306 Squadron Origins

HISTORY OF No. 306 "City of Torun" POLISH FIGHTER SQUADRON
Written by Wilhelm Ratuszynski

   1940

      


By June of 1940 the first two Polish fighter squadrons in Great Britain were already being formed, and by that time it became apparent that previously conceived number of them would not suffice. Thus, even though the Battle of Britain was still being decided, and the German invasion of England was still a big threat, formation of more Polish Squadrons was on the drawing boards of the British war planners. On August 3, 1940, the Anglo-Polish Agreement for the Polish Armed Forces was signed, and the Polish Air Force was established. As soon as its headquarters were organized in London, the new fighter squadron was organized. F/Lt Tadeusz Rolski was detailed off to the Polish Depot in Blackpool to form No. 306 (Polish) Squadron. Its personnel consisted mostly of pilots from prewar P.A.F. units: III/4 of Torun and III/3 of Poznan. Rolski was the last commander of the former, and was an obvious choice for the CO of the new squadron. On August 28 the R.A.F. Headquarters issue an order to officially form the unit at Chruch Fenton near Tadcaster, York.

May 1940,Poles arrive to Blackpool. Air Training Corps established in an Amusement Park, what looks like a former Jewish synagogue. Under the sign Lanes Premier Amusements Park to the left, the somewhat suggestive line can be read: "We lead, others follow".

On that day, first 306's Hurricanes were delivered to Church Fenton, which together with few British ground crews and one pilot was all the new Polish squadron consisted of. Assigned code letters UZ were painted over the fuselages for the first time. The Rolski's bunch came to Church Fenton on September 4, 1940. There were 109 ground personnel and only 12 of 25 pilots assigned to the unit. The same day the British CO, S/Ldr D.R. Scott and Flight Commander F/Lt H.C. Kennard also came. The squadron later observed this date as its Official Day.

      Toward the end of the September the unit began function more or less as the R.A.F. squadron, as the rest of the flying personnel arrived, including other British Flight Commnader F/Lt H.W. Tennat. The lack of knowledge of the English language and rather shabby state of the aircraft hindered somewhat the training process, and only 15 Polish pilots were fully trained on Hurricanes. In October, pilots began training at Sutton Bridge range in shifts with the unit still based at Church Fenton. At this time some jockeying of unit's officers for the positions took place, and the visit of W/Cdr Pawlikowski from the Polish Air Force Inspectorate instead of clarify the situation brought more confusion. He nominated S/Ldr Mümler (the 302 Squadron CO) to lead the unit, together with new Flight Commanders. Mümler never came to Church Fenton, and it was S/Ldr Jan Orzechowski, who bumped Rolski to FC position. Only three days after, Orzechowski left the unit (to 245 Sqn.), and S/Ldr Rolski took over the command anew. Similar situations occurred during early days of other Polish squadrons, and British saw it as a typical Polish bickering. This however, did not affect their opinion about Poles as gifted pilots, which the latter proved beyond any doubts time and again.

      It is unclear what day exactly the squadron was declared operational (either the 7th or the 8th November), but its first section of Hurricanes was put in readiness on October 29. At the end of the month, 22 pilots were action-ready, with six of them trained in night flying as well. The first move came on November 2, as the 306 was ordered to RAF Ternhill. The base was completely unprepared for the squadron with its ad hoc facilities. On the November 8, the first operational flight was recorded, as the section of F/Lt Tennat, S/Ldr Rolski and Sgt Turzanski flew 1 hour 20 minute patrol over Liverpool-Manchester area.

