Now the 304 took its firm place in the general plan of operations of
the 1st Bomber Group. Crews were often out on raids for three successive nights.
In July, August and September unit flew many missions over the Rhur suffering
only one loss. On July 24, the crew of complete freshmen was lost over Emden -
in July the unit totaled 52 sorties. Four days earlier, the No. 304 was
transferred to Lindholme in York, and the move practically did not hinder a bit
the squadron's operations.
During second half of the year the 304 continued to build its good record,
but registered normal operational losses. On October 20 (Emden), one crew was
lost after their aircraft was shot down near Helgoland. On 26th (Hamburg), one
damaged Wellington ditched near Cromer, and except one airman the crew was found
and saved by Air-Sea Rescue boat. Three crews went to bomb Manheim on November
7th. In adverse weather conditions, one plane had to force-land when it was out
of fuel. Pilot, F/Sgt Blicharz saw illuminated airfield and thinking he was over
England, put the aircraft down. This happened to be a German airfield near
Brussels. Realizing its location, the crew quickly set the aircraft on fire
before being captured.
When on November 14th, W/Cdr Poziomek took over the squadron's command;
five crew sortied for a raid on Hamburg. One crew ditched damaged aircraft near
Yarmouth and floated for one day in dinghy before being rescued. Less lucky was
crew of Flight "A" commnader, S/Ldr Blazejewski. All were killed on
December 17th over Ostende.
In 1941, No. 304 totaled 214 operational sorties for 1202 hours.
lost 47 airmen killed, missing or POW.
During the first months of the 1942, the squadron was heavily involved
in the Allies bomber offensive. Although the RAF's superiority in the air was
established, the Luftwaffe defenses were far from being weak. They improved
significantly. Germans applied many different countermeasures and the bomber
losses mounted. Being in the thick of the clash, the 304 did not escape its
share of wounds. The unit's airmen resources were slowly eroding and the
replacements were scarce.
For No. 304 April proved to be a tragic month. Squadron lost six crews (36
airmen) during missions and toward the end of the month could hardly muster six
or seven aircraft for operations. Important day was 24th April 1942. One year
earlier the first operational flight had been made, and General Sikorski visited
the unit. See
pictures. A big reunion of former and present members of the squadron was
staged, but the duty was not be interfere with. Some of those who came to
celebrate decided to volunteer for that night's mission to Rostock, and beef
up depleted flights. Crews were shuffled ad hoc, and seven NZ Wellingtons
took off. The attack was a success. All the bombers
took off right on schedule, reached their targets and unloaded on burning city,
and returned safely.
The next day the Polish C-in-C made the following entry in the
"On this first anniversary of No. 304 Squadron whose splendid service
has added so much to the fame of Polish arms, I convey to the officers and other
ranks of the Squadron my best wishes for the future. May your magnificent flight
over Germany on the night of April 24th - 25th presage further crushing
victories until this war for Poland is won."
This NZ-Q is DV441. Probably RAF Lindholme, early 1942.
Heavy losses sustained by the Polish bomber force in April, together
with corresponding lack of reserves - particularly painful was the shortage of
navigators - threatened PAF with decision to suspend operations. It was
decided in the Bomber Command that one of the Polish bombers squadrons would
have to be transferred to Coastal Command, where as a rule, losses were lighter
but the crews carried out longer tours of duty without relief. Having suffered
especially heavy losses during its 488
operational sorties, and desperately needing to lick its wounds, the 304
Squadron was chosen. The official reassignment took place on May 10th.
- With Coastal Command -
The only good thing the vast
majority of No. 304 crews saw in the transition, was a better chance to survive
missions. The first impression on almost everything else seemed to be bad. The
new airbase was on the tiny Isle of Tiree in the Western Isles, only a few miles
wide and less than 20 miles long. The place
looked howling and under constant onslaught of capricious Atlantic weather.There were virtually no navigational aids. Living
quarters were mere Nissen huts, always dump and rattling under heavy winds.
