Brief History of No. 300 (Polish) Bomber Squadron.
Written by Wilhelm Ratuszynski.

          The personnel of the 300 Squadron consisted of Polish airmen who arrived to England from France in early 1940. It’s training commenced in groups: pilots at Redhill (some 40 miles S of London), while navigators and gunners, first at Eastchurch, then at Hucknall near Nottingham. And that’s where the history of the first Polish squadron on British soil starts.
    The order (WAR/B.C.127) dated 14th March 1940 had just been issued at RAF Hucknall, which confirmed the establishment of a Polish training unit as part of No. 18 Operational Training Unit at Bramcote, in No. 6 Bomber Group. Its task was to give conversion training to crews for the Polish bomber squadrons that were being formed.
    The first to be formed was No. 300 ("Masovian") Bomber Squadron on 1st July 1940. It was on that date that the Polish Air Force flag was first hoisted in Great Britain. The Squadron had 10 flying crews with 180 maintenance and other personnel. It was equipped with Faiery "Battle" light bombers of the crew of three. The code letters BH were designated to the unit. Its first commander, advised by W/Cdr K. P. Lewis, RAF, was W/Cdr W. Makowski, C.O. of the Polish Training Centre at Hucknall. F/Lt S. Cwynar commanded Flight "A" and F/Lt M. Pronaszko Flight "B". The squadron’s technical officer was F/Lt S. Budzinski.
English technical and advisory staff were temporarily attached to the squadron until thePoles became fully conversant with RAF systems and procedures.
    On the evening preceding the night of 14th/15th August, an urgent order was issued cancelling all leave passes. All personnel dug trenches and created machine-gun posts with weapons dismantled from aircraft. Everybody expected imminent German invasion. Tragicomical situation happen when Poles entered a local armoury, and found only clubs and some sort of spears. Airmen felt terribly defenceless, especially since there was no manual how to use those weapons. The alert was called off at 03.30 hrs and a two-hour state of readiness was proclaimed. Next day, training flights again, but some of them at a height of 20,000 feet - with oxygen respirators!

        On 20th August, just as General Sikorski had conferred a Polish decoration on G/Capt A. P. Davidson, H.M. the King unexpectedly visited the squadrons. The Poles had never seen him before, so there was not only much satisfaction but also great interest. Some demonstration flights were made and the squadrons flew past His Majesty in review order. He chatted with crews, asking them about the Polish campaign and their experiences in France. The King signed the squadron’s logbook and wished everybody well. The general opinion among Poles was that soon they would find themselves in front line service. See pictures.
    A few days later "Masovian" – together with its sister squadron No. 301 – was transferred to RAF Swinderby near Lincoln as part of No. 1 Bomber Group, where its pilots landed their aircraft on the evening of August 22nd. They quickly called their 301 colleagues still in Bramcote.
"We’re already at Swinderby, at the new aerodrome. You’ve no idea! What haven’t we got here!"
"Well, what
?" inquires the Bramcote end of the wire hopefully.
"Well, there’s no water; there’s no officers’ mess; no beds and no chairs in the rooms. We haven’t got - in short -     anything."
"Good God!"
301 exclaims horror-struck. "There must be something there. We’re coming there next week."
"Well, there’s an airfield and nothing else."
       After several days of hard work, the place begun to look like bomber squadron base. There was a frenzy of activity on the airfield’s ground and in the air. Well known became a W/Cdr Rudkowski’s joke that: "even the sea gulls had to go about on foot to avoid colliding with one another in the air."   

