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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
05.12.1942 No. 302 Squadron Spitfire Vb BL403 F/O. Marian Rytka M.B.E. D.F.C.

Operation: Training

Date: 5th December 1942 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 302 Squadron (Polish)

Type: Spitfire Vb

Serial: BL403

Base: RAF Northolt, Middlesex.

Location: 2 miles from the airport at Heston, Hounslow, Middlesex.

Pilot: F/O. Marian Rytka MBE. DFM. DFC. VM. CV 2 bars P-1574 PAF Age 28. Killed


On the 21st May 1941 whilst serving with 302 Squadron on a Circus operation flying Hurricane IIA Z2423 was shot down - evaded capture and managed to return in only three months via Gibraltar to the U.K. It was during this period that he was awarded the MBE for "special services" (1)

Above left: shown wearing the Mae West. 

He is credited for the following during his short service:

08.05.1941 Me 109
21.05.1941 Me 109F
30.12.1941 Me109F
17.04.1942 Me 109

On a non-operational flight the engine of his Spitfire BL403 failed and he was forced to crash land the aircraft. Despite efforts to save him he died later in the local hospital.

Above: his funeral at Northwood Cemetery. Left: Grave at Northwood (Taken by Aircrew Remembered and available at a high resolution to relatives/friends of the pilot.

Burial Details:

P/O. Marian Rytka MBE. DFM. DFC. VM. CV 2 bars. Northwood Cemetery. Sec H. Grave 341. Born on 19th August 1914. Warsaw, Poland. 

Further information: Instructor at the Air School in Deblin. Escaped to France and served during the France campaign. 

Trained at 5 O.T.U before going 303 squadron as a Sgt. on the 17th October 1940. Six days later transferred to 302 Squadron and promoted to P/O. in May 1941.

Acknowledgments: Kate Tame, National Archives WO 373/61. Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - "Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945", Peter Sikora, Norman L.R. Franks "Fighter Command Losses" Vol's. 1, Jerzy Bogdan Cynk - "The Polish Airforce At War" Vol's. 1 and 2.

(1) This officer was shot down in aerial combat on May 21st 1941 and landed by parachute in Northern France. Effected s very rapid and successful escape through France and eventually across the Pyrenees. On reaching the station at Barcelona he and some Englishmen were arrested by the Spanish police. P/O. Rytka managed to escape across the railway and to make his way to the Polish consulate. In view of the fact that he is the first Polish officer to have escaped from France, it is suggested that the award be, in this case, agreed to. Rytka was never captured by the Germans. (Initially this was a nomination for the Military Cross)

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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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