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Henryk Drozdz Diary

 

INTRODUCTION

My father, Flight Sergeant Henryk Drozdz 780262, of 300 Polish Squadron, based at Faldingworth airfield in 1944 and 1945, kept a war diary for the whole of the war. For the rest of his life until 2008, it has remained an inscrutable record.

His family never learnt Polish to a sufficient level to translate the diaries and they have lain in a bottom drawer of my father’s writing desk for all those years. After my father’s death in 2008, I became interested in having the diaries translated to see what I could discover about my father’s wartime exploits. By the most gracious kindness of Halina Kwiatkowska my voyage of discovery could begin.

As a historian by university degree and inclination, I was aware that precious few records exist from the brave Polish airmen who took the war from these shores to continental Europe from which they had fled as refugees. Imagine my pride and choking emotion as I read the translation for the first time. Here was the part of my father that I never knew but had always tried to imagine.

I trust that anyone who reads this account will realise just what these young eagles went through. My father is quite clear about his feelings of fear and yet his unbridled Polish spirit of righting the wrongs of September 1939 shines through. His bitterness of what he sees as betrayal by the allies is indicative of the still lingering resentment at the agreement at Yalta.

I hope that this account will be read by all generations and we are grateful to the village of Faldingworth for everything that they do to perpetuate the ties with the Poles forged in the crucible of war. Those ties bind us together forever.

Greg Drozdz

27th November, 1944 – Faldingworth

Twenty days in the wing. It means a long time full of various events and experiences, whether it be in the line of duty or personal views. In the case of my official duties a lot happened in that time. After many training flights, e.g. cross-country in the ‘V-Victoria’, then so-called ‘Fighter Affiliation’, and various other flights together with yesterday’s night flight I became a member of so-called ‘family’ i.e. air force personnel fully trained and ready for operations. I remember it vividly—it started in March of this year and after less than 9 months it reached the stage that I am capable to take part, together with thousands of others, in operational flights. And soon the days of the baptism of fire will arrive, may God bless my endeavours so that my dreams may come true. On personal level that period was also varied and eventful.

29th November, 1944 – Faldingworth

                    Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster 1 LL 804 "F" F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O M Ziegenhirte, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                                             Took off 12.06        Returned 17.41

Primary attacked from 19000 feet at 15.02 hours in good visibility. Target identified by Red and Green TI’s. 1x4,000lb HC 6x1,000lbAN TD and 8x500lb MC TD were released on Red TI. Bombing concentrated in two areas about one mile apart. Black smoke rising up to 5,000ft. Starboard inner engine U/S after bombing. Returned to base on three engines. Moderate to intense flak encountered over the target. Four engine aircraft seen to be engaged in target area by heavy flak, set on fire and went down leaving trail in the clouds.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and briefing was carried out at 09.00 hours. Fourteen crews were allotted the target being "DORTMUND". Crews reported 8/10 clouds cover over the target area and Air Bombers bombed Sky Markers and visually. The bombing was carried out on the Master Bomber’s order. Flak was intensive and accurate. No enemy fighters were seen. All crews returned to base safely.

And so arrived the day of the Great Adventure—my first operational flight. My legs shook when I learned that today will be my first sortie. My God! How many fears, emotions and nerves, how many conjectures and dreams are bound up in this day. When I write this it is already in the past, but before that all the various emotions are so short-lived and elusive. My heart stopped when in the briefing room I saw on the map eight sinister letters of our destination—DORTMUND. It gave me a very unpleasant feeling—it meant we had to fly over the entire ‘Ruhr’ and this my first combat flight. What rotten luck! But I pay attention to the rest of the briefing and learn many important things—but will it all matter if bad luck will

have its way? But I banish these thoughts from my mind—nothing matters but achieving the objective of my dreams. It is not easy, but we have to go. According to orders we fly in the aircraft ‘F’, the same that we flew our last cross-country flight. It is not a bad plane, powerful and fast Lancaster "F". It is a day flight and we take off at 12.05. It is a smooth take-off and it stirs up a variety of emotions before one says goodbye to the airfield and climbs to 2000 feet. Soon after take-off there is assembly of the whole flight. It was a pretty sight; a swarm of planes under the leadership of ‘Master Bombers’. They all fly merrily towards Germany. The weather is not bad but when you fly in formation you meet a lot of air pockets, which is very unpleasant. After we crossed the English coast I had a weird feeling—soon we will cross the French coast and so the coast of the Continent—my European home, abandoned several years before. My heart starts beating faster—there it is—the narrow strip of Europe, to which Poland belongs. I feel happy, I can’t say why. It is good to be here—it seems a different world. The flock of ‘crows’ heavy with their load of bombs is moving forward—it must be a magnificent sight from the ground. Where are our friends—perhaps on the ground. Maybe Zenek raised his head up, opened his mouth and stared—it’s our planes flying. Yes, they are our planes flying to avenge the wrong. And then the feelings change into fear and helplessness against the air power. Yes, how many such feelings I experienced myself during the memorable September 1939. The worst fear of the defenceless against the air raids. And now the roles have changed. Thanks be to God that I can now avenge this fear of thousands of children, mothers, elderly and other people. I remember it as if it happened today—in fact it is happening today, but to different people. Today we are the perpetrators of this tragedy—today yesterday’s heroes and tyrants will howl with pain and fear under the bombing. In a moment we will send down repayment for September 1939, and for the nightmare five years of murderous German occupation, 14, 000 pounds of bombs. On the way to our objective all the time artillery blazes away, here and there little black clouds pop up. Some of them so near they seem to touch the plane. It causes a lot of fear—you want to reach your target—you dodge to the left, then to the right—steady! steady! It’s a veritable hell and ..."bombs gone!" Bang, bang—a second of relief, then duck to the left, nose five on full throttle, we are fleeing as quickly and as far as we can. And beneath us on the ground all is confusion and chaos—that’s for September and Poland. For a long time artillery still blazes away trying to shoot someone down, but to no avail. In front of us an aircraft is trailing smoke, but it is too far to see what the trouble is, then it turns slowly left over France and disappears from sight. In time, as we get farther away from the target, the artillery subsides into silence. It is time to heave a sigh of relief. The bombs were dropped at 3.02 p.m. from the height of 20,000 feet, i.e. about 6½ kilometre.

After crossing the battle front we start descending—over Belgium we are flying quite low, a mere 6,000 feet. Now we pass Antwerp on the right, the beautiful city seems to be dozing, unaware of the flight of the ‘birds of prey’. We pass over the coastline, the white ribbon of the sea looks calm and friendly. So we are saying farewell to Europe, but we will be back soon, maybe even tomorrow. After two hours we reach our base. The weather is not good but everything is O.K. We have no trouble landing, I heave a sigh of relief, after all I was not on my own. "Happy landing" marks the end of my first combat mission. Modest pride and satisfaction fill my breast—from now on I am a combat airman, my destiny had been fulfilled—thanks be to God, let his will be done. We climb down from the plane in a happy mood, the "fed up" feeling of the last few days completely gone. In the log book I will write tomorrow: ‘Dortmund operational flight 3040’. I wish that this beginning is the happy start of my air force career. God’s peace.


BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

Bad weather caused the marking and the resultant bombing to be scattered but fresh damage was caused in Dortmund.

                                           3rd December, 1944 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work carried out

Lancaster 1 PA 160 "E" F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O M Ziegenhirte, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                                                                Took off 7.45  Returned 12.15

Mission abandoned on the Master Bomber’s instructions over target at 9.04 hours. 14 x 1,000 lb AN TD brought back to base.

Operational Record Book – Summary of Events

Early morning briefing was carried out at 05.00 hours. Thirteen crews were allotted for the operations. The target being "HEIMBACH DAM" near Duren ahead of the invading troops. The weather along the route and over the target was very bad and the target could not be identified and the Master Bomber ordered all crews back to base with their bombs. All crew with the exception of W/O Bakanacz and crew carried out this order. W/O Bakanacz did not receive the Master Bomber’s orders due to failure of R/T. Air Bomber bombed a small unidentified village about 8 miles due east of the target. All of our aircraft returned to base safely.

They woke us up at 4 o’clock in the morning because of the mission. Today it is not so frightening—maybe there is less secrecy. What I heard during the briefing made me very happy. The target is one of the easiest—destruction of a dam, and it makes a picturesque and almost fairy-tale object. The weather is also 90% perfect. No wonder that during the briefing everyone is more talkative, the fact that there is no artillery over the target also helps to create good mood. I myself feel 100% better than yesterday. Today’s sortie seems almost like a pleasure trip. We take off very early—at 7.45. The flight to the target is without any major incidents, but as always there are various emotions. Almost imperceptibly we arrive over the totally undefended target. Everything is going according to plan, but the weather is completely different from the ‘Met’ forecast. At 10,000 feet clouds completely cover the target. The whole fleet of 250 Lancasters begins to circle over the target—it looks quite funny. Silently, like flies, we go round looking for a ‘hole’. All in vain, we have to go back... with the bombs. I feel like crying, having to go back with the bombs, but orders are orders; if you can’t find the target you have to return with the bombs. So we are going back with long faces.

We fly over Belgium and Brussels—somewhere down there must be Zenek who does not even imagine that somewhere above him at only 10,000 feet I am flying. But there is no time for thoughts and dreams. We pass Antwerp, Belgium, coastline, the Channel itself and then in addition it is icing over. We cross the Channel at 2,000 feet. To make matters worse every so often a group of three Dakotas come towards us. What the hell are they doing, I keep thinking, they are coming straight at us. Luckily we are higher. Russet-green English Channel seems angry and frothy, as if it wanted to swallow us. Brr, brr! It is cold and raining, the plane is tossed about. Thus we reach the English coast. Here we descend even lower, beneath the clouds, which are at about 200 feet. This flight, which started so happily, could almost end in tragedy. Flying at 100 feet fully loaded, being tossed about, is terrifying. And then the clouds, the rain, but we are flying on at the speed of 180 mph. In these poor conditions we near the airfield. In a moment the final chapter—landing with the bombs in this weather! Brr! But we follow the normal procedure; ‘undercarriage down’, ‘flaps 20’, ‘flaps 30’, RPM 2650. We approach from a distance, the visibility improved. Now we are in the ‘funnels’ full flaps, 2800 RPM. The pilot circles over the runway—power off! We land softly, even with bombs. The fear is gone. In this way ends this well-augured ‘pleasure’ flight. Its target—Urft Damm—was nearly the last in my air force career. But how can one compare 3 pages of writing with 4 hours 40 minutes flight full of pleasure, terror and near tragedy?


BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

The diary does not mention 1 Group operations.


            4th December, 1944 — Faldingworth             

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster 1 PB 705 "B" F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O Ziegenhirte, P/O Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                                                          Took off 16.43 Returned 23.18

Primary attacked from17,000 at 19.36 hours in very good visibility. Target identified by Red TI’s. River and Dock area visually. 1 x 4,000lb HC 13 x No 14 Clusters 1 x No 14 "X" type Cluster 100x 4lb Incs 20 x 4lb "X" type Incs were released in the centre of red glow. Concentrated bombing. Large fires seen in the eastern part of the town with glow seen 120 miles on the return journey. Flak negligible.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Early morning briefing was carried out but the operation was later cancelled. One crew carried out aircraft serviceability test, while one crew completed "GEE" Exercise and one crew firing practice. Night operations were ordered and 13 crews were allotted. Briefing was at 13.00 hours, the target being "KARLSRUHE". Crews reported good weather along the route with good visibility. The target was identified visually through the gaps in the clouds. TI Markers were concentrated, the flak was slight and no enemy fighters were encountered. Fires were seen on the way home up to 100 miles. All of our aircraft returned safely to base.

My third combat flight is to Karlsruhe. A lot of fear during the briefing and during the take-off. It is 16.45. ‘B’ for Betty climbs up at full throttle. Everything goes well—1,000, 2,000, 3,000 up to12,000 feet and then ‘straight level’. This is my first night mission, so I am quite curious to find out what it is like at night. Curiosity is coupled with quite a dose of fear—instinct of self-preservation in the face of death. The flight seems monotonous. From time to time I make some technical adjustments as we climb up to 20,000 feet. Sometimes we pass by another Lancaster, or one passes us by. We are not flying alone but part of a large group so we have to be careful. Ah! these combat flights! In truth Lancaster is like a whole eye—to the left, to the right, up and down, to the front and to the rear—there is no blind spot. Six people are looking, 12 pairs of eyes straining into the distance. Oh, now, Saarbrucken begins to shoot, but it does not matter because they shoot from the left. I have no time to stare as I am busy throwing so-called ‘windows’, i.e. silver papers which would look quite pretty on a Christmas tree. We are getting near the target. Artillery blasts away, in front of us and below through the clouds. There is a sea of fire—the target. Karlsruhe is burning. Markers on the left, markers on the right and we in the middle. Artillery is blasting, but no matter. We dive down, left, right, steady! and ... "bombs gone". Bang! bang! Have we been hit? No, it is only the bombs going down. They have gone. Now it is lighter, duck to the right, duck to the left, God save us! Artillery is blazing without a break, beneath us the fire is awful. It is light as day. It reminds me of Kurów, maybe you lose the taste for war. We are going back, here and there flashes and ‘sausages’ of bullets, nearly directly at us. Kindly ‘Lanc’ goes forward, we are descending, some 220 on speedometer, we are going quickly away from the target, but the fire glow remains the same, enormous, sinister patch of fire and light through the clouds. Even after an hour’s time, while already over France, the glow of burning Karlsruhe was still visible. I haven’t seen such sight so far. Even though the artillery was still blazing we got out. Now only the return. Again with God’s help we return safely. No trouble with landing. After landing—surprise! ‘B’ Betty is waiting for me and ... throws herself into my arms. Somewhat disconcerted at this display of rather excessive show of devotion or love I try to be good and reply in similar manner. We return together to crew quarters in a happy mood as if from the altar. After changing we go for debriefing by the intelligence officer. Afterwards tasty egg finishes off the 6½ hour flight.


BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

The marking and bombing were accurate and severe damage was caused particularly in the southern and western districts of the city. Among individual buildings destroyed was the important Durlacher machine tool factory

 
 
6th December, 1944

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

 
Lancaster 1 PB 705 "B" 
  F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O M Kuczera, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                                             Took off 16.59   Returned 01.01

Primary attacked from 17,000 feet at 20.45 hours in good visibility. Target identified by flares Red with Green Stars. 1x 4,000 lb HC 3 x 1,000lb AN TD 5 x 500lb GP TD and 1 x 500lb GP LD were released on centre of flares red with green stars which were well concentrated. Intense heavy flak encountered over the target.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Morning working parades were carried out and daily inspections of aircraft were completed. Two crews carried out cross country flights combined with high level bombing exercise. Operations were ordered and fourteen crews were allotted. Briefing was at 13.45 hours, the target being MERSEBURG. Aircraft "F" captained by P/O Janczur had to abandon the mission due to unserviceability of "GEE". Thirteen crews bombed the target successfully and returned to base safely. Crews reported 10/10th clouds along the route and over the target area. All crews bomber on R/P Flares as no Master Bomber’s instructions were heard. Flak was intense and three of our aircraft were damaged. No enemy fighters were seen.

The long winding course of today’s flight fills us with dread. It is a little village and next to it is a large factory producing oil and motor fuels—Merseburg. This is today’s target, a few miles to the west of Leipzig. During the briefing everyone is very quiet. Today’s flight of 1700 miles casts a gloom over the company. When I look at the faces they all look depressed, but here and there somebody tries to smile. Only to an outsider it may look like heroism or important event, but not here among the hundreds of people who will soon take off—for them it is not heroism, just duty and maybe fear or thrill. Here nobody is asking whether you are flying or not—we fly because this is an order.

It is the second time I am flying in ‘B’ Betty (the mechanic in the ground crew is Adamski, a friend from France). We take off at 5 p.m. The whole flight is similar to the last one but the defence is different. As soon as we cross the German border there is artillery to the left and to the right—it does not augur well. This flight to the target seems to last ages, but I am occupied by throwing ‘windows’. Eventually we are nearing the target. As usual battle course—full throttle and to the target. Ready, steady and the bombs are gone—it is 20.45 hours. The artillery fire intensifies left and right, then the searchlights start—we duck to the left, then down—my stomach is in my throat. But we escape. It causes a lot of fear and excitement, but now we are out of reach. We dropped the bombs on the red ‘markers’. We are busy today, we fly for a long time over Germany and we have to look out for fighter planes. After leaving Germany the flight continues unhindered and we land safely—it is 1 a.m. So the whole flight lasted full 8 hours. This was my longest flight to date. How nice it is to climb down from the plane, heave a sigh of relief and say: one flight less to go and it was a hard one. In fact the briefing is the worst, but the return is pleasant, especially when you celebrate ‘B’ Betty with a drink of rum


BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY     

LEUNA – This was the first major attack on an oil target in Eastern Germany; Leuna near the town of Merseburg, just west of Leipzig, was 250 miles from the German frontier and 500 miles from the bombers’ bases in England. There was considerable cloud in the target area but post raid photographs showed that considerable damage had been caused to the synthetic oil plant.


                                                  

                                                     8th December, 1944 — Faldingworth

"... I shall always revere your name". These words became my motto and truth. I hold your name Mary in highest esteem and what I write now is a profession of faith, of deep filial love. I have always nurtured these feelings in my heart. Today they blossom into beautiful lilies of innocent love. Oh Mother! if only you could feel this pain of my heart. Pain which has bled my heart for so many years, pain which strikes me with double or even hundredfold force today, your ‘Name Day’. Mother! can you imagine me, a 25-year old man, your son, weeping? Yes, I am really weeping bitter tears of loneliness. Six years—are you still alive Mother? How do you look? Don’t cry—I will return. I will return because I believe it and you, my dearest one, are praying for it. You always pray, as I do today, at the feet of the Most Holy Mary, to shorten our pain. Grant me Almighty this grace, that I may once more see my dearest human being—my Mother. Oh, come back ‘those’ days of days, days of care-free childhood, come back as the memories of those days when we were together, come back. I know that it was not always perfect, but how can you compare that to today’s reality. I know you will never be happy Mother, when your children are scattered. And maybe today, when somebody else wishes you well on your ‘Name Day’, my own warmest ‘Name Day’ wishes travel far away to you, my dearest and most loved Mother.
 

                                                 12th December, 1944 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Details of Work Carried Out

Lancaster 1 PB 730 "R"

F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O M Kuczera, P/O M Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                                        Took off 16.38  Returned 22.27

Primary attacked from 19,000 feet at 19.43 hours in good visibility. Target identified by RP, Flares Red with Yellow Stars and Green with Red Stars. 1 x 4,000lb HC 14 x 500 lb GP TD 2 x 500lb GP LD were released on the centre of RP Flares red and green. RP Flares rather scattered. Red glow seen after bombing. Moderate to intense flak encountered over the target area, bursting at 19/20,000 feet.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Morning working parades were carried out and daily inspections were completed. During the afternoon one crew carried out fighter affiliation exercise and one crew carried out an H2S Exercise. Operations were ordered and fourteen crews were allotted. Briefing was at 13.30 hours, the target being ESSEN in the Ruhr. All crew bombed the target successfully and all returned safely to base. Crews reported 10/10ths clouds over the target. Air bombers were unable to see TI Markers and bombed on R/P Flares. The flak was moderate to intense. One of our aircraft was damaged by flak and undercarriage collapsed during landing. Aircraft "J" captained by F/L Konarzewski was attacked on the way homewards by enemy aircraft, which broke away when the rear gunner of our aircraft opened fire.

Third time lucky—at last we took off without a hitch, previous two flights were cancelled—boring... As I write about today’s flight I notice an odd thing about myself. Fear which I felt before every flight gave way to pure emotion. I don’t doubt it had a trace of fear in it, especially as the target for tonight’s mission could evoke a feeling of dread: Essen. Although it means we have to fly over the Ruhr I am quite hopeful. We take off at 16.40. The same tactic as before. Our arrival over Ruhr is greeted by the faithful artillery, which cannot do anything in spite of doubling its efforts. We fly on without interruption. Nothing can stop us—it is not for my benefit—it is for the thousands or millions of children, women and old people who must be avenged.

We can see ‘markers’ in the distance—battle course. Oh! tremble you Germans, the time of revenge is approaching. Hundreds, thousands of flashes and bullets, to the left and to the right they blaze away mercilessly, but will it stops us? No—battle course. Steady! — "Bombs gone". Oh! we dive down, God save us! To the left, to the right, then down, oh horror—how they blast. Now we are in the middle of exploding flashes—will we survive? Full throttle—that saves us. We are diving down, slowly the hell is behind us. We shake off feelings of fear and emotion, only the memory of having been in ‘deep waters’ remains. Here and there we see flashes but they don’t matter, the worst is now over. We can still see in the distance Essen on fire. It had been on fire maybe a hundred times already and it is still not the end. Until the Teutonic arrogance is crushed Essen and all the German cities will burn every night with the fire of vengeance. Yesterday it was you, today it is us who rule the skies. Swift ‘R’ -Roger hurries home with double speed, he hurries because he is injured. A small piece of shrapnel entered the cabin next to me. Luckily it struck the hydraulic cable first so it did not cause too much damage.


BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was the last heavy night raid on Essen. Albert Speer, Hitler’s armaments minister, paid compliment to the accuracy of the raid: "The attack last night upon the Krupp works caused surprise on account of the accuracy of the bomb pattern". A Report from Essen shows that besides the industrial damage caused on this raid, 696 houses were destroyed and 1370 seriously damaged. 160 Germans, 89 Prisoners of War, 13 foreign workers and 201 prisoners were killed, the latter when the city prison was hit.


15th December, 1944 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Details of Work Carried Out

Lancaster 111 LM 632 "O"

F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O M Kuczera, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                     Took off 14.58     Returned 21.01

Primary attacked from 18,000 feet at 18.29 hours in moderate visibility. Target identified by Red TIs 1 x 4,000lb HC , 4 x 1,000lb AN TD, 7 x 500lb GPTD were released on the centre of RP Flares green with red stars. TI’s disappeared into clouds and only glow was seen through the clouds. Smoke was rising to 5,000 feet. Fires covered the target. Slight to moderate flak encountered over the target area. Few searchlights in action over the target area.

Operational Record Book – Summary of Events

Morning working parades were carried out and daily inspections of aircraft were completed...Operations were ordered and twelve crews were allotted. Briefing was at 12.30 hours, the target being LUDWIGSHAVEN. All crews bombed the target successfully and returned safely to base. Crews reported 10/10ths cloud over England and France but no clouds over the target. Air Bombers bombed TI markers which appeared to be well concentrated. A huge explosion was seen followed by a rising column of black smoke. Flak was moderate and no enemy fighters seen

I remember hearing it so many times: "Our bombers were over Ludwigshafen last night". They were and will be today as well. By an odd turn of events I will be one of them. I can hear this queer sound in my ears: Ludwigshafen. We take off at 2 p.m. as ordered no quibble about that, even the dodgy weather can’t stop us. Like black crows the Lancasters start one after another. We climb higher and higher into the sky and on our wings: Vengeance. It is for Warsaw and Wawer and so many thousands of murdered people. Bang! bang! the bombs are going: one, two, all of them, it is now lighter. Artillery is blasting but it doesn’t matter, we go left and right and then we fly on full throttle. We have done our duty. It is a hard duty involving fear, nervous tension and psychological exhaustion, but battle mission is crowned with the greatest happiness—safe return to base.


BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

The target area was the northern part of Luwigshaven and the small town of Oppau in which 2 important IG Farben chemical factories were situated. The raid was very successful, 450 high explosive and many incendiaries falling in the works. No other attack caused such a setback to IG Farben – the Oppau factory ceased production until further notice. Casualties were 57 - 50 of which were killed in one of the factories. It would be difficult to find a Bomber Command night raid which caused so much industrial damage but so little in civilian housing areas.


17th December, 1944 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster 1 PB 823 "T"

F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O M Kuczera, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                          Took off 15.33     Returned 23.10

Primary attacked from 13,000 feet at 19.44 hours in very good visibility. Target identified by TI’s Red. 9 x 150 x 4lb, 2 x 60 x 4lb. Incl 155 x 4lb "X" Type, 1 x 4,000lb HC were released on TI’s red. PFF very accurate. TI’s plentiful. Concentrated bombing. Very large fires covered whole target area. Black smoke rising to 5,000 ft. 19.40 hours, large white reddish explosion seen. Master Bomber ordered bomb sky markers. Slight flak encountered in the target.

Operational Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and fifteen crews were allotted. Briefing was held at 13.00 hours the target being "ULM". All crews bombed the target successfully and returned safely to base. Crews reported bad weather along the route but clear sky and good visibility over the target area. Air Bombers bombed TI’s. The bombing was well concentrated. Flak was negligible. Two of our aircraft were attacked by enemy fighters which broke away when the air gunners opened fire.

After the briefing the mood lightened. That’s how one should start describing today’s mission, since everybody is in good mood only if the target is easy. My dear God, it is easy to say that, but has any flight ever been easy? The same dangers, the same white death lies in wait on the tips of the wings. One small careless error, one small mistake and it is so very easy not to return.