        On 12th September the squadron was ordered to designate three crew for a mission to bomb barge concentrations in German-occupied French ports. The sortie was cancelled just before take-off. Two days later, however, orders for an attack on Boulogne were received. Three crews from No. 300 Squadron (a/c: L5317, L5427, L5353) and three from No. 301 took off at dusk. It was the first Polish bomber raid from Britain. Airmen who took part in this mission were: F/O Sulinski, F/O Bujajski and Sgt Biezunski; F/O Antonowicz, P/O Dej and Sgt A. Kowalski; P/O Jasinski, F/Sgt Sobieszczuk and Sgt Lopot. Since then, weather permitting, the squadron flew missions over the continent every other night. Each time, the targets were German barge concentrations at Boulogne, Dunkirk, Ostend and Calais.
    On the night of l3th - l4th October, the squadron suffered its first loss, when the airfield was subjected to attacks by German bombers. German plane cruised near an airfield and kept it blacked-out so that the homing bombers had to wait in the air until their petrol was nearly all gone. They finally had to make forced landings in darkness and mist. The squadron’s bomber crashed during landing, burst into flames and the whole crew perished.
    In late October 1940, the unit begun to rearm itself with a new type of aircraft: Wellington Mk I. Flying personnel almost doubled, to 144 airmen (24 full crews), while squadron’s total was nearly 400. After two month of intensive training, the squadron resumed its mission over occupied Europe. After the successful attack on Mannheim, the Polish bomber squadrons were finally detailed off for operational service. The crews were delighted. They had all read of that first large-scale concentrated bombing and naturally wanted to see for themselves. Their first target was, however, the complex of fuel tanks and the petroleum refinery at Antwerp, which they attacked on 22nd December 1940. The take-off was rather tricky but went off well. All the aircraft returned safely and then, for several days, the crews were busy acknowledging congratulations, reading Press reports about themselves, and so on. It seemed as if all was for the best in the best of worlds. Few days later, the next three "Masovian" aircraft bombed the same target. While returning from one of those missions, one "BH" Wellington crashed burying its crew.

        In 1940, the squadron flew 55 missions to bomb targets in France and Belgium for a total of 212 hours, and suffered the loss of eight airmen.

        In the beginning of 1941, the airfield at Swinderby, which did not have concrete runways, was practically out of use due to heavy rainfalls and thaw. Very few sortie were made. The unit had to move to Winthorpe and other nearby bases in order to maintain flying duties. Targets included Bremen, Hamburg and Brest where German battleships holed up. Also marshalling yards at Mannheim, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt were bombed.
    On 23 March, a good stir was given to the unit when it was announced that the Poles were to bomb Berlin. All were very eager to fly that mission, although very few realized how difficult, distant and well-defended target it was. The time had come to repay for merciless bombing of Warsaw and London.
Two Wellingtons, T2719 and R1273, swung on takeoff in strong cross winds and hit the boundary fence fortunately without injury to the crews. Four crews of the 300 Squadron got to drop bombs over Berlin. See picture. All returned safely at dawn, and photographs showed that their bombing was accurate. Next time Polish bombers visited Berlin was a night of 17th/18th April. Following several weeks was uneventful.

        The beginning of June was marked with the squadron’s increased activity. Operational sorties led Polish bombers to Lorient, Osnabrück, Bielefeld, Nuremberg and many other targets. Proportionally to the number of them grew also list casualties.
    On 11th June squadron was visited by AOC-in-C Bomber Command, Air Marshal Sir Richard E. C. Peirse, and by H.R.H. the Duke of Kent the day after. But the greatest day for the unit came on 16th of July 1941. The occasion was especially dear to Polish hearts. No. 300 Squadron as the senior Polish air Formation was entrusted with the Polish Air Force standard. It was an inspirational event with service celebrated by Mgr. Gawlina, Military Bishop for the Polish Forces, and with the participation of the President, the Commander-in-Chief and many other distinguished British and Polish visitors. It remained with No. 300 Squadron three months, after which it was kept in rotation for a like period by each of the Polish bomber and fighter squadrons.
See pictures.


Sgt Nowakowski's crew just beofre mission. RAF Swinderby 1941.

