Excerpts from Władysław Mordasiewicz Diary
Wilhelm Ratuszynski's (not verbatim) translation. Diary and photographs courtersy of Krzysztof Mordasiewicz.
Sergeant Wladyslaw Mordasiewicz.
June 20, 1940.
At 5 a.m. we sail off to continue our exile; will we reach our destination? God knows. At 8 a.m. we listen to the German radio station which announced that in the La Rochelle harbour, German bombers sunk the British ship loaded with Polish troops. As a sunken ship we reached the full seas. After half an hour the BBC confirms the German news, what puts us in a laughing mood, defining German forces. A little apprehensive though, since there are few other ships sailing with us: two cargos and few escorts. On the second day we have a shortage of drinking water, while a day before we still had some wine. We are all in a fighting spirit, but sadden by the fall of France, our Allie. Such big and rich country but fell so quickly. Pity.
June 29, 1940. On board of dreadfully overcrowded SS Alderpool.
June 22, 1940.
We reached Plymouth. Wet in a steady drizzle we listen to the BBC news announcing that the ship with Polish troops sunken on the night of June 19 in La Rochelle, just moored. After disembarking we marched to board a train. At the train station before boarding, we get food, tea and chocolate. We were impressed by quick and well organized distribution. After that we head off for Glasgow, Scotland.
June 25, 1940.
After arrival, we were billeted in a trade school located outside Glasgow. I met Lieutenant Piotrowski who was with us in the internment camp in Rumania. The first thing was to see who had rolled in. Except few who left the unit without orders and those attached to Polish Air Force Headquarters, we are all there. From the moment of our arrival the locals welcome us with the characteristic gesture of the thumb up. We quickly learned to respond the same way. Then finely we can rest.
June 26, 1940.
We move to West Kirby, where the new camp is being prepared. We all make an I.D. photo and adjust to the new place. Everywhere comfortable conditions: bathrooms with showers and bathtubs, hot and cold running water, well equipped mess etc. It all made on us excellent first impression, and the things are way better than in France.
June 29, 1940
We leave West Kirby and move to the Polish Air Force Depot at Blackpool. We travel comfortably. In Blackpool we met many Poles who came here sooner. These guys had a real treat leaving in hotels and boarding house and getting a payroll, not like us often having slept on ground and exposed to bombs explosions. Locals are friendly and everywhere we experience friendly attitude to the Poles. Women flirt with Poles, since those who came here first had time learn some English.
July 23, 1940.
A Day before yesterday I received a letter from Witek: Józek was probably captured by Germans and there is no news about Edek. Today we leave Blackpool. I was posted – like most of us serving with the 1/145 in France - to the first Polish fighter squadron about to form in England, named No. 302 Polish Squadron. We’ll see how the things will go. So far we were payed 3 shillings per week. Our destination is Leconsfield not far from the port city of Hull. The accommodations and the newly built airfield itself are comfortable. I share a room with Cichecki and we a radio, just like all the others. I work at the Orderly Room together with Cichecki and Śmiglak.
August 07, 1940.
We were visited by General Sikorski together with his Stuff. He made a short speech and decorated Captain Łaguna, Lieutenant Czerwiński, Lieutenant and Sergeant Markiewicz with Cross of Valour. Nominated for the decoration was also Lieutenant Główczyński, but somehow he was omitted in the event. Colonel Mieczysław Mümler took the unit’s command with the adjutant Lieutenant Sarnicki. Everything happens so quickly; we already received excellent Hurricanes, armed with 8 machine guns. Gradually, our old uniforms are being replaced by the British ones.
August 25, 1940.
Sad anniversary: today at 5 a.m. is a year as I said good bye to my dear ones. A year in exile. However, being paid and having food and board, I’m in a far better situation than my family. How my Januś, Ziutek, Ziuta and my Mom are doing? Are they having a piece of bread to share? Maybe they already forgot about me thinking I’m dead? If I only could fly there like a bird and see them even from the far, maybe kiss them, maybe for a short moment.... Those thoughts are coming and I feel like I can go crazy.
Meantime, the aerial struggle reached its heights. After few quiet days, this week Jerry keeps coming with thousands of raiding airplanes. But they are not flying so freely like they did in Poland or France. Here they met a defence system and fighter planes: Hurricane sand Spitfires, real killers of the German flyers. Sometimes they go through and try to wreak havoc inland, but they pay for this dearly, losing 30 to 60 planes a day. The Royal Air Force keeps doing its job and bombs German harbours and industrial sites at night. Slowly, the military equipment comes in from the America, which hopefully will soon join the fight.
October 11, 1940.