We take off at 15.35. It is hard to leave Mother Earth, but she is soon left below, only the speedometer needle jumps to 1000, 2000, 3000 and so on up to 6,000 feet. The weather is reasonable so we can watch the ground, It is rather a monotonous picture, only sometimes a small castle here and there provides some diversity. I try to imagine what they are like inside. But I haven’t got much time for such thoughts in my job of flight mechanic. The ground beneath us seems to move quickly in the opposite direction. On the right we pass Oxford and then Abingdon. Can you see me Pawciu? No, but I am sure you can hear the sinister drone of planes. After all there are 6,4000 horse-power in each Lancaster—and look—there are hundreds of them. They are everywhere—above, below, in front, at the back, difficult to count, and they are all going in one direction: Ulm, small town with a large railway junction, our target for tonight. How lovely that sounds, and yet till quite recently it seemed like a film, an unattainable dream. And now, after all, I am "one of them". It sounds affected and yet true. Dreams do seem to come true. We are passing over the British coastline, then the sinister and always rough English Channel and we are over France. The tune of the Marseillaise seems to accompany us and swift ‘T’ for Telimena flies in the south-easterly direction. On and on, passing towns and villages, we are nearing our target. Whilst over the German territory I can watch the ground which is covered with snow. It is a beautiful sight of mountains and hills enveloped by this white shroud of snow. The earth seems to be asleep and oblivious, only the people are shaking with fear, I know the feeling, I have experienced it many times myself. Is it not the same? Of course, but the roles are reversed. Is it not wonderful to be able to repay the many sleepless nights? In the distance I can see the red and green ‘markers’, little stars in the sky indicating the target. There are a lot of them. My blood runs cold, life seems to stop as if the world did not exist. Hundreds, thousands fires and flares of various colours seem to hypnotise. I stare at this hell on earth where dozens of fires already burn. It is light as day, the glow of fires grows bigger and swells to form a huge sea of fire. It is a marvellous sight, even the sporadic artillery fire cannot spoil it. Despite the weak defence we instinctively turn away from the target. Time over the target, even lasting only seconds, seems like hours. It is only an optical illusion for the glow of fire spreads far and wide. I don’t know what was happening on the ground, but even after an hour you could still see burning Ulm. In spite of the long flight the way back seems three times shorter. We pass the Rhine for the second time and we are again over France. The war does not seem to exist here. Hundreds, thousands of lights twinkle below and above us, so at times I can’t tell which is earth and which is sky. Doubtless down below the merry French drink red wine and make love in brothels. And if we were to turn left in southerly direction after an hour we would arrive in Lyon. It is an old town I know well. I am sure it is as illuminated now as it was then and ... making merry. But it is not for me to dream and speculate. My duties are to evaluate fuel, switch over fuel tanks (when over the target I don’t do anything, only watch), make tea and other similar tasks, which I perform when we are in a safe environment. It shows that I am not flying as a passenger. You have to be more alert and watchful over enemy territory. Each centre of defence makes itself known, you have to find a way between them. There are flashes from left or right. German territory seems to be always restless. All the time you can see some light flashes. But we don’t take any notice. We have to reach our objective—nobody is asking whether we return or not, you have to reach your target. Even if you wanted to cheat, the camera will tell the truth. At midnight hell breaks out in front of us. Oh! God, it is frightening to look. It seems impossible to find a way free from exploding bullets. They draw nearer ever more threatening, my legs shake. God save us!—an involuntary sigh from my soul. I haven’t yet been in the middle of such hell. One moment more and the doors are open. "Bombs Gone!". From all sides flashes appear. ‘R’ for Roger, like a bison which has been hit, breaks away and speeds off to get away at all costs. The most important thing is that we have reached our target and completed our mission. Now all that remains is the return journey. It does not matter how we go back, it is more important that we leave the target safely. A moment of relaxation; below us to the rear something is burning, there are sporadic bursts. Automatically I check the instruments, everything is O.K.—we have enough fuel. I can say I am happy when we cross the British coast. You don’t always come back from such hard mission, you have to have a bit of luck. It is only my 12th flight but it seems to me like a hundredth. It is a very long flight, luckily the time over the target lasts only a few seconds. Even after crossing the British coast it seems to me I have been flying for several hours. Oh! there it is at last; F.H. i.e. the base-airfield. I feel as if I am already in bed. But that is still far off—3 hours after ‘Happy Landing’. All our planes returned safely. The mission is now behind us. As we fly over England we see plenty of fiery rings—these are the airfields, blinking kindly, inviting us in, but we are looking for our own. Aha! it is in front of us. We approach and report "White Lane ‘R’ for Roger has arrived" and ask permission to land. We circle twice and land safely. 5 hours 40 minutes in the air. Fairly short flight of 1,160 miles.


BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was Bomber Command’s first and only raid on Ulm – home of two large lorry factories – Magirius Deutz and Kassbohrer, as well as several other important industries and some military barracks and depot. Women and children were evacuated from ULM on the 18th, a delay, so that families in the Catholic city could observe Advent Sunday. The evacuation had begun on the 17th. 1,449 tons of bombs were dropped during the 25 minute raid, starting in the centre and creeping back to the west across industrial and railway areas. 1 square kilometre of the city was engulfed in flames. Damage was done to the lorry factories and the barracks was destroyed. 607 civilians were killed and 613 were injured. 20,000 to 25,000 were made homeless.


29th December, 1944 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster 1 PB 730 "R"

F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O M Kuczera, P/O M Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 15.15

Returned 20.57

Primary attacked from 18,000 feet at 18.58 in good visibility. Target identified by Red TI’s. 1 x 4000lb HC,M2, 16 x 500 MC,M2,TD were released on Red TI’s. Large explosion 19.00 hours in the target area. A pall of black smoke rising to 10,000 feet followed.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 15 crews were allotted.. Briefing was at 13.00 hours the target being "SHOLVEN". Aircraft "J" captained by P/O Janczur was unable to take off owing to engine failure and had to abandon the task. All other aircraft bombed the target successfully

and returned to base safely. One supercharger of aircraft "D" captained by W/O Bakanacz was unserviceable but the crew carried out the task on three engines. Crews reported fair weather along the route but 10/10th cloud over the target area. TI markers disappeared into clouds and Air Bombers bombed the centre of the red glow. Flak was moderate. Aircraft "U" was attacked on the way homeward by one ME210. Rear Gunner opened fire and the E/A broke away.

I am still tired after yesterday and I have to fly again today. What are they thinking—after all I have only just returned from holiday. I am still in holiday mood and they play the fool and order me to fly and you know where? To the Ruhr and Gelsenkirchen. My hair will turn grey if we have more such flights. Like yesterday the take off is at 3.15. We get on course without much trouble. Up to front line the flight is peaceful, but as we cross, emotions build up. Soon the artillery will start blasting. A few moments of peace and then fireworks! They shoot literally everywhere, but luckily not at us. That is what luck means and ‘Roger’ continues peacefully on the way. It is not far now to the target, but the artillery shoots like blazes. One plane veered from the course and they are shooting at it from all sides, the damned Krauts. The target is illuminated and the bombardment starts. Hundreds of planes converge on the target, but the artillery doesn’t stop. If we leave here in one piece it will be really lucky. A few more seconds, which seem like eternity, and we are over the target. Veritable hell, thousands of flashes, glow of fires. We are blinded, but ‘Roger’ goes forward. I step on the gas, small dive—"bombs gone"—bang, bang. The speed increases: 190, 200, 220, but we are still in line of fire. Slowly we move away from this hell, the artillery does not seem to cause us damage. We get away safely, now only fighter planes threaten us, but they are not so frightening though in fact more menacing. We are returning along the edge of the Ruhr, and high above us we see condensation trails—German fighter planes. Brr, my blood runs cold, but luckily they are a lot higher and maybe they haven’t seen us because they are flying in the opposite direction. We breathe a sigh of relief when we leave them behind—they haven’t noticed us. On the left we pass Duisburg, but luckily it is quite far and the artillery doesn’t reach us. It is peaceful—here and there red lights blink—they are navigation lights of other planes. We are approaching England. It seems to me that I know by heart how many lights there are at Uxbridge airfield. I saw the same identical picture yesterday, but today there was an additional element—fear of the Ruhr. You never know when the artillery will strike. You are flying along and suddenly a ring of bullets explodes. You have nowhere to escape, everywhere flashes appear. I don’t know if I can describe it all. Usually I record the events after the mission, maybe on the second or third day and then the emotion is gone, only the memory remains. And this is not the same as the actual emotions felt over the target ‘Happy Landing’ ends this almost 6 hours lasting mission.

Although short it was full of various emotions which will always be remembered. And if one day somebody mentions Gelsenkirchen my blood will run cold and I will change the subject.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY
The raid took place in difficult conditions. Thick cloud over the target did not stop the oil refinery being badly hit. 300 High Explosive bombs fell within the oil plant area. 3,918 bombs fell over other parts causing much damage to property and some industrial damage. 93 people were killed and 1,368 had to leave their homes.

31st December, 1944 — Faldingworth

It so happened, and it was rather fortunate, that there are no flights tonight. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to fly on New Year’s Eve, after all the Germans also want to have a holiday. And so, as there is no flight, we are planning to go to a dancing party in the camp. Dance itself doesn’t matter—it is the same as hundreds others—the important thing is to keep the tradition of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Tradition which remains whatever the circumstances.

2nd January, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 854 "I"

F/O J Kozicki ,Sgt Drozdz H, F/L F Dlugajczyk, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                    Took off 15.10 Returned 23.24

Primary attacked from 18,000 feet at 19.34 hours in excellent visibility. Target identified by Red and Green TI’s. 1x 4000 MC, M2, 2 x 1000 AN M59 TD, 2 x 1000 AN M65 TD, 5 x 500 GP TD were released on the centre of Red and Green TI’s. Marking well concentrated. Red explosion leaving cloud of black smoke. Glow of fires seen 150 miles.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 18 crews were allotted. Briefing was at 13.00 hours the target being NURNBURG. Crews reported very good visibility over the target which was well illuminated by flares so that it was possible to identify the built up area. Bombing appeared to be well concentrated. Flak was moderate and no enemy fighters were seen. Aircraft "Z" captained by Flight Sergeant Niemiec had to abandon the mission owing to the intercom being unserviceable. One of our aircraft failed to return from the operation.

Always ahead of time we race to the briefing room to satisfy our curiosity—where to today? The answer is short and simple—Nuremberg. The briefing becomes noisy and I do not like either the turmoil or the target. It is the home town of Alfred Rosenberg, the author of racial ideology of Nazism, and besides the prognosis is not good for tonight. 96 planes did not come back from the last sortie to that city. According to the briefing the flight should be easy—they always see everything as easy (from the ground). We take off at 15.10 hours. 3000 revolutions plus 14 booster and we lazily leave Mother Earth who always seems to want to keep us with her. Nothing is happening as we reach the French coast. Constant hum of the engines makes you sleepy and you could fall asleep if you did not have to watch the clocks and other instruments. We are flying at 6,000 feet, but the clouds are very low—less than a hundred metres above the ground. This shroud envelops the earth and keeps us apart. We are flying above the clouds and suddenly we see a tower. It must be the tower of Reims Cathedral.

It is a wonderful sight—all you can see is this slender spire like God’s finger pointing the way. After crossing the front line it is completely dark, so we increase our vigilance in case of eventual attack by fighter planes. It is quiet in spite of us flying over enemy territory. The earth is sleeping. Underneath we can see white patches of snow. It is winter below us—Brr, and here in the plane at 19,0000 it is warm and cosy but for the nervous tension, when I think of the target—Nuremberg. How long do we have to wait before we see the long-awaited markings, i.e. the red and green lights on parachutes, that indicate the target for dropping the bombs. We are in the second wave, there are others in front of us, maybe they will start some fires so that it will be light. My legs are shaking, there are searchlights in front of us. Beautiful silver-white cone of 10 searchlights is lying in wait for the audacious. It does not last long though and I don’t know why this sinister cone of light goes out. Thank God for that. But that was just the beginning, the prelude, now the main performance. Artillery blasts away but gradually grows weaker. Now one after another come the Lancasters. It is light as daytime, not a single cloud in the sky. Underneath us the city appears. This is something I will never forget—the whole city of Nuremberg lies under our feet with its thousands of streets and alleyways. We can see everything—every street and block of houses. We cross the river—left turn—"keep it steady" shouts the bomb-aimer. Centre of the city and the bombs are gone. I try to see the result of the bombing, but a huge pall of smoke and fire begins to envelop the whole city. Quickly we leave the target, we are turning right and now I can still see the target. It is a splendid view—I have never seen the like of it before—it is magnificent. Oh, something is not right. Behind us something is on fire and goes down—probably one of the planes, now another one already past the target. I can see it clearly breaking up into 4 pieces and falling down. This is not good, shivers go down my spine and automatically I check my engines. Luckily everything is in order and this has a calming effect.

We are going full speed ahead, the further the safer. Below us to the right something else is burning, but we are going ahead. Flying at the speed of 200 while slightly descending is good tactics as far as fuel goes. I am still elated by the sight of the target which is still aflame and of the ground itself which is clearly visible with its mountains, snow, houses and other buildings. I am certain every Kraut’s skin creeps at the sound of the formidable armada. But this is no time for reflections and meditations. I have a lot of tasks to perform, this and that, "give me the hammer", "get the sandwiches" etc. I have no trouble keeping the log. After ten sorties I acquired some practise and knowledge of the subject, which you will not get in any school. As I just said this is mine and the whole crew’s 10th battle flight. Only 10th, which is just one third of what we have to do, but still a lot. My dear God, 10 sorties are not many in number but quite a lot in quality. And now we take our leave of the continent and arrive in England. It seems to me that we have done it a hundred times. The same identical route and therefore part of the flight. Maybe the least interesting but equally important as every other moment of flight. And maybe, as when over the target, most dangerous. There is still the Channel and even when over the base itself. There are quite a few airports around here and all the aircraft are returning.

