Jan Kowalski, VM, DFC - Decoration Grouping
Article about: I have this group of medals for Jan Kowalski (P1909), who served during The Battle of Britain, and with the "Cyrk Skalskiego" in the desert. The problem I have is that the KW needs
Firstly I would like to welcome you to the forum, yes I did know Jan well apart from working with him for John Lewis although in different Departments, I went to his home on many occasions and we correspondered for many years.
I even managed to obtain a photocopy of his service record from the Sikorski Museum, which when I gave it to Jan he was truely amazed, he had not seen it before.
My memory is not that good know days but Jan had his medals taken during a Burglary at his home in Nottingham around 1979 -1981, the Police recovered his medals and it was after the theft that he had his initials engraved on the reverse of his DFC and his other medals.
Jan also had his Squadron Badges from 303, 317, 316 Squadrons but had lost his 315 Squadron Badge during or shortly after the war, he still had the original Legitymacja (award document Card) he also was a recipient of the most elusive of Polish Badges "Skalski Circus" Badge made in Cairo in gold from a design by the pre war Artist Bohdan Arct. These where mounted in a frame along with his ribbon bars and his Gapa (Pilots Wings).
When Jan died his medals where passed onto his children a Daughter and 2 Sons.
Jan told me on the events surrounding his award of the Distinguished Flying Cross, he was with 317 Sqdn flying back from a sortie they noticed German aircraft attacking their airfield, which prompted him along with the other pilots to attack the germans, they where just novices with little experience. He got behind one and lined him up for the kill, turned his gun button to on and pressed waiting a split second for the shudder from his guns. Nothinf happened his guns had jammed, so he decided to fly straight at the nearest german aircraft which took avasive action missing it's target.
So Jan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the action without firing a shot, but his other actions were mentioned and also taken into account.
Jan's ciatation for the DFC is as follows:
Flight Lieutenant. JAN KOWALSKI. (P.1909)
During the Battle of Britain on the 26.9.40. Enemy Bombers escorted by Fighters raided Southampton. F/L. Kowalski attacked the fighter cover and shot down One M.E.109.
On the 27.9.40. F/L. Kowalski attacked a strong formation of Enemy Bombers in the vicinity of Gatwick. He kept attacking the formation until he exhausted his ammunition. As a result of this attack he damaged a H.E. 111., putting one of its engines out of action.
From 14.3-15.6.43. F/L. Kowalski flew with the Polish Fighter Team during the camapigning in North Africa. He carried out 38 Operational Sorties on Bomber Escorts and Ground Straffing.
On the 17.9.44 F/L. Kowalski led a flight on an Armed Recce. in the vicinity of BERNAY. The Flight was attacked by 8 F.W. 190's. During the ensuing dog fights 3 F.W. 190's were damaged without any loses being sustained by the flight.
On the 26.9.44. F/L. Kowalski led a Section of Four Aircraft on an Armed Recce, in the vicinity of BREDA, a group of enemy transport was observed. In spite of the intense flak which was encountered after the first attack. F/L. Kowalski continued to attack the column, diving at it several times. Four enemy MET. were left burning and Two damaged.
On the 1st January 1945, 317 Squadron returned from an operational sortie, Enemy Aircraft were attacking B.60 the Wings home base. In spite of the fact that his cannons had jammed F/L. Kowalski attacked several F.W. 190's trying to chase them off.
F/L. Kowalski has taken part in 211 sorties of all descriptions.
Awarded the D.F.C.
Jan Kowalski was a true gentleman and would help anyone who asked for his help.
Anyway I have probably taken up enough of your time,
p.s. Jan told me when he was out in North Africa that he used petrol to wash in because is was easier to obtain than water.
I'm not sure about the details of actual auction description that these were sold as, I remember seeing them at auction and didn't pay them much attention after a quick scan as the provenance was very weak, to say the least. I hope you bought them as a mixed set of reproduction and genuine medals as a representative interpretive display, sort of like your favourite footballers jersey you'd pick up at a game. A genuine BoB clasp will set you back 750 pounds or so, and your valuation for the DFC is accurate for a good one.
Can you post good clear close ups of the front and back - especially the date? As previously stated he had his medals stolen and ultimately recovered, so it seams unlikely he had a replacement set issued. That is the only circumstance I can see an EIIR DFC being issued with a retrospective LG date of 1946, his original DFC would have the GVI cypher, and frankly ought to be date 1945 and not 1946. DFC's are dated for the year in which it was announced in the London Gazzette. The details you included above suggest a 1945 award date - I'll check the LG to be certain. So it is possible you have good EIIR DFC with a date that would make it very hard to sell on, virtually ruined. Unless it is a repro DFC and then you'd have been taken advantage of, this auction house handles many medals and while not medal specialists, should know better.
Now - obviously you paid the value of a parts group and did okay as if this was genuine it would have fetched better than 4 times that amount if the provenance was better
"I bought the medals at an auction by Warwick & Warwick on 15 February this year. The medals came swing-mounted (not very well), plus a set of miniatures in a Spinks box. The full size medals looked as if they were cobbled together from different sources, although the DFC is real and has the correct date on the reverse of the lower arm - 1946. The minis (apart from the Virtuti Militari and KW) look like copies - the DFC even has the EIIR cypher on the back!"
In Orders & Decorations of the Third Reich
In Non-Combat Uniforms and related insignia of the Third Reich
In Orders, medals and decorations
In People's Army of Poland (Ludowe Wojsko Polskie) 1943-1989
In Orders & Decorations of the Third Reich