Monday, 17 March 2014


He was born on 23rd September 1918 into a prosperous family of merchants in the small town of Kety in the Silesian foothills.  He began his education there, but was sent as a boarder to the National Gymnasium in Wadowice  after graduating from high school.  One of his fellow pupils there was Karol Wojtyla – better known as Pope John Paul II – and they remained lifelong friends.

In August 1938, he completed a gliding course in Bezmiechowa near Lesko . In October of that year he was conscripted to the Divisional Reserve Officers Training School in Krakow and went on to serve in 12th Infantry Regiment in Wadowice with several school friends, including Karol Wojtyla, He was their Commanding Officer when Germany invaded Poland.

When Russia joined the hostilities, on 17th September 1939, he was near  Kolomyja and made for the border with Hungary, where the Polish forces were interned but treated kindly.  He was held in camps at Nagysenk and Kicsenk, where he met Arpad Goncz (later President of Hungary) who was a good friend and whose family supported Jura financially during his detention.
At the earliest opportunity, he left Hungary by way of Jugoslavia and travelled to Beirut, Lebanon, where he joined the Carpathian Rifle Brigade.  He remained with them when they moved to Palestine, under British command, and fought across North Africa in the desert campaign across Egypt and Libya and took part in the defence of Tobruk.
Whilst there he volunteered for the Polish Air Force in exile and was sent to Britain to undergo training.  As a trained glider pilot he would have a better chance of acceptance and having fought with British forces in North Africa, he would have picked up some English.
His initial training on aircraft would have been on British machines so he would not have needed familiarization but would have started from scratch on pilot training and learning English properly.  After qualifying as a pilot, he was posted to 304 Squadron and would have spent most of his flying career in Coastal Command on anti-submarine warfare, convoy protection and harassing enemy shipping.  Later, he would have flown with Transport Command ferrying supplies to Italy and Greece and probably transporting released Prisoners of War back to Britain.
After the war he transferred to the RAF in 1333 (TS) CU as a pilot towing Airspeed Horsa Gliders and carrying paratroopers.  The aircraft used for this were mainly Douglas Dakotas and Handley Page Halifaxes.
In 1948 he was discharged and returned to Poland, where he worked in a sawmill, owned by his family until it was nationalized.  Until 1953 he was unable to find work or housing and was persecuted and kept under surveillance by the secret police due to his military service with the British.  Finally he was able to find work in Kety as an accountant in the Public Roads office until he retired in 1983.
During his military career he was awarded the Cross of Valour  and the Cross of Merit as well as Polish and British campaign medals.  On 31st October 2008 he was given one of Poland’s highest honours, the Krzyzem Oficerskim Orderu Orodzenia Polski (The Order of Polish Officers) by President Lech Kaczynski.
He died on 23rd December 2012, aged 94, in his hometown of Kety and was buried on 29th December of that year at the municipal cemetery after a service at the Church of St Margaret and St Catherine.  He was given full military honours and a volley was fired over his grave in salute to his war service.
With thanks to Ryszard Kolodziejski for supplying me with a considerable amount of additional information

Friday, 14 March 2014


Ludwik Krempa przyszedł na świat 22 stycznia 1916 r. w SaHe was born to Wawrzyniec Krempa, a Post Office worker, and Anna de domo Kita on 22nd January 1916 in Sanok, Southern Poland, (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).  His father died shortly after the end of the Great War; the cause being complications to wounds suffered whilst serving in the Austro-Hungarian army.

He was educated in Sanok, Krystynopol and completed his final year in Krakow, at the Stanislaw Staszic State School of Industry, where he gained a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.

In 1936 he developed his interest in flying by taking a glider pilots course at Biezmiechowa Gorna, which he passed with flying colours and became a Class A  pilot.  The following year he was conscripted into the army and he started at the Cadets School of Communication in Zegrze, near Warsaw; his gliding qualification helped him to get into the SPRL (Szkola Podchorazych Rezerwy Lotnicwa) Reserve Officers School of Aviation at Deblin in January 1938.  He graduated as a pilot in June 1938 and was attached to the 6th Air Regiment reserves in Lwow, with the rank of Cadet Corporal Pilot.  His flying training was in Sadkowo, where he trained on Bartel BM-5 bi-planes, RWD-8 monoplanes and the advanced PWS-26 bi-plane mainly used for aerobatics and pilot training.

