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Stories of Poles at war

Article about: The 8th of November. It was quite worm and foggy morning. We were just finishing our breakfast when the post was distributed. I was just about to open a letter from my girl when through mega

  1. #31
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    This is is the helmet taken from the "Chartonowicz" grave on the Bendendorps weg, when the body was disinterred for reburial at the Airborne Cemetery.
    (The helmet can be seen at the foot of the cross on the ground.)

    Gary J
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  2. #32

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    I have interviewed a couple of ex-combatants from the Polish 2 Corps for the book I'm writing some using a Camcorder.

    I include 2 links here:

    Józef Królczyk (5KDP artillery) describes the start of the battle of Monte Cassino
    http://youtu.be/4RFamUiuNMU

    Tadeusz Mastalski (3DSK infantry) who was at the front for the entire battle tells that his only injuries occurred 12 years later when he re-traced his steps and was scratched by thorns on his way to the Abbey
    http://youtu.be/l5Uy-HyvdtY

    I also had my father's story Mikołaj Pleszak (2WAD) published at Two Years in a Gulag: The True Wartime Story of a Polish Peasant Exiled to Siberia: Amazon.co.uk: Frank Pleszak: Books

  3. #33

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    704543 Muskus Zbigniew 18.10.1925 kpr. /LAC Mechanik radarowy

    DAD’S WW2 AFTER ESCAPE FROM KOLKH OZ IN KAZAKHSTAN


    Dad was lucky not to have been sent to the gulags in Siberia when he was deported from Poland. From Kazakhstan he reached Persia (Iran) in April 1942. He convalesced in Teheran for 2 or 3 months to recuperate and gain strength after two years of starvation rations. Then in British Army lorries he travelled to Palestine and, wanting to become a pilot, he volunteered for the Polish Air Force based in the U.K.

    He boarded the Aquitania in Port Said as one of 300 guards for 2000 prisoners from Rommel’s Africa Core. The British thought that the Poles might shoot the Germans so issued them with very old rifles, five rounds each, and only enough rifles for those on duty. At the end of each watch they had to go around a corner and hand the rifle to the next guard. There were however, two machine guns covering the exercise area manned by British sailors. They sailed through the Suez Canal and stopped at Madagascar, Cape Town and Freetown before heading for the U.S.A. In mid Atlantic they found themselves in the middle of a large German fleet spread out on the horizons. Sailing under full power (very uncomfortable with engines throbbing and life jackets on) they zigzagged between the German warships for three days. Dad has no idea how, with four funnels, they were not recognised! Leaving the ship and prisoners in Boston he travelled to New York and waited for embarkation on Manhattan Island. Sailing on to Halifax they waited for a convoy to form and arrived in Liverpool in the autumn of 1942. We pinpointed the timing of this trip because he remembers seeing the three great liners (Aquitan ia, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth) in New York at the same time. This appears to have been the first few days of September.

    While doing his induction for the Polish Air Force it became apparent that Dad was still under 18. This prevented him from training as a pilot, an occupation with a short life expectancy and set in motion a different military career:-
    •316 Squadron where he loaded machine guns and prepared Spitfires for flying.
    •RAF school at Halton he learnt English and qualified as an electrical fitter.
    •Training at No. 9 Radio School RAF Yatesbury as a RDF (Radio Direction Finding) mechanic.
    •Posted to RAF Exminster
    •Posted to RAF Hope Cove in February 1945. It had been reduced to a skeleton staff as the war moved eastwards, but it was kept alert to watch for any threat from German planes or submarines. There were no raids and it was a very relaxed posting, almost like a holiday camp. It was here that he met my Mother. In July 1946 he was responsible for closing the station down, padlocking the gate and sending the keys to Group 60 Command.
    •Posted to RAF Sandwich he was made a Corporal in charge of two mechanics, and put the station back on air after the operations room had been burnt down.
    •Enlisted into the PRC (Polish Resettlement Corps).
    •Released from the PRC/RAF to study at Woolwich Polytechnic on 12th July 1947.

