HISTORY OF No. 307 SQUADRON
Written by Wilhelm Ratuszynski
When in second half of the year 1940 German bombers intensified their night
offensive against England, the need arise for more trained night fighters.
Drawing form - at that time still vast - reserves of Polish airmen at the Polish
Depot in Blackpool, the No. 307 (Polish) Night Fighter Squadron was formed. The
code letters EW where assign to the new unit. Its first base was RAF Station
Kirton-in- Lindsay, where the personnel began to arrive on 10 September 1940.
This date was later adopted as the squadron’s official day. S/Ldr
Pietraszkiewicz became unit’s first CO, although accepting the order under
protest. S/Ldr Tomlinson became his British adviser.
However enthusiastic, pilots posted off to No. 307 Squadronwere rather disappointed when they learn they would fly Bolton Paul
Defiants. They were prone to discredit that aircraft in numerous ways and
declared themselves “chauffeurs” of the gunners. The only positive thing
about their new planes was a fact that Defiants appeared as aces in the popular
deck of playing cards, when Spitfires were kings, and Hurricanes only queens.
After its brief success over unexpected Germans during Dunkirk days, Defiants
were quickly relegated to the role of a night fighter, since ones learnt; the
enemy exposed its vulnerability without mercy. On September 14th, the unit
received its first aircraft, serial numbers: N1559, N1560, N1639, N1640, N1641,
N1642, N1643, N1686 and L7035.
Being equipped not to their liking was only a part of the problem, which
made beginnings difficult for the Poles. Part of the group of pilots considered
night flying altogether as a very risky business with minimal chances to meet
enemy in the air. There were tense situations when gunners, of whom many were
ex- navigators and had considered themselves as captains of an aircraft. Most of
those annoyed with the whole situation, were experienced fighter pilots and they
demanded to be transferred to day-fighter units, where they felt would be more
useful. Their wish was granted and almost entire roster was changed overnight.
S/Ldr Benz replaced S/Ldr Pietraszkiewicz in his post as CO. Most of newly
arrived replacements were instructors from various flying schools, ferry pilots
and so on. Many were not strangers to the night flying, and some even liked it.
Majority of them were very well educated, passionate flyers and Air Force
volunteers. This helped to heal the atmosphere in the unit, and whole personnel
quickly cemented into a harmonious group.
On the November 7th, the squadron was transferred to Jurby (Isle of Man),
where the condition for farther training where much worse, but the base was
quiet without daily alarms. It rained almost constantly and the whole airfield
was muddy. Accidents, small and major, were rather frequent and overall value of
the unit became questionable. Rotations among the flying personnel were rather
big at that time. Right before S/Ldr Grodzicki took over the command on November
15th, several young pilots came to the unit and made immediate impact. On 4
December 1940 the squadron was declared operational. Four days later it made its
first operational sortie: a section in readiness was scramble to intercept a bogey,
but due to lack of radio contact with GC turned back empty-handed. For one week,
a detached section of Polish Defiants stayed at Cranage, SW of Manchester and
made several fruitless patrols.
The relations with the local population and the
base’s personnel also started with the wrong foot. When assembling at the
station, Poles found a strange flag flying to their honor: a sinister black
eagle on a white field. This of course, had nothing to do with Poland’s arms,
which were a white eagle on a red field, while the flag was simply white and
red. Fortunately, this show of ignorance was quickly put to an end. There were
apologies, but the initial mutual mistrust prevailed. It was additionally
enhanced by a false advertisement that proceeded Poles to Kirton-in- Lindsay:
they all were supposed to be fluent in French, cheerful and cocky Hun hunters.
Yet the flying personnel of No. 307 Squadron looked generally hard-faced and
glum. Only a major change of personnel in October brought the squadron’s look
close to its original design.
At the beginning of 1941, five crews were detached for the advanced
airfield at Squires Gate, near Blackpool, to night patrol against raiding German
bombers. At that time, for the first time, Polish red-and-white checkers were
painted on the 307 aircraft. There were no enemy’s encounters, since radar
techniques were inadequate and controllers and pilots were as yet inexperienced.
First such patrol was flown on the night of 9th/10th January, when two EW
aircraft patrolled over northern England. The weather was dreadful, and
after one hour of flying, the crews were recalled to the base. The crew of
Grodzicki /Karwowski landed safely, but Sgt Joda and Sgt Gandurski were forced
to ditch and were both killed.