The airmen had no previous experience of flying over the sea,
which differ a lot from bombing raids. To get the feel of it, many strenuous
hours of patrolling in gray monotony were needed. Generally low marine knowledge
of aircrews was a hindrance in the squadron's conversion. Most of the Polish
airmen never even saw a submarine, and one crew attacked a solitary rock of
Rockall jutting out of the sea some 300 miles west of Scotland. Despite all
this, the transition from the Battle of Germany to the Battle of the Atlantic
No. 224 (RAF) Squadron flying Hundsons was also
stationed on Tiree. Few days after their arrival, Poles got to know theirs
British colleagues, and immediately a healthy, friendly rivalry was born: who
would sink the first U-boat. Soon the great comradeship by the British was
displayed, when their CO had all his aircraft ready within half an hour, for a
search of one Polish Wellington ditched in the Atlantic. Read more.
On May 18th, 1942, S/Ldr Poziomka made the first operational sortie, a
six-hour patrol over Atlantic's Western Approaches. From that day on, Polish
Wellingtons were regularly taking off for U-boat hunting. On 26 May, the crew of
navigator F/O Skarzynski spotted and attacked a U-boat, which was the first
attack of that type by Polish aircraft. British Admiralty believed it to be a
successful one and that the U-boat had been damaged. Read more.
Flying long sea patrols was anything but easy. To detect an enemy sub,
crews had to fly low over water, which was an arduous and distressing activity.
Rarely saw they sun, and grayish sky cohered with a dull sea depriving them of
the sense of horizon. This caused an illusion of slowly flying into the sea. In
addition, the crews had to be constantly vigilant looking for enemy boats or
aircraft. This service was strenuous and monotonous. After those sorties, came
debriefing and meal, after which, tired crews hardly ever sought something other
One month after arrival at Tiree, on June 13, the No. 304 was transferred to 19 Group and to RAF Dale, in
South Wales. Although the stay at the lonely island was short and unappealing,
the departure was somewhat emotional. Station CO, G/Cpt Tuttle, arranged for the
Coastal Command band to come all the way from England, to play the 304 off to
the mainland. Poles thanked him for benevolent leadership and hospitality. Two
weeks later, W/Cdr Poziomek received this letter from G/Cpt Tuttle:
"I must write and express my appreciation to you
and the whole of your Squadron for their magnificent work here. I was amazed the
whole time at the enthusiasm with which they tackled anything, and at their
cheerful acceptance of the living conditions here. Before 304 Squadron came I
was very worried because I thought you would all dislike the place intensely and
would probably dislike the work, and was delighted to see that you apparently
liked both. I cannot imagine any station commander having an easier job than
having 304 Squadron at his station, and only hope that I shall meet you all
again some time. I hope you will remember me to everybody in the Squadron; I
shall never forget them and shall be delighted to have anybody up here when they
If you ever have time, do let me know how things
are going at Dale, as everybody here is asking if I have heard about the
Squadron, which everybody here misses."
The squadron's new area of operations became the Bay of Biscay. Except
patrolling, escorting transatlantic convoys became the new duty. From Dale crews
flew more intensely, but in much better weather conditions. The Battle of the
Atlantic was in a full swing and the crews' work was more demanding, although
little they realized the gravity of the state of affairs. Patrols exhausting.Common complain was eyestrain, caused by glaring waters of these
habitually sunlit seas. The menace of enemy's fighters was much more serious
here, but the chances to hunt a U-boat were far better.
On the night of June 25/26th, seven NZ Wellingtons were prepared for the
RAF's 1,000 bombers raid on Bremen. Selected crews flew over to Docking, where
their aircraft were refueled and loaded with bombs. One squadron's Wellington
was shot down killing all crew.
Summer of 1942 started to look like a very busy time
for No. 304. Operational sorties were flown daily. All this hard work, however,
paid little in terms of success. In July, only three times Poles encountered and
6. The crew of F/O Nowicki dropped six depth charges on submerging U-boat
without any results.
