VI
 During the Invasion - Flying behind the German 7th Army. 6 June 1944 - 5 September 1944.

The D-Day, June 6th, 1944, the squadron spent patrolling over the western side of the invasion force, witnessing the biggest military operation in history. That day the 308 made four, twelve aircraft sorties. Afterwards, the unit's service can be divided into few phases, noting however, that from time to time, it was recalled to perform escort duties in big raids. 

During the first phase - till the moment when the squadron moved to Normandy on August 3rd - the unit flew from ALGs in South England for ops across the channel. In June, for more than fifty times, the 308 took off in a full force, totaling 641 operational sorties in 1352 hours. These were mostly patrols over beachheads in Normandy. Often, pilots took off before dawn to be at the target area at first light, or landed back in darkness. The job at the airfield was done under constant drone of V1s flying bombs on their way to London.  In spite of bad weather and great intensity of flights, there were no accidents and the unit suffered no losses. Everybody, from the CO to a lowest aircraftman ground crew, did their work cooperating with others very effectively. Particularly worth mentioning is, the work done by ground crews. Not only did they always finished their job on time, but also managed to keep all the aircraft clean, despite ever-present mud on airstrips on both sides of the channel.
   
In July, due to the bad atmospheric conditions, ops over the beachhead somewhat subsided, and the 308 took part in several escort missions in protection to large formations of British and American bombers. These raids were mostly against V1 and Vermacht depots, sometimes bombed even through clouds. On July 10th, the squadron was a part of the escort of the big raid of 1100 Lancasters on Caen, where the Germans offered a stiff resistance. Eight days later (Ramrod 1102), the 308 flew escort to another 1000 bombers raid on Caen. A week later, the unit was a part of over 400 Lancasters raid on a German airfield St Cyr near Paris.

            The next phase started on July 30th, when after escorting bombers to Caen, the 308 landed on B.10 at Normandy. For many pilots it was a first return to the continent, after they left it four years ago. Many were touched by the moment, their thoughts escaping to Poland, which seemed so much closer. That day the unit made two sorties in its new role within tactical air force. The tasks to which the 308 were now employed - and nearly for the rest of the war - were: Armed Recce and Army Close Support. The aim of these flights was to observe and report the movements of the armies, and to seek and destroy the enemy on the ground by strafing and dive-bombing. This activity proved to be a big impediment for the movement of German ground forces, and caused terror among them. These first and second ARs, the 308 conducted near Alecon-Vire and Biouze-Evreux respectively. The view of motor vehicles burning on roads brought the memory of the Polish September in 1939. On evening, the squadron returned to its base in England. For the next four days, the B.10 airstrip became its detachment base for the ops over Normandy. The 131 Polish Fighter Wing, under the command of G/Cpt Gabszewicz, was moved there permanently, and on August 4th B.10 became the squadron's new home.
    The airstrip was located some 7 miles NW of the village Plumetot. It's big plus was excellent, bitumen runway, but the real nuisance was ever-present dust, coming from earth scarred by shells and tanks. The ground crew protected the aircraft from it with meticulous care. Occasionally, a strayed shell exploded nearby or Germans paid aerial night visits, which other than rain of shrapnel from AA fire caused no harm.
    In a short time, the personnel get used to a new reality, which was a welcomed novelty comparing to a boring life on England's ALGs. The sleeping quarters were located in trenches, which gave some protection against shelling. Pilots set-up themselves an ingenious mess, and officer "Haberbusch" flooded it with beer brought inside specially adopted aircraft droppable tanks.
    From the B.10 till the Caen breakthrough, the 308 flew daily Armed Recces. Almost all the flights resulted with enemy's M/T claimed as destroyed or damaged. Anything that moved on the German side was attacked. The ground crew, and especially armourers who constantly had to change ammo and bomb-up aircraft, put many hours of hard work at that time. The German flak was very strong, particularly a light one. Pilots learned quickly how to avoid it, and the squadron suffered no losses. W/O Korwel's flying record justified considering him lucky, but when during one of patrols he shot down two Bf109s, he became an envy of all pilots who never even saw German aircraft for months. The new task was to bomb river barges on Seine near Rouen and Elbert, and which Germans utilized in absolute absence of available bridges. When in a middle of August the Germans retreated form the Falaise pocket, the Poles got a chance to be very active. Every day, since August 15th till 31st, the unit made 36-48 sorties. Most of the time, the Spitfires carried a third 500lbs bomb under fuselage. Toward the end of the month, the 308 area of operation shifted east past the Seine River. On the 26th, in four sorties (46 aircraft) the squadron destroyed 37 enemy's M/T. During the last operation, F/O Wandzilak was shot down, but soon he returned to the unit. Read more. The next day was equally busy and the 308 afflicted heavy toll of German casualties on a Seine crossing near Elbeuv; in bad weather, pilots dive-bombed a big concentration of enemy's vehicles defended by a very concentrated flak.

            Toward the end of August, the Allies pushed the Germans past the Seine, what started a chaotic German retreat from France. In August 1944, the 308 totaled 719 operational sorties, dropping 82,000 lbs of bombs.

Part VII