt.
Plumetot was a Commune with less than a hundred inhabitants on the 5 June 1944. Within a matter of days there were over 3,000. Local memories are strong: a former Maire, now in his 80s, standing by the fields which were formerly runways, well remembers being a five-year old boy taking fresh milk from the family farm to Polish pilots and returning with his pockets full of sweets.
Unlike most other Advanced Landing Grounds, however, there is currently nothing to mark the existence of B 10, nor its special significance in the history of the Polish Air Force.
The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee approached the Mayor and Commune of Plumetot with a proposal for a joint project to create a Memorial in the village and to provide information at the site of the airfield, marking the role of the Polish Air Force among the Allied forces fighting for the liberation of Europe. Although only at an early stage, this collaborative project has received the warmest support from all local and regional authorities in Normandy, and the Polish Embassy in Paris is taking an interest.
A competition will be held for an artist to design and create the Memorial, which will be at the heart of the village, between the Mairie and the Church. The goal is to have the formal unveiling around the 75th anniversary of D-Day in June 2019, so that the role of the Polish Air Force in supporting the Invasion can be given its proper place, alongside that of the Polish Navy and of the Polish Army, which played such a heroic part by holding the Falaise Gap.
The monument will form part of a linked route of memorials commemorating the involvement of all branches of the Polish armed forces, which took part in the Allied Invasion.
The Mayor will also take the opportunity to create an additional memorial to M. & Mme. Requis and their daughter, proprietors of the local estaminet and known for their friendship and generosity to allied troops. They were killed by a German bomb, their home being the only building in the village to be destroyed during the Invasion.
The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee was particularly pleased to welcome representatives of the Commune of Plumetot and its neighbourhood to the 2017 Commemoration Ceremony at the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt, reinforcing the links that bind Polish, British and French interests in our common heritage.
Click on the icons for competition details.
English Polish French Registration Form
Polish airmen with captured enemy transport.
RAF Swinderby Hangar Doors saved from demolition.
The Hangar Doors at the former 300 Squadron base RAF Swinderby have been rescued from demolition by the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre at Fillingham, Lincolnshire.
The camouflaged doors on the southern end of Shed 2, as the Hangar was known, were painted with the Polish Chequer and Eagle insignia. They formed the backdrop for the ceremonial presentation on 16 July 1941 of the Polish Air Force Standard by Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces, General Władysław Sikorski to Polish Air Force Commander in Chief Air Vice Marshall Stanisław Ujejski. He then handed it on to Wacław Makowski Commander of 300 Bomber Squadron, the first Polish Squadron formed at Bramcote on 1 July 1940. The Standard was then paraded for the assembled Polish and British dignitaries for the first time in Britain. Each of the 14 PAF squadrons then held the standard for three months in rotation.
The doors were taken down and dismantled in sections prior to transport to the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre. The removal and preservation of the doors has been aided by a grant by the former Polish Air Force Association Charitable Trust. The doors have been repainted and repaired over the years, but it is the intention of the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre to restore the doors and try and discover and reinstate the hidden Polish Insignia. For more information on the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre click the following link.
Photos, courtesy of Geoff Burton, Grzegorx Korcz and Wilhelm Ratuszynski, can be enlarged and viewed in the slide show by clicking the image then the arrows.
Polish Air Force Museum Northolt tour dates 2018
RAF Northolt, which hosts the only Museum and exhibition dedicated to the Polish Air Force in Britain, has advised dates for organised tours to the Museum in 2018. These are all on Saturdays as follows: 14 April, 2 June, 4 August and 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 800 yards 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 South Ruislip and the nearby Northwood Cemetery, Chestnut Avenue, Northwood, Middlesex, HA6 1HR, which is just a 20 minute drive from the 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.