We leave Leconfield to go to RAF Station Northolt at the London’s suburbs. We swap the places with the 303 Squadron which needs the well deserved rest. We arrived at 5 p.m. The base is somewhat lacking and damaged by bomb in some places. We found a huge bomb crater and the debris of the plane in which Sgt. Siudak was killed. He flew previously in our unit in France. The first night at the new place was marked by the din of German bombers, AA artillery and exploding bombs. That infernal racket lasted till midnight. Because of the heavy losses Germans stopped the day raids and come to bomb at night. The night sky was clear, and some with weaker nerves made for bomb shelter. I’m not a hero but have enough guts not to go there. Then it was all quiet and we went to beds. Going through London the one don’t see too many ruins as one may expect judging by the intensity of raids. We saw only a small part of town anyway.
October 18, 1940.
It’s been a week since we came to Northolt so we are used to night raids. Sometimes when they drop bombs close by our beds are travelling from wall to wall. Generally our guys hold up except few who sleep in bomb shelter. We sleep in our beds, but often waken up by bombs, which fall nearby where the Spitfire assembly plant is.
Today we lost Sgt Załuski. He wasn’t killed in the fight damn it, but in a flying accident when his aircraft went into steep dive. The whole week was lousy since we lost few aircraft and shot down not a single Jerry. Till today only two kills on our part. Maybe the Flight “A” which is not here yet downed something...
October 28, 1940.
In the news Italians attacked Greece and the Greeks are defending bravely. Over here regular daily work continues, occasionally disrupted by the „take cover” alarm. To divert ourselves, we spend most of the evenings at the Public Bar, which we christened “Stallionery” since three times a week a dance there provided an opportunity for our boys to find girls willing to have sex. Strange nation these Englishmen: fighting planes fill the skies, here a there dropping bombs, artillery blasting away illuminating the night, but people in pubs dance, drink, and have hell of a time. Time runs quickly there, just as quickly as the hard earned pounds. Thus, nobody is here and it makes you feel gloomy to seat in the mess alone.
RAF Leconsfield, October 1940. The 302 ground personnel: S. Rapior (left); B.Cichecki; W. Mordasiewicz and S. Smiglak.
November 13, 1940.
I’ve been to London by car today. Together with F/Lt Jaworski, P/O Popławski and P/O Sarnicki we delivered dictionaries to be bound. Despite the war business as usual: normal traffic, damages repaired and debris cleared away.
November 23, 1940.
We leave Northolt and move to RAF Tangmere. The new base is damaged extensively. Though luck; we settle in a mess without ceiling with pieces of acrylic glass instead of real glass in windows. It is wartime and we are getting use to it. It could be worse anyway. That evening more German dragons fly over, AA is pounding and the whole base is shaking.
December 7, 1940.
For some time now there is a bad blood between our officers and British personnel. British CO, Flight commanders, adjutant and ground personnel are over 40 people who don’t do much. The British forced their way and our commander S/Ldr Mumler, together with F/O Goettel, F/O Wczelik, and P/O Czerny are leaving the unit. As the rumour goes, the British will not stay for long either as we are to become fully independent.
Meantime S/Ldr Laguna took over the command. F/Lt Jaworski supposedly asked for a new posting, but will stay till the situation normalizes. The hard work at the dispersals and here in the office continues without disruptions.
December 24, 1940.
Day follows the day quickly and we already have a Christmas Eve. I forgot about its coming. Since two weeks time our ground personnel is separated as most of the Flight A and B live by the aircraft at West Hampnett. Some of the mechanics live at metal sheet barracks at RAF Manston still under construction. They are commute to work by lorries. Our office is located in an old mansion, but the British has been moved to West Hampnett.
January 4, 1941.
We are sightseeing In London. The city seems more devastated than in November. The mood is good though. We spent the evening in a pub then went to sleep in hotel “Jocson”. I was so tired that slept through the exploding bombs and artillery din. The noise woke me up in early morning. The next day we visited Witek’s friends.
January 7, 1941.
Today we sleep in London again. These few days we spent at Erick’s at Barkingside, London’s suburbs. The first night was a ruckus like hell, but second one was almost quiet. I had a chance to see how the British live. The first host was a rich landlord (Mr. Brown), now we stay at the house of an average office worker. There are no words to describe the difference between theirs live and ours. The evening we spend at a regular pub usually flocked by hookers and sailors and got a little drunk. Witek picked a girl and went to have some, and I went to sleep at the „Yacht Club”. Witek came very late. At night more heavy bombardments which caused our beds to travelled from wall to wall....
January 20, 1941.
Regular daily work. For a few days they bombed Portsmouth. The nomination applications were submitted together with a yearly personal evaluation to the Ministry. I made an inappropriate comment to F/Lt Lukaszewicz what grounded me for seven days and earned me a week-worth pay cut. The old Polish Army tactics to punish a soldier for talking back to the officer. What hell... let him have his pleasure. This was a lesson for me but it left the grudge.