In mid-November, after few more minor alternations among the flying personnel, the squadron's roster finally crystallized:

      S/Ldr Tadeusz Rolski the CO with S/Ldr D.R. Scott as his British counterpart. Flight A: F/O Franciszek Skiba(complemented by F/Lt Kennard) the CO; F/O P.L. Dawbarn (instructor); F/O Wladyslaw Nowak; F/O Stanilsaw Zielinski; P/O Bohdan Bielkiewicz; P/O Edward Jankowski; P/O Kazimierz Rutkowski; P/O Edward Suszynski; Sgt Otto Pudrycki; Sgt Boleslaw Turzanski; Sgt Jan Smigielski; Sgt Stanislaw Wieprzkowicz; Sgt Wladyslaw Gmitrowiczand Sgt Leon Kosmowski. Flight B: F/Lt Jerzy Zaremba (complemented by F/Lt H.W. Tennant) the CO; F/O Jerzy Slonski-Ostoja; F/O Kazimierz Wolinski; P/O Jan Czapiewski; P/O Zdzislaw Langhamer; P/O Aleksander Petruszka; P/O Jozef Zulikowski; Sgt Marek Slonski-Ostoja; Sgt Wawrzyniec Jasinski; Sgt Bruno Korczynski; Sgt Henryk Pietrzak; Sgt Kazimierz Waskiewicz and Sgt Marcin Machowiak.

      Soon the roster was beefed up by the arrival of three Polish Battle of Britain veterans: F/O Stefan Witorzenc, P/O Rozycki and P/O Pniak.

      On the November 13, the unit recorded the first enemy encounter as the section of F/Lt Kennard spotted and successfully attacked a He-111, which was classified as probably shot down. However, the P/O Bielkiewicz's Hurricane received serious damaged from the return fire and had to force-land. Overall, the month on November 1940 was marked by a series of accidents, caused by a poor weather and landing strip, as well as rapidly deteriorating condition of aircrafts. Among the victims was seriously wounded S/Ldr Scott, who was replaced by S/Ldr D.E. Gillam on December 1. Later that month there was more changes in flying personnel, caused by arrival of three British Flying Officers: H.C. Baker, D.T. Parrott and P.H. Baldwin. Soon after, posted to the 306 were experienced P/O Marina Skalski (no relation to Stanislaw Skalski) and P/O Benedykt Zielinski. Most unfortunate was the loss of F/Lt Tennant who crashed his Hurricane in adverse weather on Christmas Eve.

1941

                 

The first weeks of the New Year were very wet and the airfield was non operational. Some flights were made out of nearby airstrip High Ercall. Questionable was night flying training conducted in adverse weather conditions. This resulted in crashes of P/O Bielkiewicz and Sgt Jasinski, both on February 13. Bielkiewcz died and Jasinski was seriously injured. These losses not only hurt the unit, which was still developing its integrity, but also intensified a pilot rotation. Constant changes in the squadron roster seemed to be a general characteristic in the Polish Air Force. On top of the Polish Headquarters somewhat coherent idea of mixing the inexperienced pilots with veterans, S/Ldr Rolski tried to bring to the 306 people he knew from his prewar squadron.

Ternhill, March 1941. (Via R. Gretzynger)

    The unit flew almost exclusively one section patrols and training flights. In the RAF plans, the 306 was to become a night fighter unit, thus the training concentrated on night flying, what was openly criticized by most of the pilots. To their relief, those plans were abandoned and on April 1, the 306 became a part of the No. 1 Polish Fighter Wing in Northolt. With change of location came also a change of aircraft. Now the 306 was flying a newer version of the Hurricane, and planes in much better condition. The British cotangent of officers was posted off to other units, and the Polish commanding officers felt much less anxiety on their posts being more efficiently employed.

Northolt late May 1941. Above: F/O Jan Czapiewski.
Below: early 306 Hurricane with visible unit's logo painted on the fuselage (left), Sgt Zieba climbing out of cockpit, followed by P/O Rutkowski in the same scene.

Pictures made from a color movie. Courtesy of Thomas Studeny.

 During the Battle of Britain the RAF tactics depended on the individual flight or squadron, and only at the end of the clash that wings of more than two squadrons began to operate. These larger formations were a necessity in a light of offensive operations over France, which were soon to come. No. 1 Polish Fighter Wing, with No. 306 Squadron, was just the result of this necessity.