    Two days later squadron moved to RAF Hemswell, without interrupting operational flying; on 17th July took part in an attack on Cologne and on the 21st against Frankfurt-on-Main. The number of raids mounted by 300 squadron continued to rise and in July 1941 300 squadron carried out 13 attacks comprising 60 sorties. 
    It was then that there were several changes among squadrons C.O.s. The C.O. of No. 300 Squadron, W/Cdr Makowski, was promoted to Polish Station Commander at Lindholme; W/Cdr S. Cwynar now commanded the squadron. At that time, after logging 25 missions, airmen were rested. See the squadron's Battle Order in December 1941. Most of them returned for second and even third tour. In July, the squadron totalled operational 60 sorties: on Essen, Frankfurt-on-Main, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Le Havre, Boulogne, Mannheim and two each on Bremen, Bielefeld and Cologne.
    Toward November, the unit received Wellington Mk. IV bombers with more powerful, air-cooled American Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp engines.

        The year 1941, the squadron closed with the totalled of 441 operational sorties (2484 hours), and suffered loss of fifty airmen; casualties were much heavier in the second half of the year.

        On January 27th, 1942, W/Cdr Sulinski became squadron’s new CO. With the better weather of the spring the number of sorties by the Polish squadrons significantly increased: from 177 and 197 sorties in February and March to 352 sorties in April. Most often visited targets were: Manheim, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Aachen, Hamburg and Essen. Poles dropped their bombs also at Milan, Turin, Stuttgart and Cologne. Allies bomber offensive was still in its infancy, many effective methods were yet to be invented, and casualties correspondingly increased. The 300 Squadron had three crews missing in April: on 12th, 17th and 27th.
    In May, the unit begun a new type of operations: mine lying. Area of these operations stretched from Brest to Island of Helgoland. On May 22nd, Poles moved to Ingham in Lincolnshire.
    On May 30th, the squadron took part in RAF’s 1,000 aircraft raid on Cologne, and on June 26th in the similar mission over to Bremen. By
the end of June No. 300 had spent a great deal of operational time laying mines off the Friesian Islands carrying out 94 such sorties in that month.
    Command of No. 300 Bomber Squadron was taken over by W/Cdr Dukszto on 9th July, when the former CO, W/Cdr Sulinski, was posted to the 138 Special Duties Squadron. July and August were busy months for Polish bombers. Flying personnel and aircraft wore down.
    In early September, the squadron had 20 full crews and 9 serviceable Wellington. During the night of 4th September, the crew of pilot F/O Machej returned from Bremen with aircraft, which lost 3/4 of the fuselage cover. Its return produced wide spread astonishment.
See picture. The press showed picture of the aircraft, and even noted it saying that it belonged to No. 300 Polish squadron, while for obvious reasons, mentioning of any units’ details was rather strictly avoided.
    Toward the end of the year, some missions the 300 Squadron flew led to: Düsseldorf on September 10 (one crew lost); on October 12 to mine Kalunborg’s port entry (one aircraft written off, no casualties); Cologne on October 15 (one crew lost); on November 3 to mine Brest’s coastal area (one crew lost); on November 8 to mine Danish coast (two crew lost); Manheim on December 6 (one crew lost). Meantime, on November 1st, S/Ldr Kropinski took over the command.

In 1942, the unit totalled 872 operational sorties, in 4692 hours, loosing 88 airmen killed, 11 missing and 30 POWs.

        The beginning of 1943 was marked by the squadron’s relocation to Hemswell (January 5th). The unit was seriously undermanned, and only in April the situation improved with the coming of replacement crews from reformed 301 Squadron. The number of sorties flown by 300 squadron reflected this intake of ex-301 crews into the squadron: 23 in January, 43 in February, 35 in March, 77 in April and 104 in May.
    In April also, new, better aircraft – Wellington Mk X – were received. The operational duties remained the same: attacks on ports and industrial centers, and mine lying. The following abridged extract from No. 300 Squadron’s logbook for 1943 shows how life fared in those times: April 2, raid on St. Nazaire and L’Orient; April 4, Kiel (rear-gunner dueled with a Messerschmitt 110, which he finally shot down); April 8, one aircraft failed to return from Duisburg; April 16, raid on Mannheim (aircraft ‘C, attacked three times by a Me-110, fights back but is damaged, crew of a/c ‘E’ machine-gun a train in Germany); April 22, one aircraft failed to return from mining operations off L’Orient.
    On May 4th, S/Ldr Kucharski became a new CO.

