18.11.1942. 306 Squadron Spitfire IX BS438 UZ:N Fg.Off. Wieslaw Benoit
Date: 18th November 1942 (Wednesday)
Unit: 306 Squadron (Polish)
Type: Spitfire IX
Base: RAF Northolt, Middlesex
Location: Woolwich, London.
Pilot: Fg.Off. Wieslaw Benoit P-1710 PAF Age 23. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
At 15:00 hrs 6 Spitfires from the squadron left for an offensive reconnaissance operation. They split in two after no boats were seen, choosing targets of opportunity to great effect with a platoon of cavalry straffed, a train was also attacked and hit, all the time they were under light anti aircraft fire.
The Operation Record Books state that Fg.Off. Benoit struck a balloon cable at 16:30 hrs, near Le Treport, France crashed, killing him instantly. Other reports write that the Spitfire hit a barrage ballon at Woolwich, London, taking a wing off. As he is buried at Northwood we tend to believe the latter version. Weather during the operation was poor with mist at ground level and drizzle.
Above as described - taken on or about the 17th June 1942. (Image available at higher resolution to interested parties)
Front row: Plt.Off. Wiesław Benoit P-1710 / 783408, Plt.Off. Władysław Banach P-1673 / 784483, Fg.Off. Stefan Andersz P-0958, Flt.Lt. Ridkosil, Fg.Off. Jan Kazimierz Preihs P-0219, Plt.Off. Marian Ciach P-1713 / 783441, Plt.Off. Birtus.
Centre row: Sgt. Józef Marian Ziendalski 792036, Sgt. Tadeusz Haczkiewicz P-2311 / 793831, Sgt. Zbigniew Makowski P-2206 / 792839, Sgt. Muszynski, Sgt. Gilis, Sgt. Tadeusz Orzechowski 783097, Sgt. Antoni Stefan Plenkiewicz 784769 -
Rear row: Sgt. Józef Bednarz 782356, Sgt. Henryk Starzynski 793783, Sgt. Kierski, Sgt. Sztuka, Sgt. Antoni Stefan Murkowski 784755, Sgt. Janusz Włodzimierz Kobylinski P-2203 / 781295
The brother of the pilot, 22 year old, Plt.Off. Michal Benoit P-1540 / 783427 was shot down on an operation to Bremen on the 2/3rd July 1942. He was the wireless operator/air gunner on a 301 Squadron Wellington IV Z1314 GR:M
. He survived as PoW No. 461 at Stalag Luft Sagan along with 3 other crew members, the tail gunner 27 year old, Sgt. Stanislaw Kędzierski 780181 was the only fatality (some publications incorrectly state that he survived as a PoW).
Fg.Off. Wieslaw Benoit. Northwood Cemetery, Middlesex. Sect H. Grave 319. Born 17th May 1919 in Warsaw, Poland. Michelle Sheppard (née Benoit) is the daughter of Plt.Off. Michal Benoit and the niece of Fg.Off. Wieslaw Benoit.
Researched for relatives of the pilot with thanks to the following for further information, the Grangemouth Air Cadets and the Grangemouth Spitfire Memorial Trust who provided me with so much information and assistance during my visit, Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945'. Thanks to Michelle Sheppard for contacting Aircrew Remembered (Nov 2020).