28/29.03.1942 305 (Ziemia Wielkopolska) Squadron, Wellington II W5567, Sgt. F. Wasinki
Operation: Lübeck, Germany
Date: 28th/29th March 1942 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: 305 (Ziemia Wielkopolska) Squadron
Type: Wellington II
Serial No: W5567
Location: Near Benz, Malente, Germany
Base: RAF Lindholme, South Yorkshire
Pilot: Sgt. Franciszek Wasinki P782928 PAF Age 27. PoW No. 24786 *
2nd Pilot: Fg Off. Jerzy Leon Antoni Jungowski P0208 PAF Age 32. PoW No. 12 *
Obs: Fg Off. Kazimierz Pawluk P0740 PAF Age 38. PoW No. 23 ** / Murdered (1)
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Czesław Jan Krupa P780692 PAF Age 22. PoW No. 24839 *
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Marian Jan Skubiszeski P792265 PAF Age 26. PoW No. 24825 ***
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Józef Michał Krawlec P784440 PAF Age 28. PoW No. 24808 *
* Stalag 357, Thorn (Toruń) in Poland. Moved in September 1944 to Stalag 11b, Fallingbostel, Lower Saxony, Germany.
** Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)
*** Stalag Luft 1, Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.
REASON FOR LOSS:
On the 28th March 1942 at 21:23 hrs W5567 took off from RAF Lindholme and joined a force of 234 bombers on a mission to bomb the city of Lübeck in Germany.
The attack was carried out in good visibility, with the help of an almost full moon, and because of the light defences of the target, from low level, with many crews descending to 2000 ft to release their bombs.
Although this was deemed to be successful mission Lübeck was not raided again by the full strength of the RAF during the war. A Swiss diplomat who was president of the International Red Cross (IRC) later negotiated an agreement with Britain that the port would not be bombed again because it was being used for the shipment of IRC supplies.
W5567 was hit by flak from 3./Res Flak. Abt 617 (Flakbrigade) whilst flying over Schleswig-Holstein. The aircraft force landed near Malente-Benz at 01:37 hrs. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (13 July 1941 - 29 May 1942) The Early Years Part 2 - Theo Boiten)
The crew survived the forced landing and were captured.
Above crash images of W5567 (courtesy of Helge Borgmann from Berlin)
(1) Fg Off. Pawluk is not named as being involved in the Escape Organisation and there is no record that describes his role in assisting in the execution of the plan. However, six hundred PoWs had been engaged on work connected with the tunnel and two hundred of them were chosen to escape so it is safe to assume that he was involved in some capacity.
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.
Fg Off. Pawluk was one of a party of twelve that set out in a southerly direction through some woods to a small railway station. The party boarded a train at 05:00 hrs which arrived at Ober-Rohrsdorf at about 11:00 hrs without incident. Here the party split up into smaller groups. It is not known who Fg Off. Pawluk teamed up with nor are the circumstances of his capture. (Ref 1).
He was next seen by Maj. Dodge on the 26th March at the Criminal Police Headquarters in Hirschberg. After being interrogated Fg Off. Pawluk was the taken to the Civil Prison in Hirschberg and was last seen on the 29th March by Maj. Dodge before he himself was sent to the Concentration camp at Sachsenhausen - Sonderlager A. (Ref 1).
Major John ‘Johnnie’ Bigelow Dodge, 101106 of The Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge’s Own). Maj. Dodge survived his incarceration and was liberated by Allied forces.
Flt Lt. James witnessed Flt Lt. Wernham, Flt Lt. Kiewnarski, Flt Lt. Pawluk and Plt Off. Skantziklas being taken from the Civil Prison in Hirschberg to an unknown destination on the 30th March 1944. (Ref 1).
Flt Lt. Bertram Arthur James, 42232, Observer from 9 Sqn Wellington Ia P9232 (Insert Link), lost on a mission to Duisburg, Germany on the 5th/6th June 1940. After his capture he was sent to the Concentration Camp at Sachsenhausen - Sonderlager A on the 6th April 1944. Flt Lt. James survived his incarceration and was liberated by Allied forces.