And now we are over the base. Having reported our arrival we fly in a circle and at this moment it seems that over Wickenby something in the air caught fire. It is a huge fire which breaks up and falls down in big trails. Could it be that some planes collided? I become more watchful to what goes on around me. One more circle and "prepare to land". The longed-for "power off"—moment of waiting and then we feel mother earth beneath our feet. We land and disperse. We learn that in fact two planes collided over Wickenby. In the interrogation room we learn that one plane has not yet returned and is "missing". This is ‘T’ for Talimena. I feel sad when I see Halinka crying in the interrogation room. It was her sister’s fiancé, Captain Janas, who flew in that plane. Their wedding was to take place in two weeks’ time. He probably did not come back.

PB 823 BH -"T"

Sqdn Ldr B. B. Janas Pilot

Sgt M. Wrus Flight Engineer

Sgt. W. Omiotek Navigator

W/O J. Banys Air Bomber

Sgt. S. Zielinski Wireless Operator

F/Sgt. W. M. Heine Mid Upper Gunner

Sgt. R. Drozdowicz Rear Gunner

Took off at 15.16. Exploded in the vicinity of Laix (Meurthe–et–Moselle), Baslieux and Ville- au-Montois, three villages some 12km E to SE of Longuyon. All are buried in Pierrepont French National Cemetery, about 9km SE of Longuyon, having been brought there from the temporary US Military Cemetery at Grand Failly.
 

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

Nuremburg, the scene of so many disappointments for Bomber Command finally succumbed to this attack. Good ground marking, clear visibility and a full rising moon helped. The centre of the city was destroyed, mostly blocks of flats. The industrial areas in the south were damaged – containing the important MAN and Siemens factories. 415 separate industrial buildings were destroyed. It was a near perfect example of area bombing. 1,838 people were killed.

7th January, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB730 "R"

F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O M Kuczera ,P/O W Kossowski, W/O Luksa W, Sgt Zbarawski and Sgt Januc W

                 Took off at 18.21  Returned at 03.10

Primary attacked from 19,000 feet at 22.30 hours in good visibility. Target identified by RP Flares Red with Green stars. 1 x 4,000 HC, M2, 6 x 1000 AN-M65 TD, 1 x 50 M, M2, TD were released on centre of RP Flares Red with Green stars. TI’s not seen. Flares compact. No result observed. Glow seen 50 miles en route back.

Immediately after the morning Mass there are rumours that there will be battle. It would not be surprising if it wasn’t for this last incident with Captain Janas. I am sure he himself decided to dive down over the target. It was unfortunate, I shall miss him, also Wrusio who had been a good friend. That’s life, you are alive today and in a few hours you can remain "there"—on the other side of the Channel, forever. It is difficult to believe that yesterday we were together, talking, and today the thought that I will never see them again. It is awful and very painful. But enough of my sentiments. ‘Briefing’—a word that electrifies like a powerful magic wand. A few guesses and there it is—Munich. That’s all that is missing from this series of 8-hour flights. You could go to Warsaw and back in that time. It promises to be a record-breaking mission. The whole weight of the plane 66,326 pounds. The weight of the bombs 10,400 pounds. Fuel 2,104 gallons. Judging by the flight-path it will be the longest flight. We take off somewhat late, at 18.20, which forces me to pay more attention to both sides. In today’s mission 600 planes take part, of which 200 started an hour before us to commence the job, and our 400 planes will finish it. It means we are going to cause Hitler some trouble, or heaven forbid he will cause us grief. But there is no point in being afraid. We fly to the target only just above the clouds. It costs us a bit of tension and nerves. The tension rises as we get nearer to the target. There is a lot of artillery fire, but no need to fear the searchlights as the cloud cover is complete. As we approach the target over which the ‘markers’ are now lit, the cold which made me shiver is slowly disappearing. I don’t know why today there is a lack of emotion, only a slight fear. We arrive over the red and green markers. Bombs gone! 22.30—right on time and then a sharp turn right. In comparison with Nuremberg today there is no spectacle. We depart the target. Oh! the show begins, artillery blasts with full might, the number of flashes and lights swiftly increase. I can observe the target being away from it. In fact there is nothing special and as we get farther away from the target, the tiredness increases. We have been in the air for 4½ hours and that is only half the time. I can hardly bear it

—I have a headache, and I feel generally tired and fed up. But that’s not an excuse, you have to watch the fuel, as the flight is a long one, estimated at 9 hours. The clouds and foul weather cause the speedometer to freeze and we have to increase the revolutions, and that causes more fuel use, and so you have to be more careful and watchful. The constant height of 8,000 feet and higher changes this flight into some very heavy and endless dream. Additionally I am beginning to feel sick—that’s all I need. But I hold out and the sight of the airfield brings my suffering to the end. After landing I feel as if I was taken down from the cross. I haven’t yet had such a flight—a record 8 hours 50 minutes in the air. Coastal Command! shout the landing crews. All our planes have returned thank God, but 15 others are missing. I go to bed completely drained physically and mentally.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was the last major raid on Munich. Bomber Command claimed a successful area raid, the central and industrial areas being severely damaged.


9th January, 1945 — Faldingworth

Snow in England is rather rare. Rain yes, it rains every day, but snow makes an appearance perhaps once a year in these parts. Like today. It is beautiful, white. The world looks quite different. Enveloped in white shroud it looks magical, and it is a dry and fairly sunny day. Almost like Polish winter of my memories and dreams. And even the unattractive landscape of Lincolnshire Plain can seem beautiful in this innocent white attire. What would I have given if this present time was the winter of 1936-37. I remember the holiday trip to Zakopane. I will never forget it and today it seems like a dream

14th January, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 " R"

F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O W Kuczera, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski and Sgt Januc W

                     Took off at 19.06  Returned at 03.28

Primary attacked from 22,000feet at 0.05 hours. Visibility good. Target identified by Red RP Flares with yellow stars. 1 x 4,000lb HC Hose Inst, 17 x 500 AN-M64 TD 0.025 were released on centre of Red RP Flare with yellow stars. Marking and bombing concentrated; large explosion with black column of smoke at 00.01 hours

We did not go yesterday because of the weather, but today we have to fly. But where? Merseburg—old and familiar town or rather target. We were there once before, but obviously with little effect, because today we again have to attack German refineries. If it goes well it will be a pretty fire. Although the flight itself fills me with dread, because it belongs to the ‘Coastal Command’ series, familiarity comes into its own. If it was my 5th flight I would probably be more afraid, but as it was my 12th I take it in my stride, even though artillery is sure to blaze. 2154 of fuel with the total weight of 65,900 pounds. We take off at 19.05 (it is bad to take off at night). The best take-offs are in daytime, then you gradually get used to the fading light. After "set course" we fly familiar route and nothing is happening as we reach the German border. Of course you have to be careful, the plane is tossing us about from time to time, but this is all normal and has happened before.
 

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

There were two attacks, three hours apart, on the synthetic oil plant. Severe damage was caused throughout the plant.
 

16th January, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 "R"

F/O J Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O K Kuczera, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B,

Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                 Took off at 17.51 Returned at 01.27

Primary attacked from 19,000 feet at 22.18 hours in moderate visibility. Target identified by mixed red and green TI’s by green and by red TI‘s and by white recco flares. 1 x 4,000lb HC, 12 x 500 A-64 were released on centre of mixed red and green TI’s. Rather good concentration of marking and bombing. At 22.20 huge red explosion visible as well as flames and black smoke. Large fire seen to the north about 100 miles away.

Please imagine my feelings during today’s sortie which for me will be number 13. The operation starts one hour late and even then it is not certain that we will take off—we wait for two hours sitting in the aircraft. Then at 17.50 we take off. Heavy dark clouds are waiting threateningly for us. It is a hard climb, the machines are heavy after all—66,000 pounds. Merlins 22 are roaring but we continue to climb. We are surrounded by milky clouds which is quite unnerving, green lights are flickering at the ends of the wings—navigation lights. It goes on for quite a while, it is so unpleasant in the clouds, especially as 350 planes took off at the same time. We really need some good luck. We are climbing higher and higher—11,000! Feeling of relief as it gets lighter. It is fantastic—we are skimming over the top of the clouds—then again we plunge into them but only for a moment and then we see beautiful blue sky at sunset. It is difficult to believe that 10,000 feet below us there is fog and clouds and generally bad weather and here it is so glorious. In a short while we are leaving these cloud ‘mountains’ and changing course towards Zeitz—in the region of Leipzig which is heavily defended, the same as Merseburg. In spite of the fact that our target is almost the same as Merseburg, the nature of our sortie is quite different—total surprise. Today the return journey does not lead through France as before—all the time we will fly over Germany, the Ruhr and Holland—over the lake of Tjsel to the north of Amsterdam. My dear God it is all part of our thirteenth sortie—let’s hope we will return. It seems to me that the whole flight leads over dangerous territory—either searchlights or anti-aircraft guns let you know that it is not X country.

It is now 10 o’clock at night, the flight seems to have gone on forever and there are still 15 minutes to go before we reach our target. Looking down all you can see is snow covered ground, hardly any houses or signs of human habitation, you can count them on your fingers. The Krauts must be sleeping unaware that we are bringing them presents. Aha, we have reached our target, there are flares and hell breaks loose again. It is the same as last time, even worse, as hundreds of searchlights light up the sky. I think we will have fun and I am getting my parachute ready just in case. This time we seem to be flying faster to our target. I strain my eyes but it does not help, my knees are shaking slightly. There seems to be thousands of fireworks, sparklers and lights going—it seems like daylight—the damned searchlights make a ring round our target. Please God save us from this hell, it is terrifying. We are getting closer and closer. Thousands, millions of flashes and lights—to the left and right—the searchlights are everywhere. The whole aircraft is lit up, we choose a path. "Bomb door open" sounds in the earphones. Another moment and then dry crack of jettisoning bombs: one, two, three and so on—total weight 9,700 pounds. When they are all down not only our plane is lighter, but our spirits too. It is still light as in daytime, the artillery fire is still going on but we are leaving the target area.

For the 13th time I am marveling at the view. This is perhaps the one and only, similar to Nuremburg, sight. You can see everything, fires everywhere as if after a hundred lightning strikes.

Oh! now there is a huge blast, a mere 2 minutes after our bombs fell (it is now 22.18 hours). Left turn and we are past the target but still almost at the same height. Slowly losing height we are approaching a ‘gate’ between two heavily defended objects: Osnabruck and Munster. Again this time our Wadzio is infallible—it is his good navigation that allows us to squeeze silently between these two spots bristling with gun barrels. Now only shore defences remain in the ‘bag of fear’. Silently, silently we are edging forward. Moment of relief when under our feet blue-black mass of the North Sea smiles ominously. This is not as threatening as the thousands of bullets and shrapnels lying in wait for our lives. Still a few hundred miles over the blue-black depths of the North Sea bristling with menacing waves and in the distance lights of our safe haven—England. This flight is quite different—this is not the usual monotonous return. It is quite wonderful. After safe landing I can look back on it as a beautiful and exhilarating flight with thousands of dangers but now behind us. But?... Not everyone was so lucky—ensign Balinowski does not come back. His fate is shared by Sasin, friend of Bolek. Then ‘Jacek’ with his ‘E’ Easy lands in the field, the plane is smashed but the crew escape alive, al

though Antoś Jackowski is badly injured. It seems today’s sortie was not that easy, maybe we were just lucky that our 13th mission did not end in a crash. For Balinowski it was his 26th sortie. As far as I remember many crews did not return. Can you believe that you will never see them again. They were not my close friends, but it is still strange, especially as it seems they had a premonition about this flight—Bolek’s friend said goodbye to him—he never did this before other flights. God how dismal it seems! He flew 26 sorties and always returned and today it was different. That’s flying—you return a hundred times and on the hundred and first you land in Abraham’s bosom. Poor Jacek was badly bruised and was taken to hospital.

PD 257 BH – ‘O’

W/O R. Balinowski – POW - Luckenwalde Camp

Sgt. K. T. Tomasik – POW

Sgt. S. Seidengart – POW

Sgt. M. Sasin – POW

P/O F. Matuszewki

Sgt. M. M. Piotrowski

Sgt. A, Smoczkiewicz

Took off at 17.48. Crashed at Kleinfurra 10km SSW from the centre of Nordhausen. 3 dead, 4 POW’s. Dead buried after the war in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.


BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

The target was the Braunkohle Benzine oil plant near Leipzig. Much damage was caused to the northern half of the plant.

28th January, 1945 — Faldingworth

Up to today our crew had been assigned to missions, but owing to the unexpected winter weather they were all cancelled. But today operations will surely take place since the weather is quite decent. But... it does not concern our crew. Only 4 crews are going. To tell the truth I am getting quite unused to flying, it has been so long. Pity we are not going today. As far as I know the target of today’s flight was Stuttgart. Although I was never in Stuttgart we have often flown past it. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the outcome of the flight, from which 3 planes did not return.