In the same year he started work in Krakow as a draftsman, designing compressors for meat refrigerators.  Whilst working as an engineer he maintained his flying Potez XIVs part time with the training squadron of 2nd Air Regiment based at Rakowice.  Due to the imminence of war he was posted back to the 6th Air Regiment, in July 1939, and attached to  66 Reconnaissance Squadron.  He took part in exercises for reservists starting on 21st July 1939 but, due to full mobilization, he was not released when they were completed and by the end of August he was based at Skniłowa Lublinek aerodrome near Lodz.
Ludwik Krempa, on the right, as a cadet in Poland
Prior to the outbreak of hostilities

On 7th September 1939 he was based at Polkowszczyzna near Naleczowo but due to a serious illness he was taken to hospital in Lublin.  After  a few days he was discharged but he was unable to walk properly and took little part in the September Campaign.  He had been warned by the hospital staff, that the Germans were closing in on the city and he should get out as soon as possible.

He was unable to communicate with his unit but joined up with III / 2 Squadron aircraft pilot liaison and made several flights in an RWD-8.  On 17th September 1939 he was based at Tarnopol airfield and witnessed the Soviet attack from the rear.  This second invasion trapped him in Stanislawowo but he managed to get on a train to Lwow.  When he realised that he was heading into Russian territory, he jumped train and returned home to Sanok by way of Krakow.

He took work in the mines at Grabownica Starzenska and in the spring of 1940, he joined a group who crossed into Hungary but he was arrested and sent back to Poland.  His second attempt was successful and he travelled by Ungwar and a refugee camp for displaced Poles at Zahony.  He travelled on to Budapest, Belgrade, Greece and the port of Mersin in Turkey where he boarded the Polish ship SS Warsaw, bound for Haifa in Palestine (now Israel).

On 19th August 1940 he joined the Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade (Samodzielna Brygada Strzelcow Karpackich).  When it was realised that he was a trained pilot, he was diverted to the newly formed Polish Air Force in exile in England.  He travelled through the Suez Canal, via the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope to Gibraltar and on to Britain.  His exact date and port of arrival are uncertain (but probably Liverpool or Glasgow), however, he was in the Polish Depot at Blackpool on 26th October 1940.

On 20th November 1940, he was sent to 15 EFTS at RAF Carlisle to learn the basics of British aircraft and procedures.  In August of that year he moved on to 16 SFTS at RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire where, on 1st February 1942, he was granted the British rank of Pilot Officer and in July 1942 he was posted to 18 OTU at RAF Bramcote in Warwickshire where he learned British methods and tactics and was prepared for actual combat.

On 20th October 1942 he was posted to 304 Squadron and made his first operational flight eight days later.  At this point, the Squadron was based at RAF Dale in Pembrokeshire, Wales and was part of Coastal Command.  His duties included anti-submarine warfare, harassment of enemy shipping and convoy protection.  He also took part in a bombing attack on the French Channel Port of Bordeaux on 26th January 1943.

In May 1943 he was sent on a crew commander’s course at RAF Cosford, Shropshire and from July 1943, he was involved in creating his own crew at 6 OTU, RAF Silloth , near Carlisle, Cumberland (now Cumbria) before returning with his crew to 304 Squadron at RAF Davidstow Moor in Cornwall on 10th September 1943.  He was also promoted to Flying Officer at this time.  The other members of his new crew were F/O Sawicki, Sgt Pawluczyk, Sgt Guminski, Sgt Piotrowski and Sgt Zientek.

He then undertook a further 34 combat missions over the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea and the Bay of Biscay during which time he successfully located and directed naval forces to three enemy ships which posed a threat to Britain.   He and his crew were involved in a considerable amount of skirmishes with enemy vessels and aircraft before completing his tour of duty.

In June 1944 he was posted to 16 SFTS where he trained as a pilot instructor on Airspeed Oxfords until the end of the war when he transferred back to 304 Squadron in its Transport Command role.  On 24th January 1946 he transferred to 301 Squadron (also in Transport Command) flying Handley Page Halifaxes to Italy and Greece; he remained with them until they disbanded in December 1946 and was himself demobilized in January 1947.

Ludwik Krempa being decorated by General Sosnkowski in Great Britain in 1943

He was unwilling to return to Poland and so he enrolled in the Polish Resettlement Corps at East Wretham, Norfolk and served there for two years until January 1949.  During his military service, he was awarded the Virtuti Militari, the Cross of Valour and bar and the Air Medal as well as British Campaign medals.

