Wednesday, 8 February 2017

LOSS OF VICKERS WARWICK HG273 (QD-X) 18TH JANUARY 1946

This Transport Command Vickers Warwick flown by W/O Bojarczuk caught fire on landing after a training flight at RAF Chedburgh, Suffolk.  The pilot was killed but W/O Borek and W/O Zurek survived and were taken to hospital in Bury St Edmunds.  W/O Romuald Bojarczuk is buried in the church yard of All Saints, Honington, Suffolk.

It emerged at the inquest that after two successful single engine landings, on their third attempt at a height of about sixty feet, the aircraft veered to port and presumably the engine stalled as it fell straight to the ground and caught fire.

 
Report of the Inquest into the death of W/O Bojarczuk
Taken from the Bury St Edmunds newspaper
Bury Free Press 25th January 1946
 
Wreckage from Vickers Warwick HG273 (QD-X)

The following items are press reports of the actual accident

Press and Journal 19th January 1946

The Scotsman 19th January 1946

The Western Daily Press
Bristol, 19th January 1946

 

The Western Morning News
19th January 1946

 Photograph courtesy of Mike Borek
Press Reports courtesy of Simon Glancey
 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

STANISLAW MALCZYK


He was born at Filipowice, Chrzanow , Poland on 21st January 1916 and, being 23 years old on the outbreak of war, he must have done his National Service and been placed on the reserve.  In any event, he was conscripted and posted to 2nd Air Regiment at Krakow.
When the Russians entered the war, on 17th September 1939, he was evacuated to Romania where he was disarmed and interned.  However, the resourceful Polish  government had arranged for all evacuated servicemen to be  provided with funds, travel documents and false identities through their Embassy in Bucarest.  Slipping away from the internment camps was easy at this early stage of the war and he made his way to France.  His route is unknown but it is likely that he came to the Polish base at Lyon-Bron, probably via Marseilles.

On the fall of France it is most likely that he escaped through St Juan de Luz and took a ship to Britain.  On arrival he would be placed in a temporary tented camp before being sent to the Polish Depot at Blackpool.  There he would have gone through the usual induction process of learning English, learning the King's Regulations and familiarisation with British equipment.

It is known that he attended the No 4 Gunnery School at Tranwell Airfield (RAF Morpeth) in Northumberland before being posted to 18 OTU at RAF Bramcote, Nuneaton, Warwickshire on 30th August 1941.  This was where he learned British tactical warfare and became part of an integrated crew before being posted to 304 Squadron at RAF Lindholme on 1st December 1941.

Once with the squadron he would train with them until he was ready to be sent into action.  This happened rather slowly due to the appalling weather conditions and his first three missions (in January 1942) were all cancelled.  He got his first chance on 14th February when he was sent to bomb the docks at Le Havre and there were four further missions to Essen, Cologne (2) and Rostock before the squadron was switched to Coastal Command.

In all he flew 45 missions with 304 Squadron, many of them were long and boring flights over the sea but there were some moments of excitement.  On 24th September 1942 on his 22nd mission with the squadron his aircraft was attacked by two Junkers Ju88 fighters.  He raked one of them with fire and hits were observed but the second aircraft attacked and he put a long burst into it at short range taking out the port engine and making hits on the wing root and below the cockpit.  This aircraft was seen to roll over and crash into the sea.

On 22nd November 1942 his aircraft was attacked by a Focke Wulf Kurier and the pilot skilfully reached cloud cover whilst he and the front gunner kept the enemy aircraft at bay with a few short bursts of machine gun fire but it was not possible to tell whether they had scored any hits.

At 10.02 am on 8th February 1943 Wellington Mk 1c HE103 (V) took off from RAF Dale on an anti-submarine patrol.  The patrol itself was uneventful but strong winds, heavy rain and low cloud took their toll on the fuel supply and the crew was forced to abandon the aircraft.  The plane carried on and crashed into high ground at Parc Llwydiarth in a remote area known as the Dyfnant Forest in near Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire (now Powys), Wales.