My friend, Flight Sergeant Gerwatowski, a mechanic, and pilot Lieut. Zarembski. Damn, hell, another crew gone. This is the third crew during my service in the Wing. I shall miss him, he was a first rate bloke. May he rest in peace. (By the way I have taken his place in the Lieut. Kozicki’s crew). The enclosed map from ‘The Times’ shows the situation on the Eastern front i.e. in Poland on 25th January, 1945. The Russian offensive which started a few days ago drives speedily west, pushing the frightened Krauts towards their own country whence they came 5 years ago.

1st February, 1945 – Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O K Kuczera, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

              Took off at 16.17  Returned 22.57

Primary attacked from 17,000 feet at 19.28 hours. At 2-3 miles from the target, before reaching it, were seen bombs bursting in fields and a glow of fires. Target indentified by Red TI’s and 1 x 400 HC, 14 x 500 AN-M64 were released on 3 RP flares. Bomb door did not open, pilot had to make a second run and used the emergency bomb switch.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 13 crews were allotted target being LUDWIGSHAVEN. Aircraft "S" captained by F/L Kapciuk was aborted, port outer engine being u/s. Target bombed successfully. Visibility good. Over target 8/10 – 10/10th cloud with tops 6 – 7000 feet. Markers rather concentrated bombing seemed concentrated too.

After a longish break back to battle. This time it is a known target—Ludwigshaven. I won’t describe this mission in detail as before due to lack of time. We took off at 16.15. The flight was quite hard and lasted 6 hours 40 minutes. Everything was fine, it finished with a "happy landing" at 22.55. In fact you could write a lot about it, but would it reflect the emotions and moods and the whole flight—probably not, although ‘R’ Roger could say quite a lot. Again another chapter in this great book of the life of a good chap. Maybe colourless on paper but in fact so attractive and colourful in emotions.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

Most of the force aimed their loads at sky markers. 900 houses were destroyed as well as damage to railway yards and one of the Rhine road bridges was temporarily out of action. 25 people were killed and 6 injured.


2nd February, 1945 — Faldingworth

I don’t know why we are not going on today’s mission. It is not a hard flight but it takes it toll. Again "one of our aircraft is missing". This time Lieut. Kapciuk and mechanic Wilk don’t return. That’s how it is—they flew 27 missions and came back, but today luck failed them and it was their last flight.

ME 744 BH – ‘P’

F/L Z. Kapciuk Pilot

Sgt. B. Wilk Flight Engineer

Sgt. R. Reder Navigator

F/O J. Branszted Air Bomber

Sgt. F. Jurewicz Wireless Operator

F/O/ Z. Modro Mid Upper Gunner

Sgt. M. T. Masiorski POW Rear Gunner

Took off 21.04 for an operation to Wiesbaden. Hit by flak and crashed into a wooded area near Rambach in the NE suburbs of Wiesbaden. Five of those who died now rest in Durnbach

War Cemetery but Sgt. Reder’s grave was never found.

3rd February, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PDD 361 "H"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, P/O K Kuczera, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off at 16.30

Returned at 21.48

Primary attacked from 17,000 feet at 19.36 in good cloudless visibility. Target identified by green and red TI’s. 1 x 4,000 HC, 16 X 500 AN-M64 were released on the centre of green TI’s. Marking and bombing rather concentrated. At 19.35 hours a large explosion with smoke rising up to 4-5,000 feet was observed.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 9 aircraft were allotted target being "BOTTROP". Weather conditions were good, visibility good too. Marking very good.

"So what if one of the stars dies when the whole squadron again dashes on track". These words taken from a song are a kind of gospel-order. Some people perish and others take their place to continue the fight to the last breath in spite of threats and deaths. And so we fly. The Ruhr—Bottrop—that’s the target for tonight.

We fly in ‘H’ for How. If somebody were to ask me what impression today’s flight left on me I would say it is difficult to have a worse experience than to find yourself in hell. And hell on earth it certainly was. Thousands of searchlights, illuminations, fires and... Lancasters magnifying this hell every minute. I haven’t yet seen this number of searchlights, in site of experiencing similar emotions fifteen times. Every flight has something different, something more that is unforgettable, and if in the future someone mentions Bottrop my blood will run cold and... I will be pleased—for Warsaw.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

The attack was on the Benzol Prosper Plant. Severe damage was caused in an accurate raid. 2 people died.

5th February, 1945 — Faldingworth

Probable flight to Leipzig. We know this course and the heaviest defence imaginable. The whole briefing costs us a lot of nerves—we simply don’t like the area of Leipzig—it is very unpleasant there. Many of us had anxious moments before the flight was cancelled. You can’t imagine the relief and shouts of joy of everyone when we heard this magic word: "cancelled".

8th February, 1945 —Faldingworth-Hinckley

Six long weeks of waiting, planning etc. came to an end. Today is the happy day when one, dressed in one’s best clothes, starts on his journey. "Goodbye" War, "Goodbye" squadron, "Goodbye" lifeless desert for whole six days. It is strange: six long weeks, tiring, sometimes boring and claustrophobic, and then six beautiful days of holiday. The sun rises early and shines all day with happiness and contentment. I am greeted very warmly in Hinckley, where I meet my friend Pawcio.

13th February, 1945 — Hinckley

And so it came to pass what nobody expected: fourth partition of Poland by... their Allies. It was announced today, quite plainly and bluntly, after the conference of the Big Three in Yalta, that the Soviet Union takes one third of Polish territory and Polish eastern frontier runs along so-called ‘Curzon Line’. And so we have a ‘Free’ Poland with Committee of Lublin—they really did for us, our allies—England and the United States. Damn them all! especially Churchill who misled Roosevelt and surrendered to Stalin. Yes, that’s how matters stand, and we still fight for "your freedom and ours". My blood boils that we live in such times and have such poor allies. This is the reward for our 5 year constant battle against Germany. Rich reward, thanks! Mr. Churchill.

14th February, 1945 — Hinckley – Faldingworth

So it was that my holiday which started so well, ended dismally because of the political situation. And that’s not all. After returning to camp I learned that the previous day there was a crash beyond the airfield. Ensign Mikietyn and his crew were killed. Olek Jameliniec was also killed. We were together on the flight mechanics course. Such a jolly chap. It was terrible—immediately after take off for a mission they collided with another plant, and fully loaded. I can imagine their death when the plane exploded. That’s our fate, but for what?—half a Poland. I feel like crying, I wish the earth would swallow me up. Or to be somewhere in the middle of Africa so that I would not witness all that is happening here. Forget this tragic reality. Sleep Olek in the dark grave, may you dream of the whole Poland and your Janów.

PA185 BH – ‘W’

W/O M. Mykietyn Pilot

Sgt. A. Jameliniec Flight Engineer

W/O J. Placzek Navigator

F/S M. F. Ogorzal Air Bomber

Sgt. A. Kaczmarz Wireless Operator

F/S B. Nizinski Mid Upper Gunner

Sgt. L. S. Goldowski Rear Gunner

Took off 21.47 on an operation to Dresden. Twelve minutes later and while still gaining height, collided with a 550 Squadron Lancaster. Both aircraft exploded and fell at Stotts Farm, Apley, three miles SW of Wragby, Lincolnshire. Only three bodies could be identified and taken to Newark for burial in the Polish plot. As with all P.A.F. casualties, their names appear on the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt.

20th February, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/O W Pawlowski, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off at 21.41

Returned at 03.46

Primary attacked from 19,000 feet at 0103 hours in moderate visibility. Target identified by green RP flares with red stars. 1 x 4,000 HC, 14 x 150 x 4, 1 x 60 x 4 were released on centre of RP Flares. N R O. RP Flares rather scattered, several explosions seen through the clouds.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered target be DORTMUND, 15 aircraft were allotted. 14 aircraft were successful. Aircraft "J" captained by S/L Konarzewski failed to return. The remaining crews reported good visibility; weather 10/10 tops 5-6000 feet. Markers were observed. Concentration of bombing rather good. Fires seen at 60 – 70 miles on return journey.

After more than two weeks break today we again board ‘R’ for Roger. Today’s course and target are familiar—Dortmund. Henry, do you remember your first sortie? Of course—it was Dortmund on 29th November, 1944. A long way and many changes and experiences and today the 16th flight in all and second to Dortmund. I push these thoughts away for the first and last time as I press the ignition lever forward: 3,000 revolutions plus 14 booster to go faster and farther to banish these thoughts. Whatever happens we trust in God. We take off late but the visibility is good so the flight is not tiring. Somehow the flight is different than the first one—then it was daytime, today we are surrounded by night. It is a beautiful moonlit night. Wrr-wrr... monotonous and menacing sound in my ears. Four Merlins like four night birds of prey rumble this wonderful tune of confidence and power. There are thousands, millions of stars and hundreds of these rapacious birds of prey are flying to Dortmund for a feast. "Bombs gone". We spend only a short time over the target. It looks the same as before: light as day, below us red explosions of 4,000 bombs and we are above that. The night ‘birds of prey’ are returning, but not all of them. Below us and to the rear I see a Lancaster on fire. It is eerie—it’s breaking up and falling—it could not hold on, maybe it is one of ours? We are returning by moonlight, here and there above us we see white streaks—it’s the night fighter planes, you have to be vigilant. The three hours of return flight pass quickly.

Let us land safely without further thrills. Mother England greets us with thousands of lights. Here and there friendly beacons blink. We descend to 4,000 feet. The ground can be clearly seen, we pass several airfields, till at last familiar letter ‘F.H.’ – Faldingworth. We land, but not everyone is so fortunate. Lieutenant Konarzewski with Lieutenant’s Janczar’s crew did not come back. One crew less. I feel sad for them—they shared my billet. I am especially sorry for ‘Grandad’ Jakimowicz, he could easily have been my father, such a fine chap. May the rest in peace! It is all for "your freedom and ours".

PB7772 BH - ‘J’

F/Lt K. Konarzewski Pilot

Sgt. S. Modrany Navigator

F/Sgt. W. Jakimowicz POW Flight Engineer

Sgt. R. Burkacki POW Air Bomber

Sgt. T. Picho POW Wireless Operator

Sgt. A. Gorczycki POW Mid Upper Gunner

Sgt. Z. Raczynski POW Rear Gunner

Took off at 21.42. Hit by flak and blew up over Bergisch-Gladbach. The dead are buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
 

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was the last of the large Bomber Command Raids on Dortmund of the war. The intention was to destroy the southern half of Dortmund. Bomber Command claimed that this had been achieved.
 

21st February, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/O W Pawlowski, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                  Took off at 19.57  Returned at 01.25

Primary attacked from 19,000 feet at 23.09 hours in visibility above good. Target identified by Red TI’s, by Green TI’s and by RP Flares. 1 x 4000 HC, 11 x 150 x 4, 2 x 60 x 4 were released on the centre of red TI’s. 8 PFF too late. TI’s rather concentrated. N R O. Fires seen 80 – 100 miles on return.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 13 crews were allotted target being DUISBURG. Weather conditions reported by the crews were following: cloudy 6-7/10 tops 6-7000 feet, visibility good. Bombing on markers and fires concentrated.

Today again we have to fly even though we haven’t had enough rest. Some perish and don’t come back, others replace them—like us who are still alive. During the briefing they change our easy target for Duisburg. It is still in the Ruhr basin but nearer. It is just my luck that if it is easy flight we don’t go, but when it is the Ruhr it is always us, but it’s God’s will, sometimes you may not return from an easy mission. We fly in ‘R’. Similar to yesterday visibility is good and we have the moon at the back. As usual the Ruhr is belching fire, but this is only a repeat of yesterday’s flight. Today we are flying a little higher and maybe faster for we have the wind helping us. Normal procedure on landing. We land at 1.25 - 5½ hours. Shorter than yesterday, and all the planes landed in home nest. Another 1,140 miles added to the long track going east—to Poland. How many more thousands of miles one will have to travel to land at Okęcie?
 

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was the last major bombing raid on Duisburg. This was a successful area bombing raid and much damage was caused.


22nd February, 1945 — Faldingworth

After the last hard two days came a break, It was especially pleasant and desirable, for a Polish concert party arrived to give us three shows. So we all go to see the revue. Whole two hours of good jokes, songs, and a chance to hear mother tongue from the stage. That’s the most important thing—a piece of Polish stage and the performance of the old stager Tadeusz Olsza complete the enjoyment. His name is very familiar. I kept hearing it thousands of times looking through Warsaw papers. I can’t remember whether it was ‘Warsaw Barber’ or ‘Qui Pro Quo’, anyway a well known small theatre and this laughing Olsza. I leave the show with the sensation of some Warsaw stage—my vivid imagination lets me enjoy the wide world of dreams rather than the claustrophobic cauldron of toxic reality. Art and music—two powerful forces ruling our human souls.

I took part in this action reported in the local press. Who knows if a bomb dropped by our plane did not destroy some storage tanks or building.

