recreation in England - Defending Midland. 9 September 1940 - 23 June 1941.
During the culminating moments of the Battle of Britain, RAF Polish Depot
directive from September 9, 1940, created the no. 308 (Polish) Squadron. Speke
airfield near Liverpool was chosen as a location of the unit's formation.
Starting from September 12, flying personnel begin to arrive and at the end of
the day, it consists of 26 pilots Intelligence Officer, doctor, adjutant and 150
of ground crew. Its British commanders responsible for training were: S/Ldr
Davis, F/Lt Younghusband and F/Lt Yung. S/Ldr Laszkiewicz became unit's first
Polish CO. The next day he issued his first order, in which he called upon
pilots' spirit to continue their fight for free Poland.
In a result of daily bombing raids over Liverpool, the
9 Group Headquarters decide to move squadron to Baginton near Coventry. On 25
September, squadron's meager two training Fairy Battles and one Master
fly-over to new location, while the rest of the personnel traveled in buses.
Moments after the last bus arrived at Baginton, a lone Ju88 flew through the
balloon barrage and bombed the nearby factory. The whole squadron witnessed this
incident, and the very next day, the training commenced in a much increased
During two month of training, pilots went through
refreshing course on Fairey Batlle and Master and familiarized themselves with
Hurricane MkI. The ex-Krakow squadron pilots ferried some of those aircraft in.
On 24 November, during the squadron's first formation flying, Sgt Parafinski
spotted, attacked and shot down a Ju88. It was the first victory of the 308.
Week later squadron was declared operational. Starting from 1 December, it
became part of the 9 Fighter Group. Its main duty was to defend Midland's
Birmingham and Coventry. Meantime, S/Ldr Davis was killed in accident when his
aircraft caught cable from a barrage balloon. S/Ldr Morris replaced him. From
the Polish side, S/Ldr Jasionowski became a new CO.
During five month of English winter and of early spring, the squadron's
pilots spent many hours either in monotonous readiness or in numerous patrol
sorties and against enemy's lone reconnoitering aircraft. And since the unit
started to fly night sorties from nearby Bramcote - necessitated by frequent
night bombings - all crew worked in shifts, around the clock.
Scarce free time was used mostly for English classes
and socializing with local population. Poles were received very well in Baginton
and in return revitalized with their presence many social events. Frequent
briefings were organized for lectures on RAF structures and to discuss the
squadron's internal matters. During one of those meetings, the squadron's
badge was established. The motive of winged golden arrow on a black background
was accepted, with addition of blue-white-red feather at its nock to commemorate
unit's stay in Great Britain. This badge was issued only for squadron's
members and duration of the war.
At the beginning of April 1941, the unit commenced its conversion to
Spitfires. This raised a lot of enthusiasm and hopes for quick transfer south,
where all the action was. During next two months the unit spent at Baginton,
Poles saw lots of sunshine what revitalized them after their first English
winter filled with fog and melancholy.
On June 1st, 1941, the squadron moved to RAF Chicolton near Andover, and
became a part of the 10th Fighter Group.
Although these eight months spent at Baginton was uneventful
in terms of operations, and filled with strenuous and dulling service, whole
unit's personnel thought of this time as well invested. As it soon became
apparent, pilots were in top flying shape and ground crew reached high level of
competence. This was a moment when all parts of the squadron became to function
harmoniously making it a highly effective force. However, it was the social
contacts with civilian population, which left lasting impressions. Mrs.
Elizabeth Norton-Griffith became the squadron's Godmother and she skillfully
facilitated first steps in the squadron's getting together with local.
Poles left behind seven of their crews at the small Baginton
cemetery: four pilots killed in accidents and three ground crew killed by the
enemy bomb during memorable raid on Coventry on 14/15 November 1940.
For three weeks, operating from Chilbolton, the unit flew
intensively over the channel, closing the period of eight busy months of service
in Midlands. It is worth noticing that over extended period between 1940 and
1941, the unit was the only squadron defending this part of England.