10. The crew of F/O Krzyszczuk probably damaged one during its periscope run.
30. Another crew unsuccessfully depth-charged submerging U-boat.
this period, daily news of raging battle over East Atlantic, reminded Poles that
they were in a thick of it. No. 304 Squadron's resources were stretched to the
limits. Flying anti-submarine patrols, night bombing attacks on U-boat bases in
French ports, convoy escorting and other smaller duties, kept the crews hard at
work. Ground crew did not have any easier time. Rapidly ageing aircraft Bristol
Hercules engines were causing more and more frequent problems. It is worth to
notice, that at any point during that time, the unit's losses or difficulties
did not undermine its operational value.
An August of 1942 was not going to be any less
laborious. The squadron's work was highlighted with few events:
August 3, the crew of F/O Zarudzki spotted and attacked submerged ship. After
the attack, oily spots and large amount of air babbles were seen.
the 9th, the crew of F/O Figura caught surfaced U-boat, but to its great despair
was unable to jettisoned depth charges.
the night of August 12, the one of the most experienced crew was lost in a first
night sortie. Read more.
August 13, the crew of navigator F/O Nowicki sunk U-boat in position 47N/10W.
Three depth charges fell very close to the surfaced German ship, which begun to
list to the port and later submerged. British Admiralty confirmed it as
destroyed, although no confirmation was found after the war.
On September 2, the crew of F/Lt Kucharski surprised another U-boat and
was credited with enemy's ship damaged. Coastal Command aircraft begun to be a
serious menace to U-boats, and Germans devoted more long-range Ju-88 and Me110
fighters to patrol over the Bay of Biscay. Sooner or later Polish Wellingtons
were bound to encounter them. This happened on September 5, when the NZ-C
piloted by sergeants: Bakanacz and Twardoch skirmished with two Junkerses. Read
On the 16th, the crew of NZ-E had to face even greater
odds, when their aircraft was attacked by six Ju-88s. Poles fought off obviously
inexperienced Germans neatly and valiantly, to return to the base victorious. Read
Unusual luck for meeting enemy's aircraft over the
seas had pilot F/Sgt Bakanacz. When on September 24, nine Polish Wellingtons
patrolled their sector; his crew was attacked by two Ju-88s. Together with his
commander F/O Morawski they outmaneuvered the attackers and the gunners battered
them. Two weeks later Bankacz was in a strange skirmish with a four-engine Focke
Wulf 200 of the notorious "Condor" unit. The encounter took place some
15 miles north of the Spanish coast. Gunner Sgt Kubacik exchanged few scratches
with the Germans and the Poles disengaged.
On October 16 the real misfortune saddened the
unit's airmen. In the morning, very popular and outstanding officer, F/O
Targowski received a letter from his wife in Poland, the first news of her since
his departure from Poland in 1939. In high spirits, he took off for a late
morning patrol, and two hours later the station received a telegram stating that
he was awarded a DFC. Two pieces of great news called for a celebration. A party
was being organized when the signal from his aircraft was received that it was
under attack. Shot down by a German fighter, the whole crew perished. Similar
fate met another crew on November 1st.
Worsening weather conditions lessen a little bit
number of sorties, and the last weeks of 1942 were uneventful. On Christmas Eve
five crews took off for sorties. Meantime, the weather closed in and the base
was unserviceable. Wellingtons were directed to another airfield and four of
them landed safely. The fifth crew had bail out as their aircraft used-up last
drops of fuel, after being airborne for 11 hours and 36 minutes. All five Polish
crews made it back to the dale and in time for a party. During that evening, No.
304 Squadron activities in Coastal Command were summed up by the squadron and
station COs. The unit did very well and the Poles had all the reasons to be
proud of their service.
these seven months, the squadron totaled 549 sorties during almost 4,500
flying operational hours. It dropped 78,100 lbs. of bombs and depth
charges. The most significant statistic however, was nine successful attacks on
U-boats. Beside attacking enemy in French ports, the 304 also took part in a
great attack on Bremen. Its casualties were 24 missing, killed or
The beginning of the 1943 looked promising: the Coastal
Command began cooperation with several Royal navy ships equipped with powerful
radiolocation stations, which vectored aircraft on enemy's ships or fighters.
Allies started to gain an upper hand in the Battle of Atlantic.
For the 304 particularly, these better times
materialized on January 5, when Wellington E304 attacked a pack of U-boats at
45N/09W. They displayed a new tactic: when attacked, U-boats concentrated their
strong AA fire rather then diving away. It is believed that Poles did some
damaged to one U-boat during that attack.