January 21, 1941.
After having served the punishment I put down a request for a transfer, where I laid out my bitterness. The unfair treatment killed in me motivation for a hard work. The request was received by the Adjutant himself, F/Lt Lukaszewicz. He advised me to write a formal application for a new posting where, if I want to, I can write all my grievances. I told him that I don’t want this dispute to go outside the unit and that was the end of it.
January 22, 1941.
I went to Tangmere hoping to get a second uniform. Unfortunately, they had none. Together with Bolek we used that time to Take Bath. Generally, I don’t feel good.
January 23, 1941.
The pay day. One pound less as retribution. Tough luck.
February 2, 1941.
Sad day at the unit: Sgt Markiewicz sustained serious injuries in a flying accident. He ended up in a hospital but it was a miracle that he survived.
RAF West Hampnett, February 1941.
From left: Zagaj, Cichocki, Cpt Łukaszewicz, Wellington, Lt Davis, Rapior, Rogers, Mordasiewicz and Huges.
February 6, 1941.
The pay day: 1 £ 4 sh.
February 14, 1941.
Another accident today. A pilot of No. 615 Sqdn Spitfire lost control during landing and crashed one of our Hurricanes. The results were awful: AC2 Przybylowski was killed and LAC Gintrowicz seriously injured. He has both legs broken in several places and serious face wounds. He was conscious when they were taking him to a hospital. Doctor says he will live. Our Hurricane and the Spitfire are written off. The Spitfire pilot came out unscathed and when helped out of the cockpit poor chap cried like a child when saw what happened to our men. Unfortunately, these things happen. Today I received a good cigar from S/Led Laguna.
February 20, 1941.
Today we had two funeral services: for AC2 Przybylowski and for P/O Pilch who was killed Turing a training flight. The cause for a crash is unknown, but we think that exhaust gases entered the cockpit and He lost consciousness. Witnesses say he went down vertically. Pay day: 24 sh.
March 12, 1941.
Time flies! Yesterday night Portsmouth was heavily bombed. They say seven German bombers were shot down. I dreamt about Josephine getting married with Franek. Stupid dream that caused an uneasy feeling. At work I prepared applications for promotions. I was given the best evaluation in the unit; what a strange man F/Lt Łukaszewicz is.
March 13, 1941.
This night Tangmere was attacked. Bombs were dropped and installations strafed. There were 5 killed and 14 wounded. We all had a scare. One bomber made few passes but luckily they did not strafe our metal sheet barracks or we would have been chopped.
March 14, 1941.
This night Tangmere was raided again. Again several people were killed or wounded. Officers Mess was hit. Over West Hampnett they found a German bomber machine gun. By evening we left for Goodwood with very nice mountainous surroundings. We are billeted at the racecourse in ticket office. Altogether there are 37 of us ground personnel, the rest stays at West Hampnett...
March 15, 1941.
At 6:30 p.m. we visited the local chapel, supposedly one of the most beautiful in England (maybe in the Word) Built for seven years and finished by the Raymond family in 1925, this sanctuary has an interior walls, ceiling and cornices lined with shells brought from all over the world. Everything is richly decorated and none of us ever saw anything like this before. Our visiting group consisted of P/O Jokiel, Rapier, Radnowski, Cichecki, Palenga, Zielinski and me...
April 7, 1941.
We move to RAF Station Kenley, Surrey. Well equipped station and we are billeted in private houses. I share the room with Smiglak, Cichecki and Szczepanski. The office is spacious so we are comfortable.
April 11, 1941.
The previous few nights were quite. Yesterday 11 German planes were shot down England. The RAF bombed Berlin in a force of 350 planes. Eight of them did not return. So last night Germans pay us back handsomely. There were moments when over 70 German machines were in our sector. They dropped flares, incendiaries and high explosive bombs. One of our Hurricanes was burned, and the shrapnel damaged a bowser and a tractor. We didn’t even bother to go to the shelter figuring that if it’s to hit us directly than it will make no difference.
April 13, 1941.
The first Day of Easter but we are in no mood of celebrating working regular hours. At 11 a.m. S/Ldr Laguna made a short speech, we shared a traditional Easter egg and that was it.
Evening dancing at WAAF. British consider dancing as some kind of a daily sport, while for us it is an occasional break from the follies of war.
RAF Kenley, Easter 1941. Second from left W. Mordasiewicz.
April 18, 1941.
The pay day: 2 £ 12 sh. I received letter from Erik. I like the way he writes.
May 2, 1941.
