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PAF Stories

Article about: War veteran returns to RAF Kemble Wierzbowski Tadeusz kpt. / F/Lt Pilot 300DB P-1696 Ted Weirzbowski (back row, centre) with his Lancaster crew after returning from a successful raid 1:00pm

  1. #21

    Default Re: PAF Stories

    Was the movie any good? Copies available?

  2. #22

    Default Re: PAF Stories

    Hi Dastier,

    Yes it was good for the time, this was made during the Cold War and copies are still available on DVD

    Best wishes


  3. #23

    Default Re: PAF Stories

    British team digs for WWII Spitfire planes in Myanmar ? Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion

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    British team digs for WWII Spitfire planes in Myanmar

    LONDON - November 29, 2012

    A British team preparing to dig for a rumoured hoard of World War II Spitfire planes in Myanmar said Wednesday it would be one of the most fascinating discoveries in aviation archaeology if they were found.

    The team believe there could be 36 of the iconic single-seat British fighter aircraft buried in sealed crates up to 10 meters beneath Yangon International Airport, a wartime airfield, with more at two other sites in Myanmar.

    Britain, the former colonial power in what was then Burma, is thought to have buried the brand new planes in 1945 as they were surplus by the time they arrived by sea.

    The dig, set to start in early January, has excited military history and aviation enthusiasts around the world.

    There are thought to be fewer than 50 airworthy Spitfires left in the world and the digs could potentially double their number if they remain in pristine condition.

    "Eyewitnesses talk about 36 being buried in this particular spot, though we do have evidence that there might be more," project leader David Cundall told a briefing at the Imperial War Museum in London.

    "They are buried at eight to 10 meters. There's no oxygen down there, so we don't think they've corroded. It's like opening a can of beans at 67 years old: it's not going to be at its best but if you're hungry, you're going to eat it."

    The leaders of the expedition admit that the entire project could end up being a wild goose chase, with no physical evidence that the rare Mark XIV Spitfires exist.

    Cundall, a farmer and aircraft enthusiast, has been on the chase for the lost Spitfires for 16 years.

    He first heard of the story from another aircraft recoverer and gathered eight eyewitnesses, including US servicemen who dug the holes and Myanmar locals who shifted teak timber to seal the crates in.

    "They all pointed to the same spot", and the same shape of hole, he said.

    In a preliminary exploration, a borehole was dug which penetrated a crate and a shape that could be a plane was identified.

    Experts determined that there was certainly something metallic at the site and that what is under the surface is not a natural feature.

    "We really need to dig it and see what's down there," Cundall said.

    Belarus-based strategy game developer is underwriting the project, estimated at Ł1 million ($1.6 million, 1.2 million euros) at present.

    Cundall's share of any planes found will be 30%, his agents will have 20%, while the Myanmar government will keep 50%, according to agreements they have signed.

    The planes' value is not known but the participants insisted they are not motivated by money.

    All Cundall's planes will be coming back to Britain and will hopefully be restored to full working order within three years. He said his understanding was that Myanmar's Spitfires will be put up for sale.

    Lead archeologist Andy Brockman said it could be "one of the most fascinating discoveries in aviation archeology", while it would help fill in the picture about the war in southeast Asia and the commitment Britain was prepared to make.

    © 2012 AFP

  4. #24


    Jan Zumbach | The Jagiellonian University Polish Research Centre in London

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    Jan Zumbach

    Jan Zumbach is probably one of these Polish heroes of World War II in honour of whom no-one would dare to erect a monument. Certainly, his life story is ready material for a film script or an adventure book (his autobiography does read as though it was one), but the many ambiguous choices that he made, as well as his post-war activities, make it impossible to consider him an impeccable hero and a model Polish patriot.