On 23 January, the rest of the squadron was transferred to Squires Gate,
to defend Liverpool and Manchester. The unit’s first successful interception
came on the night of 12th/13th March, when the crew of Sgt Jankowiak and Sgt
Karais damaged Heinkel 111. The next
night P/O Lewandowski and Sgt Niewolski shot another Heinkel probable. After
these first successes the Group rendered its Polish command fully capable. A
dual system of command was abandoned and S/Ldr Tomlinson left the unit.
Without interrupting operational flying, the squadron moved
to Colerene, near Bristol on 26 March 1941. While stooped at Gloucester for a
meal the ground party went under attack of German Bf109s and Ju88s. Fortunately
there were was no casualties. From Colerene, the unit scored its first confirmed
victory. On the night of 11th/12th April, the “lucky” crew of Jankowiak/Lipinski
shot down He-111 from 9./KG 27 flown by Unteroffizier Leo Roth, which
crashed 35 miles south of Bristol. A piece of the Heinkel’s wing was nailed to
the door of ‘A’ Flight’s hut.
On 24 April 1940, the station’s CO received a cable informing that No.
307 Squadron to be moved to RAF Clyst Honiton, located 4 miles SE of Exeter.The unit moved on the 26th, starting the long period of service at this
station. Although the Poles found most of the airfields infrastructure ruined by
the German raids, it soon became a very homey place for them. On the beginning
of its operations from Exeter – as vast majority referred to their new base -
No. 307 patrolled over the Channel, which was a strenuous and mostly fruitless
On the night of l1th/l2th May, the airfield was bombed, and although there was a
lot of damage done (some 450 bombs dropped), not a single casualty was
sustained. During that attack, the crew of Sgt
Malinowski and Sgt Jarzembowski “could stand it on the ground”, and
successfully took-off carefully avoiding craters in the fire-lit airstrip.Once in the air, they quickly found a He-111 and shot it down. It was the
last squadron’s victory scored on Defiants.
On 9 June 1941 S/Ldr Antonowicz became squadron’s
new CO. Till that time, he was the Flight “A” commander and popular pilot
among the crews. He was the one who appealed to authorities for conversion to Beaufighters
- the aircraft, which promised much more success for the unit.
with airborne radar (AI), much faster and better armed than Defiant, Bristol
Beaufighter was much-welcomed plane. Every member of the flying or technical
staff who had anything to do with AI was obliged to pledge a complete silence
outside his duties about the invention, even with his superior officers. No. 307
Squadron was then the only non-British unit equipped with this new apparatus.However, powered by two Merlin XX 1200 hp engines, this aircraft was
unforgiving when flown on only one of them. There were several close calls and
accidents. In one of them, W/Cdr Antonowicz and P/O Karwowski were killed when
attempting to land their Beau’ with defective engine. The crew died in a fiery
crash. In result, airmen started to call this aircraft a “flying casket”,
and the atmosphere in the unit became a little tense.
On 13 November, the squadron was taken over by the W/Cdr Brejnak, who
came from 301 Squadron where he commanded a flight. Apart from a great effort
made to learn how to fly Beaufighter, Brejnak struggled with various authorities
to improve living conditions of especially ground crews, many of whom lived in
dugouts turned into primitive shacks.
With conversion training came reposting. Air-gunners had to become radio
observers and many former had to be posted off and replaced by the latter. The
number of the ground crew increased as new specialists were added. They were the
first Poles to be trained in this field.
In October, the Squadron began operational service on Beaufighters. The first
contact with the enemy on a new aircraft was made on October 28th, when the crew
Turzanski/Ostrowski was intercepted a He111. From a distance of 80 yards
Turzanski gave it a four seconds burst from everything he had aiming at the
fuselage. Heinkel dove into the clouds and the crew claimed it as probable. The
Group credited them with nothing. In November Luftwaffe increased its activity
over the channel, and crews of No. 307 had more work to do. On the night of
1st/2nd, the crew of Turzanski/Ostrowski successfully intercepted and shot down
two Do-215s. This time both kills were confirmed.
