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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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306 Squadron Crest
16.08.1941 No. 306 Squadron (P) Spitfire II P8524 UZ-A Sgt. Alexander Franczak

Operation: Fighter Sweep - No. 74

Date: 16th August 1941 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 306 Squadron (Polish)

Type: Spitfire IIb

Serial: P8524

Code: UZ-A

Base: RAF Northolt

Location: Beussent, France

Pilot: Sgt. Aleksander Stanisław Franczak 783443 PAF Age 25. PoW Stalag Luft IV (note)

A special memorial page placed in dedication to the courageous French citizens who paid with their lives to save this pilot.


Taking off from RAF Northolt at about 16:30 hrs on a fighter sweep between St.Omer and Boulogne. During the flight the pilot experienced engine problems and was forced to crash land near Buessent, about 25 miles east of Boulogne. (Some publications describe him as being shot down).

During the landing the pilot injured a leg and whilst trying to extricate from the aircraft two French workers arrived to hep him. They took him to a farm house, burned his papers and provided him with civilian clothing. The Germans arrived at the farm and Sgt. Franczak made off to the woods and hid. He remained there for about 16 days, recovering from his injuries. During that time the French brought him food and water every third day.

Spitfires in a yard for dismantling - UZ-B in the foreground - thought that to be of P/O. Kazimierz Rutkowski DFC. Spitfire Z3065 - shot down on the 19th May 1941.

After this period a priest arrived with a boy - then, on the bicycle they brought with them they cycled into Buessent - met with the boys sister and went into Boulogne-sur mer where he remained, sheltered by the mother for some four months. He made a statement on his release that he did try various unsuccessful escapes though Spain with various organisations.

Finally in January 1942 the helpers took him to a Frenchman at Wimereux where they planned to take him by boat back to England. The pilot then returned to Bolougne to wait for news of this plan. Two weeks later, three armed Germans came and arrested him.

He was finally liberated during the “march’ on the 2nd May 1945 by British troops near Lavenburg - flown back to the UK on the 14th May 1945.

The Germans announced the death penalty and that the sentence had been carried out on a poster - to try and prevent others assisting RAF crews evade capture.

In April 1942 two of the helpers were arrested for assisting Sgt. Alexander Franczak. Georges Haudiquet and Irenee Chevalier were executed on the 28th April 1942. Others were sent to prison, Mme. Duval-Rosa and Chevalier's son, Rene, died in the Nazi concentration camps. Four people known to have died to assist Sgt. Franczak.

Note: It seems that he died on the 17th October 2007, at the time he was living in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, USA.

Update September 2017: His body has been reinterred at Katowice, Poland next to his brothers. (With thanks to Piotr Franczak, nephew of the pilot who contacted us in September 2017)

Burial details:

None - survived the war as a PoW. Liberated by British troops from Stalag Luft IV on the 2nd May 1945 - returning to the UK on the 12th May 1945. At the time he was living at Rose Farm, Acton Bridge, Nr. Northwick, Cheshire, England. Born on the 22nd January 1917.

Researched by Jean Pierre Duriez, and dedicated to the relatives of the French people who paid with their lives to assist this pilot. With thanks also to some of the sources quoted below.

KTY/JPD - 01.03.2017

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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