With Hughes and Szczepanski we take some time off and go visit his wife’s place in Carmarthen, Wales. We were warmly welcomed and it looks like we’ll not avoid serious drinking.
May 5, 1941.
We are sightseeing Swansea or whatever is left of it. We saw a lot of still fuming ruins. For four nights before our arrival, the city was heavily bombed. The harbour has little damage though.
May 8, 1941.
We went to visit Lilly’s grandparents. We were the first Poles to come to Carmarthen. In the morning we made a small sensation attending a mess at the local Catholic Church. After lunch we accompanied our hosts to the Anglican Church where the mess was celebrated in the intention of Alek’s happy return. We even had a communion there...
May 17, 1941.
The pay day: 5 £ 10 sh.
RAF Kenley, May 1941.
Orderly Room. Second from left W. Mordasiewicz. Fitrst from right: translator Sgt Karpinski.
Visiting with the Hughes Family. May 1941.
May 30, 1941.
We spent the Wight looping for Wandzioch. He went crazy and ran away from the barracks wearing only a shirt. Before noon they caught him at some farm where managed to dress up in stolen clothes. He ended up in a nut house.
June 15, 1941.
We are really cosy here doing sweet nothing. We are here to rest anyway. Tonight I was suppose to visit Mr. And Mrs. Smith, but something came up so Paweł Szymczyk and Ignac Mlodziejewski went there.
June 22, 1941.
Today is a year as we came to England. A year is a lot of time yet it went fast. If not for constant worrying about the family this time here would have been quite all right. Times flies. Sometimes bombs are falling, German planes drone overhead, while we have our good and bad days. We are happy when our pilots down some Jerry and we are sad when we lose them. We live in a group but any of us has his life marked by the worries about the close ones left behind. Those worries poison our lives...
Big news today: Germany invaded Russia... Our two biggest enemies grasp each other by the throat, so maybe it will be easier for us...
Jurby, June 1941.
From left: Mordasiewicz, Szymczyk, Cichecki and Smiglak.
Jurby, June 1941.
In window: Szymczyk (left), Cichecki and Mordasiewicz Belowthem are: Dobrańczyk (left), Markowski and Wróblewski.
July 2, 1941.
I dreamt my Janeczka and the whole family. My Goodness! How are they doing?! Since they not far Suwalki they may be exposed to the passing front. What can I do?! Let God’s will be done.
July 15, 1941.
We received the note from the Ministry about Sgt Rytka, who is alive, stays in Madrid and soon will be back in England. Thank God!
July 18, 1941.
With Pawel we went for drink at Milton Hotel (Ramsey), but did not stay for long as our brass celebrated theirs promotions: Witorzenc, Krol, Glowczynski, Kaminski, Karwowski and others had a party just for themselves. It significant, that Polish officers are not on friendly terms with the British personnel. At the station single acts of animosity deepened the differences...
July 21, 1941.
Today Sgt Szope had to bail out during convoy patrol. The help was not disorganized and they found him floating dead only 2, 5 hrs later. We raised the hell at the Sector Command what later was noticed by the Ministry in London.
August 8, 1941.
Today Ziutek is 9. I imagine who grew up. How are they make a living there?
August 21, 1941.
I’m so happy today! I received long awaited news from home. They are all alive, but God knows how they are doing. The letter was written on May 26, a month before the German-Russian war begun. God save them.
August 24, 1941.
Sgt Kropiwnicki killed during landing. We don’t know what the cause of the crash was. Strangely, it happened just as the chaplain Staroscik arrived. On his previous visit at Kenley, Sgt Nastorowicz was killed. Sgt Nowakiewicz made the priest aware of this coincidence.
August 26, 1941.
As an Alojzy Wladyslaw Gora I wrote a letter addressed to Jozefa Szyszko. God willing I’ll get more news from my dear ones in Poland.
August 30, 1941.
Today we listen to Churchill speaking on a radio. He said: “Ours eyes are on the two nations our serious Allies, Poland and Turkey, which will take their rightful positions in the future Europe”. God help him keep his words. We’ll see.
September 5, 1941.
Today we move to the RAF Station Warmwell, Dorset for a shooting range. Church Stanton was comfortable, nicely located and we slept in barracks. Now we’ll have to sleep in tents. It’s only three weeks though so we’ll be all right.
October 4, 1941.
We move again. This time we go to the RAF Station Harrowbeer, near Yelverton, Devon. Supposedly it is one the nicest places in England. The Station CO, W/Cdr Ward held us here for another week. We were supposed to go back to Church Stanton. So we live our nomadic life just like Gypsies what makes it more interesting, especially since we yet to return to the place previously occupied by us. Harrowbeer is a new station, still under construction and makes a good impression. Barracks are spread around the airfield and I lodge in a two person room together with Bolek.
