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Notification of deaths

 

Lieutenant Jan Stangryciuk-Black  Air Gunner  18.04.1922 – 22.10.2023

 

Jan Stangryciuk was born on 18 April 1922 in Chełm, Poland south east of Lublin near the border with Ukraine. At the age of 12 he emigrated to Argentina with his family. When war broke out in 1939 and the subsequent fall of France, he volunteered to come to Britain and joined the Polish Air Force and trained as an air gunner. During a nighttime training flight his Wellington bomber suffered an engine failure shortly after take off and crashed and burst into flames. He valiantly tried to save his crewmates but in vain and was the only survivor. He suffered severe burns to his face and hands and spent many years of treatment under the care of the renowned and innovative plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe. He subsequently joined 300 Squadron and flew on four operations before undergoing further treatment. Jan was believed to be the last survivor of 300 Squadron and the last survivor of the Guinea Pig Club, which was formed by recovering airmen to support aircrew undergoing reconstructive plastic surgery. He was also the only Polish serviceman to take part in the Victory parade of 1946 where he laid a wreath on behalf of the Guinea Pig Club. Jan left the Polish Air Force in 1948 and married Evelyn Black and took on her surname. His last public appearance was on 2 September 2023 at the ceremony of Homage to fallen Polish Airmen at the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt. Although visibly frail he laid a wreath on behalf of his former 300 Squadron and received a standing ovation from the attending congregation. Jan is survived by his second wife Jadwiga who, with her family, kept him company in his last years.

 

LAC Eugeniusz Borysiuk   Instrument Repairer  03.11.1927 – 30.03.2023

 

Eugeniusz Borysiuk was born on 3rd November 1927 and was 11 when the war broke out. He was deported to Siberia by the Soviets and worked as slave labour in a logging camp in desperate winter cold.  In 1941, when Poles were released by the Soviets, he made his way via Tehran to Palestine, and was one of those who volunteered for training as engineering apprentices. Travelling via the Cape, he reached RAF Halton in Aug 1943 and completed his training in 1947. He then served for 5 yrs in the RAF before joining Marconi and eventually becoming Company Quality Manager. He was the last Chairman of the Polish Air Force Association before its dissolution at the end of 2011 when the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee was established to continue the commemorative work, with Eugeniusz among its founding members. 

He was among the few surviving veterans who was presented to HRH the Duke of Kent at the Polish Air Force Memorial in 2018 and to the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło and to Teresa May when they visited the Memorial in 2016, joining them for a reception at 10 Downing Street.In 2020, accompanied by his wife Mira, he was guest of honour at RAF Halton staying in the Officers' Mess for their Battle of Britain Dinner - a long journey from his days as a Polish Air Force apprentice on the Station during the war. Eugeniusz was among that breed of modest and dignified Polish Air Force veterans who worked quietly for the memory of all they had served with and spoke little about themselves. He is remembered with admiration and affection in equal measure.

 

W/O Jan Tadeusz Baxter (Zabłocki)  300Sqn Pilot  03.04.1920 - 12.03.2021

Jan Tadeusz Baxter, one of the last surviving pilots of the wartime Polish Air Force,  died on 12th of March, just short of his 101st birthday. Born in 1920 with the surname Zabłocki, he was selected for pilot training in Poland but did not complete his training before the outbreak of war. He escaped through central Europe to France, and from there to Britain where he was initially stationed at RAF Swinderby on ground duties with 300 Squadron of the Polish Air Force. After pilot training in Britain and Canada, in 1943 he was posted back to 300 Squadron, now at RAF Ingham, flying Wellingtons mainly on mine-laying duties. He converted to the Halifax and then served in 1586 Special Duties Flight at Brindisi. Between March and May 1944 he flew 27 operational night sorties, 11 of which were to Poland, dropping supplies for the Home Army. He described how "Flying low over the DZ [Drop Zone] during the Drop, I opened the side window and felt a rush of clear Polish air ... The flights to Poland were exhilarating and, if the missions were accomplished, they gave a lot of satisfaction to myself and the crew. More than once I had the moving experience of seeing the lights of my home town, Kraków, in the distance." After his tour at Brindisi, he returned to England to serve as an instructor. He stayed in Britain after the war, flying commercially, including making 242 flights during the Berlin Airlift. In 1951 he joined the RAF and served in flying roles in Aden and Malaysia as well as home postings. He is survived by his widow and two sons by his first wife.

Col Mieczysław J Stachiewicz  301Sqn  Pilot  21.05.1917 - 30.04.2020

W/O Jerzy E Główczewski  308Sqn  Pilot  19.11.1922 - 13.04.2020

​Following the German and Soviet invasions he was forced to head south to Romania. A year later he had to flee again and made his way to Haifa in Palestine. Here he initially joined the Independent Carpathian Brigade but then volunteered for pilot training in the Polish Air Force and arrived in Britain in 1942. In late 1944 he joined 308 City of Krakow Squadron. After the war he returned to Poland and worked on the rebuilding of Warsaw followed by lecturing in the US and the modernisation and reconstruction of the ancient city of Aswan in Egypt. He settled in New York as an architect and lectured at the Pratt Institute and was the author of several books.

W/O Roman M Golicz  300Sqn  Air Gunner  06.12.1925 - 06.04.2020

W/O Julian Michalski  304Sqn  Navigator  05.02.1919 - 03.04.2020

​He joined the Polish army in 1937 and on the Russian invasion his unit moved into Hungary. Disarmed, they were permitted to travel through Yugoslavia and Italy to France. When France collapsed they moved to Spain and then to Algiers. As all transport to Britain was reserved for airmen, they drove across the Sahara to Nigeria. The British High Commission in Kano sent them by sea to Egypt where they joined the Polish contingent in Alexandria. He fought at Tobruk and was then sent to Britain by sea escorting enemy prisoners. On arrival in Liverpool he volunteered for the Polish Air Force and was sent to Canada for training as a Navigator. Returning to Britain at the end of 1943 he was allocated to 304 Sqn, Coastal Command, on convoy protection and anti-submarine missions from RAF Benbecula. After the war, he returned to his studies, became a lecturer and eventually professor at Birmingham University.

Lt Wanda Szuwalska-Gaweł 300Sqn  Clerk 18.01.1923 - 26.03.2020

​Deported to Siberia as a teenager in 1940, she arrived with her family after a 3-week rail journey. She was put to work clearing forests alongside her father. After the 1941 Polish/Soviet agreement, she got out through Uzbekistan to join Anders’ army in Persia. Volunteering for the Polish WAAFs, she travelled from Alexandria on a warship through the Mediterranean to Britain, arriving at the end of 1943. As a WAAF she served in 300, Land of Mazovia, Squadron and then from 1944 at Fighter Command HQ , Bentley Priory.

W/O Marian Jankiewicz  315Sqn  Pilot  18.01.1923 - 02.09.2019

​He was arrested by the Red Army in 1939 aged 16 and sentenced to 16 years hard labour in Siberia. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, under a Polish/Soviet agreement Poles were released and allowed to make their own way to join Polish forces. Making his way via Persia and India, he reached the UK and joined the Polish Air Force. On completion of flying training he was posted to 315, City of Dęblin, Squadron flying Mustangs as bomber escorts. Post-war he served in the RAF until 1968 and then until 1987 with the Air Force of the United Arab Emirates

'May they rest in peace'

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