The first indication of the crash was debris found by  Private Watkin Jones of the local Home Guard platoon.  There were also reports of German parachutists from various points, one of whom had landed near the Lake Vyrnwy Dam at Boncyn Celyn.  It was the co-pilot, F/O Dobrowalski, and he had broken his leg and was in severe pain and was speaking in Polish.

Local Constables and Home Guard platoons picked up the rest of the crew The pilot F/O J Wroblewski had injured his arm and the rear gunner, Sgt Stanislaw Malczyk's parachute had been caught up in a tree and he had hung there all night and had to be treated for shock and exposure.  The rest of the crew were uninjured.  He only flew two more missions after this and, tour expired, he was posted to the Polish Depot on 22nd April 1943.

 
Little is known of his service between this time and February 1944 when he was posted to 1586 Special Duties Flight and was posted overseas to RAF Campo Casale in Italy where he became part of the crew of F/Lt Szostak, flying frequent and dangerous missions in support of resistance and partisan groups across Europe notably to Poland.

 
Aircrew from 1586 SD Flight
Stanislaw Malczyk is second from the right

His last flight was in support of the Warsaw Uprising and took place on 15th August 1944 on Liberator KG890 (GR-S) piloted by F/Lt Szostak.  They successfully dropped a cache of arms, ammunition and food at very low level onto Krasinski Square in Warsaw.  On the way home they were attacked by two night fighters and suffered serious damage.  The pilot ordered his crew to jump from the burning aircraft but those who made it out of the plane were killed when their parachutes failed to open due to the low altitude.  They were shot down by Lt Gustav Eduard Francsi of NJG100
 
Lt Gustav Eduard Francsi
 
They crashed near the village of Great Nieszkowice in the Niepolomice Forest in Bochnia, Southern Poland.  The crew were buried in the cemetery at Pogwizdowie with full military honours; their funeral was attended by about 200 locals and the German Army fired a volley over their graves.  After the War, the bodies were removed and reburied in the British Military Cemetery in Krakow.

Stanislaw Malczyk was awarded the Virtuti Militari and the Cross of Valour and two or three bars (accounts vary).

This article has been written and illustrated by material sent to me in response to a request for information on the HE103 Wellington crash.  Any further details would be most welcome, particularly on his service with 1586 SD Flight or the time immediately after leaving 304 Squadron.

Copyright holders of the photographs used are unknown

 

Friday, 20 January 2017

SUDDEN UPSURGE IN HITS FROM THE USA

I am delighted at the sudden upsurge of interest in this blog - nearly all of it from the USA.  After the UK it has always been the biggest area for hits on individual articles but this week there has been an unprecedented 906 hits so far.
 
Many thanks USA.  The hits are coming in batches of 30 or so, several times a day. Have you put me on a school curriculum or something?

Thursday, 19 January 2017

LOSS OF WELLINGTON HE103 (V)


At 10.02 am on 8th February 1943 Wellington Mk 1c HE103 (V) took off from RAF Dale on an anti submarine patrol.  The patrol itself was uneventful but strong winds, heavy rain and low cloud took their toll on the fuel supply and the crew was forced to abandon the aircraft.  They baled out and all were safe relatively speaking.  The Airfield Controller had declined to divert them because the bad weather was not expected to last 

The plane carried on and eventually crashed into high ground at Parc Llwydiarth in a remote area known as the Dyfnant Forest in near Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire (now Powys), Wales.

This is a small market town but boasted a Royal Observer Corps post and the headquarters of a Home Guard Company and was six miles from the crash site.  The first indication of the crash was debris found by  Private Watkin Jones of the local Home Guard platoon.  There were also reports of German parachutists from various points, one of whom had landed near the Lake Vyrnwy Dam at Boncyn Celyn.  It was the co-pilot, F/O Dobrowalski, and he had broken his leg and was in severe pain and was speaking in Polish.

