W/O Andrzej Gorski Recollections
2 March 1945. Target: Cologne. Day
We were to bomb
a railway station. During the briefing the IO mentioned amassed one thousand 88
and 105 mm guns forming target’s flak defenses. That didn’t really cheer us
We took off early in the morning and flew in a perfect
weather. Visibility was excellent in a crystal clear blue sky adorned with
occasional white cumulus, which indicated a cold front. Starting from Reading
gathering point, I could see the endless stream of bombers flowing over the
North Sea toward the Dutch coast and Germany. Our escort consisted of long range
Mustangs to meet us near the target.
I didn’t see enemy fighters but they must have been present
as I observed spots in the bomber stream where aircraft tightened up their
formation to have a better chance fending off the attackers.
Approaching Cologne we saw its Gothic
cathedral, dominating the view of the city. The flak intensified and its close
by explosions jogged our N for Nun, making it harder for me to keep it on
course. I located approximate position of my target and made a turn. The railway
station was covered with dense smoke and couldn’t be seen. Only the
cathedral’s steeple was visible. Therefore, I decided to use it as an aiming
point. I told Fabrycy (my bomb aimer) to unload right past it. The station was
located some 100 meters away. Bombs always dropped in a sequence and their
explosions formed a line on the ground. While flying at the right course, this
would give a good chance to hit our target. I risked striking the
cathedral only to achieve my objective: locating some bombs in the railway
During the bombing run my aircraft was tossed around by flak
bursts. Just then, somebody reported a gaping hole in the port wing. It was
right where the third tank was located (by then empty) and I didn’t think much
After welcomed “bombs gone” and about three minutes for
pictures taking, I put my Lancaster in a course straight for home and in a
shallow dive. I wanted to get out of the AA artillery range as quickly as
possible, turn off oxygen and have a cigarette.
I passed by one of our unit’s plane, which lost its upper
gun turret. The gunner was in a hole and waved to us gaily. I met him later on
during debriefing, but for this day I don’t understand how come nothing
happened to him that day. While we were having our usual treat of grog, tea and
sandwiches, he was still finding shrapnel pieces in his battledress. I took one
for a souvenir.
The weather continued to hold, so it was
all pilot navigation. Approaching the coast I invited my navigator Jan Sierbien
to the cockpit for a smoke, where he could enjoy a beautiful view. Navigator
couldn’t see anything from his post. I identified the coast crossing point and
relaxed as once over the sea we were out of danger of enemy attack.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and we made an easy
landing. After taxing to the dispersal and switching off engines, I sent my
upper gunner Zbyszek Torka to investigate port wing damage. As I was sitting in
my chair resting and meditating our mission, I was astounded to see him taking
out of the ripped tank an incendiary with broken fins. I yelled at him to keep
it as a souvenir. Wanting to get off
the wing, he dropped it into hands of one of the ground crew, who in turn threw
it on the grass, and the bomb started to burn.
W/O Gorski's crew (from left to right) in front of Lancaster BH-N,
NN746: W/O Pietrzak, F/Sgt Sobczak, W/O Gorski,W/O
Golicz, F/O Sierbien, W/O Torka, F/O Fabrycy.
7 March 1945. Target Dessau. Night mission.
As usually, it started with the briefing. The Intelligence
Officer droned something about the strategic importance of the target, but not
very convincingly, and it was clear he was straggling. Of what I heard there,
Deassau had no important industry. Its marshalling yards located at back of
German Army withdrawing before Soviet offensive were a neuralgic point and our
target. Reportedly, it was jammed with German refugees.
At one point I stood up and interrupted saying that I’m not
a butcher and my bombs will go off target. At this, our CO, W/Cdr Jarkowski,
told me that he had not heard what I just said, probably hoping I would withdrew
my statement and the incident could be avoided. But few others stood up as well
in my support, and refused to take pert in the mission. On such a dictum,
Jarkowski came to the front and gave us a little speech. He spoke about
deteriorating relationship between Polish and British governments, our role as
an air force, at that time, and gave us half an hour to rethink our decision.