      On April 10, together with No. 601, the squadron flew its first full-strength mission, patrol over Thames Estuary. Six days later, twelve Hurricanes Mk. II with UZ code letters showed up for the first time over the occupied France, as a part of the escort in Circus 9. The regular duty of the unit however, were defensive patrols flew often in a full strength.

      On May 10, the unit recorded its first victory, when F/O Nowak downed He111 during a night patrol. That night the air over London was thick with Luftwaffe bombers, and F/O Ranoszek was credited with another He111 damaged. Unavoidably, with victories came losses. On May 19 during a patrol over Maidstone, the 306 was caught during maneuvering by a group of Me109s. In a quick attack Germans shot down three Polish Hurricanes; F/O Czapiewski was killed, while P/O Rutkowski and Sgt Kroczynski were wounded.

      The summer of 1941 for No. 306 "City of Torun" Squadron became a full time fighter job. Poles flew all sort of offensive and defensive sorties. They did not encounter the enemy too often, but when they did they score some and lose some. The first pilot loss over the France came on June 28, when during the Circus 26 (Comiens) P/O Zulikowski was shot down by a Me109. He was presumed killed in action, when in fact, he baled out, evaded capture and returned to the unit. Toward the end of June, selected pilots began training flights on Spitfire, which officially became the 306 weapon on July 14. Meantime S/Ldr Rolski took over the command of the Wing, and was replaced by S/Ldr Zaremba.

      When on July 20, the squadron made two successful full-strength sorties over France, everybody thought it was a good day. Instead, the day ended with tragedy, which stirred a bit of political fuss. At that time, the base commander was receiving rather serious complains from the local... golf club. Players complain that too many flights by the Polish Wing are being flown directly over their golf course, what became quite a nuisance to them. This was intensely commented among the while base personnel, with many pilots simply outraged by the fact that someone cares more about golf than the people who defended the country in war, and at the same token, someone's freedom to play the "bloody game". Although being on leave, P/O Jaugsch took the squadron's Tiger Moth (no. T7301) belonging to the base Headquarters for a joy ride. Probably stirred by this recent controversy, he wanted to teach few players a lesson, which played an evening round of golf. He made several passes at the couple of players with one of them refusing to lay flat every time the Tiger Moth's wing flung just above their heads. Every pass, Leon Jaugsch flew a little bit lower and the player still stood straight and proud. Eventually he flew too law and literally decapitated and prominent figure of the local community. The pilot was jailed and never flew again, while the effort was made to hush the incident.

      Early August brought bad weather what gave the unit some needed respite. Several new pilots joined the 306, both veterans and fresh pilots from OUT.

      On the 14th, the Wing encountered a formation of some 25 Bf109s near St. Omer, and the 306 initiated the attack exposing the enemy flank, what permitted other Polish squadrons (315 and 308) to score a big victory. In this scrap the 306 scored twice, but lost three pilots including the CO, S/Ldr Zaremba. F/Lt Slonki-Ostoja, who downed one Bf109 in that fight, replaced him the next day. Two days later, during Circus 74, the squadron recorded a significant success trashing 6 Messerschmidts near Hardelot, plus 1 damaged, for a loss of one Spitfire. That was a "jolly good show" right in time for an upcoming visit of Air Marshall Sholto-Douglas. The No. 1 man of the Fighter Command visited the Wing on August 20th, and promised a new version of Spitfire Mk.V. since the MkII was inferior to German fighters for some time.