He re-trained as a draughtsman and went to work for Sentinel, a company who manufactured steam and diesel vehicles.  His work was specifically on designing engines for buses.  After about five years he went to work for Stone Platt Ltd in Crawley, Sussex, designing submersible pumps and emergency power systems.  He stayed with them until he retired in 1981.  In 1988 he returned to Poland and settled in Krakow.

He became involved with the activities of Air Force veteran organisations and was present at the 60th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony for Sgt Stefan Bohanes in 2004.    In 2013 a film entitled “Wspomnien Czar” (Charming Memories) by E. Wyroba was dedicated to him.  He still lives in Krakow and he had his 98th Birthday party at the military Air Base at Balice-Krakow.

98th Birthday Photograph
With thanks to Ryszard Kolodziejski for a great deal of information and for finding the photographs on Polish websites.  Full credit will be given if the copyright holders contact me.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014


The full crew list of Vickers Wellington Mk XIV NB767 (QD-L) which crash landed at RNAS St Merryn on 20th March 1945, can now be identified as P-794515 W/O Henryk Sawosko, P-705623 Sgt Jozef Stendera, P-703997 W/O Stanislaw Gajszyn, P-705717 W/O Ignacy Pawlowski, P-3025 F/O Tadeusz Liczbinski, and P-706658 F/Sgt Franciszek Strauch.
The aircraft was a total write-off and most of the crew suffered only minor injuries but Sgt Stendera was almost scalped in this accident.


Thursday, 6 February 2014


He was born on 3rd July 1918 and became a pilot; he trained as part of the frustrated XIV Promotion and should have qualified in the summer of 1939.  However, his training was disrupted by the German invasion of Poland on 1st September 1939 and he was part of the class who were evacuated to Romania and thence to France.  His route is not certain but he is believed to have taken a ship to Malta and then on to Marseilles, in France, where he was assigned to the Lyon-Bron air base.

He did not stay in France until the capitulation, but transferred to England, where the need for airmen was greater, in February 1940.  Unfortunately, during his escape from Poland, he contracted a serious dose of malaria and was hospitalised for 11 months before completing his initial training and learning the English language, as well as familiarising himself with the controls of British aircraft.

After this, he was transferred to RAF Evanton in Ross & Cromarty (now Rosshire) in the north west of Scotland.  At the time, this was the home of No 8 Air Gunnery School, and his task was to pilot “tugs” to tow targets over the Cromarty Firth to train air gunners.  Towards the end of the war, he transferred to 304 Squadron, with whom he flew at least ten anti-submarine missions between October 1944 and May 1945.

From 12th November 1945, he was seconded to 16 Ferry Unit at RAF Dunkeswell near Honiton in East Devon, from where he flew a multitude of aircraft to wherever they were needed.

After the war, he chose to stay in the Royal Air Force and was appointed Temporary Flight Lieutenant on 1st September 1948 with seniority dating back to 1st \April 1947.  This was made permanent on 8th  October 1948.  He was given the new RAF service number of 500065 which he retained until his retirement on 1st July 1962 – all of these moves were reported in the London Gazette.

His post war activities seemed to lean his career towards flying helicopters and this developed during time spent in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) helping to create their new independent Air Force, but more so during the Malayan Emergency where he spent much of his time moving men and supplies through the jungle and winning hearts and minds among the Malay people.  He was Gazetted again on 16th June 1959 when he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  The citation was “In recognition of gallant and distinguished service in Malaya.”

But it was not only the Royal Air Force who gave him recognition: after a tricky rescue in the jungle, a Malay tribesman gave him a 2 metre long blowpipe and darts as a means of saying thank you.  When he returned to Britain, he had to cut off the tips from the darts as they were still coated with curare – a lethal, blood clotting poison!

After his retirement, he took up a position with the Oxford Flying School where he was responsible for training Police helicopter pilots and he excelled even in this field, winning the Pike Trophy in 1966.  This is an award made by the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators to a pilot who has made an outstanding contribution to  the maintenance of high standards of civil flying and safety, taking into account working conditions and opportunities.
Jozef, known in Britain as Juszek or Pete, died in Oxford on  27th March 2001, aged 83 and was buried at Witney.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


