F/Lt Leszek Chełminski:
…. My unit (No. 301 Squadron) achieved highest serviceability among RAF squadrons. The British have everything highly organized with precise instruction for everything, but we ameliorated the system with our initiative. I personally initiated the practice to service the a/c the moment it finished the landing, when a chief mechanic boarded taxiing a/c and listen to all the comments the crew might have had regarding the maintenance. While the common practice in the RAF was to disperse the a/c after sortie and work on it the next morning, our unit ground crew day work started often at 2 a.m. By 6 or 7 a.m. the a/c had – for example - its scheduled 50 hrs check done, and if it needed major repairs or a test flight, there was still enough time to have it ready at evening for the next operational flight. This was achieved by a tremendous effort the ground crew put into it, working almost around the clock. When it often took 3 days for the British to service a bomber, our fitters and riggers did in a day. But, when there were moments when we had a little bit of spare time, and I gladly issued permissions for leaving a base…
…. The ground personnel were comprised of highly qualified technicians and they needed no extra motivation for a very hard work. They had good tools and people responsible for requisitions of spare parts or materials, often went an extra mile just to secure everything they needed to keep a/c feet for operations…
…. Later, when our unit flew on Halifaxes and Liberators, we have developed good personal contacts with Americans of Polish origins, in USAAF bases, what permitted us to obtain very quickly a spare part – even a brand new engine – omitting the official procedure and saving valuable time. That way our planes very rarely stood idle due to lack of parts…
…. I had nothing but praise for the excellence my technicians displayed throughout the war. (fragments of the personal inetrview with author in 1999)
F/Lt Chelminski served as an Engineering Officer with No. 309, 301 and 318 Squadrons.
After the war settled in Canada and had a succesfull carrier as an engineer.
F/Lt Chelminski (2nd from right) recovers a force-landed 318's Spitfire in Italy. Forli, April 1945.
© 2011 Polish Squadrons Remembered