        During the so-called Battle of Ruhr, 300 made great effort, often sending out more aircraft than it was supposed to do. Read more. The ground personnel worked round the clock. Some of the targets during that stretch were: Duisburg on May 12, Dortmund on May 23, Düsseldorf on May 25, Essen on 27th and Wuppertal on 29th. On June 21st two aircraft failed to return from Krefeld; 15 aircraft engaged. Bombing raids on Ruhr were intermittent with mining mission of Europe’s coasts. On June 22, the squadron moved back to Ingham, without interrupting its operational flying. The move was not popular among the crews mostly because of Ingham's bumpy runways and widely dispersed accommodation. 
    The RAF’s Bomber Command finished its offensive over German highly industrialized area in July 1943, and it is commonly agreed that losses where minimized by a successful use of "window" - aluminum foils strips dropped from bombers to snag German radars.
    On July 24, the 300 took part in 700 bombers raid over Hamburg ("window" used for the first time), and suffer no loss. The unit continued its service (excerpts):

- July 25, Essen (one crew lost)
- August 2, Hamburg (one crew lost)
- August 15 Frisian Islands (mining; one aircraft shot down, two airmen rescued from the sea)
- August 23, Berlin
- August 30, Munich
- October 7, St. Nazaire (one crew lost)
- November 11, Lorient (mining mission, one crew lost)
- November 18, Frisian Islands (mining; 16 aircraft, no losses)

        "The Squadron returned to the mining of the entrances of French ports and coastwise shipping routes used by the enemy. ‘Browned-off’ as the crews were by these arduous and thankless operations, they never lost hope of doing something really ‘useful’. On one occasion they received a highly gratifying commendation. The following signal from H.Q. Bomber Command supplies it:
   ‘On the night of 24th/25th October a number of crews returning from operations sighted several ships of various categories and gave accurate reports on return which were of considerable value to C.-in-C. Nore. As a direct consequence, H.M. ships intercepted an attack by a force of 25 E-boats on an east coast convoy, sinking four, damaging seven and taking 19 prisoners. The accuracy of the report and speed of transmission to the C.-in-C. Nore has been commended. The information which led to the successful naval engagement was secured from reports provided by the captains and crews of No. 300 Squadron.’"
(Destiny Can Wait. PAF.)

        W/Cdr Kuzian assumed command of No. 300 Squadron on 19th November. Before long, it was discovered in armoury, that soon no. 2000 mine would be laid. New CO announced that the lucky crew (Wellington R for Robert) would enjoy an extra 48-hours pass and the bottle of liquor. On November 30th, "Masovian" squadron put 2000th mine in enemy’s waters (BH-R), and was congratulated by Bomber Command C-in-C, Air Marshall Harris: 
    "Heartiest congratulations to the whole personnel of Squadron 300 on the occasion of laying last night, in good and painstaking fashion, their two-thousandth mine. It is a most valuable contribution toward winning the war with Germany and affords further proof of the splendid spirit of co-operation animating both our Air Forces. I am proud to be in command of you. HARRIS."
    Soon after, a decision was made to convert squadron to Avro Lancaster, four-engine heavy bomber. Crews were detailed off to the 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit to familiarize themselves with the new aircraft.

        In 1943, the 300 Squadron made 942 operational sorties for a total of 4672 hours. It lost 62 airmen KIA and 10 POW.