      The unit flew Circus after Circus operations, mostly uneventful mission, although always very tense and tiring for the pilots. Worth noticing is feat by F/O Radomski on August 27. The 306 was attacked by a section of Bf109s, which damaged the Radomski's Spitfire. His plane received a 20 mm cannon shell in the cockpit, which upon exploding took of the pilot's arm. Despite such a dreadful injury, he managed to fly the plane back to England and made a perfect landing, while having his severed arm on his lap. Two days later, after only two weeks having him as the CO, the 306 lost S/Ldr Slonski-Ostoja. F/Lt Wczelik filled the opening being transferred from No. 317 Squadron.

      As promised by AM Sholto-Douglas, in first week of September, the Wing received new Spitfires. Better aircraft served Poles well for the rest of the September. The squadron flew numerous Circus and Fighter Sweep sorties, and was soon to be rested. On October 6, the farewell party was organized and the next day, the whole personnel moved to Speke, near Liverpool. The new Spitfires were taken over by returning to Northolt No. 303 Squadron.

      In RAF Sepke, the 306 became practically a training unit, sporadically sending two-plane sections for convoy patrols. Well over 30 new pilots name appeared in the unit ORBs, vast majority of them pilots who were later sent to other units. Back on old and worn-out Spitfires, and weather permitting, the airmen went under intensive training. Fortunately, only one fatal accident was recorded, when on December 5th, Sgt Pudrycki crashed near Squires Gate.

      In mid December "Torunski" went back to operational flying. By motor transport the whole personnel moved to Church Stanton on December 12. Once there, the 306 took over a complement of Spitfire's VB left behind by No. 316 Squadron. This time, the unit became part of the Second Polish Fighter Wing, commanded by W/Cdr Witorzenc. From Church Stanton, the 306 started to fly patrols, slowly joining more often in offensive sorties over France. In those flights the unit was credited with several panes shot down, for the loss of one pilot, F/Lt Zielinski, Flight "A" commander.

1942



  The first quarter of the year was filled mostly by training and patrols. In March, few offensive sorties were flown, but no major events were recorded in books. Several scrambles and more changes in pilot roster marked this period. Only in mid April, with the change of weather, the monotony was over. On 12th, that month, the pilots of the 306 flew an air show over the industrial complex of Weston-Super-Mare. Two days later came a reminder that the war was being fought. The Circus 123 started with accident during mid-landing in Tangmere, and ended with a scrap with Messerschmidts. Poles were credited with three Germans down, but lost two of its own pilots: S/Ldr Wczelik and F/O E. Jankowski. The desk of the unit's commander change its owner again, this time occupied by S/Ldr T. Czerwinski, veteran of the Polish and French Campaigns, as well as the Battle of Britain.

      On April 16, the 306 flew two Rodeos over France and during the morning none, P/O Sologub shot down two Bf109s. Later, with five confirm kills he became an ace. The rest of the month for the 306 was very busy, with several dogfights over France with Germans, which resulted with the loss of only one pilot and several claims.

      On May 1, the section of the unit, stayed in readiness on advanced airstrip of Bolt Head. The location was a favorite target of low-flying German fighters. They attacked the airstrip with the element of surprise, and none of Polish Spitfires could scramble to meet the enemy. Several bombs exploded among parked aircraft, which later were strafed. During attack, wounded was one pilot, Sgt Marchewicz. That was not the end of the events that day. With their planes render useless at Bolt Head, Sgt Weyers and F/Sgt Smigielski were returning to Church Stanton on Miles Magister, and crashed, both ending being seriously injured.

      Two days later, the reorganization of Polish Wings, brought the 306 a rest at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey. For the rest of the month, except sporadic patrols, only training flights were flown. As usually in those circumstances, several changes in the pilot roster took place.

      The first quarter of the year was filled mostly by training and patrols. In March, few offensive sorties were flown, but no major events were recorded in books. Several scrambles and more changes in pilot roster marked this period. Only in mid April, with the change of weather, the monotony was over. On 12th, that month, the pilots of the 306 flew an air show over the industrial complex of Weston-Super-Mare. Two days later came a reminder that the war was being fought. The Circus 123 started with accident during mid-landing in Tangmere, and ended with a scrap with Messerschmidts. Poles were credited with three Germans down, but lost two of its own pilots: S/Ldr Wczelik and F/O E. Jankowski. The desk of the unit's commander change its owner again, this time occupied by S/Ldr T. Czerwinski, veteran of the Polish and French Campaigns, as well as the Battle of Britain.