A spectacular kill on the night 23rd/24th was credited to F/O Dziegielewski and
P/O Swierz. They shot down a Ju-88, which plummeted to the earth as a fiery ball
from a great height, making a grand spectacle to Plymouth folks. That time there
was no problem in convincing IO officer about the success.
The squadron’s routine
called for constant patrols and continuous practice flights in collaboration
with searchlights or ground radar stations. The monotonous operational life of
the squadron at Exeter became tiresome for the crews, and any event, which
offered a little bit excitement, was eagerly anticipated. One of these was a
visit to a local operations room where Poles could observe real-live drama
developing in the air. It also proved to be a valuable experience for the
Exeter was a big station where squadrons of day fighters stationed as well.
During natural fleeting contacts with the 307 pilots, they would hoot mockingly
and call them owls. It was all in good nature, but soon No. 307 Squadron
officially adopted the owl as its emblem and the hoot as it’s rallying call;
day boys’ jeer became unsubstantial. From then on, all recipients of the
squadron’s badge were obliged to hoot three times, the custom of which even
visiting C-in-C, Gen. Sikorski was not exempted. The relations with the local
population were affable, many marriages were arranged and a lot of Devonshire
houses were open for friendly visits of the squadron’s members.
The beginning of the 1942 was marked with few tragic mishaps. In
mid-February, in a span of four days, three crews were killed in flying
accidents. That month the unit received few brand new aircraft and numerous
defects were detected by its mechanics. During a test flight of one of those by
F/O Andrzejewski, in a shallow dive pieces of the fuselage started to come off
and the whole port wing twisted. Andrzejewski landed the plane and the
investigating committee found serious problems resulted from a sloppy quality
control at Crewe.
On 3 April the crew of Bukowiecki / Puzyna crashed during take-off.
Soon after another crew perished in the sea. There were few minor
accidents as well. Of all those cases, only once pilot’s bravado was an
official cause of a crash, in rest them weather was blamed.
For another cheerful moment, the unit had to wait till April
25th. On that day, the crew of F/O Neyder and Sgt Wozny shot down a Ju-88, while
F/Sgt Illaszewicz with P/O Lissowski damaged a Do-215. The next night the 307
scored similar success.
For the squadron, the great success brought the night of 3rd/4th May. The
Luftwaffe mustered up a big raid on Exeter (‘Baedeker’ raids) and airmen of
307 bagged four kills. The crew of F/Sgt Illaszewicz and F/O Lissowski scored
twice, while F/O Neyder and Sgt Wozny, with F/O Andrzejewski and Sgt Wozny,
recorded each one German aircraft shot down. The winning crews paid for these
kills with theirs meager possessions, which were burnt when one of the bombers
crashed at their living quarters. After this victory, F/O Lissowski received the
DFC - the first to be awarded in the unit.
Soon after, the Squadron was converted to Beaufighter VI,
powered by Hercules engines. This aircraft gained instant popularity among crews
due to its much more reliable power plants and more sophisticated equipment.
After the Exeter raid, things quieted down a little and crews used that time to
become fully proficient with theirs new aircraft.
During the last days of June, Luftwaffe became more active;
what for the 307 meant an increased chance to meet the enemy. Even though radar
equipment improved significantly and operations room personnel become more and
more experienced, luck was still a big element of successful night interception
of enemy’s bomber.
On the night of 27th/28th June, “lucky” were crews: Rach
/ Mika credited with one Do-217 destroyed; Ranoszek / Trzaskowski and Wojczynski
/ Sluszkiewicz, each with one Do-217 damaged. Similar score recorded F/O
Podgorski and F/Lt Sawczynski on the night of 1st July. Soon after, the
squadron’s good fortune turned for worse. On 17 July the 307 lost one of its
best crews: F/Sgt Ilaszewicz and F/O Lissowski. They were patrolling over convoy
in the channel, flying low over ships in adverse weather. Pilot R/T engine
problem and moments later the contact was lost. The squadron’s pilots lively
debated that mishap, and their common opinion was that the Beaufighter must had
been shot by some ship’s gunners. They believed that excellent pilot as he
was, Illaszewicz could easily made it to Exeter on one engine, especially since
it was obvious that he had a lot fuel left.
On 22 July
a new CO, W/Cdr Michalowski took over the unit. He was a former bomber pilot
with one tour of operational flying already completed with No. 300 (Polish)
Squadron. W/Cdr Brejnak was rested and posted off for staff duties.