But the number of sorties by the squadron slumped in
January as a bad weather set in. Only few days in that month were suitable for
patrols. In February conditions improved and pilots saw more flying. They also
saw more German aircraft.
Both sides showed fierce determination on February 9,
when S/Ldr Ladro's (DFC) Wellington NZ-W was jumped by four Ju-88s. This
engagement was widely reported as an example of Allies' cooperation. Read
On March 26, the crew of F/O Skwierczynski surprised
surfaced U-boat and damaged it with depth charges. Two days later, similar
result achieved F/O Kolodziejski, although it is probable that the U-boat
(U-321) was sunk.
On the March 30 the Coastal Command Headquarters detailed off No. 304
Squadron to a new type of operations. The unit was relocated to Docking in
Norfolk as a part of 16 Group and reequipped with Wellington Mk Xs. On the day
of departure the CO received following telegram from AOC No. 19 Group Air
just want to tell you how very sorry I am to be losing No. 304 Squadron. From
the moment the Squadron arrived in my Group all ranks got down to their new role
with a thoroughness and an enthusiastic spirit, which not only did them great
credit, but was most helpful to me and my staff.
I am very disappointed at having to part with such a
good Squadron, and the measure of this loss can be gauged by their record on
anti-submarine operations during the past year. Unfortunately, however, your
Squadron is wanted elsewhere for another type of work. Perhaps the change of
environment and the role will be agreeable - I hope it will - and, in any case,
I am sure the Squadron's fine record will be maintained, and that they will
continue to be a thorn in the side of the Hun."
S-304 (HZ258) Wellington Mk. X in 1943.
At Docking, to their dismay, Poles learned that now they became... a
torpedo squadron. New Wellingtons had more powerful engines but all the same
were to slow to be effective torpedo bombers. Generally, the crews accepted
their fate in the line of duty, but there were very few who were indifferent.
The living conditions at Docking were comfortable and food was excellent, a most
unusual thing in Coastal Command.
Conversion was done smoothly and quickly, but the
personnel were scattered all over to attend special courses: low-level torpedo
attack for pilots, special radar techniques for radio operators, refreshing ones
for gunners and navigators, or torpedo maintenance and handling for ground crew.
Soon after, it was realized that torpedoing
Wellingtons would be seating ducks for German gunners. The whole thing was
called off before the lesson would be learnt in reality of appalling losses.
Thus, after two month at RAF Docking - most of which was spent on very intensive
training - No. 304 Squadron was transferred back to 19 Group to resume
anti-submarine patrolling over the Bay of Biscay.
RAF Docking 1943. Squadron's Wellington Mk. X.
On June 10, the unit arrived at
Davidstow Moor in Corwall. The palce wasn't very fortunate for aerodrome. It
had concrete runways, but wire netting was necessary to prevent aircraft
from sinking in mud and swamp.
It was located some 1000 feet above the sea
- thus frequented by rain-clouds - and bounded rocky coast on west and
depression on east. Nissen hats completed the landscape.
There, the squadron received new Wellingtons Mk. XIII,
equipped with latest version of radar apparatus for detecting enemy
submarines and specially adapted for service in Coastal Command. One aircraft
had a prototype kit installed to detect submerged U-boat. These planes were
painted white. Additional equipment was very strong searchlight to illuminate
targets at night. Everybody's guess was that the unit would operate at night
as well. The crews welcomed the first operational sorties, and the whole unit
Some things had changed over the Bay of Biscay during
these two months. Enemy fighters were as active and dangerous as before, but
more numerous. After the fall of Tunisia, large force of the Luftwaffe was
relocated to Europe and big chunk of it joined the Battle of Atlantic. There was
a lot of work for Poles and they applied themselves to it with great zeal.
The area of operation became a scene of some savage
fighting and the 304 received its share of blows. In quick succession the
squadron lost several crews - its aircraft were shot down on: July 3rd,
July26th, August 13th and 22nd. The last lost was very popular crew of P/O
Porebski. They R/T only one short message: "AO- attacked by enemy fighters".
