6 June 1915 - 7 October 2006
Władysław Chciuk VM KW: 308 Sqd Polish Pilot
Source: Unknown, permission sought
From Dęblin to USA
Władyslaw Chciuk was born on the 6th of June 1915 in Drohobycz, Poland. During his childhood he became a scout, a service commitment that continued throughout his life. Even as he finished his lessons at King Władysław Jagiellion College Preparatory High School, war clouds were already forming in Europe. During school he took part in a glider program funded by the government. Coupled with his patriotism, Eagle Scout background and sense of adventure, there was little surprise when he was accepted by the Air Force Academy at Dęblin.
He finished his training at Deblin in 1939 commissioned as an officer with the 'lucky thirteenth' promotion. As a Second Lieutenant Pilot he was assigned to a fighter squadron in the 2nd Air Regiment, Krakow Squadron. It was in the unit that he began the war. As one of the newer pilots, and with a shortage of aircraft and later fuel he had few opportunities to strike back at his country’s attacker at that point. With the front line collapsing and little remaining fuel or munitions, he was ordered with the other flyers to make for the border to fight again from allied fields. He was among a large contingent of Polish flyers that made it to Rumania only to be interned by a fearful Rumanian government. Through the workings of the Polish embassy and friends within the Rumanian government, most flyers 'escaped' internment making their way as did Władysław (Wladek) through Greece and Yugoslavia until arriving by boat in France.
In France he was selected for one of the first squadrons to be reequipped by the French to continue the flight. Joining the 'Montpellier' Squadron, he quickly learned the characteristics of the MS 406 and adapted quickly to the French fighter plane. His logbook shows not only the many patrol and defensive actions but records his first credit for probably shooting down an enemy aircraft, (it was trailing smoke and badly damaged when lost from sight). Despite the abilities of the Montpellier Squadron, they were soon forced to evacuate when the French signed an armistice with the Germans.
First by boat to North Africa and later to Great Britain, he rejoined the fight again this time beside the British. Assigned to 308 Squadron, (City of Krakow) he missed the Battle of Britain as he had stayed fighting in France too long to transition to British aircraft in time for the initial battle. By 1941, he and 308 Squadron were in the thick of the battle. He was selected for the award of his nation’s top military honors, the Virtuti Militari Cross and the Cross of Valor. As the Air War went over occupied Europe from the British Skies, losses among Fighter command escalated. The experienced Polish flyers in 1942 made up almost 20% of the RAF flyers and constituted the second largest Air Force until the arrival of the US forces in strength in late 1943.
As the Allies' air offensive gained momentum, increasingly the fighter squadrons were called upon for more tactical missions. It was during a ground-attack rhubarb that F/O Chciuk was forced to bale from his flak-damaged aircraft over occupied France. Injured upon landing, he was captured by the Germans and sent to POW camp VI/B in Warburg. While a POW he teamed with some other Polish officers to form a singing quartet to lend some comfort to the general body of prisoners.
As a footnote, upon the end of hostilities and their liberation, the quartet was sponsored by the Polish and British Air Forces and performed for many a camp and even on stage in London’s Theater District. Prior to their liberation, he was moved to POW camp X/C where conditions were even worse. Not only did the Germans try to differentiate between the British and Polish officers serving with the RAF, but tried unsuccessfully to alienate them from each other through news of the Katyn Massacre and Yalta accords.
Serving with the Polish Forces until 1947, he ended the war with the rank of Kapitan in the Polish Air Force. He later married a decorated veteran of the 1944 Polish uprising in Warsaw, Krystyna Pisarka. He worked in industry in the U.K until 1952 when he emigrated to the USA. While employed as a machinist he continued his affiliation with scouting, supporting his 3 daughters' scouting ventures. He retired in 1983 from industry, but stayed active writing of the Polish Air Force during WW2.
Captain Chciuk made that final flight on the 7th of October 2006 when he passed away at the age of 91.
Source: Center for Military Studies (Reproduced with permission sought)
ABOUT THE CENTER
The Center for Military Studies was founded in 1992 in response to the tumultuous events that unfolded in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Gulf War brought Poles and Czechs, fighting alongside U.S. forces for the first time since WW2. Founder, Gerald Kochan, serving as a U.S. Army officer in the Gulf worked with these forces and was inspired by this experience and his heritage to seek recognition for their efforts.
The concept snowballed and the Center came in existence to recognize contributions by the newly reconstituted democracies of Eastern Europe, not only their current, but their earlier combats alongside the U.S. military. Contributions which had largely been obscured as a result of the Yalta Conference were to be its focus.
With an honorary board consisting of the late Colonel Gabby Gabreski, Major Jerry Devlin and Colonel Richard Jung among others providing guidance, the project moved rapidly forward.
Among the many museums benefiting from the Center's programs and donations have been The Mighty Eighth Air Force Memorial Museum, The 82nd Airborne Memorial Museum, The Silent Wings Museum and the National Infantry Museum.
Currently the Polish American Museum located at 16 Belleview Ave., Port Washington, NY is home to much of the CMS collection. The CMS founder serves as museum director and member of the Board of Trustees for the Polish American Museum, (P.A.M.). Occupying one wing of the museum, the collection offers visitors, researchers, and students alike an in-depth look at the Polish military heritage.
Saluting Krystyna Chciuk
The Lively Foundation is very sad that Mrs. Krystyna Maria Chciuk passed away in September. She was a lovely person and a friend to so many. Lively and its Artistic Director, Leslie Friedman know how fortunate we are to have known her. At the age of 15, she was sworn in to the Polish Resistance. It was something of an accident because she was really too young. However, she stayed and became a Laczniczka, a courier. She took guns and messages from one side of Warsaw to another and also led soldiers across the occupied city. She participated in the Warsaw Uprising, 1944, and was captured by the Nazis. She was forced into Prisoner of War camps.
In 1945 she was freed from the camps and joined the Polish Army in Exile, in London. She met Mr. Wladyslaw Chciuk, a pilot. He had been a Captain in the Polish Air Force and flew with the RAF in the Polish Squadron. He was a Prisoner of War in Germany, 1943-45. They were married in 1951. In 1952, they came to the US, first living in Milwaukee and then moving to San Francisco. While working full time and caring for her family of three daughters and Mr. Chciuk, she devoted herself to preserving the Polish language and culture in her new home. She was the founder of the Lowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble, teaching and directing the dances. She also was energetic in support of Polish Scouting and Polish Saturday language schools. As her daughters stated in her obituary, “we shared our mother with all of you more so than many people share a family member.” Pani Krystyna Chciuk contributed to the whole Bay Area through her integrity and kindness. She was always a shining light in our multi-cultural culture. She is greatly missed.
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