The second half of the year was less interesting from the operational
point of view. Luftwaffe was not showing up, and pilots were not allowed to fly
farther afield then the middle of the Channel, what was dictated by the
precaution of a sample of the AI apparatus falling into German hands.
During patrol on July 30th, F/O Podgorski and F/Lt Sawczynski
had to bail out over the channel. Next morning nearly all the crews volunteered
for rescue mission. Five “EW” Beaus took off and one of them found their
floating colleagues and reported their position. Instead by the Royal Navy, the
Poles were rescued by a fishing boat where jolly sailors administered the most
common medicine for soaked and frozen bodies: the rum. Their goods spirits
returned, Poles and fishermen applied this medicine zealously, and at harbor
nobody was keen to leave moored boat. The squadron’s adjutant had a quite a
job to collect his two airmen.
This slack period was filled up different ground activities.
The Squadron bestowed Exeter with a Polish flag, and celebrated with great pomp
on September 10th with nearly all the Polish Ministers of State, RAF’s
important representatives, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the City Fathers of
Exeter and guests from other parts of Devonshire. The 307 diary was founded and
F/O Malinski composed the melody of the squadron song. During those months, ties
with local population were knit closer.
To the great delight of its crews, on 21 December 1942, the
squadron began its conversion to Mosquito. One “wooden wander” was park in
the hangar since December 18th, and now everybody could go and have a look.
W/Cdr Michalowski, S/Ldr Szablowski and S/Ldr Ranoszek were the first ones to
fly a Mosquito. This was the unit’s only two-seater, Mk III, HJ853, EW-X. The
same time preparations for offensive action over the continent started. Mosquito
Mk. IIF was equipped with four 20 mm cannon and four .303 machine-guns, and also
with the newest AI MkV. The cockpit was heated and its visibility was excellent
what for the crews was of more importance. With its range of 1,500 miles,
service ceiling 35,000 feet, and speed 400 miles per hour, Mosquito was a
fantastic aircraft the Poles did not even dream of during black days of the
Polish campaign. Now they felt very confident and started to look forward to the
end of war, and they did dream about flying these aircraft to Poland, returning
as victors. The dream was never to be materialized.
In first days of January the conversion to new aircraft was in a full
swing, but for operational patrols crews were still using theirs Beaufighters
VI. Around that time a curious crew was formed for several flights: F/O Roman
Grzanka, pilot and F/O Juliusz Baykowski radio navigator. Both had only one leg.
Their official call sign was “Horlic 53”, unofficial “two legs”.
The first operational sortie on
Mosquito was done on 14 January by Ranoszek / Krawiecki. Soon after the squadron
operated only on Mosquitoes. For a brief moment in February, German bombers
started show up more often and 307 airmen flew more operational sorties.
Interceptions were sporadic and only once, on February 15th, P/O Zwolinski with
Sgt Gajewski managed to get a good shot at Ju88, which was credited as a
In Spring the training for “Intruder” and
“Ranger” operations begun. The objective of the first type was to seek out
and destroy German aircraft over their own territory, and attacking enemy
aerodromes from which night flying was taking place, while the latter’s, to
attack ground targets, mostly communications. New duties required a detailed
retraining of the flying personnel, which up till then was accustomed to quite
different kind of flying.
The unit suffered a painful loss on 21 March 1943. Its
CO, W/Cdr Michalowski and his radio observer F/O Szkop were killed when trying
to land Mosquito on one engine. Although experienced as he was, Michalowski made
an error on his emergency approach. S/Ldr Szablowski, the Flight “A”
commander, temporarily replaced him.
On 30 March 1943, S/Ldr Orzechowski was detailed off to take command of
the squadron. Together with his navigator F/Lt Szponarowicz he was transferred
from No 23 (Night) Squadron in defense of Malta.
For regular operational sorties over continent, the squadron
was moved to Fairwood Common, near Swansea. Relocation took place on April 15th.
At Fairwood the unit was reorganized into three flights, instead of regular two.
The purpose of this design was to have one extra flight devoted solely to a new
type of mission. Flight “C” had no aircrews, only a commander and
maintenance personnel. Its aircraft were stripped of the radar apparatus but
equipped with “G-box” for radio navigation. Two regular flights served in
squadron’s normal operational mode: patrolling at night. Every now and then,
for few days, the crews were detailed off to Flight “C” for “Intruder”
or “Ranger” missions.
