February 9, 1943.

     S/Ldr Ladro, DFC, was one of the best Polish flying instructor from before the war, and while with 304, already a veteran of the bomber squadrons. In October 1941, returning from a mission, he had to ditch his badly damaged Wellington in the North Sea, and was miraculously rescued with the whole crew.
     His return to the base on 9 February 1943 sortie was equally dramatic. He was attacked by four Ju88s and successfully avoided being shot down for almost an hour!


S/Ldr Edmund Ladro in a Vicekrs Wellington's cockpit.

     Immediately after spotting approaching Junkers, Ladro dropped the charges and put the Wellington W-304 in a violent corkscrew dive. His rear gunner opened fire and one of the Junkers started to lag behind. The remaining three fiercely attack Polish aircraft, but managed only to make it look like proverbial colander. The Wellington received only one direct hit of the 20 mm cannon shell, which made a gaping hole in a starboard wing. The rear guns sights were destroyed, but the gunner, slightly wounded, kept fending off the attackers with accurate fire. Front gunner and co-pilot were seriously wounded, and drenched with sweat S/Ldr Ladro, tried to outmaneuver every Junkersí pass by instruction given by the navigator. All this was happening at the sea level, with the Wellington continuing to press for homely shores.


W-304 day after the battle. Notice the 2 yards hole by the starboard nacelle.

     During short breaks between attacks, Ladro held the controls with his knees giving his arms a rest. The situation was becoming desperate. Luckily, into the fiftieth minute of the battle, the Germans went out of ammo. They did not give up however, and tried to ram the Wellington or force it to ditch. When this tactic fail, and the Pole hang on to his course, the Germans broke off the engagement. One of the Junkers flew directly in front of the Wellington and wiggled his wings.
     Monitoring radio station of the No. 19 Group picked up the battle, and a section of Beaufighters was sent to intercept the Junkers. Ironically, they found the Germans, and pursuers became perused. By the time S/Ldr Ladro waddled to Predannack and lend safely, and the Beaufighters reported shooting down all three Ju88s.

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