Monday, 29 August 2016

STANISLAW ANDRZEJ JOZEF BOCZKOWSKI


He was a pilot, born on 14th March 1919 at Chmielnicki (now Ploskirow, Ukraine), the only child of Aleksander and Irena (nee Zurakowska).
 
Following the Russia/Poland war the family moved to Krzemieniec where Stanislaw spent most of his youth.  The idea of flying caught his interest from an early age.  Whilst still in high school he joined a flying club which offered summer camps that taught aviation.  In his second last year he learned flight theory and how to fly gliders; in the final year he was taught how to fly light aircraft.  Stanislaw finished lyceum and began his compulsory military service as an infantry cadet.  Following completion of this training he volunteered to join the Polish Air Force and was enrolled as an air cadet.
In the pre-war uniform of an air cadet
 
Stanislaw is second from the right in this group of cadets
 
At the start of World War II in 1939, when Poland was invaded by both Russia and Germany, he was still an air cadet.  Once it was clear that Poland could no longer hold out, the Polish Air Force drew up plans to fight and resist from outside the country.  Escape plans were developed and these included the cadets.
As a cadet at Deblin in 1939
 
His escape was organised by the Polish Air Command which provided a bus for their journey out of Poland.  He was one of about 40 military passengers.  They travelled to the town of Snyatin, close to the Polish-Romanian border and then crossed into Romania near the town of Czernauti where the Romanians had established a military camp and barracks in which the cadets were interned, after being disarmed.
 
Within a few days a Polish embassy official arrived at the camp and instructed everyone to get out of their Polish uniforms and to head to Bucarest  where they were to pick up their Polish passports and would also be given money for their journey.
 
A group of them then headed to the Port of Tulcea.  After about a week, he obtained a booking on a Romanian paddle steamer heading to Beirut, Lebanon.  Before being allowed to leave he was interviewed by Romanian port authorities.  The story he provided, along with a cash bribe, was that he was a student going to France.
 
Once having reached Beirut, he had to wait again for transport to France.  The Polish government had arranged for a French ship to pick them up and take them to Marseilles.  This was an uneventful journey and from there he went to Lyons via Istres.  There was an exhibition hall and a lovely park near the Lyons airport and the group stayed there for about two months until after Christmas.  Conditions were primitive and there were no proper beds or hot water and the group were glad to leave for RAF Eastchurch in England early in 1940.
 
Primitive conditions at Lyon-Bron.  Stanislaw is at the back left, wearing a hat
 
Conditions were much better in England but the British Government required them to take an Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown.  Stanislaw and a number of others declined to do so as their allegiance was to Poland.  As a result of this refusal they were sent back to France.
 


 PAF personnel in civvies at RAF Eastchurch before being sent back to France. 
Stanislaw is in the back row towards the centre
 
Stanislaw, on the left and a friend back in Lyons
 
With the rapid collapse of France, Germany's impending invasion of Britain and its shortage of experienced personnel, Britain changed its mind about its allegiance requirements and Stanislaw and his company were allowed to return.
 
Back at RAF Eastchurch, Kent
 
Britain sent a ship to Saint Jan de Luz which picked them up and delivered the group to Liverpool.  They then headed to Blackpool where the PAF Headquarters were located and where they were assigned to their various operational bases in England and Scotland.  Stanislaw's first posting was to RAF Benson in Oxfordshire to ferry aircraft.  This posting lasted for about six months.
 
At RAF Benson in 1940.  Stanislaw is in the back row, towards the centre, wearing a wedge cap
 
When he was posted to 304 Squadron, there was a brief period of time where nothing was happening.  To make the best use of such time he was told to report for a training flight with the crew of R1268 (NZ-T).  The purpose was to continue training of the two navigators attached to the flight as well as to allow Stanislaw to become more familiar with that specific aircraft type.
 
Due to severe icing and a shortage of fuel they were forced into making a crash landing near West Edmondsley farm just a few miles out of Durham.  All four on board were injured but there were no fatalities.
 
The airmen were given morphine and first aid by Dr Mukerji, the local GP from Craghead, which was the nearest village.  They were then taken to Chester-Le-Street Hospital and later transferred to York Military Hospital.  The crew were F/O  Marian Kostuch, F/O Jan Stanislaw Waroczewski (the pilot), Sgt Stanislaw Boczkowski (second pilot) and P/O Stanczuk.
 
It was actually on a cross country training mission.  The circumstances were that the pilot had selected an emergency landing site but his wings iced up and his windows iced over at 3,500 feet and he lost site of his chosen landing ground.  It must be remembered that this was one of the worst winters of the 20th Century.  The pilot saw the farmhouse at the last minute and his evasive action, a hard right turn, caused him to hit the trees on slightly higher ground.
 
