2019

3 Nov

 

‘Lest We Forget’: Exeter’s Polish 307 Squadron

 

307 Squadron Project has posted an open invitation to Exeter’s Guildhall for its special event ‘Lest We Forget’. It will take place between 15-16 November 2019, 10:00-16:00 to remember the Polish 307 Squadron.

 

At 10.00 on Friday 15 November, ‘307 Squadron Day’, the Polish flag will be raised above Exeter Guildhall by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Exeter in remembrance of the Polish airmen from 307 Squadron, known as the Lwów Eagle Owls (Lwowskich Puchaczy). 

During the Second World War 307 Sqn was the only Polish night fighter squadron and defended the South West of England. The Lwów Eagle Owls airmen fought the Luftwaffe over the skies of Britain and prevented Exeter from being totally destroyed during the blitz on the city in 1942.

 

The event will also mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, by commemorating Poles who took part in D-Day.

 

The ‘Lest We Forget’ event includes:

  • The story of the Polish 307 Squadron.

  • The History of Exeter Airport where 307 Squadron were based from 1941-1943.

  • ‘The Polish D-Day Story’ exhibition which shows the role of the Polish military during D-Day.

  • meeting with authors of the graphic novel ‘Dog Fight: Airdogs’ and much more.

 

The Facebook link for the event is available here: https://www.facebook.com/events/704168813417806/?__mref=mb

8 Oct

Warsaw Air Bridge Commemoration Ceremony Newark 

 

The annual ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of  the ‘Warsaw Air Bridge’ of dropping supplies to support the  Warsaw Uprising of 1944, was held at the Warsaw Air Bridge Memorial in the British Commonwealth and Polish War graves Cemetery in Newark on Trent on Sunday 29 September.

 

The ceremony opened with a parade of Standards followed by a service and the laying of wreaths by invited dignitaries and various organisations. Also in attendance was Jim Auton MBE, a veteran of the Warsaw Air Bridge flying in Liberators in RAF 148 Squadron from Brindisi, Italy. He founded the Warsaw Air Bridge Association and created the Warsaw Air Bridge Memorial, which was unveiled by Air Chief Marshal Fred Roser in 1989.

 

Photographs of the ceremony, supplied by Irena Maryniak, can be viewed and enlarged by double clicking the image then the arrows.

26 Sept

 

Polish Air Force Exhibition Northolt tour dates 2020

RAF Northolt, which hosts the only exhibition and museum dedicated to the Polish Air Force in Britain, has advised dates for organised tours to the museum in 2020. These are as follows and all on Saturdays except 12 June: 15 February, 4 April,

12 June, 15 August, 10 October and 12 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 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 exhibition might also be possible on other dates in special circumstances, subject to staff availability and operational requirements.

There are no charges for visiting the exhibition. However, as the exhibition and 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, 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 exhibition and museum and the nearby Battle of Britain Bunker, with its new Visitor Centre at Uxbridge, please click the ‘Museum’ page above.

24 Sept

 

Northolt Commemoration Ceremony

The annual and 59th Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen during World War II was held at the Polish Air Force Memorial at South Ruislip on Saturday 7 September.

 

The ceremony opened with a Parade of Standards led by the replica Polish Air Force Standard. Polish Air Force Memorial Committee Chairman Richard Kornicki CBE DL, followed with his address, welcoming dignitaries, veterans, guests and the public 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 and Prayers led by Ks Stefan Wylężek, Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales.

 

Invited dignitaries, representing national and local government, Polish and Royal Air Forces and 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. Concluding Prayers were led by Rev Sq/Ldr Neil Galloway followed by the Last Post and a minute’s silence ending with Reveille.

The hour-long ceremony ended with the Polish and UK national anthems and withdrawal of the Standards followed by the trumpeter playing ‘White Roses’. Personal wreaths were laid after the ceremony ended.   Music was provided by the RAF Central Band with the kind permission of the Air Force Board of the Defence Council. The planned flypast of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster was unfortunately cancelled due to strong crosswinds at its base at RAF Coningsby.

 

Guests then transferred to RAF Northolt for a reception and buffet lunch in the Station’s Sword and Wheel Club, 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. The Commandant of the Polish Air Force Academy, Dęblin Brig. Gen. Piotr Krawczyk addressed guests with a moving speech, which can be viewed by clicking the appropriate icon below.