Few more planes were written off after coming badly mauled and crashing near or
on the airfield. Only one U-boat was detected (August 1st) but got away before
NZ aircraft had a chance to attack it. Crews flew individually patrolling their
sectors and had much more chance to meet enemy fighters than its ships. The same
time Allies shipping losses in the middle of the Atlantic were staggering.
Finally the 304 got the break on September 5th. At the base a S.O.S.
signal came from NZ-M of F/Sgt Rybarczyk. Another loss seemed to be certain.
Then more signals came and it was learnt that the plane is limping back home.
Eventually, whole crew safe and without scratch landed at Davidstow
Moor but in aircraft which looked like sieve. Read more.
Later that month, operational flights were suspended
as the squadron was rearmed yet again. New radar devices were introduced along
with new tactics - more courses to attend. Some crews were sent to RAF Angle
for special school of low-level anti-submarine night patrols.
Then new aircraft came: Wellingtons Mk. XIVs carrying
a Leigh Light and powered by improved Hercules engines.This aircraft was filled with electrical equipment and batteries and it
was difficult to navigate around it. It was heavily overloaded and when
throttled down it doped like a stone. Its speed was inferior to its predecessor.
Overall, it gave Allies a tactical advantage depriving U-boats from the cover of
Wellington GRMk. XIV in service with No. 304.
Visible bulging under the rear fuselage is a retracted Leigh Light. Under the
nose it carried a ASV radar. This version had a single forward firing gun in the
Around the same time, W/Cdr Korbut became a new CO. He was determined to
perfect the crews in every aspect of tactics, both enemy's and Command's,
complicated equipment and night flying. He soon had full complement of 24 fully
On December 13th, as a
newly semi-reformed squadron, the 304 was transferred to RAF Predannack. Till
the end of the 1943, squadron did not record any successes but made itself
noticeable in the vast theatre of the Western Approaches. On Christmas Day, NZ
aircraft spotted a formation of enemy ships. The first one to see them was W/Cdr
Korbut, who was flaying as a navigator. Four days later, AOC of the 19 Group
sent following signal to W/Cdr Korbut:
"As a result of operations during the past few
days one valuable enemy blockade runner was sunk and two Narvik and one Elbing
destroyers were sunk and others damaged by H.M. ships, who only suffered
superficial damage and eight casualties. This highly successful operation was
largely made possible by consistent accuracy of position given in sighting
reports, and the excellent procedure in shadowing and bombing. Well done, all
aircrews and maintenance personnel."
Thus, for the No. 304 Squadron the year ended on a bright side. 1943 was
a bad year for the unit. It had a long and bad spell of ill fortune. It lost
many crews, number of which exceeded significantly the number of U-boat
sightings or kills it had to its credit. The squadron made six attacks on German
sub boats, probably sinking one. It totaled 574 operational sorties for 4,770
New Year the luck had turned. The weather was passable and several patrols were
flown. On January 2, Wellington "T" navigated by F/O Salewicz detected and
illuminated emerged U-boat. The attack with depth charges probably damaged the
raider. Two days B-304 achieved very similar success. The U-629 was damaged and
forced to abort its mission.
The crews led with skillful hand of W/Cdr Korbut started to
feel confident in their work. During long patrols they did not have to worry
about German fighters and new tactics proved to be working. Then, the bad
weather closed in and the normal flying was suspended for three weeks. Soon
after came bigger success. On January 28, the Wellington G-304 of W/O Buczylko
attacked U-boat in the Channel, and the crew claimed it a kill. Read more.
On the same night Wellington piloted by F/Sgt Matiaszek picked a fight with
Me-110 fighter, which resulted with slight damaged to both planes.
This was a happy and the most exciting period in the squadron's
history. Nearly every day was eventful. During
a night patrol on January 31, the crew of F/O Konski attacked German destroyer.
The ship was depth-charged and strafed. Throughout January, 304 flew 78 patrols.
In February weather was better and there was more encounters with the enemy.