    To be continued.



    Yes an Alien with fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark hair! As with all red tape, four copies were required.
    •Immigrants to Britain who arrived between 1918 and 1957 were known as aliens in the legal terminology of the time.
    •British-born wives of aliens lost their British status upon marriage.
    •Aliens were legally required to register with the police until their application for naturalization was granted.

    Alien status did not hold Dad back as he achieved a degree in electrical engineering and started work designing radar components for British Thomson-Houston (BTH) at Rugby. He stayed with radar design, never changing his job, but his employer’s name changed several times to Associated Electrical Industries (AEI), English Electric Valve Co (EEV) and finally The General Electric Co (GEC). His department won the Queen’s Award for Industry and by the time he retired he had risen to be manager of Lincoln Division of GEC.

    Having shown that missed schooling and a foreign language were no barrier to a successful career, he also demonstrated that two years of hunger and forced labour on the collective farms of Soviet Kazakhstan did no long term damage to his health. Wanting to celebrate his 80th birthday with him I had to fly to Ecuador, where he was doing voluntary work for 3 years and living with a new partner from Canada! Having gone out to replace the bathrooms in a seminary he went on to design a solar powered herb drier and fit the electrical system in a new village school high on the slopes of Mount Chimborazo. He returned to semi-retirement in Lanzarote and died when he was 83. I am very proud of him. span>

    If you want WW2 military records for a Pole they are available from Ministry of Defence, APC Disclosures 5 (Polish) Building 60, RAF Northolt, Ruislip HA4 6NG. Tel:020 8833 8603 Email:NOR-PolishDiscOfficeAsst@mod.uk

    WW2 | The Long Bridge – Out of the Gulags
    DAD
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  6. #36

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    Spitfire over Poland
    This summer Polish pilot Jacek Mainka flew a Spitfire in 308sqn colours in Poland and I enclose links to a couple of short videos. Enjoy.

    Spitfire pl/cz OPS2014 on Vimeo

    Supermarine Spitfire PL on Vimeo

  7. #37

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    Hello Everyone,

    A recent find a reunion photograph

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    Nr 1. Unidentified although he is wearing 303 Sqdn Badge

    Nr 2. Squadron Leader Franciszek Kornicki

    Nr 3. Wing Commander Stefan Janus

    Nr 4. Squadron Leader Zygmunt Witymir Bienkowski

    Nr 5. Group Captain Aleksander Klemens Gabszewicz (later General Brygady)

    Nr 6. Squadron Leader Marian Trzebinski

    Right on photograph is Squadron Leader Boleslaw Drobinski

    If anyone recognizes Nr 1 please let me know.

    Best wishes

    Andrzej

  8. #38

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    Quote by Gary J View Post
    Tragedy at Tinwell - Rutland - England

    As with all military conflicts tragedies occur. The requirement for service personnel to be trained and ready for operational duty can lead to human error with horrific consequences.
    There were many minor accidents that accompanied the intense training associated with becoming a paratrooper, but the one incident for the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade which remained a terrible memory was the training accident which occurred close to the town of Stamford at a small village called Tinwell.

    Nearly three years had passed since the formation of the Brigade in September 1941. Now in the mid summer of 1944, the Brigade had been moved from its original base at Largo House in Fife, Scotland, to new quarters in the East Midlands of England approximately seventy five miles north of London.

    The Accident.

    As part of the training schedule, operation “Burden” was planned for the evening of the 8th July 1944. As part of this operation, 369 paratroopers from the brigade were planned to be parachuted from 33 C-47 Skytrains of the 309th Squadron – 315th Transport Carrier Group.

    The following account is reproduced with kind permission of John Rennison from his book “Wings over Rutland”.