24th February, 1945 — Faldingworth

So called ‘lemonade’—a word most pleasing to the ears, it simply means no mission. What can be better than the certainty of a good night’s sleep? Let others face the dangers. In the afternoon, taking advantage of ‘no war’, we go to Lincoln to a football match between ‘Polish Airforce eleven’ and the town of Lincoln team. Feverishly we root and cheer for ‘our’ team, maybe it helped them to achieve a 2—2 draw against a good and well playing English team. The Poles scored the first goal, but the English quickly equalised, then it was 2—1 to England and the Poles equalised in some style. And this was the final score. The Polish team played quite well, but they lacked cohesion and team-work. Our left-winger Olympian Wodarz distinguished himself, also Bojar from our squadron.

2nd March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Second battle mission and our crew is forced to wait and laze about, I don’t know why. Today it is a day flight to Cologne. It seems an easy one, but as always "you cannot m

ake an omelette without breaking eggs”—two crews don’t come back. The crew of Lieut. Kirkielewicz with mechanic Norberg, also Więckowski and Lieut. Wejganowski and with him Jacek Filek, always reliable and jolly chap. I will miss him the most, as we spent quite a lot of both happy and sad times together. The best times were those spent in Romania and France. So Jacek, it was not meant for us to see Poland together. Such bare, laconic words. "Killed in action". May you rest in peace and may God let you see heaven. Sleep my friend in the dark grave and dream of Poland—dear Jacek.

NG501 BH – "U"

F/L W. Wygaowski Pilot

Sgt. J. Filek Flight Engineer

Sgt. E. Kulikowski Navigator

P/O J. Babiarz Air Bomber

F/S J. R. Horobiowski Wireless Operator

F/S S/ Chetnicki Mid Upper Gunner

F/S B. Filipiak Rear Gunner

Took off 07.14. Crashed in the vicinity of Zulpicher Strasse and Vottfried Strasse. It is very much suspected that their bodies were found at various times and by different organisations and their graves are scatter across three countries. Three rest in the Polish Field of Honour at Lommel; F/Lt. Wyganowski is buried in Hotton War Cemetery; two were taken to Holland while F/S Horoborowski is interred in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

PB 854 - "I"

F/L Kirkilewicz Pilot

Sgt Wieckowski Flight Engineer

Sgt Szymanski Air Bomber

P/O A Nieszkodny Navigator

Sgt Kulik Wireless Operator

Sgt Mrozinski Mid Upper Gunner

Sgt Cwenar Rear Gunner

Took off 07.10. At least three were laid to rest at Henri- Chapelle, ahead of being buried in the Polish Field of Honour at Lommel, while F/O Nieszkodny lies in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. All of course are commemorated on the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt.

3rd March, 1945 — Faldingworth

There is a lot of fuss and noise when some bigger fish ruffles the quiet waters of the squadron. This time it was the arrival of the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force—General Iżycki. Fly-past to the right and left and a few medals were pinned to the valiant breasts and that’s all. 42 airmen were decorated, Witek Paruziński among them. Everything concluded quite quickly and we were free again.

5th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operational Record Book – Details of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/L F Dlugajczyk, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 17.07

Returned 02.22

Primary target attacked from 17,000fet at 21.49 hours in good visibility. Target identified by red R/P flares with green stars. 1 x 4000HC, 7 x 150 X 4 incl.125 X 4, 2 X 60 X 4. "X" types were released on the centre of R/P flares according to the M/B’s order with 12 secs overshoot. Glow of flares seen 45 miles on return. R/P flares were rather scattered.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

13 aircraft and 1 spare were ordered for operations target being CHEMNITZ. Aircraft "F" captained by F/S Sclichtinger abandoned mission at 18.12 hours 5045N-0006E due to failure of API and H2S. Aircraft "W" captained by W/O Ilnicki was cancelled before take off, the intercom being u/s. Aircraft "H" captained by F/Sgt Plucinski landed at Wigsley in view of frozen brackets and the port inner set on fire and the A/C ran short of fuel. Weather 10/10 clouds, tops 9000 feet over continent 15000 feet lowering to 10 – 12000 feet over target area. Visibility good above clouds. Red R/P flares with green stars were bomber. Glow visible over target area.

I am writing this after it happened. It all started with the modest name of the German town of Chemnitz. That was how it looked when I entered the briefing room. However, in time modest Chemnitz was suitably adorned and embellished—it only needed 9,500 pounds of battle freight which we were to deliver. And here again I must remark that if you wanted to write something about every average flight you would need a lot of time and paper, so I will limit myself to just a few facts, which will throw some light on what was achieved today. We took off at 17.10 fully laden with 66,300 pounds. The flight to target was uneventful, only here and there artillery fire. At 21.50 hours we arrived at our target. The hottest point of the flight, full of various dangers and unforgettable experiences and emotions. The return flight again without any major incidents. The enemy of night flights—sleep—nearly overcame me completely, also the radio was tormenting us. There were moments during the return flight when I thought I should have jumped out over France. The whole sortie lasted 9 hours 10 minutes—it was the longest flight of my life and the most tiring. After landing safely I thought I would pass away and as long as I live I will not forget this most unpleasant flight of my career. Even the sleep afterwards was exhausting—I pray that this was the last flight of the ‘coastal command’ series.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

In continuation of Operation Thunderclap. 9 aircraft of 6 Group crashed near their base after taking off in very icy conditions. 426 Squadron lost 3 of 14 Halifaxes. There were 22 further losses in the main operation. The city of Karl Marx Stadt suffered fire damage. Several important factories were located in the fire area and the Segmar factory which made tank engines was destroyed.

8th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Record of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/L F Dlugajczyk, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

               Took off 17.37 Returned 23.58

Primary attacked from 14,000 feet at 21.54 hours in good visibility. Target identified by Gee. 1 X 4000 HC, 10 X 150 X 4 incl 170 X 4, 2 x 60 x 4 "X" type were released on the target according to the GEE homing D4948 C 3763. Glow was observed reflecting on the clouds. Starboard outer, intercom and turret were u/s

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 14 crews were allotted target being KASSEL. All aircraft were successful. Weather reported: at the beginning 10/10 later on lowered to 8/10 – 10/10. Bomb load was dropped on the red R/P flares with green stars. Glow of the fires could easily be seen over the target area.

"Happy Birthday to you", "Happy Birthday to you"!, — sang to me my birthday nymphs of good fortune and beauty. Today is the 25th anniversary of the day my mother brought me into this world. Maybe it sounds a bit poetic, but the reality remains the same—everyday, eventful, dangerous—magnificent. Battle flights are the most tragic but also most admirable element. It is not about killing people, or about revenge, what matters is the Fight. Fight to victorious conclusion. Where there is war there must be fighting. That is just what we are doing—fighting regardless of any obstacles or different emotions. For instance today—my birthday—there is a moment of uncertainty—could it also be the day of my death? But we must not think like that, we have to fly. Fly far away—hundreds of miles to Kessel. One after another the planes take off like bats. More and more wings in the sky. It looks ominous but there is peace in the soul.

Just as in past ages Polish hussars rustled their wings when getting ready for battle, so now it is the same. Grim faces and utter composure, everyone knows what to do when the time of battle comes. One after another the night predators fly. I don’t know whether there is anything more fabulous and splendid than battle flight. It is only a few hours which sometimes seem like a lifetime. Sometimes they are the last hours of one’s life. But luckily one comes back, like today—in spite of one engine failing. We were not over the correct target i.e. Kessel, because we were unable to climb to the required height, our bombs fell on some small town, probably Coefeld, that was the order. With luck and God’s help we return home on 3 engines and land safely. And so I have summarised my ‘birthday’ flight—apart from the proverbial excitement there was maybe some other, more elusive element.
 

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was the first large raid on Kassel since 1943 and the last large RAF raid on this target. The target was covered by cloud and the damage is unknown.

11th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 370 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/L F Dlugajczyk, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 11.56

Returned 17.09

Primary attacked from 17,000 feet at 15.04 hours in very good visibility. Target identified by blue smoke PUFFS and GEE fix. 1 X 4000HC, 16 X 500 MC M2 were released on the centre of the left blue smoke PUFFS, according to the M/B order. No result observed. Pall of smoke was rising up to 4,000 feet. M/B well and clear heard.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered early in the morning and 15 crews have been allotted target being ESSEN. Aircraft "B" captained by F/L Kozubski has been cancelled before take off due to engine trouble. The crews reported good weather, clouds 10/10 over target, tops at 6-7000 feet. Bomb load was dropped on blue smoke PUFFS. No result observed. Faint enemy opposition.

This is the 20th sortie to Essen. God! — daylight flight over the Ruhr! We take off at 11.55—nearly noon. Only 12,600 pounds of bombs. I will not dwell on our feelings ahead of the flight, enough to say that during the briefing it was very quiet, everyone had the gloomy look of someone under the sentence of death.

The chronic fear of the Ruhr disappeared during the flight over France and even over the Ruhr itself. It was lucky for us that the whole area was covered with clouds. When we are nearing the target here and there plumes of smoke jump out of the clouds—artillery. It looks extremely unpleasant. The intensity increases the nearer we get to the target, my legs begin to shake as usual. Small plumes of blue smoke indicate point of aim. Height of emotion over the target, it seems like the end, planes on all sides left, right, in front, above—there seems no way out. Plumes of smoke shoot up like mushrooms after rainfall. Another moment, which seems like the longest time over the target, and then full throttle and away. Now the firing stopped and it is safe. I have time to have a look at what is happening. Actually it is just a swarm of planes. Temporary congestion on the turn and then the long flight home. 1,000 planes took part and Essen went up in smoke.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was the largest number of aircraft sent to a single target so far in the war. Complete cloud cover but Oboe directed sky markers were used. It was an accurate attack which virtually paralysed Essen. 897 people were killed. Last RAF raid on Essen.

12th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

OperationsBook – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 370 "R"

Record

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/L Dlugajczyk, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

               Took off 13.20   Returned 18.46

Primary attacked from 17,000 feet at 16.35 hours in good visibility. Target identified by green and blue smoke PUFFS. 1 X 4000 HC, 16 X 500 MC M2 were released on the centre of blue smoke PUFFS according to the M/B’s order. Blue smoke PUFF appeared rather compact. N.R.O. M/B ordered "BOMB BLUE SMOKE PUFFS".

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered early in the morning. 16 crews were allotted to the target being DORTMUND. Aircraft were successful. The crews reported good weather 10/10 over target tops 6-7000 feet, visibility good. Bomb load was dropped on the blue smoke PUFFS and on the green smoke PUFFS.

"Go round again". Today again day flight to the Ruhr—Dortmund. 1,000 planes and us in ‘R’ – Roger. The same load and almost the same experiences, but today our crew will gain honorary citizenship of the City of Dortmund, if we return, because according to tradition, three flights to the same target entitle the crew to honorary citizenship. We all know that and even the artillery doesn’t frighten us, but as it happens there was no artillery over the target. So the mission was accomplished with ease, but there was lack of the experiences for which we were prepared. So the flight seemed like ‘cross country’, short and comfortable, and after the return a glass of rum and cigarettes await and good food—enough to make flying worthwhile. Another flight added to the tally and one less operational trip. Thanks be to God who protects us. Or maybe it is our destiny, which I firmly believe. All the planes returned.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

1,108 aircraft were used on this raid – another new record to a single target. It was bomber for the last time. The centre and south of the city were bombed through cloud. A report after concluded that this raid put production back almost irrevocably.

13th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 370 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/L Dlugajczyk, P/O Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 17.51

Returned 23.18

Primary attacked at 20.43 hours from 15,000 feet in good visibility but with slight haze. Target identified by red TI’s. 1 X 4000 HC, 12 x 500 AN-M64, 4 X 250 GP TD 0.025 were released on the centre of red TI’s. Marking rather concentrated; At 20.54 hours a major explosion, pale reddish and pall of black smoke were seen.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 11 aircraft have been allotted as well as one spare target being DAHL BUSH BENZOL PLANT. Aircraft "B" captained by F/Sgt Bus abandoned mission due to engine trouble and both turrets being u/s. Target was identified by red TI’s. Bombing appeared to be rather concentrated.

"Unlucky 13", I try to avoid this number, but I could not do it today. We have to fly third time in a row. Tonight’s target is Gelsenkirchen. In spite of the fact that the last two flights confirmed German decline and weakness of the defence of the Ruhr, today’s ‘trip’ invokes a feeling of foreboding. Perhaps it is the thought that it is ‘13th’ and one has to fly to Gelsenkirchen where there was always artillery fire. I was there once before and I did not like it. The flight itself goes without serious incidents. But it is not the same as yesterday—German artillery is still there and not asleep. The same picture of hundreds and thousands of fires on all levels, but in spite of the number 13 luck is with us. A few successful dodges, full throttle, and the worst moment is in the past. Even the time over the target is not as bad as that just before, when you have time for fear, but when the bomb-aimer shouts "bombs gone", then you feel light hearted, ready for a cup of tea and safe landing at base.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was an attack on Benzol plants. The attack on the Gelsenkirchen plant was successful.

15th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/L Dlugajczyk, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

                      Took off 17.32 Returned 01.14

Primary attacked from 18,000 feet at 21.17 hours in good visibility, with slight haze. Target identified by mixed red and green TI’s and by red TI’s. 1 X 4000 HC, 12 X 500 were released on the centre of mixed red and green TI’s. Markers appeared to be rather concentrated while bombing appeared to be rather concentrated around the markers. At 21.14 hours a red explosion took place and at 21.16 hours another explosion/red too/ with black smoke was observed. M/B was not heard.