On the night of 3/4 February, Wellington of F/O Mielecki
successfully evaded attacks by two Ju-88s, and came home with slightly wounded
rear gunner P/O Miedziak. On February 11, B-304 piloted by P/O Czyzun damaged a
U-boat. Next night, Wellington "C" of Sgt Kieltyka attacked another one.
On February 19, the unit was transferred to Chivenor near Barnstaple in
North Devon. The aircraft took off for patrols from Predannack and landed at
Chivenor. Motor transport was already there. Thus, the move did not affected
One more probable kill happened on March 4, when the crew of
S/Ldr Werakso on "U" depth-charged emerged U-boat. The Admiralty considered
this ship sunk, but no proof was ever found.
The efforts made by 304 personnel in February was
noticed and on March 6th, following signal was sent to it from AOC No. 19 Group:
"I shall be grateful if you will convey to the O.C. No.
304 (Polish) Squadron my congratulations on the effort put up by the Squadron
during February. I understand that this Squadron has flown 110 sorties out of a
task of 115 and 1,074 hours out of a task total of 1,150. This is very
creditable in view of the fact that during the month of February the Squadron
moved from Predannack to Chivenor, while, in addition, February is a short
month. This speaks very well for the enthusiasm and hard work of all ranks, and
it is deserving of recommendation."
Even though the March weather conditions were generally poor, the
squadron made 119 sorties. On many nights severe icing forced aircraft to return
to base, often in very dangerous conditions. On one of such nights, the Group
ordered all the patrolling aircraft back to bases and unaware stirred a
competition. Two aircraft, one from No. 407 (Canadian) and one from No. 304 took
off almost at the same time, and now neither wanted to touch down first. Each
pilot waited for the other to clear off. They flew all night and the match ended
only when both had empty tanks.
the Battle of the Atlantic was dying down, and the enemy encounters were much
less frequent. Strong winds made sees rough which in return caused radar
impulses to deflect into greenish jumble on the screens. It became impossible to
find U-boats, which in fact were sailing through the Bay of Biscay in far lesser
numbers. In one isolated case, Wellington A-304 sighted a U-boat on March 10. It
was too late to attack.
On the night of March
25/26 an incident took place when one Polish crew attacked British ships,
fortunately not causing any casualties or damage. The crew was not informed
about the British presence in its sector. On the next night F-304 scrapped with
two Me-110s. F/O Czyzun flown perfectly, crouching as near the waves as possible
and the rear gunner, Sgt Baranski, shot down one of the attackers. Consequently,
he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal. One of the crew, Sgt Czerpak
"About two hours after we took off for a night patrol the rear
gunner broke the silence by remarking in a very casual voice: 'Navigator,
you'd better fix the position-there are two Jerries on our tail.' It was a
clear night and visibility was good, so we knew there was nothing for it but to
'Approaching to attack,' the gunner drawled his next
report. 'I'm going to give a burst.' They must have been old hands,
because they came very close before opening fire. We tried evasive action. Steep
down to starboard did not shake them off, but it gave the rear gunner a chance
to throw some confetti. His aiming must have been as confident as his voice, for
when one of the Jerries swung under our tail it had a long trail of smoke mixed
with huge tongues of flame; a second later, there was an explosion on the
surface of the sea-a terrific flash which made the cockpit as light as day. The
other fighter continued to attack, but with less and less determination-and he
finally broke off.
The skipper checked each member of the crew by inter-coin.,
and everybody reported 'O.K.' But, a few minutes later, the rear gunner was
due to relieve the wireless operator, and he then said: 'Sorry, my right hand
is none too sure.' His face was covered with blood and his hand was bleeding
badly from a deep gash.
When we touched down at base more damage was found than had
been expected. There were a lot of holes in the port wing, and the rear turret Perspex
had been smashed to pieces by splinters. But it was only on the following
morning that we realized the full extent of our luck. The ground staff found
four armor-piercing bullets in one of the petrol tanks."
The scene for continent invasion was begun to shape up and the Allies'
advantage was becoming clearer. People on both sides sensed the imminent end.
Germans introduced numerous new devices and weapons trying to invert the course
of war. One of them was Schnorkel, which enabled the U-boats to recharge
their batteries without losing way and when submerged at periscope depth.