He was born on 31st March 1916 at  Rochaczew (which was in Russia at that stage in history), whilst his heavily pregnant mother was visiting friends there; he was the son of Pawel and Stefania Lipski.  He grew up in the Pultusk region of Poland as the elder of two sons, Leszek being the younger.  There are also unconfirmed reports that the family were very wealthy and extremely well respected  land owners in the area, employing hundreds of people.
On 4th November 1934, when he was 18, he joined the Air Force and between 1st February 1935 and 27th June of that year, he undertook a radio-telegraphy course, probably at Radom.  Presumably, as a career progression, he followed that up with a course in radio mechanics at the communications training centre CWL Zegrze near Warsaw – this lasted from 2nd January 1937 until 10th November 1937. 
 Radio-mechanics Course at CWL Zegrze, near Warsaw, 1937.  Bohdan Lipski (standing extreme right, second row).  No rank insignia visible
This may have been National Service, as there is no clear picture of what happened after this course.  However, he kept a diary of events from the outbreak of war and describes how he crossed the border into Romania on 18th September 1939; he stayed in that country until 18th December 1939 when he left for Syria, arriving there on Christmas Eve.
He remained in Syria until 15th January 1940 when he presumably boarded a ship for France where he arrived on 21st January.  There are no available details of his time there but he left France at the time of the capitulation, on 24th June 1940 and later arrived in England.
He qualified as an L/Ac wireless operator from No 2 Signals School at RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire on 31st March 1941 – in spite of the problems with the serviceability of the Proctor aircraft (he also trained on Dominies).  Then, from 29th April until 6th June of that year, he attended No 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at RAF West Freugh, near Stranraer, Wigtownshire (now Dumfries and Galloway), in Scotland.  Later, from 7th-19th July 1941 he did radio training on Avro Ansons at RAF Bramcote near Nuneaton in Warwickshire.  Almost immediately afterwards, he carried out air gunnery training on Wellington Bombers also at RAF Bramcote, with 18 OTU.
Sgt Lipski (centre) at Gunnery School – RAF West Freugh near Stranraer, Scotland
Sgt Bohdan Lipski (extreme right) at RAF Lindholme    c Jan/Feb 1942

On 15th August 1941, he was posted to 304 Squadron at RAF Lindholme in South Yorkshire, where he completed 24 bombing missions, on the last of which his aircraft, Vickers Wellington Mk 1c, W5627 (NZ-B) was shot down by flak, near Chatel-Censoir, France on the return journey after bombing Cologne on the night of 28th April 1942.  He was a member of the crew of F/O Julian Morawski and was the only member of the crew to be taken prisoner – the others all successfully evaded capture and made it back to England.
Sgt Bohdan Lipski    POW No 71
His diary reveals that on 1st May 1942 he was in Frankfurt and on 28th of that month he was in Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Germany (now Zagan, Poland).  By 6th   June, he was held at Stalag Luft I near Barth, Western Pomerania, Germany and on 5th November 1943, he was at Stalag IVb, Muhlberg, 30 miles north of Dresden, Germany.  He was still there on the night of 22nd/23rd April 1945, when the camp was liberated by the Russians, just over two weeks before the war in Europe ended.
The Germans wanted to round up the prisoners and march them westwards ahead of the Russian advance but the prisoners refused and the Senior American Officer is said to have persuaded the Germans not to force the issue as it would cause countless unnecessary deaths and injuries.  The German Officers surrendered  to him and promptly disappeared that night.  No doubt fearful of the treatment they could expect from the Red Army.

April 1945.  Sgt Bohdan Lipski (top right) and fellow POWs at
Stalag IVb, Muhlberg, Germany - on Liberation by the Russians 

 On 16th May 1945, he left Halle, Saxony-Anhalt and travelled via Brussells to England, arriving at the Polish Depot at Blackpool, two days later.  From there it was a slow process of waiting for demobilisation.  He remained at the Polish Depot in Blackpool until he was transferred to RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire on 28th January 1947; this was to be the final move of his military career until he was demobilised on 14th February 1948.
His first job in civilian life was as a garage hand, employed by a fellow Pole V. Skwierkowski in the town of Warrington, Lancashire (now Cheshire).  By the time he met his wife, Stanislawa Sobieraj, he had moved to London and was working at the Royal Free Hospital.  They were married at the Town Hall at St Pancras on 23rd July 1949 and subsequently had three children before moving to Swindon in Wiltshire in the early 1960s, after which they had a fourth child.
Once there he worked in several engineering companies before settling down to work for R.A.Lister, who later became part of Hawker Siddeley, near Swindon.  He retired in 1981 and spent his time reading, fishing and enjoying his pipe with his favoured St Bruno tobacco.  He was a quiet, placid man who never took risks – perhaps not surprisingly after a tumultuous start to his life.  He died on 20th April 1984.
He was awarded the Order of Virtuti Militari, by General  Sikorski, and the Cross of Valour, by General Kopanski, at RAF Lindholme on 25th April 1942 – only three days before he was shot down.  His son claimed his uncollected British medals – the Air Crew Europe Star and the 1939-1945 War Medal, as well as the Bomber Command Clasp – in July 2013.
Sgt Lipski’s Medals: Polish Gallantry Medals: Order of Virtuti Militari and Cross of Valour; British Campaign Medals: 1939-1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, 1939 – 1945 War Medal and the Bomber Command Clasp
Souvenirs of War: Polish Airman’s Gapa, Cross of Valour, Virtuti Militari and Polish and British Medal Ribbon Bars.  The two central items are the Caterpillar Club Membership Card awarded to any airman whose life was saved by parachuting from a stricken aircraft, awarded by the Irvin Parachute Company and the POW dog tag for POW No 71 at Stalag Luft III at Sagan – home of the Great Escape
All photographs used in this compilation are ©Eddie Lipski and are used with his kind permission;
All photographs and documents are from the Lipski family collection


