305 Polish Bomber Squadron based at Lasham Airfield, Hampshire 1943
THE HISTORY OF 305 POLISH Bomber Squadron
305 Squadron was one of 15 Polish squadrons and one of the four Polish Squadrons formed in the United Kingdom to serve with the RAF in the second World War. The squadron was formed on 1st September 1940 at RAF station Bramcote. Personnel came mainly from the western region of Poland called Wielkopolska. They fought in the Polish Campaign until the Russian army joined the already invading German forces in the onslaught on Poland. Through various routes they reached France to serve there and when that country collapsed in July 1940 they made their way to England.
The Squadron was named after Marshall Jozef Pilsuudski and had its own badge based on the “Husaria’” wing (Husaria were the 16th Century heavily armoured Polish Cavalry whose riders had wings attached to the back of their amour; At the bottom left-hand side of the badge is a quarter of the Polish Air Force insignia, the red and white chequered shield and a quarter of the RAF roundel. On the right-hand side is the number 305. At the centre is the Marshall’s staff on a background of his initials JP. The RAF identification letters for the Squadron, painted on the aircraft fuselages, were SM.
During 8 months of 1941 the Squadron aircraft carried out 284 sorties in 1480 flying hours. The Squadron losses were 66 killed.
1942 was a year of greatly increased war effort that increased the losses in aircrews and aircraft. In May the Squadron started mine laying against enemy ports as well as carrying out the normal bomber raids over land based targets. On the night of 30/31st May, the Squadron took part in the first ever 1000 aircraft raid on Cologne, mustering its full strength (all 4 Polish Bomber Squadrons took part as well as 24 aircraft from Polish Operation Training Units). The bombardment lasted 90 minutes and a total of 1455 tons of bombs were dropped.
On the night 25/26th June the Squadron took part in the second 1000 aircraft raid. This time the target was Bremen. One 305 machine, damaged by enemy action, came down in the North Sea. Five crew members were saved by a British warship. The sixth, the Station CO Group Captain S Skarzynski, the famous conqueror of the Atlantic, who in May 1933 made an 18 hours flight in a tiny RWD-5b tourist plane from Dakar in Africa to Maceio in South America, was drowned.
In 1942 the Squadron carried out 587 sorties in a total time of 3273 hours. The losses were 105 killed and 36 were taken prisoners of war.
On 18th November 1943 the Squadron was moved to LASHAM in Hampshire and again re-equipped. This time the new aircraft were De Haviland Mosquito Mk 111, one of the best aircraft of the Second World War. The Mosquito Mk III, two engined Fighter-bomber had reinforced wings under which it could carry two 500lb bombs. The armament consisted of four 20 mm guns and 4 machine guns. It was easy in handling and its maximum speed was 400 mph. It had a two man crew – pilot and navigator – and was fitted with a radio location set.
With the arrival of the Mosquitos, 305 became a fighter-bomber squadron. Its duties were ranger and intruder operations carried out in day and night sorties. Its targets both in the air and on the ground. Its main tasks were low level attacks on rail and road communication lines and centres. Due to heavy losses suffered in the previous period the Squadron was reinforced with British aircrews and by May 1944 out of a total of 30 aircrews, 11 were British. Flight A was Polish and Flight B, commanded by Sqn Ldr M Herrick, was British.
At the beginning of September the Allied Offensive liberated Antwerp, however the port could not be used as the Germans held the islands of Walcheren and Zeeland, closing the exit from the port to the sea. The battle in that region lasted for nearly three months and 305 Squadron took full part attacking enemy positions mostly at night; On 18th November 1944 the Squadron was moved to a temporary wartime airfield at Epinoy (A-75) near Cambrai in France. In December the weather deteriorated and practically every day the whole Squadron had to sweep snow from the aircraft st9rting strips. On I st January 1945 the airfield at Epinoy was bombed in what was probably the last effort of the Luftwaffe . There were no casualties and no losses in equipment. In the same month, due to the departure on completion of their operational tour of 5 Polish aircrew, the British flying personnel became the majority but the Squadron CO remained Polish.