Local Constables and Home Guard platoons picked up the rest of the crew in a line that stretched some eight miles eastwards.  The pilot F/O J Wroblewski had injured his arm and the rear gunner, Sgt Stanislaw Malczyk's parachute had been caught up in a tree and he had hung there all night and had to be treated for shock and exposure.  The rest of the crew (F/O Zbigniew Jaroszynski, Sgt Emil Walukiewicz and Sgt Konstanty Krajewski were uninjured. 

The descending plane had sliced the tops off a swathe of trees and created a clearing sixty yards across when it hit the ground.  The full load of bombs and depth charges were placed on a lorry and driven away but had to be taken to a remote spot when it was realised that they had not been made safe at the time.  They were blown up in a controlled detonation which still caused minor damage to local houses.  The stained glass leaded windows of the local church were bowed but not broken in the blast.

There was a fanciful story that a lot of Norwegian Krone had been found in the clearing and this gave rise to  a panic story about a German invasion from Norway.  There is a very interesting and more expansive account of this incident in the book Wings Across The Border - A History of Aviation in North Wales and the Northern Marches Volume 3 by Derrick Pratt and Mike Grant (Bridge Books, 2005) and I am grateful to Jeff Spencer of Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust for bringing it to my attention.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

LOSS OF WELLINGTON HE304


HE304    17th July 1943

Recorded only in the RAF Davidstow Moor Operations Record Book and Dennis Burke’s excellent website on foreign aircraft landings in the Irish Republic.  This Wellington Mk X was returning from an anti-submarine patrol over the Bay of Biscay when it ran out of fuel.  The crew baled out and landed safely in Carlow and the aircraft crashed near Ballickmoylar, Co Laois.  An SOS was picked up at 00.01hrs  and three aircraft were sent out to look for it but found no trace as they did not violate Irish neutrality by searching over the Republic.  All three aircraft were forced to abandon the search because of bad visibility. 

The crew returned to Britain and continued to fight; they were Sgt Stanislaw Kieltyka, Sgt Remigiusz Duszczak, Sgt Karol Stefan Pasieka, Sgt Mieczyslaw Franciszek Salewicz, Sgt Mikolaj Pawluczyk and Sgt Wladyslaw Kaczan.

This crash was the subject of a report by the Chief of Staff of the Department of Defence to Mr Eamon de Valera, president of Ireland a draft copy of which is shown below courtesy of Michael Purcell.

Undated

DRAFT OF COMMUNICATION FOR ATTENTION OF TAOISEACH,

Mr. Eamon de Valera, T.D.


Secret / Confidential


To: Mr de Valera, Taoiseach.
From: Chief of Staff, Dept. of Defence, Dublin.


REPORT ON CRASH OF BRITISH WELLINGTON BOMBER PLANE IN √ČIRE.
POLISH PILOT AND CREW HAVING BAILED OUT OVER COUNTY WEXFORD.

At 00.45 hours on 17/07/1943, 2 miles east of Ballickmoyler Garda Station in the county Leix.
3 miles west of Carlow town a Wellington Bomber, Service No. 304, Markings H.E. ( the crew of 6 Poles having bailed out over county Wexford - all Sergeants of the Polish Air Force ) crashed in a field, 200 yards off the road, on land owned by George Ovington, Farmer.  Earlier reports by observers on the ground reported the plane was spotted by the military and alert civilians over Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow before heading over Carlow and crashing in Leix.

Engines - 2 Perseus or 2 Hercules. Sleeve valve.The crew baled out over Glen in the county Wexford, and were rounded up and brought to Bawn James, New Ross. 2 of them were slightly injured.   From Wexford the pilotless plane travelled about 20 miles and passed over populated areas until crashing about 3 miles from Carlow town. The local Guards made futile attempts to keep away civilians from the crash site. The fire brigade from Carlow town attended the crash scene.  The plane was completely burnt out. The wings were broken off. The impact created a crater approx. 15' x 20' with several pieces of the machine strewn over an area of 75 yards.  The crater was full of water that had been pumped by the fire brigade to quell the flames.  There was no sign of bombs or guns but a considerable amount of .303 ammo was strewn around.  Subsequently two Browning M.G. .303 were found buried in the ground.  Fuel in tanks- nil.

