Polish in Northern Ireland & Ireland

during World War 2

Meet the Neighbours Project

The Polish people have been in

Northern Ireland since World War 2

They were our allies then and our now

They intergrated well with the local population and after speaking with local people in the County Down area near Ballyhalbert

315 Squadrons Base

They have found memories of their manners, politeness and their sheer determination to fight against the Nazis who invaded Poland

On my journey I have also encountered many ex-service men from both sides of the border Ulster and Irish men who fought along side the Polish Brigades and have nothing but admiration for both the men and women of Poland who stood up to defend their Country from invasion against the Nazis and Hitler

The Irish Brigades also fought along side the Polish Brigades on the assault at

Monte Cassino

4000 died and are buried below

When the War was over many of the Polish people could not return to their own country as Hitler was replaced by another

dictator Stalin

The Polish people chose to stay loyal to Britain

during the Communist Rule

In 1940 the Polish Air Force was the 5th largest of the

Allied Air Force it joined the ranks of the Royal Air Force

initially consisting of the following squadrons

300 and 301 Bomber Squadrons

they were initially supplied with Fairey Battles & Wellingtons

and went on to fly Lancastors and Halifaxs

302 and 303 Fighter Squadrons

they were initially supplied with Hawker Hurricanes

and first went into action in August of 1940 during the

Battle of Britain

There are 7 Polish Air Force Graves at Milltown

 

ADAMOWICZ     Klemens     F/Sgt     P-780537

He was born on 25th April 1911 and became a pilot instructor in the Polish Air Force before escaping to England.  He was killed on HF208 on 21st December 1943 whilst returning from a U-Boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay, the aircraft is thought to have been struck by lightning and went down in flames on or near Mount Brandon in the Irish Republic.  The bodies of the crew were given a guard of honour by the Irish Army and handed over to the British at the border.  Flight Sergeant Adamowicz was interred in the Milltown Cemetery, Belfast.

CZERNIEWSKI     Stanislaw     Sgt     P-794362

He was posted in from RAF Swinderby on 21st June 1941.  He was a pilot, born 14th February 1916 and killed on HF208 on 21st December 1943 whilst returning from a U-Boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay.  The aircraft is thought to have been struck by lightning and went down in flames near Mount Brandon, Irish Republic.    He is buried at Milltown Cemetery, Belfast.  The inscription on his gravestone spells his name as CERNIAWSKI.

KOWALEWICZ     Pawel     Sgt     P-703968  

He was a radio operator, born on 9th February 1917.  He was killed on HF208 on 21st December 1943. Whilst returning from a U-Boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay, the aircraft is thought to have been struck by lightning and went down in flames near Mount Brandon, Irish Republic.  He is buried in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast.  The bodies of the crew were thrown clear and were not burned; they had been killed by exploding ammunition.  They were given an  honour guard by the Irish army and their bodies were handed over to the British authorities at the border.

LUGOWSKI     Kazimierz     Sgt     P-703438  

He was an air gunner, born on 20th July 1920 and was killed on HF208 21ST December 1943.  Whilst returning from a U-Boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay, the aircraft is thought to have been struck by lightning and went down in flames near Brandon, Irish Republic  He is buried at Milltown Cemetery, Belfast.

PIETRZAK     Wincenty     Sgt     P-782657    

He was an air gunner, born on 25th July 1916 and killed on HF208 on 21st December 1943.  Whilst returning from a U-Boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay, the aircraft is thought to have been struck by lightning and went down in flames near Brandon, Northern Ireland. He is buried at Milltown Cemetery, Belfast .

 

There last of this crew of 6 from this crash

is buried at Carnmoney Cemetery

in the Jewish Plot

KUFLIK     Pawel Naftali Hirsz     Sgt     P-794712  

He was a navigator, born 4th January 1923; he was Jewish and born in Cologne, Germany to a Polish family of German descent.  He trained at Eastbourne then the Air Observer School at RAF Jurby (Isle of Man) where he qualified as a navigator.  Then he went to Squires Gate at Blackpool for flying training.  After that he was posted to 6 OTU at RAF Silloth where the crews were assembled and he was finally posted to 304 Squadron in September 1943.  Whilst returning from a U-Boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay, the aircraft is thought to have been struck by lightning and went down in flames near Mount Brandon, Irish Republic.  HF208 21st December 1943.  Pawel Kuflik was a Jewish volunteer, whose family had moved to the Netherlands to escape the Nazis.  He was laid to rest in the Jewish Cemetery at Carnmoney, Belfast.

 

Wellington XIV HF208 (2S)

crashedwith 6 crew on board

20th Decmber 1943

they were members of 304 Squadron

304 Squadron was raised on the 22nd August 1940 at Bramcote, Warwickshire and made ready for operations with their Vickers Wellington medium bombers on the 25th April 1941.
 

While returning from U-Boat patrol over the Bay of Biscay, the aircraft is thought to have been struck by lightning and went down in flames near Mount Brandon in the Irish Republic.  The crew transmitted a request to end their patrol and return home due to their inability to get a proper navigational fix because of a malfunction in their radio location equipment.

