2021

Coronavirus: Visits to the Museum in 2021 have been cancelled in accordance with Government advice until further notice.

27 Oct
 

Inaugural Roman Catholic Mass at St Clement Danes Church
 

For the first time, Holy Mass was celebrated on 21 October at the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, St Clement Danes, by the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Forces. 

This Mass in St Clement Danes was an opportunity for the RAF Roman Catholic community to gather with the Bishop of the Forces, the Rt Rev Paul Mason, the Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain, Rev (Sqn Ldr) Dave Skillen, and the RAF RC Chaplains to celebrate the Eucharist at the perpetual shrine of remembrance to all those who have died in service in the RAF.  

It was a solemn and memorable occasion with the intention of this becoming an annual event.  St Clement Danes, located on The Strand, London, WC2R 1DH, is a magnificent church displaying unique RAF artefacts from its 100-year plus history. 

At the end of the Mass a wreath was laid at the Memorial to the Polish Air Force by the Chairman of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee Richard Kornicki CBE DL.

 

Photos in the slide show can be viewed and enlarged by double clicking the image then the arrows. All photos are courtesy of Marek Borzęcki. 

Chairman of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee Richard Kornicki CBE DL placed a wreath on the Memorial to the Polish Air Force in St Clement Danes Church.

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Chairman of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee Richard Kornicki CBE DL placed a wreath on the Memorial to the Polish Air Force in St Clement Danes Church.

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4 Oct
 

PAFMC hosts wreath laying

 

The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee, represented by Trustee Krzysztof de Berg, hosted a recent visit by Deputy Operational Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, Generał Dywizji Pilot (Air Vice Marshal) Dariusz Malinowski, and some of his staff, to lay a wreath at the Polish Air Force Memorial at South Ruislip.

 

Afterwards the party transferred to RAF Northolt where they were greeted by the Station Commander Gp Capt Toria McPhaden for a tour of the Polish lounge where the Station Commander emphasised the long term positive Polish links with RAF Northolt. They then moved on to Gunnersbury Cemetery to view and place a wreath at the Katyn memorial. The group concluded their morning visit at the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum where they viewed some of the original Polish

squadron diaries, including 303 Squadron and those of pilot Mirosław Ferić.







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L-R.  WO Tomasz Zarzycki, Krzysztof de Berg, AVM Dariusz Malinowski, Col Mirosław Polakow, Col Mieczysław Malec.

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3 Oct

RAF Ingham Heritage Centre Newsletter

 

The RAF Ingham Heritage Centre has published the latest edition of its Newsletter the Ingham White Eagle and is available by clicking the icon

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29 Sept

Hillingdon launches on-line Polish Exhibition.

 

The London Borough of Hillingdon has selected five Polish Air Force pilots buried in Northwood Cemetery and produced short biographies for a new online exhibition. This can be accessed at this link https://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/polish-pilots.

 

The pilots are Sgt Tadeusz Andruszków, FO Franciszek Gruszka, FO Ludwik Paszkiewicz, FO Marian Rytka  and Sgt Stefan Wójtowicz.

 

These are just five of the 54 Polish pilots buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of Northwood Cemetery, alongside some of their colleagues who have died more recently.

27 Sept

 

Northolt Commemoration Ceremony
 

The annual and 60th Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen during World War II was held at the Polish Air Force Memorial at South Ruislip on Saturday 4 September.

 

The ceremony opened with a trumpeter sounding the assembly and a fly past of a Spitfire from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Then followed a parade of the replica Polish Air Force Standard and Standards of the Polish Scouts and Guides.  Polish Air Force Memorial Committee Chairman Richard Kornicki CBE DL, followed with his opening address, outlining the difficulties posed over the previous year and a half, which provided a taste of what it must have felt like to be alive in 1940. The full address can be viewed by clicking the appropriate icon below.

 

His address was followed by the Polish Roll-Call of the Fallen, this year carried out by Polish scouts and guides on behalf of the Officer Cadets of the Polish Air Force Academy, Dęblin, who were unable to attend due to Covid travel restrictions. Prayers followed 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.