October 18, 1941.
I dreamt my whole family again. God knows how they are doing. I hope they manage somehow in these hard times and under German occupation.
November 3, 1941.
The 10th anniversary of the wedding. Should that have been at home, we would have a very happy time. Instead, we are for two years and thousands of miles apart. In my mind though, I’m always with You Jozia, my sweetheart and with my dearest children Janeczka and Ziutek. Maybe they already forgotten how do I look like, maybe you think of me the way I think of you daily. Do you have enough food and clothes? Here we hear all sorts of stories what makes me worried...
...If you my Love think that I cheat on you with others, please don’t! I am faithful to you, and I will not do like others who forget about their wives and fall for a sweet eyes of a perverted British girl. So far I did not do that and am determined to keep my wedding vows. So help me God.
November 19, 1941.
I’m taking my leave. It is for a first time that left all by myself. Even though I speak a little English it is worth try it...
... My trip did not start right. For some reasons, yesterday morning at the Harrow Bridge train station, a clerk in a ticket office refused to sell me one for the train to Plymouth I planned to take. So I had to change my schedule. I already send a message announcing my arrival at Carmarthen at 7 p.m. and now I was to get there at least two hours late. In Bristol I had to change the train so I send another telegram informing my hosts that I’ll be there after 9 p.m. I had to change trains again in Cardiff. I thought I will have trouble to find the house, but Lilly and Betty waited for me at the station. They said it was a pleasure to wait for me even though it was raining. When we came home, Lilly ask me to hide and told mother that I did not arrive. Poor woman was very disappointed and showed myself even though Lilly wanted to play the trick for a little longer. I was welcomed with hugs and kisses and seated to tea right away. So that is how my leave started.
It went by quickly. Although I still have a day I decided to go back early. All good come to an end. I could stay in bed till 11 a.m. and the Missus wanted to bring me breakfast to the bed. I refused that flatly. On Friday I went with my hosts to Llanelly and yesterday we spent an evening in a pub. Today we went to the church, and after lunch I took a walk with Lilly. Tomorrow I go back to my unit and work routine. I feel rested, partially because I did not drink much. There simply was nobody to encourage me for heavy drinking.
November 25, 1941.
I left Carmarthen yesterday at 9:50 a.m. I thought of sightseeing in Bristol, but it was not a good idea. The city is scarred by ruins. The hotels were full and I was lucky to get a room in fifth one I tried. I spent the night at Bath Bridge Hotel Commercial what costed me 5 sh. Together with a breakfast. Very affordable.
November 30, 1941.
I sent two letters: one addressed to Andzia in USA and the other one to Lilly. I had thanked her for having me during my leave. Nothing happened between us. Somehow I don’t fancy British women and I’m faithful to my wife...
December 18, 1941.
Nasty accident today happened. F/Lt J. Kowalski couldn’t take off during scramble and crashed into a dispersed aircraft. In effect, we have Sgt Przesmycki killed instantly, two ground crew injured (Jan Goluszynski and Stefan Pyssa) and written off Hurricane. Kowalski came out of this uninjured. He was very depressed by this accident, especially since he is a very experienced pilot with over 3000 flying hrs.
December 24, 1941.
Christmas Eve. Already the third one in exile far from family. Oh my God, how are they doing? Do they have enough to eat at least? Here we can’t complain having everything.
The Christmas Eve supper we eat all together: officers and non-officers. Present were guests: W/Cdr Pawlikowski, S/Ldr Witorzenc, chaplain Miodowski, Station Co W/Cdr Ward accompanied by his wife and sister-in-law, several British officers, WAAF officers and civilians. Before the supper and being homesick, Bolek, Pawel and I we had couple of drinks. Then we had some during supper and Bolek got drunk. I didn’t even notice him leaving. At midnight we had a mess celebrated by Father Miodowski. Station CO stayed till the end and supposedly he liked our Christmas customs.
Before the supper though, at 7:30 p.m. a small incident took place. One our Flight B planes burned down. The fire was caused by a faulty heat lamp which at night is put inside the cockpit to keep the moisture away. The Station CO put our people off duty and the British personnel kept the watch. They are for the scolding.
December 25, 1941.
Christmas. At 9:00 a.m. we attended the mess then went to continue the regular work. Dinner traditionally was by the officers. Customary to the British the dinner consisted of copious meals. We were given a pack of cigarettes, glass of beer etc... There was a dancing at NAAF but I did not go.
January 22, 1942.