It is imperative to explain that, although independent, the
Polish Air Force was under the "Kings Regulations" which gave each pilot a
great privilege to refuse the flight. Other crewmembers had no such a privilege
and their refusal would result in court martial.
Jarkowski left the briefing room and we were given farther
details about bombs, fuses, etc. F/Lt Kot described our route, its major
points, bomb run, and four-minute ‘window’ in which our squadron was to
unload. The raid was divided into several four minutes bomb runs with four
minutes intervals between waves of bombers. The
planned separation of waves served its purpose. The objective was to prevent
congestion over the target to minimize collisions.
That was the theory. In reality, to avoid
flak or thunderstorms, pilots habitually chose their own
routes and altitudes. The
navigators had to cope with wind velocities (W/V) usually different from those
reported by the Group, and often made more than 4 minutes errors. Everybody tried to finesse theirs time over the target
more or less as previewed. Nobody wanted to be caught alone by the concentrated
anti-aircraft fire over the target. It happened to quite few.
When our CO came back, there were no flight refusals among
Before take off, my navigator reported both "G"
box and the radar out of order. But since were to take off and fly first leg at
daylight, I decided to go. I was planning to keep with the bomber stream, hoping
that my navigator would be able to get precise force and direction of wind, what
was needed for dead reckoning.
Over the continent the weather deteriorated rapidly. I flew
at 18,000 ft between two layers of various clouds. At some point our a/c started
to ice up and I lost speed. I tried to fly 2,000 ft higher, and then descended
to 16,000 what was a much better choice. The ice fell off the wings. Perhaps
an hour later we saw the target.
Allied bombers always met a deadly flak over targets.
Left a battery of 88mm guns which could hurl a 22 pound shell over six miles up.
On late stages of the war their fire was directed by a radar. On right, tracers
fired by 37mm and 20mm flak. These small flak guns were effective up to one mile
It was illuminated with hundreds of searchlight, which
reminded me of knight lances pointing
straight to the sky and declaring upcoming danger. The
black shapes of Lancasters reflected against the clouds above. They created dimness
over the target, what with the lack of flak barrage, suggested we could expect
fighter attacks. This tactic was called Wilde Sau, or ‘Wild Bore’.
No Focke Wulfs were around me, but at instant, the whole of
my crew started to bellow over the intercom. I told to shut up and realized that
two Lancasters were boring
at us in a dive. My rear gunner, Roman Golicz,
reported the third one closing up on us dangerously. To avoid a mid-air
collision I had to dive. I ordered the crew to keep quite and I asked Golicz to
report positions of those three Lancasters. One of them had a speed advantage
and was passing us in his nearly vertical dive. When its wingtip passed few feet
off the Golicz’s turret I decided to pull up. We
must have been doing close to 400 knots as the speedometer raced past the red
mark set at 320 knots or so. At this speed and fully
loaded I was afraid to use flaps to reduce the speed, as it was very possible to
loose both wings. I ordered the flight engineer ‘power off’ and I lowered
the landing gear. I started to pull up only when the aircraft slowed down to 320
knots, with a help of a trimmer. I lost 8,000 feet but I had the plane at level
flight and in one piece.
Then it was Bomb Aimer's turn to fly the bomber. During
the bombing run I kept the course according to Jan Fabrycy’s corrections: left-left-steady-
Suddenly I was astounded to see FW190 whose starboard
wingtip was right under our fuselage. We were flying exactly the same course
with similar speeds. I could clearly see pilot’s profile, starring closely at
his instrument panel. He didn’t see me, as most likely being a day fighter
pilot (Wilde Sau) he wasn’t experienced in night flying. Excited I wanted to
shot him down, but none of our gunners could depress the guns enough to be able to
shoot. The FW was simply to close. I had to be extremely careful, not loose the
course or collide with the German at the same time. The only one who could have
a shot at him was Fabrycy. But he was at the bombsight and his turret was empty.
If I told him to climb back to his guns (it wasn’t easy with all this flying
gear on us) the Focke Wulf would have been gone and our bombs off target. When I
heard Fabrycy’s ‘Bombs gone’, the German plane disappeared.