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 and organisations who, with no personal connections with Poland, have made an exceptional contribution to preserving the memory of the Polish Air Force.

Geoff Burton, founder and Trustee of the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre, Lincolnshire, outlined the considerable progress the voluntary organisation has made since its formation in 2010. It aims to create a centre to remember and celebrate the remarkable story of the Polish men and women of the Polish Air Force Bomber Squadrons, flying alongside the RAF during WW2. The next phase is to install a new roof and windows to an existing building to create the Main Exhibition Centre. Geoff Burton used the occasion to launch an appeal to raise funds for this project, which will cost approximately £96,000. Donations can be made at this link https://www.goldengiving.com/wall/raf-ingham-heritage-centre. 

 

The full address can be viewed by clicking the appropriate icon below. Details of the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre can be found at this link. https://www.rafingham.co.uk.

 

RAF Northolt Station Commander Gp Capt Toria McPhaden concluded proceedings by inviting guests to take tours of the Officers’ Mess and the recently restored Hut 27, the Station’s Operations Room during the war.

 

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 are either Crown copyright or courtesy of Marek Borzęcki. A short video of the ceremony is available at this link https://youtu.be/IxoJc5jI28A.

 

Next year’s Commemoration will take place on Saturday 3 September at 12.00.

          Programme   Kornicki Speech   Burton Speech    Commendations

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Courtesy Marek Borzęcki

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Crown Copyright

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Courtesy Marek Borzęcki

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Courtesy Marek Borzęcki

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The Covid travel restrictions prevented the annual visit of the Officer Cadets of the Polish Air Force Academy, Dęblin, Poland from attending this year’s Ceremony of Homage to fallen Polish airmen. Instead Polish Air Force historian and author Mike Ingham recounts the first visit of Dęblin cadets to RAF Cranwell in 2009.

 

In the summer of 2009 a group of officer cadets from the Polish Air Force Academy at Dęblin spent a week as guests of the Royal Air Force College (RAFC) at Cranwell.

 

The idea for the visit had been raised the previous year by the committee of what is now Aviation Heritage Lincolnshire.  The group is an innovative partnership of volunteer and commercial visitor sites, public sector authorities, the RAF, and other organizations working together in promoting the county's heritage and providing wider economic benefits.

 

The suggestion was welcomed by the College, and following approval from the Polish Air Force (PAF) planning began on a programme that would be of interest to the Dęblin cadets, show something of the history of the PAF units which had been based in Lincolnshire during the Second World War, and build a further link between the modern air forces of Poland and the UK.  The programme would also coincide with the two day International Air Show at RAF Waddington.

 

On 1 July seven cadets from the senior entry at Dęblin arrived at RAF Cranwell with three officers led by the Dean of the PAF Academy Faculty.  Hosting the visitors was a small team of officers from the RAFC and the aviation heritage group.

 

The first full day of the programme began with a visit to the restored wartime Sector Operations Room at RAF Digby, and then in the afternoon to Faldingworth where the Polish 300 Ziemi Mazowieckiej Squadron flew Avro Lancasters from the now disused airfield.  A memorial to the Squadron stands at the end of one of the runways and the village church has a memorial plaque and window dedicated to personnel of the PAF.

A visit to the Newark Air Museum took place the next day, and in the afternoon respects were paid to the fallen at the Polish Air Force Memorial and war graves in the cemetery at Newark where they were joined by the Town Mayor and PAF veterans.

 

The bright and sunny weekend was spent at the popular International Air Show at RAF Waddington.  The highlights of the air display programme included a polished performance by the PAF aerobatic team Zespół Akrobacyjny Orlik.  The heritage group stand had display panels in English and Polish describing the role of the PAF in Lincolnshire, and the Dęblin officer cadets took advantage of the opportunity to speak to many visitors.  Close by was a traditional steel band, the style of music created by converted oil drums being a source of much interest.