Today Station CO summoned F/Lt Lukaszewicz and F/O Chodorowski and being rather rude – what seldom happens to the British – rebuke them. He even raised his voice and told Chodorowski to go away. He did what was told to but was to be consoled. Inevitably, right away a rather juicy message was sent to Polish Inspectorate and Liaison Officer of the 10 Group. Obviously, the Station CO received a translated copy of the note. Our officers were upset, and generally asked for the unit to be relocated to another station. The Polish British relations were tense what hindered the unit performance. In a common opinion, the station CO and his stuff are mangling with our affairs. Although we are here as guests, we do form an independent Army and pay for our sojourn with blood and sacrifice...
... I can’t understand where these squabbles come from because to my knowledge the Station CO often invites Polish officers to his house and generally he is respectful toward Poles. He even made a request to the Group to have a Polish squadron here in Harrowbeer. So I think the sources of trouble are his manipulative British stuff officers: mainly Station Administrative Officer and Station Engineer Officer.
January 23, 1942.
Today Lieutenant Gotfired Błaszczyk came to train the whole ground personnel in defence of the air field in case of the invasion or airborne troops attack. The concept seems to be good, but the question is what can we do resist far better trained paratroopers equipped with machine guns? We are soldiers anyway and this training is useful.
January 24, 1942.
It wasn’t long before we saw repercussions of the recent incident with the Station CO. W/Cdr Pawlikowski and S/Ldr Witorzenc arrived and conferred with him. Pawlikowski demanded that British officers would address Polish officers with respect and W/Cdr Ward officially apologized. He supposedly explained the conflict by misinformation among his stuff; however the relations between us remain tense. Our pilots collectively declared refusal of flying duties unless those relations would improve.
February 16, 1942.
Days are passing by quickly. Sometimes I even don’t feel like listening to those radio announcements telling us about millions of people being murdered, by ever so sophisticated weapons. It seems like people don’t care about small numbers of war casualties, shot down planes or engaging troops. Only big numbers seems to attract attention...
...I wish I was with my family, in some quiet place away from all this reality. Last night I dreamt my close ones again, that I was in Porzecze. I dreamt Chmielewskis, My Josephine and Janeczka. The dream was too short.
February 26, 1942.
I sent a post card via Air Mail to my Jozia, but addressed to my Godfather J. Kisiel. Will receive an answer? God knows. The return address is in Portugal with a false name of Wladyslaw Alojzy Gora.
April 1, 1942.
April Fools' Day. We thought that is a joke, but our Interpreter F/O Adam Kierski leaves the unit for real. He is a nice chap, but they say he leaves because of the previous tensions among the station personnel. Some say the real reason is his affair with the W/Cdr Ward’s wife. I have to admit that the guy is very handsome and many British acted amorously around him.
April 5, 1942.
The third Easter we spent away from home and second in England. Who would have thought that it will be so long? Father Miodowski came, celebrated the Easter Mess after which we shared a traditional egg washed down with a bottle of beer. After that, back to regular work...
April 6, 1942.
We move to the RAF Station Heston, Middlesex near London. The move came so suddenly contrary to the rumour that we were to stay in Harrowbeer for two more months. Nearly all our squadrons relocated, and Exeter was taken over by the Czechs. Operationally we now belong to the 11 Fighter Group. At the moving day the Czech Adjutant threw us out of the office when we still had a lot of paper work to do. The Czech unit has all the positions doubled and over 40 British personnel. The Czechs alone are 255 people....
May 14, 1942.
Funeral of Wyszkowski and Radkowski. I did not go. After work I went for a very enjoyable bicycle ride in a beautiful countryside. Before the funeral, the 11 Group CO decorated P/O Rytka with the Medal of British Empire.
June 5, 1942.
I take a leave and go to Brikingside to see some acquaintances. Another occasion to get to know British people a little bit better...
… We see other nation’s vices but we are seemed to be the same. British are not as they are usually portrayed: stiffs wearing monocles, cylinder hats and always carrying umbrellas. They like to laugh, ready to sing and play. When it comes to drinking they are probably more moderate than us. Generally they are not so cool-headed but responsible for their duties, either those taken on voluntarily or imposed upon them. They are honest but once you lose their trust it is hard to get it back. It will be my sixth stay with British family, and every time I’m more observant since now I speak some English and generally I know more about life...
June 22, 1942.
Today is two years as I arrived to England...
...The living conditions here are good and the relations between Poles and common British people are very good. There are few grumblers among us, but I always tell them that I wish my family in Poland could live like these people here. If only could I get a single message from them? This uncertainty about their lives is a big burden. Sometimes I dream about my family and awaking is rude. I also think about those millions of suffering women and children and I get very dejected.
June 25, 1942.
Big day. The Duke of Kent visited our unit. He was very interested in all activities and operations. He inspected the dispersals and even took a look at our office.
RAF Heston, July 14, 1942.
From left: Liguziński, Gołebiowski, Cichecki, Jurczy, Marcinkowski and Mordasiewicz.