On the 22nd February 1945 18 aircraft of 305 Squadron took part in the greatest Air Force operation of the Second World War the so called “Operation Clarion”: In total 9000 Allied aircraft took part in attacking German communication lines. Railway stations, cross roads, bridges, ships and barges on canals and rivers, railway trucks and engines, stores dnd many other targets. The Squadron was Commanded by Wg Cdr Grodzicki and Sqn Ldr P Hanburg led the British Flight. For half an hour the Mosquitos of 305 Squadron wreaked havoc in the region Bremen-Hamburg-Kiel. The German ground defences were strong, 10 aircraft suffered damage and one British crew was lost. The pilot was killed and the navigator taken prisoner.
In 2nd Tactical Air Force
2310 day and 158 night sorties with a total time of 6971 tours.
Dropped 1213 tons of bombs.
Losses in personnel: Polish personnel, 22 killed and 3 missing. British personnel 18 killed and I taken prisoner.
Losses in aircraft: 35 machines.
The following were the Squadron Commanding Officers: -
1. Wg Cdr J JANKOWSKI 1/9140 – 3/4/41.
2. Wg Cdr B, KLECZYNSKI 414141 — 918141
3. Wg Cdr R BEILL CBE, DFC 10/8/41 – 20/6/42
4. Wg Cdr K SNIEGUtA 21/6/42 – 1711143
5. Wg Cdr T IZOLOWSKI, DFC 18/1/43 – 2717/43
6. Wg Cdr K KONOPASEK, DFC 2817143 – 3117/44
7. Wg Cdr B ORLINSKI, DFC 118/44 – 3111!45
8. Wg Cdr S GRODZICKI, DFC 112145′ – 13/2/46
9. Wg Cdr R REFEROWSKI,DFC 14/2/46 – to Squadron disbandment.
305 was typical of the Polish squadrons in Great Britain in as much as it brought together individuals who had left their beloved country to fight alongside the Royal Air Force for the common cause.
In conclusion I would like to quote the words of Marshall of the Royal Air Force, Viscount Portal of Hungerford who in the foreword to a book “Destiny can wait” wrote:
“As Chief of the Air Staff for the greater part of the war I had a unique opportunity to assess not only the magnitude of the Polish effort but also the spirit in which it was made. Polish airmen brought to the common cause a fierce and uncompromising opposition to the Nazis and all they stood for. It must not be forgotten that the Polish Air Force was the first into action in September, 1939. It carried on the fight in exile, first in France and then in Britain; and it says
everything for its discipline and devotion that it fought on even though almost all its members were cut off from news of their families in Poland who were suffering terribly under enemy occupation. This example to all the United Nations was not the least of the Polish contributions to victory. The Poles proved themselves splendid airmen: adaptable, resourceful and highly skilled as aircrews and ground staffs.I believe that only when we can all recapture the spirit of loyalty and devotion to a common cause, with which the Polish Air Force and the other Allied Air Forces worked together, will the peace for which we fought be secured.”
Compiled by Sqn Ldr J Kaliniecki
Thank you very much ,yes , these informations are vey useful, i 'm interested by the fisrt picture , knowing the other. Especially my interest is the day 31 08 1944 , raid with 6 mosquitos commanded by B Orlinski 305SQ from Lasham. 3 équipages are identified : Cdt Boleslaw Orlinski and navigator => Jan Lemieszonek Flygt Lt :Eric Atkins and navigator => Jan Majer pilote major : Staszek Stanislaw Grodzicki and navigator => Adam Szajdzicki the 3 other teams Pilot and navigator are unknown at this day, the attack will be on "Nomexy" village depot fuel and on my village "Vincey" 5 km far Nomexy in East France on schools with 35 german killed. my grand father relates me this special day. you can see more détails on blog with comments best regards from france :look at http://nomeci-jipe.blogspot.fr/2012/03/attaque-du-depot-de-carburant-de-nomexy.html#comment-form STUCK Thierry
Hello , thank you after many searchs , i obtain the rapport of 31-08-1944 on my 2 "losed" villages : Nomexy and Vincey (vosges ) in East France by 6 mosquitos commanded by famous B Orlinski with famous pilot Eric Atkins and other polish pilots and navigators 305SQ. BEST REGARDS Thierry