      On April 16, the 306 flew two Rodeos over France and during the morning none, P/O Sologub shot down two Bf109s. Later, with five confirm kills he became an ace. The rest of the month for the 306 was very busy, with several dogfights over France with Germans, which resulted with the loss of only one pilot and several claims.

      On May 1, the section of the unit, stayed in readiness on advanced airstrip of Bolt Head. The location was a favorite target of low-flying German fighters. They attacked the airstrip with the element of surprise, and none of Polish Spitfires could scramble to meet the enemy. Several bombs exploded among parked aircraft, which later were strafed. During attack, wounded was one pilot, Sgt Marchewicz. That was not the end of the events that day. With their planes render useless at Bolt Head, Sgt Weyers and F/Sgt Smigielski were returning to Church Stanton on Miles Magister, and crashed, both ending being seriously injured.

      Two days later, the reorganization of Polish Wings, brought the 306 a rest at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey. For the rest of the month, except sporadic patrols, only training flights were flown. As usually in those circumstances, several changes in the pilot roster took place.

Probably Kirton-in-Lidsey in mid 1942. The 306 pilots posing among airfield vehicles. Courtesy of John Kaye.

  In June, the 306 returned to the offensive flying. Starting on June 2, practically every two days full complement of the squadron took part in missions over France. Because of its base location, the unit had mid-land for refueling at West Malling, what permitted only one sortie a day. In mid June, the 306 returned to Northolt, were all Poles felt like at home. On the 30th, the whole Wing moved to Croydon, temporary home for the upcoming operation "Rutter" (later "Jubilee"). With lack of missions, pilots practiced scrambles and formation flying, but with inadequate airstrip these flight resulted with several accidents during landing. Eventually, on July 7, the Poles returned to Northolt, to spend there rather uneventful rest of the month.

      During the first half of August the unit did not fly a single sortie, but on the August 19, took part of air covering the Allies landing at Dieppe. That day "Torunsk" flew four full-strength sorties. Although, the aircraft swarmed over Dieppe all day, 306 pilots made no claims. During the brief encounter with the enemy on the last sortie, P/O Landsman was shot down by a FW190 and was taken prisoner.

      Two days later, together with No. 302 Squadron, the 306 was to stir things up over St. Omer. The 302 did not reach the target, and the 306 instead of Focke Wulfs, was welcomed by intense flak. Four Polish Spitfires went down, and the rest was seriously shot up. Again, the unit lost its CO. This loss lowered the morale of the squadron. For the rest of the month the unit licked its wounds, and only the return of S/Ldr Rutkowski from No. 317 Squadron, changed things around. During this time, W/Cdr Mumler was detailed off from commanding the Polish Fighter School to the 306, where he was to undergo a short fighter pilot refreshment course. During one of the flights, he made a fundamental error during landing, what quickly became major news among the pilots. To give a good example, he walked three times the airfield over, reciting aloud the landing procedure accentuating the hand, which supposed to lower the undercarriage.

      During the first week of September the unit had to shake off the rest of the gloomy look, as it was sent over France almost daily. These full-strength sorties were punctuated by the visit of President Raczkiewicz, who honored the Squadron Day on the 4th.

4 April 1942. The Squadron Day. PAF colors honored by the President Raczkiewicz.

Toward the end of the month a new version of Spitfire, Mk IX, began to arrive, and the 306 was temporarily withdrawn from major operational sorties conducted by the Wing.