    Zumbach was born on 14th April (he himself claimed it was April 15th) 1915 in the village of Ursynów (now a district of Warsaw). He came from a Polish-Swiss family (the paternal grandparents were Swiss), and his mother came from a landowning family who lived in the vicinity of Płock. Zumbach had Swiss citizenship only. In 1922 his parents left Mazovia, moving to Bobrowo in the then-province of Pomerania. There, young Jan received his primary education from a private tutor, and then graduated from high school in Brodnica. He passed his school-leaving exams in 1935, at the Stanisław Małachowski Polish Gymnasium in Płock. According to some sources, he dreamed of becoming a pilot since he was a child. The turning point was to be an aerobatics show in 1928 in which he participated with his father. Unfortunately, his Swiss citizenship (desirable to many) turned out to be quite an obstacle to Zumbach: the Polish Army accepted only men with Polish citizenship. Zumbach, however, was determined and cheated the qualifying committee: according to some, he used a fake identity card; according to others, he presented a document that did not state the holder’s nationality. In any case, Jan Zumbach started serving in the army in 1936. He underwent the basic training at the 27th Infantry Regiment in Częstochowa. In 1938, he graduated from the Aviation Cadet School in Dęblin (with poor grades in theoretical subjects, but with the outstanding results in the actual piloting), and on 15th October 1938 he was promoted to Lieutenant, specializing as a fighter pilot.

    The outbreak of World War II, however, found Zumbach not in active duty, but in a sanatorium, where he was recovering from an injury. A few months before the outbreak of the war, Zumbach, as a pilot of the 111th Fighter Squadron, took part in exercises in Brest. When he was landing in Warsaw on 26th May 1939, his aircraft’s undercarriage (for reasons unknown) caught a car that was parked at the airport and crashed. Despite the scary-looking accident Zumbach emerged mostly unscathed. He broke his left leg and lost consciousness for a short period of time. Therefore, on 1st September 1939 he was not stationed in Warsaw, but was in Zalaszczyki, near the border with Romania. During the next few weeks he attempted to reach his squadron. When he did not find it in Warsaw, he crossed the border with Romania, where he managed to escape arrest, on 17th September – the day of the attack of the Red Army on the eastern Polish borders. Then, via Balchik and Beirut, on board of Aghios Nikolaos and Ville de Strasbourg, he got to France.

    He was successively in several French cities. In Marseille he volunteered for the French Army, wanting to get involved in the fight against the Nazis. He was sent first to Salon, and later to the Polish Aviation Training Centre in Lyon-Bron, where he received training on operating the MS-406 aircraft used by the French Army. On 13th May he was assigned to Major Zdzisław Krasnodębski’s unit stationed in Chateaudun. However, since Poles were not required to perform any work at that airport, they were quickly reassigned to Etampes. There, Zumbach was finally able to show off his talent and courage by taking part in a number of patrols and also in one air battle (on 3rd June 1940). In mid-June, he was entrusted with the responsible task of creating a unit made up of French fighter pilots flying the Arsenal VG-33 aircraft. From there he was transferred to Bordeaux, and then evacuated due to the surrender of France. Zumbach managed to get to the UK on board of the ship “Kmita”.

    It can be said that Zumbach’s real career and fame as a pilot began only after his arrival in Britain, which coincided with the formation of the second Polish fighter squadron in England. It was named No. 303 (“Kościuszko”) Polish Fighter Squadron, and was stationed at Northolt. Zumbach underwent training on Hawker Hurricane Mk I aircraft; he received his posting on 2nd August, and as soon as on 7th September he was winning his first battles in the air: he shot down two German Dornier DO 215 bombers (some say that it was the DO 17). It was his debut, but since then Zumbach’s fame only grew. Two days later, he shot down one more Nazi aircraft: a Messerschmitt BF 109, and seriously damaged another one. In the next few days, during the Battle of Britain, has fought and won many more battles, shooting down at least five German aircraft. In recognition of his achievements, he was awarded the Polish Silver Cross of Virtuti Militari (23rd December 1940), and the Polish Cross of Valour on 1st February 1941.

    The following year was also a very successful one for Zumbach, although it did not start too well for him – he was shot down and had to crash-land. As a pilot of aircraft escorting the British bombers flying over France he also shot down several German fighters. On 13th October he took part in a fierce battle, alone against several enemy aircraft, of which he shot down at least two. However, he was injured and crash-landed with great difficulty. For this feat – and his selfless service – Zumbach was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross – a British medal awarded for “an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy” on 20th October. He spent the following months resting at the training centre in Grangemouth.

