15.05.1943 315 Squadron Spitfire IX BS554 PK:P Sgt. P. Lewandowski
Operation: Circus 297
Date: 15th May 1943 (Saturday)
Unit: 315 Squadron (Polish)
Type: Spitfire IX
Base: RAF Northolt, Middlesex.
Location: Caen area, France
Pilot: Sgt. Piotr Lewandowski P780888 PAF Age 23. PoW *
* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 16:07 hrs to rendezvous with 6 Mitchells that were to bomb the airfield at Caen. Shot down during a combat with four Fw190s from JG2 which took the squadron by complete surprise coming from behind and above near Caen, France. Sgt Lewandowski was shot down, 3 aircraft patrolled the area on a rescue mission, after the combat, but no trace could be found. Fg Off. Blok destroyed one Fw190 and Fg Off. Dubielecki claimed another as damaged. The rest of the Squadron landed back at Northolt at 17:45 hrs.
However, a further twist in this operation, Group Captain Stefan Pawlikowski managed to 'join' the squadron as a 'guest' - sadly, he was shot down and killed.
Course 24, 58 OTU in Grangemouth, Scotland: Front row: Sgt. Kulczycki, Fg Off. Tatarski, Fg Off. Zegallo, Fg Off. Jenik, Fg Off. Karnkowski, Fg Off. Frackiewicz - Centre row: Sgt. Martens, Sgt. Bedkowski, Sgt. Michalkiewicz, Sgt. Swistun, Sgt. Lewandowski, Sgt. Smidowicz, Sgt. Jastrzebski, Sgt. Nawarski - Rear row: Sgt. Makosz, Sgt. Judek, Sgt. Loska, Sgt. Mindykowski, Sgt. Kempka, Sgt. Lojek.
Note: Spitfire IX BS554 first flew on the 29th October 1942 after being built at Rolls Royce Factory in Hucknall, fitted with the Merlin 61 engine.
None, Sgt. Lewandowski was promoted to Warrant Officer (WO) whilst a PoW. Born on 28th June 1920.
Aircrew Remembered would like to expand on the information as he is recorded as having received the MBE.
Aircrew Remembered has been contacted by Steve Sherriff who believes that Piotr Lewandowski was a co-founder of the Markham Ontario Canada Airport in 1965 together with a Wg Cdr. Jan Falkowski also of 315 Squadron before becoming CO of 303 Squadron. Steve took flying lessons at that airport in 1972 and 1973 and remembered a pilot named Falkowski who gave him his private pilot flight test, Steve vividly remembers the name Lewandowski who he thought was also an RAF pilot but did not know any further details. The operation was called Lewmar Air Service.
Above: Clipping courtesy of the Calgary Herald, dated Monday July 26th, 1965
Research has confirmed that Jan Falkowski was indeed the retired Wg Cdr. in the Polish Air Force, the former CO of 303 Sqn and was a co-founder as believed by Steve. However, Aircrew Remembered has not been able to find any corroborating evidence that confirms Piotr Lewandowski as being the other co-founder so this part of the story remains anecdotal.
Aircrew Remembered has been contacted by Ian Gold who was an instructor at Lewmar Air Service during 1977-78 which was after the business was taken over from Lewandowski and Falkowski.
Ian tells us that both were very fondly remembered by the airport community, but to his recollection Piotr Lewandowski was known 'John'. Jan Falkowski's handling of the school's Cessna Aerobat was part of local lore.
Researched for relatives of the pilot. With thanks to the following for further information supplied, the 1333 (Grangemouth Spitfire) Squadron and the Grangemouth Spitfire Memorial Trust who provided me with so much information and assistance during my visit, Polish Squadron ORB 'website'. Thanks to Steve Sherriff for his contribution (Jan 2021). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2021). Thanks to Ian Gold for his contribution (Mar 2022). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Mar 2022)