Relieved after preceding tense moments I took what I thought
to be a homebound course. To
avoid icing I took a southerly course intending to turn west later hoping to
find better visibility. After about half an hour, the navigator reported that
he lost his navigation. I upbraided myself for having decided to fly my "N
for Nun" deprived of its radio navigational aids. I chose the most
economical speed and altitude and turned in an approximate direction of
Switzerland. I reason that I would be able to use its lights on the horizon as a
reference point for my flight home.
I was very happy to recognize identification codes of few
lighthouses on the British coast. We landed at our base one-hour after everybody
else. When we finally showed up for debriefing - always preceded by grog and
sandwiches – our crew was listed as missing.
flight lasted over ten hours, and it was my longest. When together with my wife
I visited my ex CO, Bolek Jarkowski in Jacksonville in Florida, he recalled the
briefing, which by then I vaguely remembered. To Bolek who was a career officer
it was the most trying event in his military career.
Left: Faldingworth 1945. The crew of Lancaster BH
"N", with some ground personnel. From left to right, wearing Mae Wests:
W/O Golicz tail gunner; Flt/Sgt Sobczak flight engineer; in center holding
helmet is pilot W/O Gorski; W/O Torka middle gunner; F/O Fabrycy air bomber; W/O Pietrzak
wireless operator; F/O Sierbien navigator. Right: Faldingworth
1946. The crew of W/O Gorski crew: W/O Golicz tail gunner, Piaskowski tair
bomber (temporarily assigned to the crew), W/O Gorski, F/O Sierbien navigator,
and W/O Pietrzak wireless operator.
March 1945. Target Bremen. Day mission.
The object of our attack was a bridge on the Weser River. Northern Germany was
under a cold front and visibility was fantastic. Our planned route had few legs.
It was done mostly to keep Germans in uncertainty as what was the target our
raid, and foil their air defenses.
At that phase of the war, we had our own escorts who normally were more numerous
than the German fighters sent to attack. Sometimes we met our Mustangs at
certain gathering points where they would fly some 10,000 feet above us, not
being tied to our formations. No planes attacked us.
Bremen we flew unmolested as on a parade. Flak stayed put but the city was
partially obscured by smoke screens laid by the city defenses.
started my bomb run being the first or a second in line to unload. Head to head
and some 100 feet on my right flew another Lancaster of one of the British
squadrons. About 5 miles before target the flak opened up. First few explosions
quickly grew to a one giant ball of black smoke of an approximate radius of one
mile, and dappled with bright red spots indicating consecutive detonations.
thought it to be impossible to fly unscathed through that cloud of blowups and I
almost panicked, as I was going straight into the middle of it. I was to close
to fly under or over it, and making a sudden turn meant missing the target.
Whole tense, I decided to keep my course. As soon as I flew into the red-dotted
black mass I could here explosions over the drone of engines. Shrapnel drummed
staccato on the fuselage. Lancaster on my right disappeared.
later I flew out of that mess and into a bright sunshine, and I quickly assessed
the damages. The inner starboard engine lost its spinner but the engine kept
running. My windshield portion was cracked and all of it was blackened. I could
hardly see through it.
windshield was never replaced and impaired my forward vision, while flying at
night, on several occasions I made sudden turns avoiding phantom plane which
unloaded and I took a shortest course for home. Some time later when we left
Bremen far behind us, some battery took four very accurate shots at us. First
one exploded right in front of us, the third under the fuselage and the fourth
way behind the rear turret.
even ten minutes later, I saw ahead of us, a Me262 flying some 2000 feet
below. It was the first time I saw that plane in real life. I put my Lanc in a
shallow dive giving my gunners a chance to take a shot at him. Before they could try
their lack with the jet plane, the German dove away. Most likely it was out of
ammo or without sufficient fuel; otherwise we would had been an easy prey for
day over Bremen I experienced the most intense AA barrage. Those who flew there
few minutes later estimated it as regular, what told me that by that time, its
intensity must have lessened quite a bit.
Faldingworth 7 May 1945. Heavy landing of BH-R.
© Polish Squadrons Remembered