      The first show on a new Spitfires was given on October 2, when in a strength of 8 aircraft, the 306 escorted B-17s (Circus 221). Poles mixed it with Germans on FW190s, consequently recording F/O Walendowski's certain kill of the enemy plane. A week later, the 306 pilots downed three more German fighters. Then the excitement rose, among all Polish fighter units, as their total claims of enemy aircraft climbed to 499. All were anxious to secure the milestone kill for himself. Pilots chipped in to fund the special prize, a silver shield for the winner. The weather did not cooperated for the rest of the month and the unit was grounded.

      In November operational flying was resumed. During the seven sorties over France that month, no enemy encounters were recorded. The rotations in the pilot roster continued, and missing a chance to get the trophy disgruntled those detailed off to non-operational units. Among them was P/O Henryk Pietrzak who was rested at Boscombe Down research facility. December came and more flights over France was done, yet no Germans planes were downed. Finally, on December 31, during the Rodeo 140 NE of Le Cortoy, the earlier said P/O Pietrzak scored a sure victory, a 500th of the PAF in England. During that sortie, F/O Langhamer scored the victory no. 501, and four more 306 pilots claimed enemy aircraft either probably destroyed or damaged. Lost were veterans: F/Lt Gil and P/O Kosmowski. The Press acclaimed Pietrzak as a hero, who in addition of the "Silver Shield" received a Polish Cross of Valour from hands of the President Raczkiewicz.

Freshly after the did. P/O Pietrzak and his colleagues celebrate the Polish Air Force 500th aerial victory.

1943


The good weather in January 1943 permitted to continued RAF aerial offensive over the continent, and the 306 flew 13 Circus or Rodeo missions. On few occasions Poles encountered the enemy, and along with claims came losses. On the 26, while returning from Circus 256, two unit's aircraft collided over La Manche: the Northolt base CO, W/Cdr Janus survived and was taken prisoner, while W/O Jasinski was confirmed killed.

      February and March brought a little less operational flying. Several veteran pilots left the unit, among them F/Lt Pniak, F/O Arct and F/Lt Krol who joined the Skalski's Circuit in Africa. Meantime, in few stages, the 306 exchanged places with the 316 in Hutton Cranswick, leaving behind its complement of Spitfire IX and inheriting Mk Vs from the latter. S/Ldr Karwowski took over the command as Kazimierz Rutkowski succumbed to illness, which prevented him from staying with the unit. Soon after, on March 11, the unit's own, F/O Jeka gave speech on Trafalgar Square during the "Wings for Victory" week.

      For the rest of the month 306 flew some convoy patrol and many training flights. On April 4th, the squadron went back to work on German air defenses, taking part in two Ramrod operations. The newly arrived pilots quickly integrated with the unit, as several more major sorties were recorded. In this regard, May was much less tense as pilots took off for only one Ramrod (Amsterdam) and one Roadstead (Ijmuiden). At the end of May the unit was moved to RAF Catterick, where for the next month only few scrambles and fruitless patrols were flown.

      On June 24, F/O Brunon Semmerling visited the unit with his lectures about avoiding capture ending down behind enemy lines. As a No. 315 Squadron pilot, Semmerling, was shot down over France but very quickly returned to England. Obviously, very helpful to him was his pre-war training he received as a member of the Department 2, Polish counterespionage organization. If not for numerous sea patrols, July would have been dawdled away, as only one operational sortie was flown.

      In August the unit moved first to Gravesend, and then to Friston, as the squadron's Spitfires being upgraded with the new version of Merlin engine. The old frames became Spitfire LF.V. On 25 and 27 two Ramrods were flown, as the operation "Starkey" began, what was a one big, ongoing rehearsal before planned invasion of the continent. On the beginning of September the 306 was joined by the Polish 308, and the whole No. 2 Polish Wing was incorporated into the 2nd Tactical Air Force, which was steadily built up and trained in 1943 and 1944 as the force that would closely support the invading armies. On the August 9th, the operation culminated and the planes were painted with black and white stripes for an easy identification. That day the 306 flew three full-strength sorties over the enemy's territory, with no incidents. For the rest of the month the unit was busily employed in similar operations. Along this routine flying activities came again changes in equipment (Spitfire IX) and operational belonging, as both Polish Fighter Wings were now temporarily joined in the RAF chain of commands.