RAF Heston, November, 1942.
From left: Woznica, Smiglak, Grynkiewicz, Hughes, Rapior, Kowalski (Adjutant), Foltanski, Wiggins, Hill, Brandon, Szaroleta and Mordasiewicz.
For several month the entries in the diary are almost exclusively about war events and contain almost no personal notes.
January 1, 1943.
Maybe the New Year will bring us luck! It started great for our Fighter Command. Poles from the 317 Squadron shot down 500th German plane and started the next hundred. Over there they fly Spitfire Mk IXs so a slightly better planes. They paid for these victories with a loss of two aircraft of their own.
January 25, 1943.
Yesterday I received a letter from home. Thanks God they are all well and I’m so happy. I hope my brothers will not let them starve.
February 1, 1943.
We have changed a station again. This time it is RAF Station Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincolnshire. First impressions: seems like a nice place, clean well kept accommodations, and nothing around the airfield. A little village of the same name is nearby and the closest city some 12 miles away. Well, it is all right. Time to repair our finances and more occasions to rest.
March 2, 1943.
Declaration of the Polish Government stirred quite a commotion in Soviet Russia. Soviet declared themselves that Polish Government statement is inappropriate and Belarus and Ukraine can form and independent countries under Moscow protectorate. We thought that being Allies will help to normalize the relations between our countries, but the Soviet drive for ruling the world is now exposed. Despite the aura of secrecy we hear the rumours that hundreds of thousands of Poles are still kept in gulags and camps spread across the vast stretches of Siberia. Our women, children and old folks are dying of starvation and exhaustion left there without any help. What those son-of-bitches “our Allies” think?
April 17, 1943.
We have changed the station again: RAF Hutton Cranswick near Driffield, East Yorkshire. We sleep in Nissen huts again and there is no hot water. No problem.
April 19, 1943.
The terrible news stunned us. The mass graves of Polish officers in Katyn near Smolensk murdered by the Soviets were discovered. We hear about 10,000 interned Polish soldiers executed there. German propaganda cackles exposing “our Allies”, Soviets, as those responsible for the massacre, and Moscow declares Germans as those who did this...
... In my personal opinion it is Soviets who did this, as I know those sons-of-bitches are capable of something like that.
April 24, 1943.
Tomorrow is another Easter away from home, so beautifully celebrated in Poland, always with family. It is already fourth Easter in exile. God willing the next one we will spend in Poland. Not all of us will see it happen, that’s for sure...
May 21, 1943.
...Today I had a chance to see up close and even enter the American B-17 flying fortress. Beautiful airplane. Now I believe that those shot downs we heard about are true, as this plane is armed with 13 heavy calibre machine guns. They located in such a way that at least six of them can fire at attacking fighter. What’s more, they carry at least 1000 rounds of ammo each and that is awesome fire power.
1943, Unknown time and location. W. Mordasiewicz far left.
June 1, 1943.
We move to Heston and it is for the first time that we return to the previously occupied station. We’ll be close to London again. I personally feel good anywhere.
June 24, 1943.
Another successful day for our unit: two FW-190 shot down. God willing this victories streak will continue. Our pilots fly a lot of sorties. Now our Spitfires carry drop tanks and some has two machine guns less to make room for extra cannon ammo (now 140, before 60). If they continue to fly with this intensity they will be exhausted very soon, not mention aircrafts which nearly all have over 160 flying hours with 180 before mandatory servicing.
July 5, 1943.
I can’t believe it! What a nightmare! Why God punish us so much?
… Our beloved leader General Sikorski is dead! In flying accident (?) in Gibraltar lost were: he, his daughter, and several of his stuff. He was coming back to England from inspection tour of our troops in Middle East...
...The first thought is that he was assassinated since he was not an appeaser, neither toward the policies of Soviet nor our other Allies. It blows my mind that such an ignominy could take place.
July 6, 1943.
From every face around emanates grief like after losing a close family member. We live through this nightmare and there is not a soul who would lay his own life so that the one of our leader could be spared...
...However, this tragedy will not soften our determination to win this struggle, to stand fast by the side of our Allies. Yesterday German propaganda announced that General Skorski was killed by Churchill on a demand made from Moscow. We don’t want to believe this.
August 30, 1943.
Jachimski told me his weird dream. He dreamt that the war was over and I was invited to his wedding. When we were all happy having a great time my wife came crying. He told me how she looked like in his dream, and although he never saw my wife the description was very accurate. She begged me to go with her because she is alone and distressed while I’m having a good time at the wedding reception. Then we all tried to console her and I left with her. That was all he remembered. His dream upset me and I’m trying to interpret it: maybe they have received my letter, maybe something bad happened, God knows. I’m sure though that something had happened.
