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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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300 squadron badge
No. 300 Squadron P.A.F. Fairey Battle I L5356 BH-R Polish crew killed during training

Operation: Training

Date: 29th October 1940 (Friday)

Unit: No. 300 Squadron (Polish)

Type: Fairey Battle I

Serial: L5356

Code: BH-R

Base: R.A.F. Swinderby 

Location: Girton, Sutton-Upon Trent. Nottinghamshire 

Pilot: Sgt. Gerhard Goebel P780040 P.A.F. Age 26. Killed

Obs: F/O. Stanislaw Firlej-Bielański P76828 Age 33. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Tadeusz Jerzy Szmajdowicz P780068 Age 21. Killed


On a roof-watching training exercise over Leicester racing course when the aircraft entered a dive and a wing detached during the manoeuvre. Other reports are that the aircraft struck a power line. The Battle crashed to the ground, bursting into flames killing all the Polish crew instantly.


Prior to this accident on the 15th October the crew had “shot up” a Colliery at Bestwood ( 9 miles north of Nottingham) – one of the employees at the colliery was a ‘friend’ of the pilot. They dived on the colliery 3 times at a very low altitude and pulling up in a very steep climb. 


The result of the Accident Investigation Branch was that the crash was due to a structural failure whilst the aircraft was pulling out of a dive. The possibility that the structure had been strained by a ‘previous flight’ cannot be dismissed.


Burial details:

Sgt. Gerhard Goebel. Newark Cemetery, Nottinghamshire. Plot 1. 299. From Siemianowice Śląskie, Poland. Born 10th May 1914. Previously trained at 15 E.F.T.S. and No. 18 Polish O.T.U. Previous to joing the Royal Air Force he had 450 hours flying experience in single and twin engined aircraft.

F/O. Stanislaw Firlej-Bielański. Newark Cemetery, Nottinghamshire. Plot 1. 298. From Jarosław, Poland. Born 6th October 1907

Sgt. Tadeusz Szmajdowicz. Newark Cemetery, Nottinghamshire. Plot 1. 297. From Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland. Born 2nd October 1919

Researched for relatives of the crew with thanks to Tadeusz Krzystek, Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński – “Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945”, Jerzy Bogdan Cynk – “The Polish Airforce At War” Vol’s 1 and 2, and the folks at 300 Squadron Yahoo group. 

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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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