02.03.1945 300 (Masovian) Squadron Lancaster I NG501 Flt Lt. Władysław Wyganowski
Operation: Cologne (Köln), Germany
Date: 2nd March 1945 (Friday)
Unit No: 300 (Masovian) Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Faldingworth, Lincolnshire
Location: On or near Zülpicher Straße, Cologne (Köln), Germany.
Pilot: Flt Lt. Władysław Wyganowski P0847 PAF Age 31. KiA
Flt Eng: Sgt. Jacek Filek P780727 PAF Age 25. Murdered (1)
Nav: Sgt. Edmund Kulikowski P704443 PAF Age 23. KiA
Bomb Aimer: Plt Off. Józef Babiarz P2732 PAF Age 32. KiA
WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Jan Roman Horobiowski P705005 PAF Age 25. KiA
Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. Stefan Chętnicki P704989 PAF Age 25. KiA
Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Bolesław Filipiak P705000 PAF Age 22. KiA
REASON FOR LOSS:
NG501 took off from RAF Faldingworth at 07:14 hrs on the 2nd March 1945 and joined a force of 703 bombers on the first of two raids on Cologne (Köln) that day. These raids were the last conducted by the RAF on the city, which was taken by American forces 4 days later.
It is probable that NG501 was shot down by Flak although no records have been found that support that premise. Additionally as Cologne (Köln) was effectively on the front lines at this time German day fighter activity over the city was thought to be minimal and also no claims have been found relating to NG501.
The aircraft was reported to have crashed in the city itself near the level crossing at the junction of Zülpicher Straße and Vottfried Straße.
Above: There is no Vottfried Straße in today’s Cologne. The whole area is covered by university buildings and the university park. However, it is has been determined that the crash site on today’s maps would be on or near Zülpicher Straße between the junction of Zülpicher Wall and the railway line.
All of the crew except for Sgt. Filek, who baled out, were found and recovered from the aircraft wreckage.
(1) The fate of Sgt. Jacek Filek was unknown until a General Military Court was convened at Düsseldorf, Germany between the 28th and the 31st May 1946.
One German national was charged with committing a War Crime in that he at Cologne, on the 2nd March 1945 in violation of the laws and usages of war ill-treated and killed a Polish airman, a PoW serving under the orders of the Royal Air Force, believed to be Sgt. Filek.
The accused was a Theodor Fischer who was a former Leutnant der Polizei (Police 2nd Lt), a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA) (SA = Paramilitary arm of the Nazi party) and a member of the Nazi party. He was the Commanding Officer of a Schutzpolizei (Protection police) command post located with an air-raid shelter at Vorgebirgswall in Cologne (Köln).
The court heard that Sgt. Filek landed some 200 to 300 m. (218 to 328 yards) from the air-raid shelter at Vorgebirgswall in an open space adjacent to a railway embankment.
Fischer saw the airman and ordered that he should be taken to the air-raid shelter and laid down on the ground outside. It was determined that Sgt. Filek was in a severely injured condition, probably both his legs were broken and he had suffered internal injuries as he was seen to be spitting foaming blood.
Witnesses for the prosecution described the brutal treatment of the wounded airman by Fischer. He kept the airmen on the ground for an hour or more without medical aid and chased and threatened the German civilians who had tried to help the airman who was in pain and pleading for help. It was clear to the witnesses that Fischer had not the slightest intention of helping the wounded prisoner and as soon as he found Sgt. Filek was Polish he wanted him to suffer more. He was seen to kick him in the face and abuse him using the most insulting language.
Later that day and the next morning witnesses saw the dead body of Sgt. Filek on the ground about 100 m. (110 yards) from the air-raid shelter in the courtyard of a firm on Vorgebirgswall. The body was lying on its side and the head showed signs of serious injuries, a hefty stone stained with blood lying at the side of the head.
Fischer claimed that he had ordered his men to carry Sgt. Filek to the Beethoven Ambulance shelter located onEifelstraße and that he was alive at this time. The prosecutor asserted that a witness had seen Fischer follow his men and after a short distance ordered them to throw the wounded airman against a wall where he kicked or threw a heavy stone at the airman’s head.
Additionally another witness claimed that he had heard Fischer give the instruction not to let the wounded man live longer than the time it might take to carry him 150 m. (165 yards). The defence questioned the credibility of the first witness and Fischer denied that he had ordered the killing of the airman or that he was capable of picking up the hefty stone let alone throw it at the airman’s head because of a deformed hand.
The court apparently considered that the evidence did not support the part of the charge regarding the killing of Sgt. Filek but did find Fischer guilty of mis-treating the airman. Fischer was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in the Werl prison. The final disposition of his sentence is unknown.
It was clear from the evidence that the death of Sgt. Filek was unlawful, however, the perpetrator or perpetrators remain unknown.
Sgt. Filek’s body was taken to the West Cemetery which is located north of Venloer Straße in the Vogelsang district of the Ehrenfeld borough.
As the graves for this crew are scattered across Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands it was suspected that their bodies were found on different dates and by different organisations.
Above: This crew are also remembered on the Polish Air Force Memorial at RAF Northolt
Above: Grave marker for Flt Lt. Władysław Wyganowski (Courtesy of Des Philippet – FindAGrave)
Flt Lt. Władysław Wyganowski. Krzyż Walecznych (x2), Medal Lotniczy (x2). Laid to rest at the Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium, Plot VIII, Row A, Grave 7. Born on the 19th March 1914. No further details available.
Sgt. Jacek Filek. Krzyż Walecznych (x2), Medal Lotniczy. His body was recovered by the Americans and taken for reburial at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium. His remains were finally laid to rest at the Polish Field of Honour Cemetery Plot II.C.4 in Lommel, Belgium. Born on the 8th April 1919 in Barwałd, Śr. Wadowice. No further details available.
Above: Grave marker for Sgt. Edmund Kulikowski (Courtesy of Des Philippet – FindAGrave)
Sgt. Edmund Kulikowski. Laid to rest at the Polish Field of Honour Cemetery, Plot III.C.2 at Lommel, Belgium. Born on the 18th March 1921 in Siedice. No further details available.
Plt Off. Józef Babiarz. Krzyż Walecznych (x2), Medal Lotniczy (x2). Laid to rest at the Polish Field of Honour Cemetery Plot III.C.3 at Lommel, Belgium. Born on the 16th March 1912. No further details available.
Flt Sgt. Jan Roman Horobiowski. Krzyż Walecznych (x2), Medal Lotniczy (x2). Laid to rest at the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Plot 27.G.1. Born on the 15th March 1919 in Lwow Poland. No further details available.
Flt Sgt. Stefan Chętnicki. Krzyż Walecznych (x2), Medal Lotniczy. Initially buried at the Margraten, Plot VI.F.15. Exhumed and transferred to Amersfoort Plot 12A.43. His remains now rest in the Polish Field of Honour Cemetery, Plot E.5.13 at Breda, Netherlands. Born on the 12th December 1919. No further details available.
Above: Grave marker for Flt Sgt. Bolesław Filipiak (Courtesy of Fred – FindAGrave)
Flt Sgt. Bolesław Filipiak. Krzyż Walecznych (x2), Medal Lotniczy (x2). Initially buried at the Margraten American Cemetery Plot EE, Row 9, Grave 218. Finally laid to rest at the Venray War Cemetery, Plot VII.A.9, Netherlands. Born on the 15th March 1923 in Zakopane, Powiat tatrzański, Małopolskie, Poland. No further details available.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. With thanks to Traugott Vitz for his work on the 'VitzArchive’.
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