      October did not see less flying, but on the 12 the organizational shuffling finally ended, and the 306 became RAF 133 Airfield, under the command of 18 Wing. The suspended pilot rotation commenced anew.

      During the last two months of the year, the 306 flew 16 offensive sorties, with encounters of the German fighters. No losses and only one kill (F/O Szajda) were recorded.




1944

The New Year started as it ended, with the Ramrod operations being almost sole operational activity. In January 11 Ramrods were flown, and in February 16. The Luftwaffe was getting sluggish and Poles grew more and more anxious for action. This came only on few occasions, what resulted in one enemy aircraft claimed destroyed and one damaged. In March, the squadron was included in only 4 Ramrods, and then came another training camp at Llambedr in Wales, where especially dive bombing was practiced

      On April 1, the Wing moved to ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) Coolham where Spitfires were gradually replaced by North American Mustang III fighters. Those already trained on this type ferried the new aircraft themselves. One of them was F/Lt Szajda. Soon after taking off from Aston Down, his Mustang quit and he force-landed. Aircraft caught fire with Szajda trapped in damaged cockpit. Despite a dramatic action and heroic effort by the airfield doctor, who himself exposed to flames tried to amputate Szajda's legs, the popular 306 pilot died a terrible death. F/O Beyer who together with Szajda brought old Spitfires to Aston witnessed this all, and later relayed the gruesome story to the unit. Overall, Mustang was little bit more difficult to fly, and tricky in tight turns on low altitudes. Accidents happened in the Wind (only one involved the 306 pilot, Sgt Osieleniec), and airmen became divided for those who were excited about flying American fighter, and those who preferred the Spitfire.

      On April 28, the 306 made the first operational sortie on Mustangs, Ramrod 806, and till the end of May accumulated 25 of them. The new type of operations "Ranger" (attacking ground targets at will), quickly became popular among pilots.

      On May 26, General Sosnkowski, C-in-C of the Polish Arm Forces, visited the Wing. He was very engaging and spent several hours at Coolham, living behind not only many well-deserved decorations pinned on battledresses and uniforms, but also very positive impression what unmistakably boosted the morale.

      In a wake of the D-Day, the squadron flew only three uneventful sorties and stayed idle for three days. When the stripes were painted on wings and fuselages, everybody already knew that the long-awaited invasion of the continent is about to begin. Lots of flying was excepted, but the June 6 brought disappointment as the squadron's pilots flew evening sortie escorting gliders to Normandy. The next day however, made up for all the shortcomings of the previous one. The 306 flew four full-strength operations, and was involved in a though fight with Messerschmidts. Five German aircraft were claimed, but the unit suffered losses. Downed were: S/Ldr Lapka (evaded capture), F/Lt Geca (killed in action) and P/O Laszkiewicz (POW). Stanislaw Lapka became the fifth squadrons commander lost in action. The next day S/Ldr Janusz Marciniak - detailed off from neighboring No. 315 Squadron - was installed as the new CO.


One of the few pictures taken at Coolham depicting landing Mustang UZ-D

 The Wings main activity was to target the enemy behind its lines. That involved low flying, and since Mustang was rather a vulnerable aircraft to ground fire, losses were inevitable. The 306 lost F/Lt Budrewicz on June 8, and F/Lt Tomanek on the 10. Both ended behind Allies lines and returned to the unit in a matter of days. The Intelligence Officer brought jobs daily, and the whole personnel was very busy. Although the Wing consumed those days vast quantities of aviation fuel, bombs and ammo, it was kept very well supplied, and it made a maximum effort.

