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Devon coast commemoration to Polish aircrew

10 Mar 2022

Devon coast commemoration to Polish aircrew

The Polish flag will fly over the East Devon fishing village of Beer on 12 April as a tribute to two Polish aircrew who were killed when their night fighter crashed into the sea near the village in 1942.

The aircraft was a Beaufighter from 307 Squadron based at what was then RAF Exeter, and was patrolling Lyme Bay to intercept German bombers en route to targets, such as Bristol, Cardiff and Liverpool. It crashed into the sea a mile off Beer Head on the night of 12 April 1942, and the incident was observed by Beer Coastguards.

The body of the navigator, F/O Mieczysław Świerz, was recovered from the sea and buried in Exeter, but the body of the pilot, Sqn/Ldr Roman Smok, was never found. The Beer branch of the Royal British Legion, in conjunction with a research group, the 307 Squadron Project, plan to stage a number of events to mark the 80th anniversary of the crash:

● An exhibition relating to the operations of 307 Squadron will be held in the Congregational Hall in Fore Street;

● Wreaths will be placed in the sea over the crash site from a local fishing boat, whose skipper is the grandson and great-grandson of the two Beer fishermen who put to sea on that night in 1942 to look for survivors;

● A ceremony of commemoration on the coast path near Beer Head will be attended by relatives of the crew, Polish veterans, members of local branches of the Royal British Legion and Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA), and cadets from 2019 Squadron of the Air Training Corps based in Sidmouth. A bugler will sound the Last Post and Reveille.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the flag-raising, exhibition and ceremony on the coast path, and it is hoped that members of the Polish community in particular will be able to join in the commemoration.

Timetable of events on 12 April 2022:

0945 Raising of the Polish flag outside St.Michael’s Church, Fore Street, Beer.

1000 Opening of 307 Squadron exhibition, Congregational Hall, Fore Street, Beer.

1330 Fishing vessel ‘Sambe’ departs Beer beach for the crash site.

1400 approx. Wreaths to be laid over the crash site (one mile south of Beer Head) from the Beer fishing vessel ‘Sambe’.

1515 approx. Commemoration ceremony on the coast path near Beer Head.

1700 Exhibition closes.

1715 Lowering of the Polish flag outside St. Michael’s Church.

Further information from:

Richard Scott, Historian, Royal British Legion Beer branch 07870 891581

Michael Parrott, 307 Squadron Project

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