The fire brigade pumped the crater dry.  A loader and truck was requisitioned from Baldonnel Air Corps  Transport Unit. Men from Baldonnel Air Base Construction /Maintenance Corps loaded the remains and filled in the crater.  A member of the Guards supplied a truck to assist with the removal.
The field was searched for ammo.

It was established that the plane left Cornwall at 16.00 hours on the 16th July on Atlantic training flight. It ran into fog and ran short of petrol.  Machine had been in the air for nearly 8 hours.
The crew were on a night training exercise.  No damage was caused to property on the ground.
Salvaged - Scrap of plane - two helmets - Log Book - Codes- Map - Signal Flares, .303 ammo.
All the Polish officers spoke English and made a statement to the effect that they had lost their bearings.  They received directions but suspecting the message was from a German station ignored the directions as previous to this pilots were lured into enemy air space and shot down.

They became aware they were over Eire.  All were glad they had landed in Eire and were grateful for the hospitality accorded to them.  They stated they had read a lot about Ireland's struggle for freedom and compared it to Poland's fight for freedom.  They spoke of the perfection of the underground organisations in the occupied countries. The pilot said he had escaped from Germany. His brother is a Captain in the Polish Air Force and is at present on a special mission in Poland landing people by air in occupied countries when they like and where they like and take them off again.  The 6 officers were conveyed to Baldonnell, handed over to Commandant Quinn, along with 5 parachutes ( the 6th is missing). The Crew gave the following identification with which we are satisfied as being true

Pilot - Sgt Stanislaw Kieltyka,
Wireless Operator / Air Gunner- Sgt Remigiusz Duszczak,
Co-Pilot - Sgt Karol Stefan Pasieka,
Navigator- Sgt Stanislaw Salewicz,
Wireless Operator / Air Gunner -Sgt Mikolaj Pawluczak
Air Gunner- Sgt Wladyslaw Kaczan.

A special word of thanks and praise to Carlow Fire Brigade, who were quickly on the crash scene and despite explosions of ammunition continued at work until the fire was under control also thanks and
praise to the L.D.F. AT Carlow and Wexford.  They co-operated with the Garda and Military and remained on duty all night.  All personal connected with the above incident displayed a high standard of efficiency and duty under difficult circumstances.  An acknowledgement from your office might be extended to them.


The crash was also subject of a report (too faint to reproduce) which stated that wreckage was scattered over a large area and in a crater six feet deep in which the burning fuselage was embedded.  The crater was full of water which the fire brigade had pumped in to put out the fires.  This was subsequently drained and filled in by the Irish Army.  A low loader and a lorry were filled with scrap metal from the scene.  It was noted that the local sight seers were a nuisance to the Army.

Final Report to the Department of Defence
Thanks to Lukas Gredy for additional information and documents
 
 

 

Monday, 9 January 2017

LOSS OF WELLINGTON HF208 (2S)


HF208 (2S)   20th December 1943

While returning from U-Boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay, the aircraft is thought to have been struck by lightning and went down in flames near Mount Brandon in the Irish Republic.  The crew transmitted a request to end their patrol and return home due to their inability to get a proper navigational fix because of a malfunction in their radio location equipment.

The whole crew were killed and their bodies were given an honour guard by the Irish Army and handed over to the British authorities at the Ulster border, specifically at Middletown on the Monaghan and Armagh border. This occurred at 18.30 hours on 23rd December 1943. 