The whole crew were killed and their bodies were given an honour guard by the Irish Army and handed over to the British authorities at the Ulster border, specifically at Middletown on the Monaghan and Armagh border. This occurred at 18.30 hours on 23rd December 1943. 

Sergeant Naftali Pawel Kuflik was buried in the Carnmoney Jewish Cemetery in Belfast.

The remainder of the crew were interred in

Milltown Cemetery, they were:

Sgt Stanislaw Czerniewski, Sgt Kowalewicz,

Flight Sergeant Klemens Adamowicz, Sgt Kazimierz Lugowski and Sgt Wincenty Pietrzak.

The following extract is a direct quote from the website of the Warplane Research Group of Ireland:

 

R.A.F. 304 Squadron, based at Predannack, Lizard, Cornwall, flew Wellington Bombers. The members of this Squadron were Polish. Like many others, they too were involved in hunting U-Boats. On the 20th of December, 1943, their aircraft was seen by several Look Out Posts (L.O.P.’s) skirting along the coastlines of Kerry, Cork and Waterford. Indeed records show that their last reported position was over Lismore in County Waterford heading east-southeast presumably to Predannack. I cannot offer any reason why their aircraft should end up on the slopes of Mount Brandon a few hours later with the loss of all six crewmen on board but I can relate that all the crew were shot by the exploding ammunition in the fire that engulfed the aircraft. All the bodies were recovered outside the aircraft. None suffered burns.

The impact point was on the slopes above Slieveglass, near Cloghane, above Brandon village on the Dingle Peninsula.

Unfortunately,

the last two sentences of this report are completely wrong!

I have contacted the Irish Army authorities and they have allowed me access to documents which revealed a totally different story.

The crash took place at 23.22hrs, probably due to losing its bearings in very bad weather.

There were reports of snowstorms but

I have seen no reference to any lightning.

Sergeant M. Duffy and other Gardai (Police) attended and took charge of the scene at 12.25 on 21st December  1943 and handed over to the military at 3 pm on the same day.  Two of the airmen had suffered burns and one was badly charred but none had gunshot wounds (in accordance with the official report).  They were identified by identity discs found in their pockets.  The Coroner, Mr Sheehan, decided that an inquest was not necessary and the bodies were removed at 9 pm.

Captain Pringle of the Irish Army visited the scene and found four aerial depth charges, three of which were damaged and the other had burnt out (they were not primed). He also found two damaged incendiary bombs and a quantity of burned out, or otherwise unserviceable flare floats.  The whole lot were destroyed at the scene by a charge placed on the depth charges and detonated.  A large quantity of ammunition, both ball and tracer, was found with the six machine guns and presumably taken away as it would be too dangerous to dispose of at the scene – it had most certainly not “cooked off” and none of the bodies were reported to have gunshot wounds.

Reporting on the wreckage, Major W. P. Delamere of the Irish Air Corps wrote that the visiting British Engineering Officer had disclaimed any interest in the wreckage as it would be too expensive to remove due to its remote and difficult location. 

He described it thus:  “The Wellington lies on a steep rocky slope 2500 feet above sea level and 3 and a half miles from base of Mountain over Marsh and Ravine, 2 streams and boggy land.”  I think the photograph shows the difficulty in recovering the aircraft

He also said that the scrap value of the Duralumin would be £10 - £20 and not worth melting down as it was of little use.  In England, where aircraft were being mass produced, it would have been a very different story.

It must be said that the Irish authorities were very thorough in the way they dealt with the situation and they were very respectful to the dead airmen.

Description: HF208.jpg

Wreckage of HF208 still lying where it fell in 1943. 

Photograph taken in 2008 © Dennis Burke.

 

The two names mentioned below are the other names at

Milltown Cemetery but no other details as yet

I am hoping to be able to add some more

information as it becomes available

PUDELKO     Jozef Antoni     Sgt     P-781015

Killed 23rd April 1942

Age 23

On board a Lysander V9721

along with Sgt Norman Elcock 1112747

(more details to follow)

LEWANDOWSKI     Edward

Killed 30th April 1942

Age 22

Polish Aircrew Commonwealth War Graves

at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast

We are presently researching all Polish War Graves here in Ireland

and as the information is gathered we will be adding it to the site

So please keep checking back with us as the database grows

We also hope with further research to add some of the personal

information related to those that rest here

As a result of the work we started this year

on Remembrance day the 11th November 2009

which is also Polish Independence Day

Wreaths were laid on the Polish graves for the first time in years

 

There are 3 graves of 315 Squadron Personnel

at Mount St Joseph Cemetery

Ballycranbeg

315 Squadron was based at Ballyhalbert

11th September 1943 was a tragic day for 315 Squadron; three of their pilots took off to practice formation flying in very bad weather conditions, all flying Supermarine Spitfire Mk V’s.

One crashed, one crashed on landing and one crash landed – note the subtle differences.  The dead were classified as Killed on Active Service rather than Killed in Action.  Sgt E. Zygmund, flying AR338 (PK-P) was only slightly injured after crash landing on high ground near Glengormley; the aircraft was a total loss after having both wings ripped off.  Sgt Zygmund made his way unaided to the

Royal Ulster Constabulary station at Glengormley.