Operational Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 10 aircraft and 1 spare were allotted target being MISBURG. Aircraft "N" captained by F/Sgt Karpinski cancelled before take off because the Rear Gunner has got an accident. Weather clear. According to the Master Bomber’s order the TI’s were bombed. Bombing appeared to be rather concentrated.

One day’s break and another flight. I took the opportunity to make my Easter confession. No wonder that I have a good feeling about today’s flight, although the target is nothing special, one that I know already—Misburg. It is difficult to describe the flight in a few words. As every flight it is full of familiar emotions—slight pride at the start and return and composure over the Channel towards the target. Almost 6 hours of staring in all directions. The climax is the target itself, beautifully illuminated with millions of lights and fires. After short moments of excitement over the target, short breath before dropping the bombs and then just one thought—to return home safely. I must mention one curious fact: to our crew there has never been any difference whether flying to target or coming back, we never relax our guard and sometimes we are even more careful on return journey, maybe to this fact we owe our good luck and fast approach to 30 flights—the final point of battle career.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

The attack was on Deurag refinery at Misburg on the outskirts of Hannover. Visibility was good and some fires were started but the main weight of the raid fell south of the target.

16th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/L F Dlugajczyk, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 17.38

Returned 01.50

Primary attacked from 16500 feet at 21.46 hours in moderate visibility. Target identified by red TI’s and by mixed red and green TI’s. 1 X 4000 HC, 9 X 150 X 4 incl. 155 X 4 "X" type were released on centre of red and green TI’s rather concentrated and accurate. 2 X 60 X 4 was released too. Fires were observed at 120 miles on return journey.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 12 crews were allotted the target being NURNBURG. Aircraft "L" captained by W/O Bedmarski was cancelled before takeoff. The remaining 11 crews attacked the target successfully dropping the bombs on the red TI’s. Bombing appeared to be rather concentrated and the fighter activity was remarked on approaching the target area.

I don’t know if it is good or bad but today we fly again. ‘R’ – Roger seems to be untiring when it comes to flying. Personally I am quite pleased about it in line with the motto: "What is due to hang will not drown". And so today we are going to visit Nuremburg for the second time. To tell the truth it is possibly the worst target to bomb, because of the number of night fighters in that area. We take off at 5.40. The way to the target is not especially dangerous and ‘windows’ partially protect the line of 230 aircraft. We arrive over the target a little early, so we fly around which is very dangerous. When the target is on fire and thousands of flames and plumes of smoke fill the air between the ground and our flight path 17,000 feet and higher, it is time for us. It feels like a jump into an abyss or hell. It is light as day, here and there a plane and underneath us a sea of fire and smoke. The city is clearly visible, we are over the centre of it. Artillery guns blast away, another moment, bomb-aimer shouts and the plane is tossed up—have we been hit? —no, it is the bombs going down. These are only short moments, but can there be anything more wonderful? No human eye could see nor memory retain these moments. Sometimes it is only hair-breadth and one plunges to earth—left, right and duck. I can find no words to describe the action. Action of moments and minutes involving thousands of human beings, where the stronger win. This time we belong to them and return safely to our base in Faldingworth. As could be foreseen many planes did not return from this sortie, as usual in the case of Nuremberg. This time 36 planes were lost. Thanks be to God we were not one of them.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

Most of the losses on this raid were due to German night fighters who found the bombing stream on the way to its target. South and South Western districts were hit as well as the ruins of the Altstadt. A serious fire was established in the Steinbhul district. The main railway station was also on fire and the city’s gasworks damaged.529 dead. This was the last raid on Nuremburg.

18th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

After the hard grind of 5 battle flights in 6 days there was a short rest. And not only rest, because by the order of the Air Force Commander I was promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant with seniority from 1.3.1945. So, after my hard work I am no longer a corporal but a sergeant—Hurrah!

22nd March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Details of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I ME 470 "F"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/L Dlugajczyk, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 01.08

Returned 07.10

Primary attacked from 17500 feet at 04.16 hours in clear visibility with slight haze. Target identified by red TI’s. 1 X 4000 HC, 12 x 500 MC M2, 4 X 250 GP TD 0.025 were released on the centre of red TI’s. Rather good marking – target covered with smoke and fires; black smoke was rising up to 5,000 feet and fires were visible 40 miles on the return journey.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

14 aircraft took off a little after midnight, the target being BRUCHSTRASSE. Aircraft "P" captained by F/Sgt Kalinowski abandoned mission for the port outer engine being u/s. Aircraft "Z" captained by F/Sgt Niemiec last resort starboard inner engine being u/s. The bombs were dropped on the red and green TI’s. Big fires and black smoke have been seen from 60-70 miles on return journey.

After nearly a week’s rest due to the weather today tradition was revived that we are a combat wing and not just ‘coastal command’. This time the target for bombing mission of ‘Mr. Harris’ is Bochum. The usual cheerless prognosis for this evening, as this is the well-known Ruhr area, and in addition the late start, at 1.10 at night, define in advance the quality of the flight. In Bochum itself and in that area generally there is always a lot of gun-fire, the defence never sleeps, but in

comparison with other targets it is bearable, maybe because it is my 25th flight and I don’t react as strongly as before. We arrive over the target at 4.15, and then we start the return journey. As much as the flight to the target was quite uninteresting, the return flight was one of the most beautiful. Can there be anything more beautiful than flying at sunrise? Everything is waking up, and we, like fishermen or huntsmen, are coming back from night hunt. I will never forget this flight above the tops of the clouds. Yes, it really was wonderful and when you fly like that you can’t think of anything, danger doesn’t exist, only this marvellous dream, beyond human imagination.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was an accurate attack on a Benzol plant.


25th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 730 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt H Drozdz, W/O Kmiecikiewicz S, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 06.45

Returned 12.19

Primary attacked from 18000 feet at 9.47 hours in good visibility. Target identified through red TI’s and visually. 1 x 4000 HC, 2 X 60 X 4 incl. 170 X 4, 2 X 60 X 4 "X" type were released on the starboard. M/B ordered "PICKWICK". Bombing appeared to be rather accurate and concentrated. At 09.48 hours a large explosion followed by smoke rising up to 12,000 feet was observed.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered very early in the morning and 11 crews were allotted. Aircraft "A" captained by F/Sgt Karpinski was cancelled before take off in view of the Rear gunner’s turret being u/s. Town was identified visually, visibility good but smoke over target. Target being HANNOVER. Bombing appeared to be very concentrated.

Aaaa!... I yawned a couple of times and yelled at the top of my voice that I want to sleep, when Chief Dworniczek was waking us up at 4 a.m. for a mission. But of course I got up, it was something new to get up at daybreak, actually it was still dark, which made it even more exciting. I must admit that it was rather fun to take off so early in the morning, at 6.45. And so began our normal working day. The sun was already warm auguring a fine day. Today’s target—Hanover—doesn’t look very promising, but at least it’s daylight. Even the course of the flight is different—we are just going over the North Sea. This flight, like the one before, looks fabulous—long line of Lancasters raises one’s spirits. Although we are passing groups of returning Liberators, their formations seem to be somewhat thinned out, but maybe it just looks like that to me. On the way we plunge into clouds, which is not very nice because of the large number of planes at the same height. But everything turns out all right when we cross the coastline. The clouds have gone so I can observe the ground. Beneath us is Holland—poor country completely flooded. Before Munster we make a turn east and start on our last but one ‘leg’. Since the weather and visibility are excellent I observe the ground with interest. In spite of the fact that we are flying quite high traces of front line and battles are plainly visible. I can even see some multi-coloured flecks in front of us, which turned out to be landing area for paratroopers. Hundreds of blue, red and white spots on the carpet of green present a pretty picture. But we pass all that and enter our final leg. We make a turn over the River Waser. But this idyll of peace and landscape watching doesn’t last long. We are at the back of the line and the beginning of it approaches the target. It is confirmed by artillery fire. The time to target seems like hours. The file of ‘crows’ moves closer together like sheep in the face of wolves. We are safe however from the fighter planes, for our Mustangs cover us completely. A few more minutes to the target and suddenly in front of us a sudden flash! What’s that? Aha, someone was hit. In front of us left side of fuselage with two engines bursts into fire and smoke, turns left and spirals down. My God! They didn’t even have the time to bale out. Everything can be plainly seen. Artillery is going mad—they blast like hell. Turn right, Janiu! Oh, in front of us another plane goes down. Janiu! Keep more to the right, because on the left it is all smoke, and on the right you can see a town. Attention! Steady, bombs gone! yells the bomb-aimer. Janiu! turn right for they are blasting away here, another moment—yes, it’s better and safer now, I thought that this devil above us will drop his whole load on us. What a flight! ‘Cruising power’ that’s 2100 revolutions plus 1 booster, we are descending and chasing the bunch. Now I have time to look back on target—it is enveloped in clouds of smoke and is on fire. We fly on and pass Minden which is the target of another flight—the planes are approaching it and dropping bombs. I have a chance to see it as a spectator—fairly safely. It looks magnificent, maybe the artillery fire is weaker, but the ‘show’ is just as good. The return journey follows the same course. The same flooded Holland, deserted towns and villages—awful. We land safely just after noon—12.20.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

The bombing was observed to fall on the target area. The raid was directed on this area because it was on the reinforcement route to the battlefield. Attacks were made on the railway routes and on the surrounding built up areas.

27th March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Details of Work Carried Out

Lancaster III LM 632 "O"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, W/O Kmiecikiewicz, P/O W Kossowski, Sgt Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 15.14

Returned 19.53

Primary attacked from 17000 feet at 17.35 hours in very good visibility. Target identified by green smoke PUFFS. 1 X 4000 HC, 10 X 150 x 4 incl. 170 X 4lb, 2 X 60 X 4 "X" type were released on the centre of green smoke PUFFS. No results were observed although smoke was rising up to 2000 feet above clouds.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 12 crews have been allotted. Target was PADERBORN. Clouds over the target 10/10 and the crews bombed the green sky markers.

Today again another sortie or ‘campaign’ as it became generally known in the squadron. Since ‘R’ is on holiday being overhauled we go in ‘O – boy’. Today’s flight and target don’t appear too sinister. Small town but large railway junction in central Germany—Paderborn—that’s today’s target. We take off quite early—at 15.15 as we assumed, though for once the assumption and information about the target was fairly accurate. Of course there was some shooting over the target, but it was not proper defence. The whole flight lasted only 4 hours 35 minutes, so it was one of the shortest and least significant. But it was still one flight less to go. Only 8 remained, for now the full tally is 35 flights.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was an attack on a town where American troops were attempting the complete encirclement of the Rhur. The target area was covered by cloud but the raid continued
with almost perfect accuracy and this old town was virtually destroyed within a quarter of an hour. 300 were killed.


31st March, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, W/O Garnowski S, P/O W Kossowski, F/S Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

Took off 06.32

Returned 11.27

Primary attacked from 18000 feet at 08.47 hours in good visibility. Target identified by red smoke PUFFS. 3 X 100 AN-M44, 9 X 1000 An-M59, 3 X 500 MC M2 were released on the centre of starboard red smoke PUFFS, according to the M/B’s order. No result observed. H/F over HAMBURG at 08.48 at 18,000 feet.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered very early in the morning. 10 crews were allotted. Target was HAMBURG. Visibility was good and the bombs were released on the red smoke PUFFS. Clouds over the target 10/10 and smoke was rising above the clouds.
 

I don’t know how many times we have to get up so early to fly a sortie. It is quite absurd to rise at 4 a.m. The ‘small’ room provides an explanation—Hamburg. It is still quite dark as we start up the planes. We takeoff at 6.30, so quite early. Everything is going well. We don’t even notice it is Holy Saturday. "My God" I sigh but orders are orders. Even the whole Bomber Command does not notice the clouds, you have to fly and fly. As it turned out the target was completely covered by clouds, which was good in one way, but then we won’t be able to see the target. As usual over the target my legs start to shake, so it is this time, and Hamburg itself adds extra menace. Actually it does not look too bad with the cloud cover, but the rotters take their bearings. We are nearing the target, hails of bullets appear with frenzied speed, there are more and more of them all around us, it gets black. To break the dreadful silence I shout to the bomb-aimer to throw more ‘windows’. Doors to the bomb bay are open, the bombs have gone. One toss, then the second—what is this, this is not normal—there should only be one toss. Artillery guns are blasting like the devil, only a moment more—my God, to the left to the right. Rear gunner W

ładek says he has been hit. We don’t believe him at first since he is very calm about it. We leave the target area, the guns can’t reach us. There is time to talk to Władek who reports that shrapnel struck the turret and his knee. I want to run to the tail to help him, but he says he is O.K., there is no blood. The tension among the crew is rising, but Władek assures us that he is all right. We are fast moving away from the target. The layer of cloud over Hamburg grows bigger from the heat—Hamburg must be aflame, pity we can’t see it. I check carefully all the instruments and the whole aircraft to make sure everything is in order. The plane is flying home—no matter that its tail was hit, we will get there with God’s help.
Last round above the airfield and we are preparing to land. Mother Earth folds us to her breast happily once more. We jump quickly down from the plane, indeed only the turret has been shattered, and Władek gives each one of us a piece of the shrapnel. He is lucky because the shrapnel first struck the frame, bounced off the guns and only then hit Władek’s knee, tearing the flying suit and causing a bruise. Had the shrapnel travelled a few more metres and struck the fuel tank we would not be coming back. Of the 400 aircraft 11 did not return.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

The attack was on the Blohm and Voss shipyards where new types of U Boats were being assembled. The target was completely covered by cloud. Considerable damage was done to houses, factories, energy supplies and communications over a wide area of southern Hamburg. Aircraft losses were due to the intervention of day fighters. This was the last double figure loss of the war in one raid on one city.