      On June 23, two sections of the 306 were attacked by German fighters, in a precise moment when the Poles were getting ready to lay bombs on a pre selected target at Verneuil. In the issuing mêlée, aircraft fell down on both sides. Poles were credited with seven scores, but five of them did not returned. Among them was a fresh CO, S/Ldr Marciniak, who was killed in action. Two days later he was replace by S/Ldr Pawel Niemiec, very experienced and popular pilot, veteran of 317 and 316 Squadrons.

      Because of the German counteroffensive with V-1 rocket attacks on London, the Mustang Wings of the 2TAF were assigned to the defense of the Southern England. On July 9, the Poles moved to ALG Brenzett, where the invasions stripes were removed to help the aircrafts in high-speed chase after V-1. In addition a higher-octane fuel was used what required more attention being given to engines. In its new role, the 306 did better than other units with over 50 flying bombs shot down in about five weeks time. Individually three "Torunski" Squadron pilots headed the score list: F/Sgt Rudowski, F/Lt Siekierski and F/Sgt Zalenski, with 8 scores each. Because of the character of flying against V-1, once in a while the unit was given a chance for a full-strength sortie over France, what was a very welcomed task.

      In a mid of August the unit returned to its tactical role over the continent, although sporadic V-1 patrols were flown. In September 21 mission over France were completed, but no Luftwaffe planes were encountered. Pilots compensated themselves lack of the opposition in the air by pounding enemy on the ground no every occasion. On September 25 S/Ldr Niemiec was rested, and the 306 veteran S/Ldr Zulikowski took over the command.

      As the situation on the continent changed, the Wing (No. 306, 315 and 129 Squadrons) was relocated to RAF Andrews Field (9-11 October) in eastern England, which was well situated for the long-range escort mission. And this became nearly a sole activity for the 306, for some time. For the rest of the year the unit was heavily employed in offensive flying, and many personal changes occurred. As the situation with the pilot pool improved, the Wing employed mostly experienced, seasoned airmen. Except escort and offensive sorties, sporadically the 306 pilots were scrambled against V-1, and destroyed farther 10.

1945


 In January 1945, the Poles escorted bombers over Germany itself. Among others, target included: Bremen, Hanover, Osnabrück, Hamburg and Helgoland. During Rodeo on January 17, the 306 Mustang had a field day attacking barges on the Rein River.

      February became well remembered as the Poland's President Arciszewski visited the base, and for the Yalta Conference, which as it soon became known, crudely verified keen hopes of the Poles. Also, on the 21st, long awaited air victories were scored: S/Ldr Zulikowswki downed a FW190, while F/Lt Tronczynski destroyed a Do217 bomber.

      Still intensive flying filled the last month of the war, but pilots saw little action. Ramrods, Rodeos and Ranger continued. On the April 9, the 306 fought the last aerial fight, and S/Ldr Zulikowski was credited with destroying a German jet fighter, Me262. Then came the last wartime sortie: an escort to a Grand Finale bomber raid on Hitler's home at Berchtesgaden.

The Squadron Day, September 1945. In the center sitting is S/Ldr Jozef Jeka. On his right is W/Cdr Rolski.
Below: the same scene on its extreme right feature the unit's ground crew with a highly polished Mustang serving as a background.

  After the war the squadron shared the fate of all the other Polish Air Force units: slow decrease in flying, demotion to marginal and sporadic training exercises incorporating British units, retire of equipment and inevitable disbandment. The No. 306 "City of Torun" Squadron ceased to exist on January 7, 1947.

      Its war effort sum up in numbers: 8357 operational sorties for a total of 15,198 hours; 68 enemy aircraft destroyed, 17 probably destroyed and 27 damaged; over 60 V-1 flying bombs destroyed in the air; over 150 tons bombs dropped on targets.

All Information and photgraphs on this page has been taken from http://www.polishsquadronsremembered.com/306/306story.html