            The new year of 1944 begun with damp and dreary weather setting in. The life was confined to quarters and briefing rooms. One flight, on Wellingtons, took part in mine laying operation near Brest (January 14), directed against U-boats. Soon after, very popular among crews S/Ldr Kuzian (DFC) left for a new post. W/Cdr Kowalczyk took over on 18th January.
        The Flight "A" under new CO continued to fly operationally on Wellington, while 17 crews (mostly fresh from OUT) under S/Ldr Pozyczka trained on Lancasters. The latter faced many obstacles in their course: severe lack of trained ground personnel and tradesmen, not enough of aircraft, no runways and short airstrip. Situation was serious, and the whole course was transferred to RAF Hemswell, where some Polish units were already training. First few crews to graduate however were sent to strength the 138 Special Duties Squadron (301) in Italy. The operational losses continued, and on February 21, one crew failed to return from mine lying near Brest.
Unfortunately, this loss was the last RAF's Wellington lost from front line duties. JA117(BH-F) was delivered straight from assembly at Squires Gate and had completed 245.25 flying hours before being lost.
     Most welcomed was H.Q. Bomber Command decision to move squadron to Faldingworth. This station had Nissen huts and lacked even minor luxuries, but had long, concrete runways and flat, unobscured approaches. The transfer took place on 1st March 1944. The new Lancasters started to be ferried in (16th on April 15), as the last sortie on Wellingtons was made on March 4th/5th to mined waters outside L’Orient.
    W/Cdr Pozyczka, D.F.C., became the squadron’s new CO on 2nd April. He was a very experienced bomber pilot and he soon brought his unit to the highest operational standard.
    On April 18, first Polish Lancasters bombed Cologne and Rouen railway junction. On the 22nd, seven crew attacked Düsseldorf and Karlsruhe. First Polish Lanacsters were lost on April 24 over Karlsruhe; German night fighters shot down two aircraft – 14 airmen were killed.

        In May, Bommber Command directed its attention to enemy’s communications as a part of its pre-invasion offensive. Some of the 300’s targets were: Dieppe on May 10 (6 crew), Hasselt on the 12th (8), Orleans on the 19th (6), Duisburg on the 21st (8), Dortmund on the 22nd (7; 2 lost), Amiens on the 27th (6, 1 lost).

        On D-Day, the force of 1,119 bombers was ready to bomb the way for the Allies through the Atlantic Wall – the 300 Polish Squadron aircraft among them. Drips of white paint could be traced in many parts of the base, as white strips were painted on aircraft. Now the Poles were to pay back for what Luftwaffe did to polish troops in September 1939. Operations were flown daily.
    On June 12, the squadron suffered heavy blow. Three of its aircraft failed to return from an attack on Gelsenkirchen – 21 airmen killed.

        "On 13th June it made the first daylight attack - on the enemy’s fleet of light naval ships in Le Havre harbour.
‘They (the German craft) were attacked just before sunset, when we could be certain that the vessels would be out of their concrete shelters and collected together in the harbours, getting ready to operate during the night. These attacks were rightly considered of extreme importance by SHAEF; the enemy had already shown us how dangerous these light vessels armed with torpedoes could be against shipping in the Channel and, if they had been able to operate successfully at this time, the result would have been very serious for the invasion.’
   
The attack was a complete success. The O.C. No. 300 Squadron received this signal from H.Q. Bomber Command: "The A.O.C.-in-C. wishes the following to be passed to all concerned: ‘The attacks on Le Havre were magnificent. You have virtually destroyed the entire German naval force there. This was the most important naval force opposing our invasion and comprised some 60 vessels.’" Destiny Can Wait. PAF.

        Around that time the squadron roster was very short, and several British crew were assigned to the Flight "B". S/Ldr Misselbroock led them. Mission were flown to:

- Les Mayens on June 24 (one crew lost)
- Vierzon on July 1 (one crew lost)
- Caen on July 7 (1500 Allies bombers)
- Essen on July 18 (12 a/c, one lost)
- Cologne on July 23 (one crew lost)
- Stuttgart on July 25 (12 a/c, one lost)