    Since 20th March 1942, he was a captain and the commander of “Squadron A”, and two months later (on 17th May) he was appointed commander of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron. Despite his duties as the commanding officer, he remained a terror for Nazi pilots, shooting down or seriously damaging the next few enemy aircraft. The following year, in January, he was promoted to Wing Commander. Three months later, he was appointed commander of the 3rd Polish Fighter Wing, which included two squadrons; on 1st September 1943, he received promotion to the rank of Squadron Leader; a year later he was appointed commander of the 133rd Polish Fighter Wing (3 squadrons). In the meantime, Jan Zumbach graduated from the Polish Higher School of Aviation in Eddleston, Scotland. On 29th January 1945, he was assigned to the staff of the 84th Fighter Group, where he only worked for two months – on 7th April, returning to the base in the evening, he made a serious navigation mistake, crossed the front line, and was forced to land in enemy territory when he ran out of fuel. He was taken prisoner, and remained in captivity on the Dutch island of Terschelling, guarded by the Kriegsmarine, until the end of the war.

    During the war, Zumbach shot down at least 13 enemy aircraft and heavily damaged quite a few, which gives him sixth place among the Polish aces of skies, after Stanisław Skalski, Witold Urbanowicz, Józef Frantisek, Eugeniusz Horbaczewski, and Bolesław Gładych. He also received numerous honours of war, British and Polish: Distinguished Flying Cross (twice), Croix de Guerre (twice), Silver Cross of Virtuti Militari and four Crosses of Valour. Despite this, neither Zumbach, nor other Polish pilots of No. 302 and 303 Polish Fighter Squadrons, received even an invitation to the great parade to celebrate the victory over the Third Reich. The only reward they got was a Ł 200 gratuity.

    Two points of interest are worth adding to Zumbach’s war history. For no obvious reasons, Jan Zumbach was nicknamed Donald Duck. He most probably liked it, because each of his plane, was decorated with a portrait of Walt Disney’s cartoon hero just in front of the pilot’s cabin. The other fact worth mentioning is the curious practice of Polish pilots – including Zumbach. Few of them adhered to the British regulations, according to which a pilot should take a long leave or be transferred to the reserve after having served a number of hours in the air or taken part in a set number of battles. The Poles circumvented this rule by moving from battalion to battalion – a trick also used by Jan Zumbach.

    The post-war fate of Jan Zumbach is much more dramatic and complicated than the times of war – which, admittedly, is hard to believe. He spent some time in Switzerland (he was still a Swiss citizen), and then in France, where he founded a taxi company – Flyaway Ltd., which was a front for the smuggling activities of Zumbach and his associates. In 1955 he opened a nightclub in Paris. In 1962, he became involved in armed conflicts in Africa: many provinces wanted independence, which caused them to create their own armies and wage regular wars. Jan Zumbach, using the pseudonym Johnny Brown (sometimes adding “Kamikaze” to it), accepted the offer of the government of Katanga and began to form an air force to take part in the war with Congo. He managed to obtain (buy, steal, or rebuild) a couple of Douglas A-26 Invader aircraft, attract some of his British and French wartime colleagues from the times of the Battle of Britain, and train a dozen natives. The war lasted a year, and despite numerous battles and the final defeat, Zumbach once again emerged unscathed.

    Shortly after the defeat of Katanga, another war started between the province of Biafra and Nigeria. Here, Zumbach-Brown was an even more difficult task: he only had one plane, which he usually had to pilot himself. His biggest success was the bombing of the airport in Makurdi, during which the Nigerian army commander was killed. But Biafra lost the war. This time Zumbach was injured quite seriously.

    In the seventies, he settled permanently in France, and was still dealing with the trafficking of weapons (including arms from the warehouses of the People’s Republic of Poland). He wrote an autobiographical book, originally published in French under the title Mister Brown: Aventures dans le ciel, and subsequently available in German and English under the title On Wings of War: My Life as a Pilot Adventurer. He continued leading a dangerous life, though he was no longer personally involved in any fighting. However, his shady business cause him to have many enemies, also among people in high places. Apart from this information, little is known about the French period of Jan Zumbach’s life. He died in Paris on 8th January 1986. His death is shrouded in mystery. The French police and prosecutors quickly closed the investigation, never making the results public. His remains were brought to Poland and interred at Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw.