 

The historic city of Lincoln was the venue for the next day, starting with a visit to the magnificent Cathedral.  Then, down the aptly named Steep Hill, to the ancient Guildhall (with Polish flag flying from the flagpole atop the roof) where they were greeted by the Mayor with a buffet lunch provided by members of the local Polish community.  Later there was a more informal element of the programme, and the opportunity for some shopping.

The morning of the following day was spent at RAF Coningsby, to look at the multirole Eurofighter Typhoons and visit the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) where Spitfire AB910 could be seen in the ‘Donald Duck’ markings of the Commanding Officer of 303 Kościuszko Squadron, kapitan/Squadron Leader Jan Zumbach.  Close to Coningsby is the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre on the site of the former RAF East Kirkby.  The Centre has an Avro Lancaster, which is able to taxi and which the Centre team hopes may one day be made airworthy, and gave the Polish cadets the opportunity to look over this famous aircraft at close quarters during the afternoon.

 

Whilst at East Kirkby one moment stands out that, in its way, represents the experience of the whole of the week's visit.  The BBMF schedule included an air test for Spitfire AB910, and given the proximity of Coningsby this took in East Kirkby.  As it made its first run a member of the hosting team turned to one of the cadets and asked if he could see the markings.  With a very broad smile, representing both his pleasure and also his pride in his air force, he replied simply "Zumbach!".

 

Before returning home the PAF visitors and their hosts attended a reception given by the Commandant of the RAFC.  It was clear that the visit from Dęblin had been a great success, had achieved its aims and provided a firm foundation for future such exchanges.

 

Sadly, officer cadets from Dęblin were unable to join in the commemorations this year, but their presence again in 2022 is much anticipated.

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

The restored world war 2 Sector Operations Room, RAF Digby. Crown Copyright

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RAF Digby, and replica Spitfire in the markings of 416 Squadron Royal Canadian Air Force based at Digby in WW2. Crown Copyright.

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Received at the Guildhall by the Mayor of Lincoln, Councillor David Gratrick. Courtesy Mike Ingham

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The restored world war 2 Sector Operations Room, RAF Digby. Crown Copyright

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1/19

Commemoration 4th Sept - COVID restrictions

 

We regret that due to COVID concerns, this event is now limited to persons who have already been invited to lay wreaths and their guests. There will be no access to the Memorial to the general public and they are asked not to attend.

 

For the Mass to be offered for Polish airmen on Sunday 5th Sept at Our Lady Mother of the Church, Windsor Road, Ealing, we recommend that people only attend if it is their regular place of worship.

 

We recognise the disappointment this will cause, but hope that everyone will understand that while legal restrictions may have been lifted, we are all urged to still act with caution, particularly when bringing together people who do not usually meet.

27 August

Lecture - Polish Airmen in the Battle of Britain

The Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire  will host a  talk ‘Polish Airmen in the Battle of Britain’ at 19.00 on Thursday 16 September. All proceeds will go towards RAF Ingham Heritage Centre, the home of Polish Bomber Squadrons https://www.rafingham.co.uk.

 

The Polish Air Force Lecture is an annual fundraising event at the Petwood and this year’s talk will be given by Michael Czajkowski. His father served in 309Sqn.

 

Tickets are £5 and will need to be generated online, but paid in cash on the door on the night.

Details are available at this 

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16 July

 

80th anniversary of PAF Standard handover.

 

On this day 80 years ago 16 July 1941 the Polish Air Force Standard was presented to 300 Bomber Squadron at RAF Swinderby, Lincolnshire, so completing its long journey from Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) to the Polish Air Force in Britain. The Standard was embroidered in secret and once completed, it was smuggled out of Wilno in the Japanese diplomatic bag to Stockholm, from where it was brought to Britain.

 

In the presence of the President of the Republic of Poland Władysław Raczkiewicz and other Polish and British dignitaries, the honour of initially delivering the Standard was given to its creator kpt. Jan Hryniewicz. He handed it to retired General Lucjan Żeligowski for passing to Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces General Władysław Sikorski. Following a short speech General Władysław Sikorski formally presented the Standard to the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Force Brigadier General Stanisław Ujejski, so finally completing its journey from Wilno to the Polish Air Force. He then handed it to the commander of 300 (Polish) Land of Masovia squadron W/Cdr Wacław Makowski, who in turn presented it to a 300 Squadron Standard bearer for parading at the ceremony.
 