            In one of the issues of The London Chronicle, a relation about the 300 Squadron was published:
    "One of the Squadron’s Lancasters, one of more than a thousand aircraft, was industriously bombing a target at Emieville near Caen on 18th July, when flak badly damaged it. The rear gunner was moving his turret round, searching for fighters at the time. The blast swung the turret beyond its usual position, ripped open the door at the gunner’s back and sucked him out of his seat. He fell out but his left foot jammed in the doorway and there he hung head downwards. The mid-upper gunner and the flight engineer went to his aid but could not pull him in. His foot began to slip out of the shoe, so one of them grabbed his trousers, which, however, began to tear. The flight engineer now did a risky piece of work; he clambered out (the aircraft was now over the sea) precariously held in place - and looped a length of rope round the rear gunner, which he then made fast to the seat. He then returned to his task of nursing the damaged Lancaster back to its base.
    The Lancaster limped home with the rear gunner hanging head down from the tail and those watching on the airfield saw him swing his head to one side to avoid hitting the ground as the bomber touched down. He was bleeding from the ears and mouth but was not badly hurt. He still brags of being the only man to have flown upside down from Caen to Great Britain. Sgt. J. Pialucha, the flight engineer, was given the immediate award of the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his outstanding courage and initiative."

        On 1st August the Warsaw Uprising broke out. Poles became tense, as very few moments of their free time they spent by the radio, listening to the news. They were moved and inspired by the events in Poland, but frustrated at the same time. They had modern, very potent weapons and yet, they could do nothing to help martyr Warsaw. Many of the 300 personnel still had families in Warsaw: wives, children and parents. Thus, August proved to be a very busy month. Six of the most experienced crews were transferred to Italy as replacements for the Polish Special Duties Squadron. To their deep contentment, they got to take part in supply missions for the fighting Warsaw. Steady flow of people through the unit continued. In the span of five days the 300 lost six crews, four of them British. 
    One of these PA163 (BH-M) was shot down near Alestrup. On impact the pilot, F/Lt Wasik was thrown from the cockpit and survived. He evaded capture and arrived back at Leuchars after less than a month. This achievement was not new to him as he had evaded capture and returned to England in 1942 after being shot down over
the Ardennes in Wellington Z1276 (BH-W) on 27/28 April. Polish 18 OTU graduates replaced them, and the squadron became entirely Polish again.
    On September 25th the Bomber Command was no longer under direction of Supreme Allied Commander, and once again the HQ of the Chief of Air Staff selected targets. The Polish 300th flew missions to bomb Bonn, Essen, Ulm, Gelsenkirchen, Karlsruhe Stetin and many others. Among them: flying-bomb launching-sites and other targets connected with V-weapons. On 3rd October the squadron bombed enemy shore batteries on Walcheren. Its primary task remained the strategic destruction of the industrial Reich.
    In mid-December, for four days, Poles fully participated in operations against Rundstedt’s counter-offensive, every day sending out full complement of 12 a/c.

        In 1944, airmen of the 300 Squadron flew 961 operational sorties for a total of 4536 hours. It dropped 4,181 tons of bombs and laid 145 tons of mines. It was a year of the biggest losses: 110 KIA, 3 MIA and 10 POW.

        The beginning of a new year brought many political moves on a world scene, implications of which made the squadron efforts even more strenuous. Poles had to face a brutal reality: Poland was sacrifice to the Soviets in exchange for their supreme effort on the Eastern Front. The morale among the crews was rather low, but they carried out their duty in a honest way.
    At RAF Faldingworth, a significant change took place on January 29th. It was taken over by G/Capt Beill thus, the station became fully Polish: from CO down to the lowliest aircraftman. Two days later S/Ldr Jarkowski became the squadron's new CO. W/Cdr Pozyczka was posted to other duties. He was awarded DSO and DFC with bar, becoming one of the most distinguished Polish pilots.
    The details of the Yalta Agreement were broadcasted just as the 300 airmen were preparing for a mission to Dresden. They took off in a poignant mood. The typical state of mind of the Polish airmen at that time describes letter of P/O Magierowski. On February 13 he wrote to his friend:

     “This night we are to attack Dresden, as support for the Red Army. There would be nothing extraordinary in this were it not that we are to carry out such a task just at the moment when our hearts are bleeding after another partition of Poland effected at Yalta.
    “It’s just as well that Bogdan is dead - he couldn’t have survived it: Lwów, which was never a Russian city, by an arbitrary decision, is handed over to Russia! Just think, I and so many others knocked about the world fleeing like criminals, starving, hiding in forests - all only in order to fight for . . . what? For this, that we shall not be able to return to our native town, because it has simply ceased to be.
    “What more can you want? The Ribbentrop-Molotov line has been called the Curzon line, and the world is well content. Half of Poland had been handed over as a gift. The other half has been condemned to compulsory incorporation within the ‘eastern sphere of influence’ just as if it were some desert island in the Arctic, or a piece of the Sahara. I was once in the Soviet Union and it’s quite enough for the rest of my life.
    “The sorties have been ordered, so we’re going to fly—it’s the proper thing to do, they say—although anger and despair are in our hearts. It’s a funny feeling, but sometimes I wonder if all this has any sense. If the Germans get me now, I won’t even know what I’m dying for. For Poland, for Britain, or for Russia?"

The 300 Squadron detailed off twelve aircraft for that mission. Due to a mid-air collision, one crew failed to return. Ironically, the next day and without a proper rest, Poles flew to attack Chemnitz, in an effort to help advancing Russian Army. Like many others before him, also P/O Magierowski did not make it. He was killed in action on February 24 during the mission to Pforzheim. That night, two 300 aircraft were lost to German night fighters, who rose up in one of the last convulsions of the dying Luftwaffe. Few days before, F/Lt Reinke dueled with a German night fighter which he shot down. He was awarded a DFC, but two more Polish crews perished.
    The Germany was fighting to the bitter end, and Poles continued to attack its cities:
Cologne, Duisburg, Dortmund, Essen, Hamburg, Kiel, Plauen, Potsdam and others.

    The squadron was revitalized when an order arrived to bomb Berchtesgaden - Hitler's favourite retreat. The attack took place on 25th April 1945. Among nearly 400 bombers were fourteen 300's Lancasters with enthusiastic crews. To their disappointment, Hitler was not there and that sortie proved to be the last combat mission flown by the squadron. Many airmen he took part in that flight, remember it very well, since it was the first and the last time as they were escorted by the Polish fighters. The present were no. 303, 306, 309, 315 and 316 Polish squadrons. Read more.

 


Bombed Berchtesgaden. Picyure taken by the crew of F/Lt Pruszyński.

 

    In May several relief missions were flown to flooded Dutch coastal area, and this is probably the last noticeable event in the 300 Polish Squadron's history of service.

        In 1945, the unit totalled 620 operational sorties for 3648 hours. During four months, 59 airmen were killed in action and 18 were taken prisoner. Eleven Lancasters were written off.
    The squadron's numbers for the whole period of the war are: 3891 operational sorties for 20,244 hours; over 12,000 tons of bombs dropped; nearly 1500 tons of mines laid; 133 targets attacked; 371 KIA; 19 MIA; 68 POW.
Even 80 aircraft was lost.

*       *       *

    On the V-Day the squadron took a day off to celebrate the end of war. It was not a very happy moment, and as matter of fact, a rather grim one. G/Capt Beill spoke to gathered personnel: 
    “The British people are to-day celebrating the day of victory. Nearly six years of bloodshed, struggle and effort have been crowned by the unconditional surrender of Germany. This war was begun in defence of Poland’s independence and, summing up our contribution, we can state with pride that it was great, out of all proportion to our means. We gave more to bring about this victory than these means allowed and hence our hearts are heavy that this day is not the day of victory for the cause of Poland."

Before being disbanded the 300 flew in peace-time operations: 
    -"Manna" - food-supply droppings for Holland (152 tons)
    -"Exodus" - repatriation of British prisoners-of-war to Great Britain (975 liberated POWs)
    -"Dodge" - the transport of British troops from Italy to Great Britain, and the carrying of Red Cross supplies for liberated
         Poles in German concen­tration camps and...
    -carrying bombs from the dumps and disposing of them into the sea.

© Polish Squadrons Remembered