GRONDOWSKI     Stanislaw     F/Sgt     P-782063

Flight Sergeant Stanislaw Grondowski – Service Number P782063, flying W3427 (PK-J) over the southern part of County Antrim crashed into the side of a hill near Plantation House (not sure if that is a building or a place name) near Lisburn; he was killed instantly and was also buried with full military honours.

KOLEK      Wladyslaw     F/Sgt     P-783150

Flight Sergeant Wladyslaw Kolek – Service Number P783150 was flying BL469 (PK-F).  There is very little information on him, but more than one report states that he crashed on landing when he undershot Ballyutoag.

I do not know if this was an airfield or a place he had chosen for an emergency landing.  In any event, he was killed and buried with full military honours.

TUCZEMSKI     Jerzy Ryszard Pilot Officer     P-2124

Pilot Officer Jerzy Tuczemski – Service number P-2124 was killed on 15th August 1943 only a few weeks after transferring into 315 Squadron.

His service number indicates that he was probably one of the first Polish fighter pilots in Britain.  It is likely that he was a member of one of the French Groupes de Chase (fighter squadrons) which were formed shortly before the capitulation of France in June 1940.

Usually 3 Poles were sent to each G de C.  Prior to this the Poles were widely scattered in the French Air Force (Armee de l’Air) and not exclusively in to Polish squadrons as they were in Britain.

It would not be unreasonable to suppose that he had fought in Poland, France and Britain.

The story varies, according to reports but they are closely similar.

He was involved in a training exercise and some say he was killed whilst attempting to land, others say he was flying at very low level but all agree that he struck something on the ground.

He was flying a Mk Vc Supermarine Spitfire Registration Number AB245 and bearing the squadron code PK-L.

PK indicates 315 Squadron and L is the individual code letter for the aircraft. 

He was killed instantly, which was merciful because of the fireball that enveloped the stricken aircraft.

The crash site was just to the north east of Ballymena.

He was buried with full military honours at Ballycranbeg, County Down.

 

Aug 15. The unit took part in a full-scale defence exercise and suffered a loss. Entry from Station Diary for RAF Ballyhalbert reads:

"P/O Tuczemski (Killed on Active Service) of 315 (Polish) Squadron, whilst taking part in an authorized low-flying practice, flew into rising ground north-east of Ballymena, Co-Antrim, and was killed instantly, his aircraft being burnt out.  In accordance with Polish custom, he was interred on the third day after death.  His funeral took place at Ballycran and was attended by almost the whole of his Squadron.  An escort party was also provided of British personnel and W/C Hancock attended as representative of the Station Commander, who was absent on duty.  Full military honours were accorded and many beautiful wreaths were sent".

Polish records state the August 22nd as the date of this accident.

 

315 Squadron arrived at RAF Ballyhalbert on 6th July 1943 from RAF Hutton Cranswick and left on 13th November 1943 for RAF Heston.

They were sent there to rest and train newer members and were not in active combat during that time;

the squadron commander was J. Poplawski.

Other than the information in above, the following incidents occurred:   

8-Jul-43       Supermarine Spitfire V BL852 PK-?   F/Sgt F. Malczewski was injured and the aircraft was written off in a training accident.
2-Sep-43.    Supermarine Spitfire V BM531 PK-V.   F/Sgt J. Malec was safe but this aircraft was written off in an accident on a ferry flight delivering the plane to the squadron.
5-Sep-43.    Supermarine Spitfire V EP280 PK-Y.  Sgt R. Sadowski was injured in a training accident and the aircraft was written off.
9-Sep-43.    Supermarine Spitfire V W3937 PK-N.   Sgt H. Flegier was safe but the aircraft was written off in a training accident.

5-Oct-43.    Supermarine Spitfire V BL922 PK-I.   Sgt H. Flegier, who had survived the previous incident, was Killed on Active Service when the aircraft lost power and crashed at Ballyherbert during a low flying exercise.
9-Oct-43.    Supermarine Spitfire V BM144 PK-O.   F/Sgt K. Lojek was injured and the aircraft written off during a training accident.

We have had made progress with the work that we have done with in the Polish community and hope that it continues builds and grows

as not only have we the ties with Ballyhalbert and the Polish Airmen but with the 38th Irish Brigade fighting through Italy and to Monte Cassino

"LEST WE FORGET"

If you are aware of any other Polish service men buried on our isle

please let us know so we can add their details here so others can may be

visit the graves and pay their respects

History shared is history preserved!

with sincere thanks to Neville Bougourd

 

The Polish Contribution in WW2

A personal link first if you go to the restoration section on this web site

You will see the Polsten Quadruple Mount Anti-Aircraft Gun

The word polsten is widely believed to have derived from

pol for Poland and sten for Sten company from RSAF

were 8 Polish engineers worked in the design area

of the Royal Small Arms Factory

The design team had escaped from Poland after it was invaded

by the Germans back in 1939

The Oerlikon 20mm cannons were designed through the advancement of technology

but were costly the Polish design was much simpler and more cost effective

with out affecting the effectiveness of the cannon

 

More information to be added