The first intruder raids in which 307 aircrews took part,
instead anticipated action brought them frustration. On May 18, crews were
briefed about their routes and altitudes and were strictly forbidden to attack
any ground or air target. In case of encounter with enemy aircraft they had to
open full throttle and sped home. Poles found those tactics shameful and set off
for a mission highly irritated. Later they were thanked by the Group and
explained that the Mosquitoes had been used as a diversion, so as to keep the
German fighters occupied, while the Bomber Command did its work with Möhne Dam.
In May squadron lost two crews over occupied Europe. For the
next two months, almost every night one or two 307 crews were sent over the
continent, what gradually became unit’s main duty. Meantime, the squadron was
reequipped with Mosquito Mk-VI.
At the same time, occasionally, some crews of the 307 flew daytime
sorties, patrolling over the Bay of Biscay. EW Mosquitoes would fly over to
Predannack airfield located on the Lizard Head peninsula - most southern tip of
England – refuel and set off for so-called, “Instep Patrol”. On 7 August
1943, No. 307 was moved to Predannack in Cornwall permanently and was
incorporated into the Coastal Command. Flying personnel was billeted in a very
comfortable hotel located by the shoreline.
During one of the first briefings before flight over
Atlantic, an intelligence officer memorably “elaborated” to the Poles, the
“Our ships full goodies like food, troops and munitions cross the Atlantic.
Against these ships, the enemy sends out U-boats. They are full of bad stuff.
Against these U-boats we send out our Wellingtons and Sunderlands. Against these
Wellingtons and Sunderlands, Hun sends out Junkers 88s and Messerschmitt 110s.
Against these Ju-88s and Me-110s we send out Beaufighters and Mosquitoes.
Against these Beaufighters and Mosquitoes the enemy send out Focke-Wulfs.
Against these Focke-Wulfs we’re going to send out Tempests or Mustangs.
That’s it. Now you know what to look for and what to avoid.”
As explained, Poles were to seek out enemy’s long-range fighters. These
missions were flown usually in the force of three or four aircraft and low over
water, to be able to spot Germans who preferred to fly high. Average “Instep
Patrol” lasted over five hours, on routes over 1000 km long, and crews took
off either at dawn or early afternoon.
The first ops over Atlantic were rather promising. On 14 June, the pair
of 307 Mosquitoes, piloted by F/Lt Szablowski and F/O Pelka, spotted and strafed
surfaced U-boats. This was done against clear orders not to attack surfaced
U-boats. Mosquitoes couldn’t do much damage to them, and were vulnerable
against usually strong and accurate AA fire. However, U-68 and U-155 were
damaged and suffering casualties, aborted their patrol. Five days later, the
same pair, flying with company of No. 410 (Australian) Squadron shot down German
BV138 flying boat.
As soon as 307 started its regular service in the Coastal
Command, the new routine was established, which obligated crews to fly at
certain planned route deliberately chosen by Intelligence Officers. Usually,
pilots flew west of Bishop Rock avoiding the area patrolled by FW190s, and only
then turning south. Often, Polish Mosquitoes cooperated with British cruisers:
HMS Sheffield and HMS Glasgow. These ships were equipped with radar stations
manned by people experienced with vectoring aircraft.
Flying long distance patrol over water wasn’t an easy task.
Coming from such sorties crews were often very tired and very… bored.
Sometimes, to break monotony Poles swiped over the northern coast of Spain, what
caused few diplomatic skirmished with Spain, with equal number of reprimands for
the crews. There were also some losses. On August 22nd, few Fw190s jumped
section led by S/Ldr Lewandowski. F/Sgt Ekert with F/O Maluszek were shot down
On 11 September No. 307 tallied a
big success. Over the Bay of Biscay, two separate sections of four aircraft each
shot down four Ju88s and two Me110s, damaging three more Me110s and one Ju88,with no losses. Polish controllers, F/Lt Malinski and F/Lt Koterla,
serving on British cruisers vectored both groups, thus directly participating in
On 9 November 1943, the squadron was moved to RAF Drem (East Lothian), to
rest the flying personnel from intensive operations. Its task now was to patrolthe Edinburgh and Glasgow regions at night, or during periods of bad
weather. On top of being rather boring, this patrol sorties did not happen
often. Chances to meet enemy in the area were nil. Some crews did not fly for
almost two weeks. No wonder that soon airmen started to appeal for more frequent
and less dull duties. W/Cdr Lewandowski proposed a plan to the Headquarters of
the 13 Group, according to which, every week a section of three aircraft to be
detailed off to advanced airfield in the Shetlands flying in search of German
aircraft from Norway sent out against Allied shipping.
