The P.A.F. Ground Crew Tribute
In his famous book about No. 303 Squadron, Arkady Fiedler compared ground personnel to grey roots of brilliant flowers, which were pilots, blossoming in their valiant effort in the air. This botanical metaphor has an obvious moral: without those roots, there would be no flowers. Those valiant, gallant and resolute airmen would have been inadequate, ineffective soldiers without complex and deadly aircrafts they flew, and which required hundreds of work hours of many hands to keep them operational. The efforts of the ground aircrews were of no less importance than those demonstrated in the air. And while this talented industrious skill force could prosper in any situation, their winged counterpart could not achieve success without the previous.
Average Polish fitter considered the aircraft assign to him his darling. When theirs “treasures” returned damaged or even scratched in operations, they hurt. When they were lost or written off, “erks” as they were cordially called, almost mourned them. This emotional engagement in the equipment allotted to them can be explained by the fact that most of them were most rigorously trained in Poland before the war, to able to excel with the scarcity of materials while working in abnormal conditions. They were carefully chosen for their trades of fitters, riggers, armourers or other maintenance crews, and thought to value the expensive airplanes which their young, struggling country could hardly afford before the September 1939 happened. Another quality that these men brought with them to Great Britain, was a rapport they had with flying personnel, which during the Polish and French campaigns learned to trust them completely. No wander then, that the Polish maintenance sections had the best results among the RAF units, and were often praised for the perseverance and initiative.
This web page is an acknowledgment of the hard work and absolute commitment to the war effort of the Polish Air Force ground crews.
F/Lt Leszek Chelminski testimony
Sgt Wladyslaw Mordasiewicz Diary
Corporal Michal Grabarz recalls
LAC Bronislaw Roguski
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© Polish Squadrons Remembered