 

Three donated prints were auctioned, raising a combined total of £790 towards PAFMC funds.

 

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. An amateur video of the ceremony by Thomas Ozel is available on YouTube at this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkS-G7cl-UA.

 

Next year’s Commemoration will take place on Saturday 5 September at 12.00 marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. 

      Programme   Kornicki speech  Krawczyk speech    Commendations

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Edited Image 2014-3-24-21:4:40

2 Sept

 

Joint British and Polish commemoration

 

The Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK)  and the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee (PAFMC) are jointly commemorating the British and Polish cooperation during the Second World War on Sunday 22 September at 17.00 in the Jazz Café at POSK, 238 – 246 King Street, London, W6 0RF.

 

The PAFMC film ‘Polish Airmen Fighting for Freedom’ about the remarkable story of the Polish Air Force, will be shown and complemented with contributions by PAFMC Chairman Richard Kornicki and PAF historian and author of ‘The Polish Few’ Peter Sikora.

21 July

Polish Air Force Exhibition film launch

 

The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee has made a short film 'Polish Airmen Fighting for Freedom' about the Polish Air Force exhibition housed in the Polish Lounge at RAF Northolt.

 

The film tells the story of Polish airmen and their achievements during the Second World War in Poland, France and England, which they called wyspa ostatnej nadzieji, ‘The Island of Last Hope’. It highlights artefacts, personal memorabilia, artworks, aircraft models, original photographs, display panels in English and Polish and a replica of the war-time Polish Air Force Standard, which is paraded annually at the Northolt Memorial Commemoration and at the Battle of Britain Service at Capel le Ferne.

 

The film, at 21 minutes long, recently had its premiere at the Battle of Britain Bunker Visitor Centre, Uxbridge, followed by a screening at the Polish Embassy in London. The PAFMC is now making the film freely available and can be viewed by clicking this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBivxlTPpTE. Alternatively it can be accessed on YouTube from this website by clicking on the icon at the top of the Home page, or the red YouTube icon at the bottom right of any page. This will take you to the PAFMC YouTube channel where you can click on the film link 'Polish Airmen Fighting for Freedom'. Please forward to family, friends and social media contacts.

 

The Ambassador of Poland, His Excellency Arkady Rzegocki, commented: “The film made a huge impression on myself, as well as our guests. I see this film as a most valuable educational tool. The Embassy would be delighted if  the film [were] shown in British primary and secondary schools as part of  their Second World War lessons”.

 

The Polish Educational Society http://www.polskamacierz.org/en/ has already determined to use the film as an educational aid in all its Polish supplementary schools.

20 July

 

Polish pilot’s headstone restored free of charge

The headstone on a Polish Battle of Britain pilot’s grave has been restored, thanks to generous support from HAVEN Funeral Services and stonemason Made On Earth.

 

Wing Commander Walerian Żak, who died in 1969, and his wife Jeanne are buried in Northwood Cemetery. Their eroded marble headstone has been extensively restored, free of charge, to recognise the Polish airman’s service to the United Kingdom.

 

HAVEN Funeral Services Northwood Branch Manager Karen Petersen explains: “The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee approached us for an estimate to restore the headstone of Walerian Żak and his wife Jeanne.

 

“After discussing this with our head office and our monumental stonemason and sculptor Francis Sancisi, from Made On Earth, we agreed to waive the £1200 cost and restore the headstone free of charge, as a gesture to someone who fought for our country during the war.”

 

Francis Sancisi removed the marble headstone for the extensive and complex restoration at his Made On Earth workshop in Denham, Buckinghamshire. This involved skimming and cleaning, removal and replacement of the lead inscription, polishing and reinstallation in Northwood Cemetery.

 

Polish Air Force Memorial Committee chairman Richard Kornicki said: “The Committee is extremely grateful to HAVEN Funeral Services and Made On Earth for their kindness, generosity and expertise in restoring Walerian Żak’s headstone and contributing towards maintaining the memory of the Polish Air Force in the West.”

 

The Committee awarded HAVEN Funeral Services and Made On Earth one of its coveted Commendations: “For their extreme kindness and generosity in waiving the £1200 cost and carrying out the restoration of the headstone on the grave of Wing Commander Walerian Żak, and his wife Jeanne, in Northwood Cemetery free of charge as a gesture to someone who fought for our country.”  This was presented in front of RAF Northolt’s Officers’ Mess by Station Commander Group Captain Mike Carver.

