03.02.1943 No. 308 Squadron Spitfire Vb AD549 F/O. Wiejski
Operation: Circus 258
Date: 03rd February 1943 (Wednesday)
Unit: No. 308 Squadron (Polish)
Type: Spitfire Vb
Base: RAF Northolt, Middlesex.
Location: English Channel, off Belgium coast
Pilot: F/O. Jan Wiejski P-0873 PAF Age 27. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Take off at 16:15 hrs to escort Bombers en-route to Courtrai.
A disastrous day for the Polish squadrons in that 308 Squadron lost 4 aircraft (1 killed, 2 PoW and 1 evading capture) 315 Squadron almost lost P/O. Blok (some publications list him as missing believed killed).
308 Operation Record Book for the days operations:
P/O’s Marchall and Mickiewicz detached to Officer’s School Cosford.
Circus 258 – escorting bombers over Courtrai. Squadron took off at 09:55 hours and landed at 11:45 to 12:25 hours. Rendezvous was made with the bombers and Hornchurch wing over Bradwell Bay.
Over the Belgian Coast it was completely clouded over at 6-9,000’ so that the bombers were unable to drop their load. They made a turn to the right – Hornchurch was then behind with 308 Squadron above covering the bombers. A number of Focke-Wolf’s were then seen approaching the bombers from left, and at 2 – 3,000’ higher up two Focke-Wolf’s were seen approaching the bombers from the rear and below.
Fl/Lt. Koc and F/O. Wiejski make for this section who turned in a dive. Nothing further was seen of Fl/Lt. Koc and F/O Wiejski. A general mess up takes place on the arrival of more Fw’s now numbering about 30 in all. Each pilot is attacked by two or three Fw’s but manages to shake them off and maintain contact with the bombers. Some Fw’s keep up the chase almost to the English Coast. Pilots return to Northolt in one’s and two’s after landing and re-fuelling at other aerodromes on the way. Fl/Lt. Koc, F/O. Wiejski, F/O. Zbierzchowski and Fl/Sgt. Okroj fail to return. Sq/Ldr. Zak claims one Fw probably destroyed.
25 year old, F/O. Jerzy Ryszard Zbierzchowski P-0514 PAF PoW No. 177 Stalag Luft Sagan. Born on the 29th January 1917. From Piaski Wielkie, Poland. Passed away on the 27th January 1993 in Australia.
Fl/Sgt. Jan Okroj 783688 PAF PoW No. 27461 Stalag Kopernikus. Born on the 26th January 1918. From Stężyca, Poland. Passed away on the 11th January 2011 in Canada.
Fl/Lt. Tadeusz Koc P-0696 PAF Evaded capture and returned to England the following month. Born on the 09th August 1913. From Grabanów, Poland. Passed away on the 03rd June 2008 in Canada.
27 year old, PO. Stanisław Józef Blok 783387 PAF returned with his damaged Spitfire BS409. Further details here.
Above as labelled: Front row: P/O. Dewar, F/O. Barnett, Fl/Lt. Timney, F/O. Lenton, F/O. Lovell, F/O. Webb.
Centre row: Sgt. Shaw, F/O. Jan Wiejski P-0873, F/O. Florian Martini P-1078, F/O. Ryszard Sylwester Ronowicz, P/O. Jan Józef Zygmunt Mozolowski 781400.
Rear row: Sgt. Pratt, Sgt. Brown, Sgt. Piotr Tadeusz Hanzelka 793154, Sgt. Stefan Czachla 782696, Sgt. Richardson, Sgt. Mieczysław Baklarz 792187.
F/O. Jan Wiejski. Missing, commemorated on the Polish Memorial at Northolt and at the Warsaw Memorial (shown above). Born 21 June 1915 in Józefy, near Warsaw, Poland. Next of kin details not currently available.
Researched and dedicated to relatives of the pilot with thanks for further information to the Grangemouth Air Cadets and the Grangemouth Spitfire Memorial Trust who provided me with so much information and assistance during my visit, Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945'. Jacek Kutzner, Piotr Mikołajsk For O.R.B. information.