Wednesday, 11 December 2013


He was born on 23rd March 1919 in Bobrus near Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) and in 1938 he joined the training school in Swiecie.  But because of the outbreak of war, he was unable to complete the course and was evacuated from his base in Moderowka to Romania.  His escape route is uncertain but he arrived in France on 30th November 1939 and sought a transfer to England.  This was granted and he arrived in England on 27th February 1940 and, after completing his basic training, began his aircrew training on 13th July 1941 and his pilot training two months later on 12th September 1941.

He finished the training at 34 Service Flying Training School at Medicine Hat in Alberta, Canada on 3rd July 1942.  He was then returned to the Blackpool Depot and was sent to 16 SFTS at RAF Newton, Nottinghamshire on 20th October 1942 and, to gain flying experience, he was sent to 5 Air Observer School at RAF Jurby on the Isle of Man.

On 15th May 1944 he was posted to 304 Squadron at RAF Chivenor in Devon and served with them until 21st November 1945 when he enlisted in the Polish Resettlement Corps at RAF Hucknall in Nottinghamshire.  He was awarded the Cross of Valour twice and the Air Medal.

After his demobilisation he settled in the Nottingham area, changed his name to Hope and worked in the textile industry.  He died on 9th March 2005 and was buried in Wilford Hill cemetery in Nottingham.
Photograph © Stefan Pietrasiewicz-Hope

Monday, 16 September 2013


Michal Stefan Pienkowski was born on 6th April 1914 in Lvov, Poland (now Ukraine). His father died in 1916 – a family story is that he was executed for his political views and espionage, as he was a supporter of the Austrian government.  His mother, Maria Sadlak, had independent means and was a landowner and the family  believe that he had quite a privileged upbringing - he certainly had horses and was taught to speak English, French and German fluently.  He was also taught to sew and would, later, tailor his uniforms to make them fit better!  Later still he used this skill to earn a living.

He studied Chemistry at Warsaw University and joined the Polish Air Force in 1937, after completing his studies – this was his compulsory military service.  At the end of the September Campaign he crossed the border into Romania where he was disarmed and interned for three months.  The family sent him money which he used to bribe his way out of the camp and he would almost certainly have had assistance and false papers from the Polish Embassy in Bucarest.
After his escape from the internment camp, he made his way, overland via Jugoslavia and Italy to France and then across France to Lyon-Bron where he rejoined the Polish forces in exile in January 1940 although his Identity Card was issued by L’Armee de L’Air on 21st May 1940.
French Air Force Identity Card
On the French capitulation, he made his way to the coast, almost certainly to St. Jean de Luz, just on the French side of the Pyrenees where he boarded the ill-fated SS Arandora Star and set sail for Liverpool, where he landed on, or about 28th June 1940.  He was transferred to the Polish Depot at Blackpool and formally enlisted with the Polish Air Force under the operational command of the RAF on 5th August 1940.
After initial training and familiarisation with British equipment, he served as an interpreter and then with 304 Squadron for the rest of the war, later transferring out to become an interpreter and an instructor at technical training schools.  Finally, he served with the Polish Resettlement Corps until his discharge on 9th June 1947 from RAF Dunholme Lodge.
He settled in Derbyshire where he married and had three children and earned his living as a tailor until he had saved enough money to open a shop known as Michael’s Stores.  Later he was the Sub-Postmaster at Duffield, Derbyshire for 17 years before retiring to Staffordshire where he ran a small-holding caring for animals and growing flowers and fruit.

He died in 1985 from pneumonia which he contracted during the war and had plagued him all his life.  There is much more to come on this story.