Another new device installed on U-boats was a search detector, which gave
warning when airborne radar was scanning the sea in the vicinity. U-boats'
speed and range were also improved.
In the beginning of
April, Poles also received a novel apparatus: ASV Mk.VI-A. This model enabled
crews to find even snorkeling Germans. However, no new successes were recorded.
Wellington Mk. XIV in May 1944.
W/Cdr Korbut was replaced on April 10. The new CO became W/Cdr Kranc. On
this occasion, few high-ranking Polish officers came to Chivenor. Among them,
was W/Cdr Poziomek AOC of Polish Air Force Headquarters and former Co of No.
304. During the farewell party he volunteered for an operational sortie, and the
next day he flew as an extra on Wellington piloted by S/Ldr Stanczuk. This
aircraft was shot down by German fighters and whole crew perished.
flight had a crew of F/O Ochalski on April 20. During its night patrol it was
they were attacked by two Ju-88. Polish Welligton successfully evaded many
German passes. This duel lasted for 1 hr 45 min. In the end, nobody got wounded
and although the aircraft suffered multiple hits, the crew brought it back
On 28th, W-304 of F/Lt Miedzybrocki detected and
attacked a U-boat, but the results of its action were unknown. In April the
squadron totaled 60 operational sorties. However, much more flying was done
since the several new crews were trained bringing the unit to its peak form.
came and the pre-invasion excitement grew.
U-boats presence near the French coast became somewhat more noticeable.
On May 5, N-304 of F/Lt Miedzybrocki detected two surfaced U-boats and was
greeted with fierce fire. Poles managed to attack and damage of them, although
aircraft was badly shot-up and had an onboard fire. On May 19, W/O Kieltyka
attacked surfaced U-boat caught with Leigh Light, but was forced to withdraw by
German fighter. In May the squadron's crews flew 64 ops.
With the D-Day approaching, the squadron suspended all the operations,
and the crews were to have real rest. Intensive training, which filled last days
of May, stopped nearly completely. Not a single smoke bomb was dropped at the
wooden target in the middle of Croyde Bay. During the first days of June rumor
spread that no passes would be issued. Throughout the unit excitement grew, as
everybody hoped the imminent invasion would bring them close to their beloved
Once it started however, there was nothing to do for
the Poles of No. 304. The unit was at stand-by, waiting for hordes of U-boats to
appear in the Channel. None was sited there. Allies air cover over Normandy was
overwhelming and the invasion proceeded better than expected. At Chivenor it was
learnt, that the Coastal Command would continue its offensive against
Doenitz's submariners, started in the middle of May. U-boat forces gathered in
French ports stayed put for nearly fortnight before entering the most important
theatre of war.
June became even more memorable when on the 18th, the
crew of F/O Antoniewicz sunk U-444. Read more.
Three days later A-304 of Sgt Micel attacked and damaged another U-boat in the
Channel. Then, more crews made a score sheet. On July 6, E-304 detected and
depth-charged a submarine. Q-304 found its target on 14th and Y-304 on 25th.
This span of five weeks became the most successful period of time in the
In the second half of 1944, the Battle of Atlantic was
practically won. U-boats force retreated to bases in Norway and Germany. Still.
The considerate number of them operated in Atlantic, but they were much cautious
and generally ineffective. In such
circumstances in August, the squadron amassed the biggest number of monthly
flying hours: 1,165 for total of 120 operational sorties. No enemy encounters
As the situation changed, Allies shifted its forces
near the North Sea to pursuit U-boat force there. As a result, No. 304 Squadron
was transferred to No. 15 Group and moved to RAF Benbeculain the Outer Hebrides.
The new base presented itself to the Poles as a picture of misery in the
middle of the ocean. Located on a small, bare island, the base was a total
contrast to the sunny and comfortable Chivenor. Even those that remembered Tiree
shuddered with horror. Most in the squadron treated as a joke warning given them
at Chivenor: 'When you're on Benbecula don't worry if you find yourself
talking to the sheep, but as soon as the sheep start answering back - look
out.' Poles were greeted by a bunch of bearded characters who still flew
Swordfishes, and who quickly pointed out that the 304 predecessor, American
squadron of Fortresses, had been transferred on compassionate grounds.