A fellow researcher interviewed the surviving eye witness in December 2009 and was told that the aircraft approached from the direction of Blackhouse and did a complete 180 degree turn before pancaking and falling into a clearing in the trees.  This account squares with the sketch that he did at the time, which shows that the wings were still attached to the fuselage.  It is also borne out by the orientation of the aeroplane when it crashed and the fact that none of the older trees in the area show signs of an impact.  It also suggests that the Wellington stalled and simply fell out of the sky.  This may have saved the lives of the crew as the downward impact from a low level would be far less severe than a forward impact from a headlong rush through the trees and into the bankside.
 
The Squadron Operational Record Book is blank for the day of the crash but it was recorded in the Operational Record Book of RAF Syerston (Nottinghamshire).
 
On 18th March 1941 he transferred to 300 Squadron and was serving at RAF Hemswell in 1942 as part of the crew of the Assam Bomber BH-T, a Wellington that was bought by subscription of the people of Assam in North East India.  He is also known to have been in the crew of BH-W.  He is
 
 
The Assam bomber crew and ground crew.  Stanislaw is third from the right, standing
 
recorded in 300 Squadron ORB as being posted to 18 OTU at RAF Bramcote as a flying instructor on 27th March 1942, possibly on completion of his tour of duty as he had flown 30 missions.  A few months later he was assigned to Ferry Command to transport new planes from North America to Britain, India and North Africa.  One North American posting was in Montreal.  Thus he got to know that city quite well.  His final posting during the war was to Bushey Park in London which was the Headquarters of Bomber Command.
 
RAF Bramcote Instructors in 1943 - Stanislaw is second from the right
 
Bomber Command staff at Bushey Park - Stanislaw is third from the left in the third row
 
He survived another crash on 11th February 1942 where he piloted a flight on a bombing raid to Bremen which was hit by ground flak which damaged some of his controls.  He was given permission to land on a fighter squadron field but, due to the length of the field, the plane crashed against an embankment.  No one was hurt as a result of the crash and there was only slight damage to the aircraft.
 
While serving in 300 Squadron he met Maria Regina Boczkowska (nee Malinowska) who came from the same city (Krzemieniec) in Poland as himself.  She was a survivor of Stalin's deportations to Siberia and was later released to the Anders Army.  She escaped with her mother, Marcelina, to Palestine and then joined the RAF in England.  Their son, Richard, was born in Lincoln in 1948 and the next year the extended family emigrated to Canada.
 

Marcelina, Richard and Maria Regina in Lincoln
 
With the end of the war, he and Regina were aware of the arrests made by the Soviets and their puppets and executions of officers returning to Poland.  They were aware of the effects of Yalta where Poland was given up by Britain and the United States to the USSR - and the fact that the Russians were establishing the Ukraine as a new country that included the part of Poland from which they both came.  Finally the British encouraged the Poles to return home, work in British coal mines or just get out of the country.  A plan was hatched to leave for Canada - Montreal.
 
After being demobilised from RAF Cammeringham (near Lincoln) the new family (which also included Regina's mother Marcelina Malinowska nee Juszczyk who was serving with the RAF in Scotland), took advantage of Canada's offer to settle immigrants who were willing to set up a farm - even though they knew nothing about farming.  As it happened, Stanislaw's aunt, Waclawa, and her husband Col Mietec Karaszewicz had bought a farm in St. Rose, Quebec.  They called for the extended family to join them to help them farm.  Of course no one intended farming but it was a way of getting into the country and starting a new life.
 
The family left Britain by ship and landed (first for a few hours) in St John's, Newfoundland and finally in Halifax.  Almost immediately they moved to and settled in Montreal where a new Polish community was establishing itself.
 
Maria Regina and son Richard on board the Nova Scotia bound for Canada
 
Given his training and experience as a pilot for most of his adult life, Stan tried to find work in the aviation field including being a bush pilot.  Unfortunately at the age of 29 he was considered too old.  With a wife, infant and mother in law relying on him, he had to resort to menial low paid work (locomotive stoker, refrigerator repair man etc.) to survive financially.  Whist working he also went to school to learn architectural drafting.
 
Gradually conditions improved leading to better pay and a more settled life.  Together with Regina's help (she acquired a dress designer certification and worked in that industry for many years) they had a new home built and eventually managed to own it outright, acquired a car and managed to put their son through University.  Stan was an active member of the Polish RCAF Veterans Association for many years.  He and Regina retired from work and spent many a winter in Florida's warmer climate.
 
Stanislaw in Montreal, 2008
 
After a long and happy life, he died in Montreal, Canada in November 2014 at the age of 95.
 
 
All photographs used come from the Boczkowski family collection and are used by kind permission of Richard Boczkowski.


