During the last months - V Day. 15 January 1945 - 8 May 1945
January 14/15th, for the next two weeks, the squadron conducted its operations
from the from the B.60 Grimbergen airfield, located near Brussels. The new base
had rather poor airstrip and few buildings. The vicinity of the Belgium capitol
somehow compensated these deficiencies. Great annoyance were V-1s flying
frequently over the airfield. One of them even fell amidst the base's few
buildings in which people were asleep. Fortunately, this one did not explode
causing many casualties.
From B.60, the 308 continued to operate over Holland,
gradually reaching hinterland of the northern part of the Sigfried Line. Pilots
drew satisfaction from flights over Germany aware that every bomb and every
bullet was now directed against Germans. These flights were done mostly against
reinforced German positions before the Allies' offensive, which started on
February 8th. Every period of flyable weather was used to attack communications
and supply lines. This unit's action was coordinated with the Army's
Once the German defense
lines were broken, the 308 was transferred to Holland to a new airstrip, B.77
Gilze-Rijen. The airfield was located far from whatever city and it was
impossible for the Poles to fraternize with the local population. Contrary to
the previous location, the B.77 had excellent infrastructure. The V-1s however,
continued to be nuisance, flying overhead. Local AA artillery enhanced the din
of flying robot, heartily filling its way with shells. The personnel quickly get
used to the racket.
At this point, all preparations were taking place in order to
cross the Rhine River. Germans tried to relocate its forces from Holland to
Germany. The unit's action was against these troop movements. Since those
happened mostly by night, the new tactic was developed and initialized by
Gabszewicz. Small sections of aircraft were taking off before dawn and waited in
the area of German troops to swoop down on them with the very first light.
Whatever one section started, the next one called by R/T, quickly finished. This
tactic proved very successful. The rest of the day, the squadron patrolled over
its assigned area, significantly paralyzing German daytime movements.
During this time, the unit was also directly involved in London's
defense. It flew many sorties against V-1 and V-2 launching pads and supplies.
Their prime target was London as the most supply harbor for the western fruit.
Also, the Poles witnessed the last big Allies' aerial assault against the
German defenses at Rhine. The front distance itself form the airfield and
another relocation was inevitable.
This time the squadron moved to Germany itself. On 13 April 1945 it set
up its base under tents at B.101
Nordhorn. For two weeks pilots flew armed
recces and close support missions in cooperation with the 21 Army Group
advancing into Germany.
On April 28th, the squadron was detailed off to Fairwood
Common, Wales, for five-week gunnery course. Thus, the V-Day Poles celebrated
long way from the front. This celebration was done without much joy or feast.
The mood of melancholy prevailed as pilots were struck by a bitter reality of
Poland. After the
course, the 308 returned to the Wing (2 June 1945), located at the B.113
Summer 1945. F/O Mikolajczak in his Spitifre MkXVI. Notice the squadron's logo under the windshiled.
(Courtesy of Chrissy Smith)
One of the 309 Spitfires adorned right after the war with the unit's tally. (Courtesy of Chrissy Smith)
During this last
five months of the war, pilots flew some 1,500 operational sorties, dropping
over half a million (?!!.WR) bombs.
They were credited with over 10 enemy aircraft shot down and two damaged. Some
300 motor vehicles were destroyed. The 308 losses during this period were 6
pilots: Sgt Breyner died in hospital following a flying accident; F/O Wardzinski
and F/O Dremlewicz were shot down (15 and 20 March) over the enemy held
territory, but returned safely to the unit; Sgt Wierzejewski killed in a flying
accident (6 December 1944); plus two pilots killed in combat over B.61. F/O
Szczerbinski was killed in May (In fact, No. 317
Squadron's pilot. WR).