1st April, 1945 — Easter — Faldingworth

After Holy Saturday came Easter Day—not such a joyful day for us, it seems odd, maybe I don’t respond any more to such occasions. There is a grand dinner, a lot of speeches etc. It all ends badly, for my countrymen after a few drinks become pugnacious, ready to disturb the peace and solemnity of the occasion. I won’t write any more. It was a feast like many others, celebrated in a soldierly fashion.

3rd April, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Detail of Work Carried Out

Lancaster III LM 362 "O"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, W/O Kmiecikiewicz, P/O W Kossowski, F/S Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski h and Sgt Januc W

Took off 13.33

Returned 19.55

Primary attacked from 14000 feet at 16.19 hours in good visibility. Target identified by DR RUN ETA and 2 X 1000 AN-M59, 9 X 1000 AN-M65, 2 X 500 MC M2 were released in accordance with ETA. No result observed. M/B ordered to bomb on navigation aids.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered in the morning and 14 crews were allotted. Target was NORDHAUSEN. Clouds 10/10. Visibility was good. There was no opposition from the ground

So the festivities are now over. As usual a lot of preparations and noise and today again we are a bomber squadron. The flight to Nordhausen—a large railway junction in central Germany. For quite a long time we have been looking for these junctions, which in fact is not so bad, because they are usually less defended. Although this is true, still out of 200 planes 3 have not come back. The target itself was relatively weakly defended, but there were a lot of night fighters. Personally I haven’t seen any and without any incidents ‘O – boy’ completed our 29th mission, this would have been our last but one flight—Boy oh boy!

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This attack was on what was believed to be military barracks near Nordhausen. Sadly, the barracks contained a large number of concentration camp prisoners and forced workers of many nationalities. They worked in a complex of underground tunnels where secret weapons were made. The bombing was accurate and many people were killed in the camp.

4th April, 1945 — Faldingworth

Old ‘Rogers’ i.e. my crew are getting ready for a holiday. It is fortunate—now we are going on holiday and afterwards we will fly our 6 missions, which at worst should take 3 weeks, and then holiday again—this time for 10 days, after completing our full complement. But... that moment is still far, far away, and there are still 6 chances that we may not return—isn’t it maybe too much? Immediately before setting off on holiday I learned from today’s orders that the President of Poland awarded the Military Cross of Valour to our crew, and so to me as well. This longed-for moment finally arrived, though it should have come a month ago. And haven’t you dreamt about it Henry? ‘Valour in Action’. It is an odd thing that everything I have ever dreamt about is coming true.

5 – 12th April, 1945 — Faldingworth — Hinckley — London — Faldingworth

It seems like some longer flight—a la ‘cross country’. In fact it was 7 days of holiday spent partly in Hinckley with Helen, and partly ‘living it up’ in London. My irreplaceable comrade on so many holidays—Pawcio—faithfully kept me company for those 7 days. I won’t go into details. As far as the first few days in Hinckley passed in a happy and carefree mood, and the second half of my stay in Hinckley was rather tragic. I won’t talk about it. Even noisy London couldn’t obliterate that incident—only time will help. After returning from holiday, i.e. on the 12th, we learned that Ensign Mikietyn with his crew, immediately after taking off on a battle mission, collided with a plane from another squadron and were smashed to pieces. Try and imagine two fully loaded planes—no wonder no trace of them remains. My dear God, Olek Jameliniec was killed—he was the mechanic. I shall miss him sorely, I liked him, he was a jolly and harmless fellow, even if he was a bit crazy. Yes, Olek—you survived the hell of Tobruk and here you were the first to die out of the six of us from our school. It is hard to come to terms with your death, with the thought that we won’t see you again—Rest in Peace.

By the way—rear gunner from that crew, Zientkiewicz, by some miracle did not go on that flight and so escaped death for the second time—lucky man!

13th April, 1945 — Faldingworth

I still haven’t "recovered" from the holiday and the loss of my friend Olek and I learned from today’s papers of the death of the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was really unexpected not just for me but for the whole world. His deputy, Truman, became automatically the new President of the United States. Besides those two facts there was a third one—personally the most important—for while on holiday we "executed" 3 battle missions. It looks really funny, but during our holiday ‘Bomber Command’ i.e. Mister ‘Bomber’ Harris reduced the first operation tour to 33 flights, therefore for our crew there remained only 4 flights to complete the course. Three flights mean a lot to us—the danger was reduced by half—thanks be to God.

14th April, 1945 — Faldingworth

Operations Record Book – Details of Work Carried Out

Lancaster I PB 370 "R"

F/L Z Kozicki, Sgt Drozdz H, F/S Binsztok A, P/O W Kossowski, F/S Uchman B, Sgt Zbarawski H and Sgt Januc W

             Took off 18.17 Returned 02.47

Primary attacked from 19000 feet at 22.51 hours in good visibility. Target identified by red and green TI’s. 1 x 4000 HC , 10 X 500 MC were released on the centre of red TI’’s according to the M/B’s order. Target visually identified, red TI’s rather accurate, green TI’s with slight undershoot. Bombing very concentrated. At 22.59 hours a reddish explosion with black smoke rising up to 4000 feet was observed. Fires seen 50 miles on return journey.

Operations Record Book – Summary of Events

Operations were ordered and 17 crews were allotted. Aircraft "X" captained by F/Lt Kozubski did not take off the turret being u/s. Visibility very good. Bombing appeared to be very accurate. The remaining 16 aircraft attacked target successfully. Target was POTSDAM.

When we entered the briefing room our hair stood on end for the flag marking today’s target was pinned to... Potsdam. Nothing less than the capital of the Third Reich—Berlin. Was it the realisation of my dreams; to bomb the capital of Germany? It was, and nothing short of cancellation would change it. There was no cancellation and we take off at 18.15. The flight as far as Frankfurt was peaceful, then there was change—searchlights, flares and occasional artillery fire. The weather isn’t too good—it is fairly cloudy, which increases the risk of collision, so you have to be more watchful. My heart is hammering at the thought of nearing the target. Yes, the ‘pathfinders’ illuminated the target and unleashed hell. It takes place on the ground and in the air. Hundreds of searchlights, flares and smokes. The ‘markers’ went down—there are masses of little red stars, now the planes one after another arrive over the target. The passing moments seem like hours and we are still not over the target. The speed is 170 miles and it seems to me like snail’s pace. Artillery is ever nearer, I get up from my seat and draw my parachute closer—my one hope of salvation. My legs shake, the searchlights have found us, but we duck slightly and fly on. Not long now, artillery blasts all the time, thousands of flashes all around us, and on the ground exploding ‘cooks’. We are near, we can see the target—the city—quite clearly. The artillery is going mad, the plane is tossed about, but we can see all the streets of the city as if it was daylight. Another moment, the artillery fires straight at us—we won’t escape. A plane on the right, another on the left—Attention! — artillery from the right, another second—God— "bomb doors open". Now we are over the centre of the city—steady—"bombs gone" — a strong toss of the plane... and we dive down on full throttle. 19,500, 19,000, 18,000... we descend safely, artillery still blasts but not so accurately. We are saved, but don’t drop our guard the plane on our right, Janiu, reports that a Lancaster passed by us very near. We enter the clouds which is dangerous but unavoidable at this height. We leave the clouds and make haste for home. After landing safely at the base we share our experiences and emotions. It is the same after every flight and we have completed 30 of them. If the rules hadn’t changed it would mean the end of our allocation, but now we still have 3 flights left. My dream of bombing Berlin is now past history.

BOMBER COMMAND WAR DIARY

This was the last raid of the war by a major force on a German city. The aiming point was the centre of Potsdam and the intention was to destroy the local barracks and the military facilities. The attack was reasonably successful and severe damage was caused in Potsdam but bombs fell also into the northern and eastern district of Berlin. 5,000 dead has been mentioned but never confirmed.

17th April, 1945 — Faldingworth

At 4 a.m. reveille for a battle mission. Personally I like these early starts for I love day-time flights, they are not so boring. Briefing room reveals the target—Heligoland. It is not such enticing flight on account of thousands of gun barrels and hundreds of fighter planes. It was like that last time in 1941. It is a long time ago, but still it is a big "unknown" and somewhat sinister. Loaded like camels we drive to the planes, but we don’t board them straightaway as we have a bit of time. After doing my ‘inspection’ I board the plane (always the first on and last after the flight) that is my function. The weather is absolutely magnificent. Here and there you can hear the engines being started. The crew are about to board the plane when Major Rogalski (from Intelligence) arrives and tells us to get off. We don’t understand what is going on because we can hear other engines working, but he says that for our crew the flights are finished, because ‘Bomber Command’ reduced the total number of flights to 30. The news was greeted with enthusiasm—no more flying. After a while the planes get ready to take off—we wave them goodbye, they know why we are not going. We wish them "very happy landing" and "many, many happy returns", as it was for us. For the last time I get off the plane, solemnly kiss ‘R - Roger’ and we depart for a glass of rum. Long live our bit of luck and... God’s help! As it happened all the planes returned from this mission, there was no artillery or fighter planes and the small island next to Heligoland itself sank.

5th May, 1945 — Faldingworth

It is strange that after such along break I am sitting down and writing again. Today we are waiting to go to Blackpool after our leave. Because our departure has been postponed Władek and I are going to Sheffield, just equipped with toothbrushes. Even bef

ore departure to Sheffield it feels that the war has finished. Everywhere on all the buildings flags are flying and banners with ‘V’-day Victory etc. When we arrive in Sheffield there is a feeling of victory in the air. At 9 o’clock in the evening Mr. Churchill announced that next day will be VE day. It is difficult to describe—end of the war and so the longed-for peace.

6th May, 1945 — Sheffield

War! War! — Peace

Peace on earth to people of good will.

Almost 6 long years of murderous struggles and now today arrived this moment of victory—Germany defeated. You could write for hours on this momentous fact. But the question remains—how the end of the war affects us Poles. What have we gained and what is our future? It is difficult for me to write about it because it is painful. When I watch the happy, dancing crowds of British people I feel a wave of sadness and pity or even maybe contempt at such short-sightedness.

But then my thoughts are lost in this din, this roar of victory fanfares. For them the war is finished—for us the calm and hope. This is therefore all I can say.

10th May, 1945 — Faldingworth — Blackpool

After spending 6 months in 300 Squadron I went to Blackpool. And I must admit I was exceptionally lucky. I finished my tour of duty and as if by request the war ended as well. Today I cam here for a rest. Riotous, gay and noisy Blackpool in time of peace, no ‘blackout’, everything looks lovely. And the thought: everything finished. it still all sounds odd and hard to believe, but the fact remains: Peace.

14th June, 1945 — Blackpool

At 10.30 I received a letter from Harold Iliffe and I read "Helen passed away". I can’t believe my eyes and I read it again and again, but the fact cannot be changed. "Passed away"—died. My head begins to spin, there is buzzing in my ears. God, how awful, tragic and painful it is. It must be a nightmare. Yesterday she was still alive, pleased with life, and today she went away to the next world. My heart bleeds, it is a tragic blow. She was the dearest, kindest person—Helenka—for me she was like mother or sister to me for the last two years. I also got a letter, which she did not have time to post. From Harold’s letter it appears Helen was taken ill on Tuesday evening, the 12th, and the next day, 13th, in the morning she died. My dear God, what a loss. Today at 2 p.m. I left for Hinckley, but it was too late, I arrived there at 6 p.m. and the funeral was at 3 p.m. Nothing will make up for this loss and tragic blow dealt to me, may God grant you rest in peace, dearest Helen.

Strange how things happen—end of war and also end of this tome. It is a kind of period. Long and seemingly endless period of the Second World War. Almost six years of those murderous, bloodthirsty struggles. It is fitting that I should write these few words on the last page, although they span the period from 30th April, 1943 to present day, i.e. 15th July, 1945. It is a very long time and the contents of this diary are but a few words, only a shadow of all that involved myself. How much more I could have written, but it is not always possible. Let me then finish this book with these words:
"peace on Earth to men of good will". Amen.

SOURCES

War Diary of Henryk Drozdz PAF 1939 – 1947 – 4 volumes in a private collection

Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War 1944 and 1945 by W R Chorley

The Bomber Command War Diaries by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt

National Archives – AIR 27/ 1658 300 Polish Squadron Operations Record Book

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