The hangar doors, which formed the backdrop to the handover ceremony and painted with PAF emblems, have been salvaged and will go on display at the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre, (https://www.rafingham.co.uk) the home of the Polish Bomber squadrons.

 

The Standard was held initially by 300 Squadron and then successively passed in turn to the majority of the Polish squadrons that served alongside the RAF until the end of the war.

 

In 1992, after the fall of communism in Poland and the first free elections, the Standard was returned to Poland. On 4 September, during the first world reunion of Polish Airmen on Polish soil, the Standard was handed back in a ceremony in Piłsudski Square, in front of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in the heart of Warsaw. Being too fragile for future parading it is on display at the Polish Air Force Museum, Dęblin.

 

With the personal support of the Commander of the Polish Air Force, Lt. Gen. Lech Majewski, a replica of the Standard was produced in Poland. On the 27 August 2012, twenty years after the original was returned to Poland, the replica was handed over by Lt. Gen. Lech Majewski to the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee at a ceremony in Warsaw, and marched off the parade ground by a colour party of the RAF Queen’s Colour Squadron.

 

The replica Standard is now part of the Polish Air Force exhibition at the Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge, and is paraded at the annual ceremony at the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt, and at other commemorative events. 

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Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces General Władysław Sikorski formally presented the Standard to the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Force Brigadier General Stanisław Ujejski, so finally completing its journey from Wilno to the Polish Air Force.

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Brigadier General Stanisław Ujejski handed the Standard to the commander of 300 (Polish) Land of Masovia squadron W/Cdr Wacław Makowski, who in turn presented it to a 300 Squadron Standard bearer for parading at the ceremony.

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Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces General Władysław Sikorski formally presented the Standard to the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Force Brigadier General Stanisław Ujejski, so finally completing its journey from Wilno to the Polish Air Force.

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23 June

PAFMC Trustee and other opportunities

 

The registered charity Polish Air Force Memorial Committee (PAFMC) is always interested to hear of people who might be willing to serve as Trustees or in other capacities. We would be delighted to hear from anyone with the relevant interests, skills and experience who would like to discuss the possible opportunities.

 

While Trustees and others involved would be expected to have a strong interest in the Polish Air Force in the west during the war years – either through descent or otherwise – we would be particularly glad to hear from people with any of the following skills or experience:

 

  • Investment / finance

  • Administration /law

  • Social media / digital engagement

  • Project management

  • Retail (principally on-line)

  • Community involvement / engagement

 

Trustee meetings take place three or four times a year at the Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge, by courtesy of the London Borough of Hillingdon, currently on Friday afternoons, with other business conducted by e-mail or smaller groupings. Trustees do not receive any remuneration and incidental day to day expenses (such as travel) are not reimbursed.

 

Expressions of interest should set out the nature of your connection to the Polish Air Force, the particular skills you could offer, and be accompanied by a CV. An informal discussion will then be arranged to explore the contribution that could be made and the best way of fitting that into the structure of the Committee, whether as Trustee or by support in a different capacity.

 

Please send any expressions of interest to the Chairman: richardkornicki@gmail.com

12 May

 

The Polish D-Day Story

 

The 307 Squadron Project is holding a special two-day event ‘The Polish D-Day Story’ at the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth on Saturday 19 June and Sunday 20 June 2021. The event will explain the important story of the Polish involvement on D-Day and during the Normandy Campaign.

 

‘The Polish D-Day Story’ will be open at the museum’s normal entry price from 11.00am - 3.30pm on Saturday 19 June, and from 11:00am - 3.00pm on Sunday 20 June.


The official opening will take place at circa 11.10am on Saturday 19 June, hopefully by a representative from the Polish Embassy with invitations also to the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, the city's two MPs and lead councillors. The opening will include a short film plus a guided tour to VIPs of the exhibition.