The poor condition of the headstone was first brought to the attention of the PAFMC by Nina Britton-Boyle. She has been visiting Northwood Cemetery at least twice a year for over 20 years to place flowers on the graves of Polish airmen. Nina received a PAFMC Commendation in 2014 for her work over many years sending information about Polish airmen who died back to their families in Poland, tending their graves, and erecting memorial plaques. She is the author of Blood on their Wing Tips: A Second World War Timeline of the No. 303 Kościuszko Polish Squadron at RAF Northolt.

History

 

Walerian Żak arrived in England in June 1940 and in late August, with the rank of Flying Officer, was posted to 303 (Polish) Tadeusz Kościuszko Squadron at Northolt flying Hurricanes.  During the Battle of Britain he claimed two enemy aircraft destroyed, a Dornier Do 215 and a Heinkel He 111 and damaged another Heinkel He 111. Żak was shot down on 27 September 1940 in Hurricane V7289 RF-S, which crashed near Leatherhead, Surrey. He bailed out, but was seriously injured and did not return to operational flying with 303 Squadron until mid 1941 as a Flight Commander. The control column from his Hurricane V7289 is on display in the Visitor Centre at the Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge.

 

A year later, after a break as a flying instructor at an Operational Training Unit, he returned to 303 Squadron as its overall Commander. He then went on to command 308 (Polish) City of Cracow Squadron and also commanded Nos 3 and 133 (Polish) Wings. Żak also served in the headquarters of the RAF’s No 11 and No 12 Groups and the Air Defence of Great Britain. In 1945-1946 he was the Wing Leader of the 2nd Polish Wing at RAF Coltishall.

 

Walerian Żak was demobilised in 1947 having risen to the rank of Wing Commander. He died on 14 March 1969 and is buried in Northwood Cemetery, Grave B475. He was decorated with the Polish Silver Cross of Virtuti Militari and the Cross of Valour and two bars and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.

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

23 June

The Aircrewrembered website adds new database

 

Aircrewrembered has added the new Archiwum database to its extensive website. This database has assembled as much information as had been available by Andrzej Mielnik, former bomber crew, who has lived in Australia for the past few decades. The hope is that people with more information or corrections will contact the website and contribute what they know. It is important that everyone is acknowledged, from the office orderly to the commander.

 

Here is the link. http://www.aircrewremembered.com/ArchiwumPSP1939-1947/?q=belgia.

Aircrewrembered is also in the process of adding thousands of images, along with KW, ML and other medal information.

27 May

Donation to Polish Air Force Exhibition

A wedding gift of a silver tray from members of 303Sqn to the squadron’s RAF Liaison officer F/Lt Frank Brinsden and his wife Cynthia has been kindly donated to the Polish Air Force Exhibition housed in the Polish Lounge at RAF Northolt. The silver tray, engraved with the names of 31 Officers and NCOs of 303Sqn, was presented at their wedding on 25 February 1941.

 

Their son Paul Brinsden travelled from Australia and presented the tray at the Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge to PAFMC Chairman Richard Kornicki and Bunker Military History Curator Dr Rachael Abbiss, prior to its display at Northolt.

 

F/Lt Frank Brinsden, from Auckland, New Zealand, flew with 19Sqn during the Battle of Britain prior to his posting as ‘A’ flight commander of 303Sqn at Leconfield on 7 November 1940. He was subsequently appointed the British Liaison Officer of 303Sqn from 1 January until 26 March 1941, when he was posted to 485Sqn.

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

This website program does not allow for long captions attached to photographs so a separate caption for the group of 303Sqn pilots is included as follows: Left to right: Sgt Edward Paterek, F/O Zbigniew Kustrzyński, Sgt Marian Bełc, F/O Wiktor Strzembosz, F/O Eugeniusz Fiedorczuk, F/O Wojciech Kołaczkowski, F/O Włodzimierz Miksa (partially obscured by Kołaczkowski), S/Ldr Adam Kowalczyk (Squadron Commander), P/O Jerzy Radomski, (obscured by Kowalczyk),