 

Monday, 25 July 2016

THE VALUE OF THIS BLOG

I have just stumbled across a review of the value of this blog and I had to laugh!  It has been assessed as worth US$16 - which is about £10 or the equivalent of four pints of local beer or 20 decent quality cigarettes.  Not bad for ten years work!
 
I also discovered that it was an American blog - which surprised me a bit, since I live in the North East of England! 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

JAN STANISLAW AWDZIEJEW


 
He was born on 20th June 1920 at Lwow (now Lviv, Ukraine) and after his formal education, he attended the school for non-commissioned officers at Bydgoszcz.  His course was accelerated because of the imminence of war and he qualified as an aircraft mechanic at Krosno in 1939.  He was there during the September Campaign and was evacuated from Luck to Romania.
 
He was one of the many who quietly slipped out of the detention camp and travelled to France with the help of false papers and cash provided by the Polish Embassy in Bucarest.  Like so many others, he was not happy with the fact that he was not used or given training.  When France fell, he was again evacuated and made the journey to England where he arrived on 26th July 1940 and rejoined the Polish forces.
 
He was given immediate language training and familiarisation with British aircraft; he completed several courses and was then deployed to airfields with combat and auxiliary units.  One of his postings was with 317 Fighter Squadron where he was a corporal mechanic working on fighters.  He then volunteered for flying duties and was selected for pilot training.  He started the training in December 1942 and passed out as a pilot in April 1944 and was posted to 577 Army Co-operation Squadron to gain experience of flying.
 
    Awdziejew as a mechanic (behind pilot) with 317 Squadron

His duties there were mainly target towing, probably in Airspeed Oxfords as he had trained on twin engined aircraft.  The Squadron was based at RAF Castle Bromwich in Warwickshire but he may have served almost anywhere as they had detachments spread widely across the North, the Midlands and Wales.

He was later posted to No 6 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit where he became a member (second pilot) of the crew of F/O Dabrowski and was involved in ripping together a crew.  Together, they were posted to 304 Squadron on 15th December 1944 who were then serving in Coastal Command and based at RAF Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides.
As with so many of the long, dreary patrols over the water there was very little action but, on the night of 21st/22nd April 1945, his crew spotted the wake of a U-Boat;  they were unable to attack, but saw it again on two occasions during the patrol.  On the final sighting they dropped six depth charges, spaced 60ft apart and from a height of 170ft.  Nothing was seen but a large oil slick appeared along the track of the wake and was still visible an hour later indicating probable damage to the U-Boat.
 
During his career he was awarded the Cross of Valour, the Polish Air Medal, the 1939-1945 Star, the War Medal, the Air Crew Europe Star and the Defence Medal.  After the War ended, on 9th July 1945, he was posted to 17 ACHU (Air Crew Holding Unit) at RAF Snaith near Goole on Humberside and then on to RAF Hucknall in Nottinghamshire as an instructor.
 
He was then transferred to the Polish Resettlement Corps where he remained until he emigrated to Brazil in 1946.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

JAN ADAMOWICZ

He was an electrician and was born on 29th August 1927.  He was released from Russian detention and was taken to Persia (Iran) where he spent time in Teheran and Isfahan before being sent to England as part of the Youth Brigade.  He trained at RAF Halton near Wendover, Buckinghamshire and qualified as an electrician there on 29th July 1947.

At this time 136 Polish apprentices completed the school, and on 10th of March 1948, the remaining 31 completed the course. All finished the school successfully, obtaining the Trade Apprenticeship Certificate ratified by the Central Trade Test Board, together with the certificate of completion of the Polish Secondary School (Gimnazjum No 2) from the Polish Ministry of Education.

Due to his age, he never saw war service.  Stories vary as to whether he remained in Britain or returned to Poland (in 1947 according to Krzystek's List).  It would be interesting to find out.
 
 
 Boy recruits - a very young looking sixteen year old freshly arrived from Persia.  As you look at the picture, Jan is left of the man seated.
 
 
Jan Adamowicz is in the Middle Row, fourth from the right in this graduation picture taken at RAF Halton in July 1947

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

IS THERE ANY POINT?

Following the Brexit campaign and the subsequent victory, I have received a lot of abuse and insults.  The whole point of this blog is that it was non-political and in support of the Polish Airmen.  I wanted to keep their memories alive and to honour their bravery.
 
I am now being subjected to insults and abuse - even from people of Polish descent whom I have helped in the past.  It seems pointless to go on with this project if the people I had hoped to help are my biggest critics and want nothing more than to heap abuse on me.
 
I have not yet made a final decision but I cannot see any sensible reason to keep on committing my time and resources to help people who will then turn on me because my country has chosen to go it alone and come out of Europe.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

RE PREVIOUS POST

Information received from Poland suggests that this IS RAF Benbecula and the following photographs show some pretty strong evidence of that fact.  It is also said to have happened in summer 1944 although it is not mentioned in the ORB.