Nevertheless, Poles installed themselves quickly and resumed operational flying.
Although for the rest of the year weather conditions
were regularly adverse, the unit did excellent job and totaled 276 patrols. Only
once, on November 23, the U-boat was sited but crash-dived leaving no chance for
squadron's overall record for 1944 was impressive. It chalked up: 1,010
sorties for 9,295 hours, six sightings, and 14 attacks on enemy
The beginning of 1945 was marked with change of the
squadron's commander. Starting from January 3, this duty was taken over by
W/Cdr Zurek, assisted by S/Ldr Pilniak and S/Ldr Krzepisz, commanders of Flight
"A" and "B" respectively. Together with new the commander came dreadful
weather with gales and severe icing conditions. Very little flying was done in
the first half of the month. As U-boats became more active, some patrols brought
little excitement but no successes: Wellington of W/Cdr Zurek attacked without
results a U-boat on January 12, and the crew of F/Lt Glowacki had similar
encounter the following night. Foul weather prevailed and take-offs of fully
loaded aircraft became extremely dangerous. Some of them were flown to other
airfields (Tiree or Limavady and Ballykelly in Northern Ireland), which had
better runways. From these airfields Poles flew fruitless escorts to Allies
convoys apart from carrying out its normal
anti-submarine patrols. Damned Schnorkel worked.
The luck had turned in February, when three crews
recorded attacks on U-boats:
- Wellington S-304 of W/O Marczak depth-charged enemy on the Irish Sea on 2nd.
- The crew of F/Lt Wozniak on Wellington Q-304 probably damaged one U-boat on
- Without results, Wellington E-304 of F/O Ejbich assaulted another one on 20th.
Almost as an award for good service, came the news that the 304 would
move back to Cornwall. The personnel had quite enough of this sub-arctic
weather, and the prospect of moving to new base in South lifted crews'
On March 5th, the unit was officially moved to No. 19
Group, and settled in RAF St. Eval. On its departure, the 304 received following
signal from Air Officer Commanding No. 15 Group, Coastal Command:
convey to W/Cdr Zurek and all ranks 304 Squadron my thanks and deep appreciation
of their sterling work whilst at Benbecula. That they mastered the North
Atlantic in winter is indicative of the high operational skill of the aircrews,
and that they produced the full quota of sorties under planned maintenance in
the very severe winter conditions prevailing revealed great keenness and
efficiency by the ground crews. A fine Squadron, and I wish you all the best of
luck and good hunting in this final phase of the European war."
Also, Air Commander N. A. Pritchett wrote in the squadron's diary on the
"They fly when sea-gulls won't."
after installing itself in St. Eval - and taking quite a pleasure in doing so
- the 304 resumed its normal duty: hunting for U-boats. But these were hard to
coma by. During March, April and first week of May, Poles flew 202 unrewarding
sorties. Victory was imminent, but the intensity of flying did not slacken.
Still the squadron was proceeding in training with various new apparatus, which
enable the crews to detect snorkeling submarines.
On April 2nd, a large U-boat identified after the war
as the U-321, was found and damaged by Wellington Y-304. The attack took place
at 500 00' N-120 57' W. On April 22nd, the
squadron's last U-boat sighting was recorded.
On May 4th, Doenitz ordered the remaining U-boats
forces to cease theirs activities and return to bases. On 7th, they were obliged
to surrender. One of those was captured by Polish Wellington of No. 304
Squadron, on May 11th. The squadron's last operational sortie was flown on May
30, 1945, and its service within Coastal Command was terminated on June 14, when
it was transferred to transport duties.
In August, the 304 was reequipped with Vickers Warwick
Mk. I and Mk. III, and in January 1946 with Handley page Halifax Mk. VIII.
Squadron's code letters were change to "PD". With
the Transport Command, Poles crews flew mostly linking England with Italy and
Greece. Disillusioned with the outcome of the war and not having their free
country to return to, they welcomed the opportunity to various undertakings to
secure a little bit they future somewhere where they would be less unwelcome.
unit was disbanded in December of 1946.