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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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74 Squadron
02.07.1941 74 (Trinidad) Squadron, Spitfire Vb W3263, Fg Off. Stanisław Z. Król MiD

Operation: Circus 29, St-Omer, France

Date: 2nd July 1941 (Wednesday)

Unit No: 74 (Trinidad) Squadron

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial No: W3263

Code: ZP:?

Location: St-Omer region, France

Base: RAF Gravesend, Kent

Pilot: Fg Off. Stanisław Zygmunt Król, MiD P-0237 PAF Age 28. PoW No. 1392 * / Murdered

* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)

REASON FOR LOSS:

Fg Off. Król took off from RAF Biggen Hill on the 2nd July 1941 at 11:55 hrs and joined eleven other Spitfires from the Sqn on a fighter sweep in the St. Omer region. Two of the Sqns Spitfires failed to return from this mission. Fg Off. Król’s Spitfire was shot down by a Bf109. He successfully bailed out and became a PoW and eventually ended up at Stalag Luft 3 after being sent there as a persistent trouble maker and escaper.

The second was Spitfire Vb W3259 flown by Sgt. George Thomas Joseph Evans R65407, RCAF. PoW No. 9663, Stalag Luft 6.

Note: These were the only two Spitfires to be shot down in this area and there were seven Spitfire claims by German pilots of the JG 2 and JG 26. These multiple claims make it impossible to determine which are authentic and who claimed W3259 and W3263. (The Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL) (German Air Force High Command) fighter claims for the Reich, West & Südfront).

On the 30th November 1942 Fg Off. Król attempted to escape with Flt Lt. Drowse from Stalag Luft 3. They cut through the wire into the Centre Compound, crawled across that Compound using blankets as camouflage, and cut the wire into the German Compound. Just before they could finish hey were discovered by the German patrol between the sentry-towers. They managed to destroy their false identity papers before being arrested and spent 14 days in the ‘cooler’ for their efforts. (Ref 1. p 44.)

Flt Lt. Sydney Hastings Dowse MC, MiD 86685, RAF, PoW No. 39320. Pilot of 1 PRU Spitfire PR.III X4497 lost on the 20th August 1941.

On the night of the 24th-25th March 1944, 76 officers escaped from the north compound of Stalag Luft 3 which, at that time, held between 1000 and 1500 RAF PoWs. The escape was made by the means of a tunnel. At about 05:00 hrs on the 25th March the 77th PoW was spotted by guards as he emerged from the tunnel.

An overview of the German response to the escape and the subsequent British prosecution of those responsible for the murder of fifty of the escapees is summarised in the report entitled “The Fifty - The Great Escape”.

Flt Lt. Dowse was the #1 ‘hauler’ who pulled the first twenty of the escapers through the tunnel one of whom was Fg Off. Król. They travelled together with Flt Lt. Dowse as a Danish worker and Fg Off. Król as a Slav worker. They walked east from Sagan following the railway line for 12 nights, sleeping in the woods during the hours of daylight. On the 6th April they were discovered hiding in a farmer’s barn who agreed to allowed them to stay and also gave them some bread and coffee. However, shortly thereafter they were discovered by a member of the Hitlerjugend (Hitler youth) who ran off. The Hitlerjugend returned with members of the Volkssturm (Home Guard) who arrested them and took them to the police at Oels.

After the police contacted the Gestapo at Breslau they were moved to the civilian prison at Oels where they remained in solitary confinement. The last time Flt Lt. Dowse saw Fg Off. Król was on the morning of the 12th April before he himself was taken to Berlin. (Ref 1. pp.199-200).

Flt Lt. Dowse was one of the five escapees sent to the Concentration camp at Sachsenhausen - Sonderlager A. The five escapees were:

Wg Cdr. Harry Melville Arbuthnot 'Wings’ Day DSO, OBE(M) 05175, RAF, PoW No. 37;
Maj. John Bigelow Dodge DSO, DSC, MC 101106, British Army, Middlesex Regiment, PoW No. 285;
Flt Lt. Sydney Hastings Dowse MC, MiD 86685, RAF, PoW No. 39320;
Flt Lt. Bertram Arthur 'Jimmy’ James MC 42232, RAF, PoW No. 2263;
Flt Lt. Ray L.N. van Wymeersch 30268, FFAF, PoW No. 43010.

What is known from the trial transcript was that he was a lone officer who was killed by persons unknown some time on or about the 12th April 1944 and cremated in Breslau, and his urn returned to Stalag Luft 3. No one was formally charged with the actual murder of of Fg Off. Król.

Burial details:

Memorial to “The Fifty” near to Żagań (Credit: CSvBibra - Own work, Public Domain)

Above: Grave marker for Fg Off. Król (Courtesy of TWGPP)

Fg Off. Stanisław Zygmunt Król. Krzyz Walecznych (Cross of Valour), Medal Lotniczy za Wojnę 1939-45 x 2 (Air Force Medal of War 1939-45), MiD. Poznań Old Garrison Cemetery 7.D.1. Born on the 22nd March 1916 in Zagorzyce, Kielce, Poland.

Fg Off. Król was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) recognizing his conspicuous bravery as a PoW because none of the other relevant decorations then available could be awarded posthumously. Not promulgated in the London Gazette.

Also remembered on Panel 34 at the Polish War Memorial in Northolt.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.

Thanks to ‘The War Graves Photographic Project for their great work.

Other sources listed below:

References:

1. Stalag Luft III - An official history of the “Great Escape’ PoW Camp - Published by Frontline Books - ISBN: 978-1-47388-305-5.






RS & TV 28.08.2022 - Initial upload

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Acknowledgements
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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