The Polish D-Day Story, promoting British-Polish friendship and cooperation, will include an exhibition in both English and Polish detailing the Polish D-Day Story, archive video material plus information on 307 Squadron.

The D-Day Story museum is on the Clarence Esplanade, Portsmouth PO5 3NT and strictly adheres to current Government Covid guidelines and queue numbers will be managed. The venue has achieved the new Visit England national standard ‘We’re Good To Go’.


More information can be found on the museum’s website: https://theddaystory.com/covid-19-faqs/


A saving of 10% off the admission price is available by booking tickets in advance at this link:  https://ddaystory.merlintickets.co.uk/product/GENENTRY




 

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20 May

Polish Air Force coverage in Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Year Book

 

The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has included extensive coverage of the Polish Air Force in its current ‘Royal Air Force Memorial Flight Official Club Year Book 2021’. The front cover features a magnificent photograph of its MkXVI Spitfire TE311 in the colours of Gp Capt Aleksander Gabszewicz when he was the Commanding Officer of 131 Polish Wing. See photo.

 

Inside there is a comprehensive article about the new 303 Squadron colour scheme for the BBMF’s Hurricane LF363. This is being repainted to represent the MkI Hurricane V6665, ‘RF-J’, of 303 Kościuszko (Polish) Squadron, during the Battle of Britain period of September 1940. The BBMF has kindly allowed the PAFMC to post an extract from this detailed article, included below. The full article is only in the Year Book 2021, which is not on public sale and only available to members of the RAF Memorial Flight Official Club. If anyone would like a copy of the book and the full article they will need to join the RAF Memorial Flight Official Club. The Club website with news, information and details of how to join can be found at this link https://www.memorialflightclub.com/
 

Hurricane V6665 was delivered to 303 Squadron at Northolt on 7 September 1940 and painted in the code of RF-J. Two days later ‘A’ flight commander Flt Lt Johnny Kent, flying this Hurricane, claimed a Messerschmitt Bf 110 destroyed and a Junkers Ju-88 probably destroyed. V6665 was only with 303Sqn for just 20 days and was successful in combat with three different pilots in that time. It was destroyed on 27 September when Sgt Tadeusz Andruszków was shot down and killed. He was 19 years old and is buried in Northwood Cemetery, grave H-208.

 

The repainting of LF363, as 303 Squadron’s ‘RF-J’, is part of the Hurricane’s major maintenance and servicing programme ongoing at The Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill) Ltd. It will retain its military serial number LF363 and not carry V6665, as it is a military and not a civilian registered aircraft. When LF363 leaves Biggin Hill, possibly in late August, it will be replaced by TE311 for repainting, but not in Polish colours. It will allow the BBMF to tell the story of 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, its Polish pilots and its Canadian RAF flight commander Flt Lt Johnny Kent. 

 

The BBMF has confirmed that ‘RF-J’ will make a flypast at the 60th Annual Commemoration of Fallen Polish Airmen on Saturday, 4 September 2021, at the Polish Air Force Memorial, Northolt, weather and serviceability permitting.

BBMF 2021 Yearbook front cover featuring
YB 2021 excerpt from feature ''My God th

11 May

Polish pilots’ Memorial replaced

 

A replacement memorial to two Polish fighter pilots, P/O Mieczysław Waszkiewicz and P/O Bogusław Mierzwa, has been erected in the Dungeness Estate, Kent close to where they were killed.

 

On the 16 April 1941 P/O Mieczysław Waszkiewicz and P/O Bogusław Mierzwa from 303 Kościuszko Squadron at RAF Northolt were escorting Blenheim bombers on a raid to Berck-sur-Mer in the Pas-de-Calais region of the French coast. On their return they were attacked by German fighters and both were shot down and killed.

 

P/O Mieczysław Waszkiewicz in Spitfire IIA P8039 with the code RF-R went into the Channel near the Dungeness coast and his body was never recovered. P/O Bogusław Mierzwa in Spitfire IIA P7819 with code RF-S crashed on the shore at Dungeness close to where the memorial is sited. Both pilots are recognised on the Polish Air Force memorials at South Ruislip and Warsaw. P/O Bogusław Mierzwa is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section at Northwood cemetery grave H209.