Because of the lack of trained flying personnel, some British
airmen were detailed off to serve with the 307. Some formed mixed crews with
Poles, but naturally, they preferred staying together. One such crew, F/Sgt
Lowndess and F/Sgt Cotton was lost in a patrol over Biscay on 25 September, when
four 307 Mosquitoes encountered formation of eight Ju88s. Three Polish crews
returned safely, bagging two Junkers destroyed, one probable, and three damaged.
After the war, the squadron CO received from the British Intelligence an
interesting report found in German archives. This stated that on that particular
day, only one out of eight Ju-88s sent over the Bay of Biscay, returned home.
Toward the end of October, the aerial activity at the 307
area of operations gradually decreased, and crews saw less flying. That did not
mean their task were any easier. On 26 October, W/O Los and F/Sgt Posner
(British) were lost during a patrol. The rumors started about the squadron to be
moved to Scotland. They soon turned out to be truth.
Their wish was granted, and 307 started to work both day and
night. The 307 crews commenced long-range sorties from Sumburgh airfield. On one
of the Shetland Islands, RAF operated long-range radar, which was used to vector
singly patrolling Mosquitoes to a bogey. A stroke of luck had the crew of F/Sgt
Jaworski and F/O Ziolkowski on 22 November. They intercepted a He177, rather
rare and tasty bite for a fighter. Poles were not sure what exactly they shot
at. This was a new aircraft, which had had two nacelles, each with a circular
nose-radiator. It gave an impression of a twin-engine type with radial power
plants. In reality, each nacelle housed a pair of in-line 1,200 hp engines.
Using short breaks among clouds, Jaworski managed to give a few accurate bursts,
German aircraft was forced to ditch and was lost. This win excited everybody in
the squadron, and nearly all crews volunteered for a week at uncomfortable
Shetlands, wanting to have a go at these exotic planes. Altogether, nine crews
took part in those missions.
Four days later, the crew Suskiewicz / Kalinowski shot down a
torpedo-carrying Ju88A17 over the North Sea, some 100 miles off the Norwegian
In December, weather conditions prevented both sides from regular
patrolling. However, on the 9th, Pacholczyk / Trzaskowski bagged another Ju88,
and the unit’s morale was high.
In January 1944, No. 307 Squadron was converted to Mosquito XIIs and XIIIs,
which were equipped with new airborne radar. The unit started to visit enemy
targets in Norway. Before a noticeable success was achieved there, however,
squadron suffered a painful loss. On 13 January, very popular mixed
Polish-British crew of W/O Szemplinski and F/Sgt Tillman was killed during an
operational flight in adverse weather. They took for a patrol in which they had
to cooperate with the Royal Navy, were recalled and crashed on a mountainside
A successful mission was flown on 19 January, when four
“EW” Mosquitoes swooped down on a Luftwaffe base at Stavanger. In that tripa Junkers W.34 was shot down, two floatplanes were probably destroyed;
cargo train and enemy shipping were strafed.
On March 2nd, the squadron was moved to Coleby Grange and became part of
the 10 Fighter Group. Its main duty was to patrol the east coast between Hull
and London. This short, two-months stay at Coleby was uneventful. Worth noticing
is kill by F/O Brochocki with F/Lt Ziolkowski, who intercepted and shot down a
lone He177 over the North Sea, on March 19th. On 11 April, in unknown
circumstances, lost over the waters were F/Sgt Wistal and Sgt Wozny, the crew
that flew in the 307 from the beginning.
transfer to Church Fenton on May 4th marked the squadron’s return to offensive
action. The crews were briefed anew for Intruder and Ranger operations. To their
attention were brought targets mostly in Germany, but also in Belgium, France,
Holland and Norway. The 307 attacked enemy’s shipping, radar stations, and
multiple other secondary targets.
