Stanislaw Wandzilak's:

 The History of the 308 "City of Krakow" Fighter Squadron

Note: Stanislaw Wandzilak was a well known pilot among the Polish Air Force officers. He wrote his No. 308 Squadron's history in London, September 1946, drawing from his fresh memories. He was a part of this unit for most its existence. After the war, Stanislaw Wandzilak had a very prominent career with the RAF. Read more about him here.  Translated by Rudolf Falkowski and Wilhelm Ratuszynski.

  

Parts:
I
. The unit before and during the Polish campaign in September 1939.
II
.
Squadron's recreation in England - Defending Midland. 9 September 1940 - 23 June 1941.
III
.
During fighter offensive over the Northern France. 24 June 1941 - 13 December 1941.
IV
.
Defending the Island - over Northwestern Europe. 13 December 1941 - 28 September 1943.
V
. Before Invasion. 29 September 1943 - 5 June 1944.
VI
.
During the Invasion - Flying behind the German 7th Army. 6 June 1944 - 5 September 1944.
VII
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In the pursuit of the enemy - over Holland. 6 September 1944 - 14 January 1945.
VIII
.
During the last months - V Day. 15 January 1945 - 8 May 1945.
IX
.
Afterword.

 

  I
The unit before and during the Polish campaign in September 1939.

WhenBoleslaw Orlinski flew his famous flight Warsaw-Tokyo-Warsaw in 1926, the fuselage of his plane was adorned with the insignia of the 308 Squadron, the golden winged arrow closed in a black square. This emblem was designed at 121 Eskadra (squadron) of the 11th Pulk (air regiment) in Lida, northeastern part of Poland. At that time pattern was silver on the blue background.

In 1929 Polish Air Force was reorganized and 121, together with 122 (emblem of origami-type pony), were moved to Krakow. With additionof 123 Eskadra (emblem of seagull in square) they formed Krakow's 2nd Fighter Regiment. At this moment, the true history of the 308 Squadron begins.

In peacetime, this unit distinguished itself with two things: it was very proud of its city and crowded with excellent fighter pilots. The badge of the 2nd Fighter Regiment was composed of three PZL fighter planes over "Mariacki" Cathedral, with Polish checker and pilot's wings underneath. That shows fighter squadrons to be integral part of the air regiment and city of Krakow. The pilots of the 122 Eskadra were nicknamed "Ikacycks", after first syllables of Krakow's newspaper: "Illustrated Courier". First-rate acrobatic teams of Laskowski, Łaszkiewicz and Kosinski were Krakow and regiment's proudest and best-known symbols. On many occasions, its pilots honorably represented Air Force and city. Captain Bajan's victory in the famous Challenge Race was one of those moments. The Air Force annual shooting competition was won five times and C-in-C personally chained the trophy cup in squadron's locum, as a permanent award. Being proud of its pilots, citizens of Krakow established a new trophy, which was never won by anybody as the war broke out.

*   *   *

        The squadron entered the war without 123 Eskadra, which was transferred to strengthen the Warsaw's Pursuit Brigade. On September 1st, 1939, at 6 am, scrambled for the first time to intercept group of Do-17s He-111s, which was attacking from low altitude Krakow Central Station. Taking off from Balice airfield, Polish aircraft were attacked by German planes, and during this attack squadron's commander, mjr. Medwecki was killed. Ppor. Gnys retaliated few minutes later shooting down two Do-17s near Cieszyn. It was the squadron's first victory and probably the first one in the World War Two. During the first three days of conflict, the unit flew from Balice and Igolomnia airfields, and its pilots fought many battles, in which they managed to destroy nine German bombers. They were overwhelmed by more numerous and better-equipped enemy. In those days distinguished themselves: L. Flanek, A. Narkiewicz, J. Kremski and W. Majchrzyk.
        With the approach of the German army, unit was withdrawn to Podlodow, a small airfield near Deblin. From there pilots defended bridges over Vistula River and squadron recorded one victory, a Do-17, while kpt. Sedzielewski, the 122nd commander was killed by a friendly fire from Polish AAA. Slowly, the over whole condition of the squadron's aircraft deteriorated and the unit was forced to move, firstly to Karczowice near Kazimierz, then to Strzelce near Hrubieszow. From there, pilots flew their last operational flights in the campaign. When on September 17, Russian army invaded from east, the squadron was ordered to fly over the remaining aircraft to Rumania.
        Equipped with even more obsolete PZL-7s, the 123 Eskadra, was defending Warsaw and tally four kills, of which the victory of J. Czerniak and S. Widlarz over two Me-110s are worth mentioning. During that skirmish F. Szyszka bailed out of his burning PZL-7 and was machine-gunned while hanging in his parachute. This incident determined new rules to air combat among many Polish pilots, who from then on sought the occasion to repay the debt handsomely.

*   *   *

            During the short French campaign, pilots of the Krakow squadron shot down 15 German aircraft. One of them, W. Chciuk, showed great deal of tenacity, when shot down three times always returned to his unit in a record time, even from behind the front line.

Part II