Sergeant Naftali Pawel Kuflik was buried in the Carnmoney Jewish Cemetery in Belfast.  The remainder of the crew were interred in the Milltown Cemetery, they were: Sgt Stanislaw Czerniewski, Sgt Kowalewicz, Flight Sergeant Klemens Adamowicz, Sgt Kazimierz Lugowski and Sgt Wincenty Pietrzak.  The following extract is a direct quote from the website of the Warplane Research Group of Ireland:

R.A.F. 304 Squadron, based at Predannack, Lizard, Cornwall, flew Wellington Bombers. The members of this Squadron were Polish. Like many others, they too were involved in hunting U-Boats. On the 20th of December, 1943, their aircraft was seen by several Look Out Posts (L.O.P.’s) skirting along the coastlines of Kerry, Cork and Waterford. Indeed records show that their last reported position was over Lismore in County Waterford heading east-southeast presumably to Predannack. I cannot offer any reason why their aircraft should end up on the slopes of Mount Brandon a few hours later with the loss of all six crewmen on board but I can relate that all the crew were shot by the exploding ammunition in the fire that engulfed the aircraft. All the bodies were recovered outside the aircraft. None suffered burns.

The impact point was on the slopes above Slieveglass, near Cloghane, above Brandon village on the Dingle Peninsula.

Unfortunately, the last two sentences of this report are completely wrong!  I have contacted the Irish Army authorities and they have allowed me access to documents which revealed a totally different story.  The crash took place at 23.22hrs, probably due to losing its bearings in very bad weather.  There were reports of snowstorms but I have seen no reference to any lightning.

Sergeant M. Duffy and other Gardai (Police) attended and took charge of the scene at 12.25 on 21st December  1943 and handed over to the military at 3 pm on the same day.  Two of the airmen had suffered some burns,  and one was badly charred but none had gunshot wounds (in accordance with the official report).  They were identified by identity discs found in their pockets.  The Coroner, Mr Sheehan, decided that an inquest was not necessary and the bodies were removed at 9 pm.
Captain Pringle of the Irish Army visited the scene and found four aerial depth charges, three of which were damaged and the other had burnt out (they were not primed). He also found two damaged incendiary bombs and a quantity of burned out, or otherwise unserviceable flare floats.  The whole lot were destroyed at the scene by a charge placed on the depth charges and detonated.  A large quantity of ammunition, both ball and tracer, was found with the six machine guns and presumably taken away as it would be too dangerous to dispose of at the scene – it had most certainly not “cooked off” and none of the bodies were reported to have gunshot wounds.

Reporting on the wreckage, Major W. P. Delamere of the Irish Air Corps wrote that the visiting British Engineering Officer had disclaimed any interest in the wreckage as it would be too expensive to remove due to its remote and difficult location. 

He described it thus:  “The Wellington lies on a steep rocky slope 2500 feet above sea level and 3 and a half miles from base of Mountain over Marsh and Ravine, 2 streams and boggy land.”  I think the photograph shows the difficulty in recovering the aircraft

He also said that the scrap value of the Duralumin would be £10 - £20 and not worth melting down as it was of little use.  In England, where aircraft were being mass produced, it would have been a very different story.

It must be said that the Irish authorities were very thorough in the way they dealt with the situation and they were very respectful to the dead airmen.
 
Wreckage of HF208 still lying where it fell in 1943.  Photograph taken in 2008 © Dennis Burke.
What follows is a selection of Irish official documents, with thanks to the Irish Army, relating to this crash:






 

 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

SOKOLOWSKI OR SOKOLOWSKI?


I have a problem with two Polish airmen with the same name (Czeslaw Sokolowski) who both served in 304 Squadron during the Second World War.  Do you have any information on either or both of them?  They are:
Czeslaw Sokolowski
Serial No 784225  Warrant Officer, Air Gunner.  Born at Ufa, Russia (but grew up in Prabuty, Poland) on 1st January 1916 according to official records but on 27th May 1916 according to his family.
Czeslaw Sokolowski
Serial No 706814  F/Sgt, Wireless Operator.  Born at Talkowice (?) Poland (now Belarus) on 4th December 1919.
I would be very grateful if anyone can help me with this.  A photograph of either or both would be very useful too.