In May W/Cdr Lewandowski was posted to the
Headquarters of the 12 Group, and W/Cdr Ranoszek replaced him as the new CO.
Poles begun period of close co-operation with the bombers, either escorting them
or patrolling over enemy bases so as to keep the Germans night fighters at bay.
With the start of the operation “Overlord”, every day two-aircraft section
was detached to Coltishal for “Intruder” mission. Occasionally, bigger
number of EW planes flew “Ranger” missions. Occasionally, day missions were
flown like the one on 27 July, when F/O Pacholczyk with F/O Gasecki seriously
damaged German radar station on the Isle of Sylt, making it inoperative for a
prolong period of time.
For the rest of the year, the squadron continued to fly
assorted ops, to which crews devoted themselves entirely. No notable successes
were recorded, but along steady rhythm of service came losses. On 8 August the
crew Zwolinski/Gajewski was lost over Holland. On 17 September, when flying a
cover to landing paratroopers at Arnhem – where the Polish Airborne Brigade
distinguished itself – the squadron’s Mosquito was shot down burying crew
Jaworski/Szymilewicz. Their mission was to draw flak fire away from Allies
gliders and Dakotas. The next day during a training flight, F/Lt Madej and F/O
Gasecki collided in mid air with another Mosquito and were killed. Unusual
ceremony in the unit took place on August 31st. Chief mechanic of the Flight
“M”, F/Sgt Kazimierz Gutowski was decorated with British Empire Medal by Air
Vice Marshall Henderson. In the citation Gutowski’s extremely effective
methods of work uninterrupted since the unit was born, were noted.
September the unit started to fly “anti-diver” patrols, and another
operational loss came on 13 October when the crew Kot/Kepak (Czech) was killed.
From a close distance, they attacked a Heinkel 111 replete with V-1, which
exploded bringing down the Mosquito with it.
In October the 307 was reequipped once again, for a newer version
of Mosquito, Mk XXX. The “wooden wonder” received yet still more powerful
engines and aircraft became even more popular among Poles. The flying activity,
as usually, slowed down toward the end of the year, and last of its weeks were
uneventful. Worth mentioning however, is the case of the crew Wieczorek/Ostrowski,
which on 12 December took off for “Intruder”, only to collide in mid-air
with a V-2 rocket few minutes after. The crew force landed and was safe;
Mosquito was written off.
The 1945 begun with adverse weather conditions, and for a good part of January,
the squadron was idle. Only few “Intruders” were flown.
On 27th, the unit was detailed off to Castle Camp near
Cambridge, but continued to fly the same type of operations as before: night
patrols, intruder, ranger and bomber support misions. The Luftwaffe was still
undefeated by its days were counted. It is enough to say that for the rest of
the war, the 307 crews encountered German aircraft only on few occasions. The
last squadron’s victory happened on March 7th, when F/Lt Tarkowski with F/O
Taylor (British) shot down a Ju188 during ‘intruder’ near Bonn. On 25 April,
the CO of the unit, W/Cdr Andrzejewski destroyed one FW190 and damaged another,
both on the ground. The same night, Sgt Leszkiewicz and Sgt Lewandowski damaged
parked Ju88 in Flensburg, but were forced to ditch their aircraft after being
hit by flak. They spent three days in dinghy and were taken prisoners by the
On 9 May 1945, led by
W/Cdr Andrzejewski, six aircraft of the 307 took part in the operation “Nestegg”.
Mosquitoes were to force the surrender of German garrisons at Guernsey and
Jersey. On both, the Poles made low passes at German positions without firing
and saw white flags soon after.
The war came to an end - somewhat bitter for the Poles - and
the squadron was disbanded on 2 January 1947.
No. 307 Squadron war effort:
Dover Patrol: escorting aircraft
Operational Sorties over own territory
Bay of Biscay patrols
Squadron totaled: 31 enemy aircraft
destroyed, 7 probables, and 17 damaged in the air;
4 destroyed, 2 probables and 1 damaged on ground and water. It was
credited with 4 locomotives and 28 trains destroyed, many M/T, boats,
flak batteries and so on. No. 307 lost 28 pilots and 26 gunners or radio navigators.
Six of that number were of other then Polish nationality.
© Polish Squadrons Remembered