F/Lt Witold Żyborski, G/Cpt Stefan Pawlikowski (Polish liaison officer, RAF), F/O Wieńczysław Barański, F/O Bohdan Grzeszczak, F/Lt Francis Brinsden, P/O Józef Czachowski, unrecognized F/Lt RAF (presumably F/Lt Ian Hallam), F/O Jerzy Jankiewicz, P/O Franciszek Kornicki, S/Ldr Witold Urbanowicz (at that time, a Polish liaison officer at RAF 11 Group,

F/O Tadeusz Arentowicz, F/Lt Zdzisław Henneberg, F/O Jan Zumbach, F/O Aleksander Gabszewicz, 

F/O Mirosław Ferić. Kneeling, left to right: Sgt Władysław Wieraszka, Sgt Eugeniusz Szaposznikow, Sgt Stanisław Karubin, Sgt Kazimierz Wünsche, Sgt Jozef Káňa, Sgt Jan Kowalski.

30 April

Polish Air Force Memorial flypast

At 11.00 on Monday 15 April five Apache helicopters of 663 Squadron, from their base at RAF Wattisham, Suffolk, performed a flypast over RAF Northolt and the Polish Air Force Memorial on route to their deployment in Estonia.

 

The flypast was a celebration of the Squadron's Polish heritage as 663 Sqn was initially created as a Polish artillery observation unit from former artillerymen within the 2nd Polish Corps in Italy in 1944. They were trained to fly unarmed Taylorcaft Austers. The unit became operational in mid-December 1944 under the initial Command of S/Ldr Edward Pawlikowski and made its first operational flight on 8 January 1945.

 

The pilot and passenger acted as observers identifying targets on the ground, or as forward observation officers directing the artillery fire by radio as well as calling in tactical ground-attack aircraft.

 

Distinguished guests attended the flypast, including the leader of Hillingdon Council Ray Puddifoot, South Ruislip Councillor Alan Kaufmann and members of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee. (Photo copyright Marek Borzecki)

23 January

 

Launch of the Plumetot Memorial Campaign.

 

The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee’s launch of the Plumetot Memorial Campaign will be held on Thursday 31 January, at The Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge, (http://battleofbritainbunker.co.uk/) in the presence of His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, Arkady Rzegocki, and the Mayor of the Commune of Plumetot, M. Tarlet. (Due to limitations of space, the event is by invitation only.)

 

The event will cover the importance of the Normandy village of Plumetot, as the place which marked the return to the mainland of Europe of the Polish Air Force in the wake of the D-Day landings in 1944. The Polish 302, 308 and 317 fighter squadrons operated from the temporary Plumetot landing ground during August and September 1944. There will be a presentation by Alexander Smaga, the architect of the Memorial, as well as details of the crowd-funding campaign.

Among the guests will be the family of Tadek Kwissa, a member of the Polish Air Force ground crew whose diary describes how he reached Plumetot and serviced aircraft while still within range of enemy fire. An extract from the diary will be read by his son.

 

The Memorial will be unveiled in Plumetot on Sunday 9 June 2019, as part of events surrounding the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. The Memorial will be linked in a trail of memorials and sites marking the Polish contribution to the Invasion. The cost of the Memorial will be around £40,000 of which £15,000 has already been raised or pledged.

We are now appealing for funds and those wishing to add their support to the Plumetot Memorial Project can make a contribution at: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/a-polish-air-force-memorial-in-france [Please note: the Crowdfunder site will not be operational before 31 January]

 

We would be most grateful if you would forward these details to friends and colleagues who may be interested in adding their support. If contributions exceed the Project costs, any excess will be used to support the work of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee in maintaining the memory of the Polish Air Force in the West.

1 January

 

Polish Air Force Exhibition Northolt tour dates 2019

RAF Northolt, which hosts the only exhibition and museum dedicated to the Polish Air Force in Britain, has advised dates for organised tours to the museum in 2019. These are all on Saturdays as follows: 2 February, 13 April, 18 May, 3 August, 

5 October and 7 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 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 exhibition might also be possible on other dates in special circumstances, subject to staff availability and operational requirements.

There are no charges for visiting the exhibition. However, as the exhibition and 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, 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 exhibition and museum and the nearby Battle of Britain Bunker, with its new Visitor Centre at Uxbridge, please click the ‘Museum’ page above.

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Guests at the wedding on 25 February 1941. (Photo courtesy Paul Brinsden.)