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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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302 Squadron Crest
23.07.1942 302 Squadron Spitfire Vb BL549 WX-E Plt.Off. Nowakiewicz

Operation: Mass Rhubarb

Date: 23rd July 1942 (Thursday)

Unit: 302 Squadron (Polish)

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial: BL549

Code: WX-E

Base: RAF Heston

Location: Equihen-plage, Boulogne, France

Pilot: Plt.Off. Eugeniusz Jan Adam Nowakiewicz 783583 PAF Age 22. PoW No 254, Stalag Luft Sagan

REASON FOR LOSS:

Survived two earlier incidents. On 8th November 1940 flying Hurricane P3935 WX-D hit by a 109 and crash landed at Dieting suffering some injuries, recovered. Then whilst flying the squadrons Miles Magister Mk.I T9752 the aircraft suffered engine failure, again he was injured during the landing.

During a mass rhubarb to Lannion his aircraft was hit by flak, resulting in a crash landing at Pont-de-Briques near Boulogne.

Squadron ORB States:

05:20 hrs. – 4 aircraft took off on the operation. Flying below 500 feet crossed over Dungeness and off Le Touquet Fg.Off. Gorzula (1) and Plt.Off. Czarnecki (2) made landfall at Plage St. Gabriel, North of Le Touquet while Fg.Off. Gladych (3) and Plt.Off. Nowakiewicz crossed South of the town.


Gorzula and Czarnecki flew along East side of railway towards Etaples and near Lefaux saw a W.T. Station consisting of one large building and five aerial masts camouflaged with netting. They were unable to find target but attacked a large factory ¼ mile North of Etaples. A/A. fire was seen from five points around factory. Unable to find any other targets but on recrossing coast flew over R.D.F. station at Plage St. Cecily and confirm intense bowl fire from East of Station. A/A. and also black shrapnell followed them two miles out to sea. These a two pilots returned via Rye and landed at base 06.45 hrs.

Weather over France 10/10 cloud and times down to ground, raining in places. Gladych and Nowakiewicz made landfall 3 miles South of Le Touquet and owing to bad visibility passed Etaples and found themselves N. of Forest de Boulogne they attacked an army camp on a plateau. A number of Nissan huts camouflaged and a radio station of one but and 4 aerial masts. Intense A/A. fire from all round camp.

Gladych attacked and silenced one gun post and after a wide turn again attacked another gun post followed by Nowakiewicz. Flashes and much dust and debris seen as results of hits. Flak continued all time.

After this attack Nowakiewicz did no reply on R/T and Gladych flew south along railway line and found a hutted camp at Etaples. His first attack showed many hits on huts but no A/A. was seen. After a left turn he came in again and saw many soldiers in camp which he attacked, M/G fire opened up from west side of camp. His cockpit hood was hit near forest de Boulogne. He made another wide turn followed my a third short attack with M/G. Then recrossed French coast near Plage St. Cecily and reached English coast at Folkestone. Landed at Hawking 07:25 hrs. returning to Heston later. 
Plt.Off Nowakiewicz missing. 
Apart from this operation the squadron was at 30 mins all day until released at 17:30 hrs. There was no other flying.'

Slightly injured he received treatment for his injuries from a French doctor, managing to hide in a farm until an informer tipped off the German forces. Spent some 6 months at the Fresnes prison suffering intense interrogation by the Gesapo, before being transferred to Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria.

Right: Fresnes prison, near Paris France.

(1) Plt.Off. Mieczyslaw Gorzula survived the war when he then joined the Pakistani Air Force - eventually settled in Australia.
(2) Plt.Off. Stanislaw Czarnecki survived the war and settled firstly in Argentina and then in Canada.
(3) Plt.Off. Boleslaw Gladych VM. DFC. Survived the war and settled in the USA.

Whilst in captivity Plt.Off. Nowakiewiecz wrote a letter to his friend and fellow pilot Plt.Off. Gorzula. The letter has been kindly provided by Stefan Gorzula the son of Plt.Off. Gorzula.

Burial details:

None - survived.

Plt.Off. Eugeniusz Jan Adam Nowakiewicz born in Jaslo, Poland on 02nd January 1920. Fought in France flying the Morane-Saulnier MS.406, escaped via Romania to England after France fell. Joined 302 Squadron on 20th August 1940. Promoted to Plt.Off on June 1st 1942. Released from PoW camp on 2nd May 1945.

Post war, settled in England. At one time ran a potato merchant business with his wife Rita Jane in Osgodby, Lincolnshire. Died in Bury, Lancashire 05th January 1998. Buried at Blackley Cemetery, Lancashire Grave 276. (shown above left)

Awards: Silver Cross of Military Virtue (No. 08984). The Cross of Valour and two bars. The French Croix de Guerre.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jean Pierre Duriez for additional information. Archiwum Mielnika. Other sources as quoted below.

RS 20.02.2020 - Addition of link to letter from Plt.Off. Nowakiewiecz
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', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', 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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