 

EDF Energy, which now owns the Dungeness Estate, generously funded the replacement and erected the memorial on the 15 April. The following day and the 80th Anniversary of the pilots’ death the new memorial was commemorated in a small service. This was led by the vicar of Lydd Rev Chris Maclean with curator Jackie Darling followed by laying of wreaths by Colin Clayton, who has maintained and cared for the site for many years and Michael Golding, who laid wreaths on behalf of local residents and the local branch of the British Legion.

Photos of the memorial are available by double clicking the image then the arrows.

The replacement Memorial to P/O Mieczysław Waszkiewicz and P/O Bogusław Mierzwa, on the Dungeness Estate was funded and erected by EDF Energy.

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The small memorial service was led by the vicar of Lydd Rev Chris Maclean with curator Jackie Darling.

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303 Squdron badge

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The replacement Memorial to P/O Mieczysław Waszkiewicz and P/O Bogusław Mierzwa, on the Dungeness Estate was funded and erected by EDF Energy.

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8 May 

 

Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Wall of Remembrance

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is inviting anyone to submit a tribute or to leave a message for a loved one on its 'Wall of Remembrance' using a form which is available at the following link:

 

http://www.cwgc.org/our-work/projects/the-cwgc-wall-of-remembrance/wall-of-remembrance-submissions/ 

 

Please pass the link on to colleagues, family, friends, social media and anyone else who will find it of interest. 

8 May 

 

Northolt Commemoration Ceremony  

 

The 60th Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen during World War II will be held at the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt on Saturday 4 September. This will be subject to national and local covid-19 regulations and guidance then in force. 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 invited 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 June. 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.

 

The following day Sunday 5 September Mass for fallen Polish Airmen will be held at 11.30 at Our Lady Mother of the Church, Windsor Road, Ealing, W5 5PD. All are welcome. Please note that this is a change of venue from previous years.

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4 May

Polish Bomber Squadrons tribute film

 

The RAF Ingham Heritage Centre has produced a short film on the Polish Bomber Squadrons in celebration of the 5th Polish Heritage Day. This is freely available through the YouTube ‘Playlists’ link at the top of this website’s Home Page or direct on YouTube at the following link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx0x7yjTY8A&list=PLsow69lVrTwHTVmu628v0_1uAbS1fzkNw

 

Please feel free to pass the link on to colleagues, family, friends, social media and anyone else who will find it of interest. 

3 Mar

A new Polish Air Force Exhibition

 

A new permanent exhibition on the Polish Air Force has been created at the Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge. This is the result of collaboration between the London Borough of Hillingdon and the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee, which has loaned the items on display from its growing collection of memorabilia.

 

The exhibition at the Bunker will provide much greater awareness of the Polish Air Force story and to a far wider public than is possible with the restricted access to our displays at RAF Northolt, where the remainder of our material will continue to be displayed.

 

The project has had the full support of the Polish Embassy and the Committee would also like to put on record our thanks to the London Borough of Hillingdon for their generosity in meeting the costs of the new display area at the Bunker. The following link provides a foretaste of the exhibition http://battleofbritainbunker.co.uk/polish-air-force.

 

Some initial photos of the exhibition are available by double clicking the image then the arrows. All photos are the copyright  of Hillingdon Council.

Front view of the Polish Air Force exhibition at the Battle of Britain Bunker.

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Leather flying helmet which belonged to Canadian Fighter Ace Group Captain Johnny Kent, who was ‘A’ Flight Commander in No. 303 (Kościuszko) Squadron during the Battle of Britain.

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The medals of Squadron Leader Franciszek Kornicki (L - R): Virtuti Militari (Polish), Cross of Valour (Polish) with two bars, September 1939 Campaign Cross (Polish), Air Force Medal for War (Polish), 1939-1945 Star (British), Aircrew Europe Star with France and Germany bar (British), George VI Defence Medal (British), George VI War Medal (British), Medaille Commemorative de la Guerre 1939-1945 (French).