    “The traumatic events that occurred in the sky over the little village of Tinwell on the evening of the 8th July 1944 will never be forgotten by those that were involved in them.

    The story began at the airfield of Spanhoe, sometimes known as Harringworth, just south of the Rutland border. Thirty-three olive green C-47 Skytrains of the 309th Squadron, 315th Troop Carrier Group of the U.S. 9th Air Force, began to get airborne shortly after 21:30 hours. Their cargo was 369 paratroopers of the Polish First Independent Airborne Brigade, their destination a drop zone at R.A.F. Wittering.
    Once settled in formation at 1300 feet, the thirty three aircraft made an impressive sight against the backdrop of the last rays of the summer sun. Suddenly the illusion was shattered; two of the aircraft touched wings and became locked together. Like autumn leaves, strangely out of place on a summer’s eve, they tumbled to the ground. Corporal Thomas Chambers of the U.S. 9th Air Force saw his chance as he stood in the doorway of one of the stricken aircraft and he jumped. He was to be the only survivor. The aircraft crashed down in the meadows on the Ketton side of Tinwell by the river Welland.
    A few miles away in Stamford, the crews of two St. Johns Ambulance Brigade vehicles were quickly gathered and dispatched to the scene of the tragedy. Not knowing the exact site of the crash the two ambulances approached Tinwell from different directions, one via Easton on the Hill and the other down the main road from Stamford. Peter Middleton was a member of the first crew to arrive and found an R.A.F. ambulance already there. One aircraft was smashed to pieces, while the fuselage of the other was still intact. Peter recalled that the ground was soaked with aviation fuel and only after a short time his shoes and trousers were saturated with it. There were bodies everywhere, some of the paratroops had tried to jump when it was far too late and their parachutes had failed to open. Doctor Hawes, the Medical Officer of Health for the district, was also at the scene as they began to clear the casualties. Sometime later an American ambulance arrived and the crew began to search for their personnel. Corporal Chambers was found impacted in the mud by the river bank, a very lucky man indeed.
    It was found to be impossible to enter the fuselage of the intact aircraft and cutting gear had to be sent for. The job would not be completed until the early hours of Sunday morning.
    The Polish casualties were taken back to the mortuary in Stamford’s North Street and the grisly business of sorting them out began. At one point this was interrupted by the arrival of the American ambulance crew, they were as they put it “A leg missing”. It was eventually found by dint of fact that the American airmen wore brown boots opposed to the black ones of the paratroops.
    The Americans took their casualties to Cambridge for burial. The Poles were picked up on Monday morning by Polish Army personnel and taken to the Polish cemetery at Newark. The wreckage of the two aircraft, serial numbers 42-108873 and 43-15341, was later removed by one of the American mobile salvage units.”

    Eye Witnesses.

    During the last eight years, the location of my job meant that I had to spend most of my time based in the town of Stamford. During this time I managed to track down two eye witnesses to the events surrounding the Tinwell accident.

    Keith Cardell.
    Keith was a schoolboy who lived in Ketton, the next village along from Tinwell, and on the evening of the accident, he was upstairs in his house preparing for bed, when he heard an almighty noise. His bedroom faced out towards the village of Tinwell, and he rushed to the window to see what was happening. As he looked, he caught sight of two aircraft coming out of the sky in the distance.
    Everybody in the village within a couple of minutes had rushed onto the main road, and some had started to venture in the direction of Tinwell. By the time that they reached the village, the crash site was already being cordoned off, and it was impossible for anybody to approach the crash area.

    John Glitheroe
    John lived in Stamford, and word of the crash at Tinwell was soon around the town. As a schoolboy, like many youngsters, he would ride out on his bicycle to the scene of air crashes in the locality.
    John rode out to the Tinwell crash the morning after, and managed to walk around the perimeter of the accident.
    One thing that shocked him was the sight of an impact impression of a paratrooper. He said that you could easily recognize the full shape of a human being impressed into the earth. John had heard that a couple of the Polish Paratroops had thrown themselves out of the stricken aircraft attempting to land in the river Welland thus trying to break their fall.