    The last couple of years brought a funny, if a bit ironic, epilogue to Zumbach’s life story. In 2009, the British National Party launched an anti-immigrant campaign under the name of “the Battle of Britain”. Its hallmark was the silhouette of a British Spitfire plane attacking enemy aircraft. A closer examination of the poster left no doubt that it was a machine of No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron 303, with the distinctive portrait of Donald Duck on the side – Jan Zumbach’s fighter. In this way, Zumbach, a Pole with a Swiss passport, an outstanding pilot, a Polish patriot who later became an arms dealer and a mercenary adventurer became (due to the ignorance of British nationalists) a symbol of the struggle against immigrants (also Polish) living in the United Kingdom…

    dr Sebastian Gałecki

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    Four pilots of the Kosciuszko Squadron during the Battle of Britain: Witold Urbanowicz, Jan Zumbach, Miroslaw Feric, and Zdzislaw Henneberg. The four shot down 33 German planes. All have the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the Polish medal for gallantry, the Virtuti Militari.

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    F/Lt Bienkowski and S/Ldr Zumbach present the unit's trophy, part of the Ju88

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    King George VI visited the unit during the Battle of Britain on September 26. Just left of him, partly visible is S/Ldr Urbanowicz, who took over after S/Ldr Krasnodebski was wounded. Presenting pilots is S/Ldr Kellet. King shakes hand with P/O Feric, who oh his right has P/O Zumbach, F/O Cebrzynski and F/O Januszewicz.

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    1 September 1942, the Squadron Day. Kirton-in-Lindsey. F/O Majewski decorated with Cross of Valour by resident Raczkiewicz. On his right is F/O Marciniak, with F/O Glowacki on his left

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    Biafran Invaders
    Home Page

  5. #25


    Jan "Donald" Zumbach was indeed a charismatic and colourful character. Nicknamed "Donald" by his fellow airmen after "Donald Duck" because of his funny "squeaky" sounding voice.

    Below is a previously unpublished photo I have featuring Zumbach:

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    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  6. #26


    One more picture I have found in my collection

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    Four pilots of the Kosciuszko Squadron during the Battle of Britain: Witold Urbanowicz, Jan Zumbach, Miroslaw Feric, and Zdzislaw Henneberg. The four shot down 33 German planes. All have the British Distinguished Flying Cross and the Polish medal for gallantry, the Virtuti Militari.

  7. #27


    Hello Mariusz,

    Well done on the article on Zumbach, I just thought that you might like to see the photograph I have of the 4 303 Pilots after receiving their D.F.C.'s from Air Marshal Sholto-Douglas at R.A.F. Leconfield.

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    p.s. click on the picture to enlarge in a new window

    Best wishes


  8. #28


    I had several conversations with a Roman Skulski, sadly he died a few years ago. He was forced into the Red Army at the beginning of WW2 and was marching to Stalingrad but deserted to join up with Anders Army in Guzar. After they arrived in Iraq he volunteered for the Polish Air-force and sailed to England. He wrote a book called "In the Soviet Union without Toilet Paper" describing his time up to leaving for England. His daughter has just released the second volume of his memoirs entitled "For King and Empire" describing his time in the Air-Force.

    "In the Soviet Union without Toilet Paper"

    "For King and Empire"
    For King and Empire: The Story of a Polish Air Force Volunteer eBook: Roman Vladimir Skulski: Kindle Store

  9. #29


    Can any one recognise these airmen?
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  10. #30


    BBC News' Kasia Madera spoke to actor Julian Glover
    (Star Wars, Troy, Young Victoria) about his role in
    "Battle for Britain," a short film by British director
    Alex Helfrecht and Polish-German writer Jörg Tittel.

    The interview contains rare excerpts from the film.

    Official "Battle for Britain" website: 301 Moved Permanently

    The original BBC News interview and accompanying article can be found here:
    301 Moved Permanently...

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