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Front view of the Polish Air Force exhibition at the Battle of Britain Bunker.

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2 Mar

Commonwealth War Graves Commission to replace Polish pilot’s headstone

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has confirmed that the incorrect Royal Air Force style headstone, on the grave of Polish Air Force fighter pilot F/O Franciszek Gruszka in Northwood Cemetery, is to be replaced with the correct Polish style headstone. This may take sometime to complete due to the current Coronavirus situation.

 

The CWGC commemorates casualties by nationality of service rather than by nationality of casualty.  Although F/O Franciszek Gruszka was of Polish nationality, the CWGC believed he was serving with the RAF rather than the PAF at the time of his death during the Battle of Britain. As such he was commemorated as a Commonwealth casualty with an RAF style headstone, rather than an allied casualty with a Polish style headstone.

 

During the war the PAF in the UK was its own independent sovereign air force operating under the constitutional control of the Polish Government in exile, but under the operational command of the RAF. The initial influx of Polish airmen from France to England in early 1940 had to join the RAF’s Volunteer Reserve. However, they all soon transferred to the PAF in early August 1940 following the Anglo-Polish agreement, signed by both governments on 5 August 1940, to give separate independent status to the PAF.

 

At the time of his death F/O Franciszek Gruszka was serving with the RAF’s 65 Squadron at Hornchurch and was shot down and killed during the Battle of Britain on 18 August 1940. He was the seventh of the 31 operational PAF pilots killed during the Battle. The location of the crash site remained a mystery for over 33 years. However, from information in the book The Polish ‘Few’ by Peter Sikora, F/O Franciszek Gruszka’s Spitfire I R6713 and his remains were recovered from Grove Marsh, near Preston Village, Kent on the 15 April 1974. F/O Franciszek Gruszka was subsequently buried in grave H202 in Northwood Cemetery on 17 July 1975 with an RAF style headstone. 

 

It is thanks to the PAFMC’s historical adviser Wojtek Matusiak who indicated the incorrect headstone that enabled the PAFMC to submit a request to the CWGC to replace the headstone with the correct one of Polish style.

23 Feb

Tribute to Polish 303 Squadron in US Museum

 

A group of Poles and Americans in the US state of Connecticut have teamed up to organize an exhibition in the New England Air Museum, one of the largest aviation museums in the US, to create a permanent display and multi-media exhibition paying tribute to the Polish 303 Kościuszko Squadron. 

 

The New England Air Museum and the Polish Studies Program at the Central Connecticut State University, have jointly launched a campaign to raise $125,000 to design and install the exhibition in the Museum, which will present the story of 303 Kościuszko Squadron in a modern, multi-media educational format. The project is scheduled to open in 2021. 

 

The organizing committee, led by historian Professor Mieczysław Biskupski, is collecting memorabilia for the exhibition and needs photographs and memoirs to portray the history of 303 Kościuszko Squadron to a wider American public.

 

More details are available at this link: https://www.neam.org/shell.php?page=exhibit_kosciuszko

20 Feb

 

Polish Air Force Memorial photographs

RAF Northolt’s photographic section has kindly shared some photographs of the Polish Air Force Memorial taken in early February. Photos in the slide show below can be viewed and enlarged by double clicking the image then the arrows. All photos are Crown copyright.

 

Planning is progressing for the annual and 60th Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen during World War II, scheduled to be held at the Polish Air Force Memorial on Saturday 4 September. All are welcome.

 

This year the event will be subject to changes in format, or even cancellation, if the regulations then in force or the likely course of the Coronavirus make this necessary.  If the PAFMC is not confident of being able to hold the Commemoration it will be cancelled no later than Monday 19 July.

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6 Feb

RAF Northolt Sector Operations Building Restoration

 

The historic Grade II listed Z Sector Operations Building at RAF Northolt, known as Building 27 or The Keith Park Building, has been undergoing restoration for over 10 years by a dedicated team of civilian and military volunteers. The usual funding stream from the biannual Night Photoshoots at RAF Northolt has not been possible since March 2019 due to runway repairs and the Coronavirus. There has not been any government funding for this heritage restoration project and the team has now set up a JustGiving appeal to raise £10,000 to help fund the ongoing restoration. Details are available by clicking the following link https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/building-27-renovation.