September 21, 1943.
Times flies! Today we move yet again. We are going back to Heston. The same time a new organizational system is being introduced in our unit: pilots form Flights and ground personnel form the Echelon. Our ground personnel are now called No. 3104 Servicing Echelon. We came to Heston while the pilots are being relocated to RAF Northolt where there are to start flying Spitfire IXs. Bolek stays with the Flight and I’m attached to the Echelon. It will be easy for him to manage some 30 people and have to deal with over 200 like before.
September 22, 1943.
I was promoted to the rank of Acting Corporal, so the change was too bed. I write only about personal matters, but that does not mean that we all here do not live with war events.
October 25, 1943.
So it happened. Since few days I work in a newly created Airfield. I was assigned to the new unit as the chief office clerk. Our CO W/Cdr Nowierski is already here, and former Station CO, W/Cdr Kedzierski was posted to head No. 131 Airfield being formed at Northolt. I have mixed feelings about our new Adjutant F/Lt Jarząbek and F/O Wodziarski Chef Technical Officer. We form No. 133 Airfield Headquarters. Today I’m going to No. 130 Airfield at RAF Station Oldham for the Airfield administration course. Altogether 11 of us (mostly from the 302 Sqdn) going there. I think more promotions are to be expected. I hope to be promoted to Sergeant.
November 5, 1943.
It is two weeks as I came back from the 130 Airfield. Organizationally there are twenty something people to man the office: chief Sergeant, fifteen GD clerks, and others various low-rank positions.
Upon returning to the unit I had a little verbal engagement with F/Lt Jarząbek. Damn old-school Polish officer, he never learned how to treat soldiers properly...
...I thought of going directly to W/Cdr Nowierski and complain, but Major Łukaszewicz advised me to not to. He told it’ll be better to stay low as the F/Lt Jarzabek soon will be replaced. I followed his advice and now I address Jarzabek in a very formal and tart way. I think the Major knows exactly what was going on because he took me aside and told me: Mr. Mordasiewicz, carry on and do not be lifted up with pride and should you have any doubts about anything come to me. If somebody hinders your work effort I’ll fix it...
December 25, 1943.
Christmas! Nothing new. The whole unit ate the Christmas Eve Supper at the drill hall, and today back to regular work. Since early this month I eat at the Sergeant mess after I was promoted to the rank of Acting Sergeant. Over here the one is paid for the work his doing. In our Army is different: you are being paid according to your permanent rank. My application for a promotion was declined for the fourth time. I have not finished a military school, I have no aegis and I’m not a regular soldier, thus no promotion for me. But that’s all right, I’m being paid Sergeant's money and I hope I’ll keep the rank for a while.
We are extremely busy at the office as there are nearly 700 people in the Airfield, which now consists of 3104, 3110 and 3006 Servicing Echelons, as well as three full fighter squadrons. At the office I work with: Capt. Głodek; LAC Bogdan; Capt. Huges (he was lazy and now after my promotion he is even lazier); Capt. Penwell (very professional and hard working) and LAC Stobs. There are also seven or eight ACH-GDs; the best one is Stasio Woznica, while Baklarz, Pawłowski, Madzia and Jachimski are all right. The worst is good for nothing Szyleja. These are the people I work with.
God knows how long this war will last. I wish it was ended soon. Over here I have all I need and I worry constantly how my family is doing in Poland.
February 18, 1944.
I don’t make entries in my diary because I have no time to spare. Generally I lack motivation for work since all those rumours about our future are circulating. What a goddamn world! Not only the Soviets are constantly causing a bad blood, but we are not making it easy even among ourselves. I had another skirmish with F/Lt Miller who would be perfect as a slave’s overseer. It is three month now as we are reorganized into an Airfield, and still many vacant positions in our office. So we have to work at nights to keep up with paper work. Sometimes I have no wish to leave in this bloody world, but having no other choice I persevere.
April 1, 1944.
We are moving to Coolham (Sussex). We are going to leave in tents but that’s not a reason to be discouraged.
ALG Coolham, April 1944. Second from right W. Mordasiewicz.
April 15, 1944.
I have a confirmation that my parcels were delivered! That made me very happy. God willing, maybe soon this war will be over and I’ll come back home.
Meantime the Allies bomb Germany day and night. The daily number of 4000 Allies’ bombers does not impress anybody any more.
April 18, 1944.
I end my diary, which together with my other personal things will end up at Eric’s place.
Framlingham 1947. Waiting for the departure to Poland. W. Mordasiewicz holds a suitcase.
Wladyslaw Mordasiewicz returned to Poland in June 1947, where till retirement, he worked as an accountant. He died in Gdansk in 1986.
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