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”.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Fg Off. Pawluk were established during the second of two trials which was convened at the Curiohaus, Hamburg on the 28th August 1948.
Of the four charges heard by the court the 2nd related to one German national who was charged with committing a war crime in that he in the vicinity of Hirschberg, Germany, on or about the 29th March 1944, when a member of the Breslau Gestapo in violation of the laws and usages of War, was concerned in the killing of Flt Lt. A. Kiewnarski, Flt Lt. K. Pawluk, Flt Lt. J.C. Wernham and Plt Off. S. Skantzikas who were all PoWs.
The accused was:
Erwin Wieczorek who was a former Kriminalrat (Detective Director), held the rank of SS- Sturmbannführer (Maj) and was a senior official in the Breslau Gestapo office.
After the reading of the charges the court was adjourned until the 4th October and reconvened on the 11th October 1948 and sat for twelve days.
The court heard that the four officers were held at Criminal Police Headquarters in Hirschberg awaiting the arrival of the head of the Gestapo office at Breslau, a Dr. Scharpwinkel, and a squad of Breslau officials.
Dr. Wilhelm Scharpwinkel was the former head of the Gestapo office at Breslau ranking as Oberregierungsrat (German Civil service rank). He also held the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lt Col).
After the war Scharpwinkel was masquerading as a Lt. Hagemann at the No. 6 Hospital at Breslau from where Russian officers removed him at gunpoint. During the enquiry into the murders, the Russians refused to co-operate with the Allied investigation, although after much prodding they allowed Scharpwinkel to make a statement, in Moscow, during August and September 1946. Soon afterwards, Scharpwinkel disappeared and it was reported that he had died in a Soviet prison on the 17th October 1947.
Scharpwinkel carried out the interrogations and when they were concluded he told Wieczorek that the four officers were to be shot and told him to detail two officials for escort duty and that Wieczorek was to join them. Wieczorek claimed that he sought to excuse himself from that duty.
The officers were taken in a convoy of four cars in the direction of Sagan. Wieczorek and another Breslau official travelled with one of the four officers on that journey. The convoy drove for about 30 minutes and a suitable place by the roadside the four cars drew up. This was early evening possibly about 18:00 hrs and it was already dark. The four officers were given the opportunity to relieve themselves at the. side of the road. As they stood between the second and third cars they were shot and killed.
Wieczorek claimed that he was standing by the first car and was not involved in the shooting but that Scharpwinkel was present and was in charge of the operation.
The duty of arranging the cremations was left to the head of the Hirschberg office. Wieczorek and Scharpwinkel drove back to the Hirschberg office where Scharpwinkel completed a report to be sent to Amt IV which recorded that the officers were shot whilst attempting to escape.
Amt IV = RSHA Department IV = Gestapo.
Wieczorek was the sole representative of that relatively small group of men who carried out the shootings of the twenty-nine prisoners in the Breslau area. Scharpwinkel was dead, some of the other suspects were also dead, the rest of them were not in custody, so that the only one that could be brought before the Court on this charge was Wieczorek.
Erwin Wieczorek was found guilty on this charge and the first charge. He was sentenced to death by hanging but his sentence was quashed upon review.
Memorial to “The Fifty” near to Żagań (Credit: CSvBibra - Own work, Public Domain)
Above grave marker for Fg Off. Pawluk (Credit: TWGPP)
Fg Off. Kazimierz Pawluk. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland. Plot 7, Row D Grave 5.
PAF Memorial, Northolt. Born on the 1st July 1906 Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland. No further details.
Fg Off. Pawluk 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. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 8th June 1944.
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.
1. Stalag Luft III - An official history of the “Great Escape’ PoW Camp - Published by Frontline Books - ISBN: 978-1-47388-305-5