 

Building 27 was constructed in 1929 as a standard operations building for an airfield capable of supporting the operation of three fighter squadrons. With war looking likely in Europe, resulting in the expansion of the Royal Air Force, Fighter Command was formed in July 1936 and Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding was appointed its head.

 

RAF Northolt, a key aerodrome within No.11 Group, commanded by Sir Keith Park, (himself a former Northolt Station commander) was the closest fighter station to Head Quarters Fighter Command at Bentley Priory, Stanmore. Between 1936 and 1939 Dowding decided to run a series of trials and air exercises using Building 27, which resulted in the evolution of the system, the personnel, and the layout of the building. This design became the standard template that was rolled out across Fighter Command. Due to its vulnerability to air attack, Building 27 was closed as an operational asset on 17 June 1940, after which it was used for training Sector Control staff. Post war it was used as offices until 2007 when it was closed and scheduled for demolition. Fortunately it survived long enough for English Heritage to grant it Grade II listed status and its restoration began in 2010.

When complete the renovated and fully working building will run simulations and re-enactments of events from the Battle of Britain for the purposes of training future generations of Aerospace Battlespace Managers. These are the key personnel within the modern RAF Battlespace Management Force and the Air Surveillance and Control System. In addition, the building will be used to facilitate the education of younger generations of Air Training Corps and school children about the heritage and ethos of the Royal Air Force.

 

Part of the restoration can be viewed in the film made by the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee ‘The Polish Air Force in the Battle of Britain – An 80th Anniversary Tribute’. This film is freely available from a link on the Home page above or YouTube at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lhoytCWsEY.

2 Jan

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to repaint Hurricane in 303Sqn colours.

 

The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has announced that its MkII Hurricane LF363 will be repainted as 303 Kościuszko squadron’s MkI Hurricane V6665 with the code RF-J. The change of colour scheme will form part of the Hurricane’s major maintenance and servicing programme to be carried out during the winter by The Spitfire Company (Biggin Hill) Ltd.

The BBMF said that it likes to keep LF363 in a Battle of Britain colour scheme to commemorate the massive part played by Hurricanes during the Battle. "After careful deliberation and research, it was decided that the aircraft will be painted to represent MkI Hurricane V6665, ‘RF-J’, of 303 Kościuszko (Polish) Squadron, during September 1940".

 

Hurricane V6665 was delivered to 303 Tadeusz Kościuszko City of Warsaw Squadron at Northolt on 7 September 1940 and painted in the code of RF-J. Two days later ‘A’ flight commander Flt Lt Johnny Kent, flying this Hurricane, claimed a Messerschmitt Bf 110 destroyed and a Junkers Ju-88 probably destroyed.

 

This Hurricane was also flown by Sgt Michał Brzezowski on 11 September when he claimed two Heinkel He 111s destroyed about 16.00. Brzezowski was the most successful pilot of V6665. Sadly he was shot down and killed four days later on 15 September. His Hurricane P3577, with the code RF-E, went into the sea and his body was never found. Brzezowski was the youngest Polish airman to participate in the Battle of Britain.

On 26 September Sgt Tadeusz Andruszków flew V6665 and claimed a Dornier Do 17 destroyed. But the following day, flying the same aircraft, he was shot down at 16.30 over Horsham and killed and the Hurricane was destroyed. Sgt Tadeusz Andruszków was 19 years old and is buried in Northwood Cemetery, grave H-208.

 

The BBMF said that Hurricane LF363 will not appear in the new colour scheme until the summer of 2021, but from then on it will allow the BBMF to tell the story of 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, its Polish pilots and its Canadian RAF flight commander Flt Lt Johnny Kent. 

                                                                                                Artwork copyright: Chris Sandham-Bailey inkworm.com

Hurricane-MKII LF363 2021 303 Sqn LF363