R.A.F. Polish

photo: Russell Legross

Date of death
Today buried

plut. strz. r/op.
14.10.1909 Grodno
R.A.F. Polish
305 Sqdn
25.6.1941, Clacton, UK
Newark on Trent, Cemetery, U.K.
War Graves Plot Section , Grave L 301

Vickers Wellington IC, nr. W5723, code SM-F participated in the raid 
on Boulogne and was damaged by German flak.
The aircraft ditched in the sea 3 km. from Clacton, Essex, UK

Januszkiewiec Wacław
Lewoniec Zbigniew (washed ashore a week after the crash)
Kielich Kazimierz Maciej (washed ashore the same day)

Witczak Stanisław 

Frankowski Tadeusz Jan
Idzikowski Zbigniew Augustyn

Extract from "Seaside Front Line - a diary of events and incidents at Frinton, 
Walton, Kirby and Gt Holland 1939-45"

25 June 1941 - Wellington W5723, 305 Squadron

Just before midnight on Tuesday 24th June 1941, two Wellingtons from 305 
(Polish) Squadron left RAF Syerston, near Newark in Lincolnshire, for an attack 
on the docks at Boulogne. 

One of the Wellington's, W5723, coded 'F', had an inexperienced crew and 
Squadron Leader Kielich was flying with them as an additional but experienced pilot.

Over the target there was no cloud, but it was misty and very dark. Squadron 
Leader Kielich's aircraft made its attack and then turned for home. 
About 15 miles west of Calais the Wellington was hit by anti-aircraft gunfire 
from an unidentified ship. The port engine stopped shortly afterwards and the 
starboard engine soon showed signs of overheating, so the pilot altered course
to make for RAF Stradishall in Suffolk. 

As the Wellington reached the coast near Clacton, Squadron Leader Kielich 
ordered the crew to parachute stations.
The rear gunner, Sergeant Frankowski, baled out and came down safely at 
Great Holland, but the aircraft turned out to sea (the squadron's records speculate 
that it was perhaps to avoid the damage that a bomber crashing on land would cause) 
and the remaining crew apparently baled out over the water; the squadron's records 
add that the Wellington was seen to dive steeply into the water.

At 2:25 a.m. on 25th June, the Coastguards reported that the bomber was 
believed to be down in the sea several miles to the east of Clacton and the 
Clacton lifeboat was launched at 3:15 a.m. 

A light south-east wind was blowing and the sea was smooth. Two miles south-east 
of Holland Haven the lifeboat found the aircraft's navigator, Pilot Officer Idzikowski, 
swimming in the water and afterwards picked up the bomber's empty dinghy. 

As the navigator was unhurt, the lifeboat continued the search for the other airmen, 
but without success. After two hours the lifeboat returned to Clacton to land Pilot Officer 
Idzikowski, then put to sea again and continued the search until 8:30 a.m.

Later in the day Squadron Leader Kielich's body was found in the sea off 
Walton-on-the-Naze. A week later, on 2 July, the body of Sergeant Lewoniec 
(Wireless Operator) was recovered from the sea off Holland-on-Sea attached 
to an opened parachute; the military authorities pronouncing the cause of death 
as apparently head injuries and drowning. 

The body of Sergeant Januszkiewicz (2nd Pilot) was also subsequently found, 
but Sergeant Witczac (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner) remained missing.
The squadron's records state that the wreckage of Wellington W5723 was salvaged.

Courtesy Geoff Rayner

[About this CEMETERY]

[His name is mentioned on the Polish Air Force memorial at Northolt, U.K.]

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