    The “Cost” to the Brigade.


    As a result of the Tinwell accident there are two effects to be considered


    1) The morale of the men.
    The shock of the crash reverberated around the whole of the Brigade. It was a terrible blow to morale, because as of yet the Brigade had yet to be proven in action.
    The loss of twenty six members from the 3rd Battalion 8th Company left many of their friends numb.



    2) Re-organization
    With the loss of these men, there was a logistical problem with replacements. Baring in mind the amount of time required to fully train a paratrooper, and the lack of manpower to pick replacements from, meant that some decisions had to be taken to bring the 8th Company back up to strength.
    Talking to Piotr Sulima (A veteran of the 8th Company, who knew many of those killed personally,) for him it meant an abrupt halt to his pathfinder training, and subsequent “re-absorption” back into the 3rd Battalion.
    By a twist of fate, if Piotr had not been on the pathfinder training course, it was quite possible that he would have been amongst the casualties at Tinwell, as he was with the sections that included those killed.
    (Piotr can be seen in the remembrance photo. He is the first person on the left.)


    The Polish Casualties.

    The following is a list of the Polish casualties of the Tinwell accident.
    The list is in two groups of thirteen. Thirteen is the number equal to a “Stick” of paratroopers loaded aboard a single Dakota transport aircraft.

    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________

    Por. Rudolf Bugielski
    Sierz.pchor. Bronislaw Szymonski
    Plut.pchor.Mgr Eryk Zielinski
    Plut. Mieczyslaw Gorczynski
    Kpr. Bronislaw Machon
    Strz. Jozef Podolski
    St.Strz. Kazimierz Kania
    Kpr. Jan Piwowarczyk
    St.strz. Eugeniusz Sokolski
    Kpr. Jozef Plizga
    Strz. Michal Bojakowski
    St.strz. Leonard Harasimowicz
    Strz. Bronislaw Siekierko

    _______________________________________

    Ppor. Stanislaw Trybus
    Plut. Stanislaw Jaworski
    St.strz. Marian Kadej
    Strz. Jan Wierzbicki
    Strz. Franciszek Gorski
    Strz. Stanislaw Dobrowolski
    Strz. Tadeusz Bialoskorski
    Strz. Jakub Jaremczuk
    St.strz. Teofil Korzonkiewicz
    Strz. Stanislaw Birylo
    Strz. Jan Sikora
    Strz. Michal Mazur
    Strz. Antoni Adynkiewicz
    __________________________________________________ ____________

    The Americans.

    The following is a list of the American casualties of the Tinwell accident.
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________________

    Leo L. Byrne
    J.G. Lenard
    Paris D. Bray
    R.N. Vendella
    C.S. Johnson
    Richard G. Hoyt
    Bert A. Saling
    Jack Dozler
    __________________________________________________
    __________________________________________________

    Gary Jucha January 2001 (Amended August 2003)

    __________________________________________________

    And some pictures to accompany the story.

    American crash site recovery photo's.

    The sole survivor.

    Rememberance service 2001.

    Recovered wreckage.
    Hello all,

    In addition to this very interesting story and photos by Gary I would like to show you parachute badge belonged to one of Polish paratrooper killed in this accident - Plut. Mieczyslaw Gorczynski.
    I wonder if he had this badge on his uniform during the crash ...

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  9. #39

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    Rafal,

    Great Badge. In my opinion He should have been buried with it, it was His for keeps. He died as a Paratrooper.
    NIE ZAPOMNIJMY O KRESACH.

  10. #40

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    Quote by Krakow1 View Post
    Rafal,

    Great Badge. In my opinion He should have been buried with it, it was His for keeps. He died as a Paratrooper.
    Thanks.
    Maybe you are right. But I am very happy that it survived!

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