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
"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 -
"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
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
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
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
- 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
"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
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
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
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
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?"
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
The Germany was fighting to the bitter end, and Poles
continued to attack its cities: Cologne, Duisburg, Dortmund, Essen, Hamburg, Kiel, Plauen, Potsdam and
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."
disbanded the 300 flew in peace-time operations:
-"Manna" - food-supply droppings for Holland
-"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
-carrying bombs from the dumps and disposing of them into
© Polish Squadrons Remembered