Monday, 25 May 2015

"The Lost Hopes, Polish Fighters over France in 1940" - Caudron 714 GC 1/145 Recommended Aviation books

The French Minister of Air, Guy de Chambre, inspected GC 1/145 on 25 May and after hearing the litany of defects presented by the "cyclone", suspended all flying on this aircraft. He was told about the aircraft's poor climb rate, a weak landing gear and its faulty lowering mechanism, as well as an imperfect propeller's pitch-changing device, cowling's swelling during diving and unreliable dashboard instruments. While the Minister's reaction was perhaps the proper one, it served to deprive the Polish pilots in France of the only aircraft available to them. The very next day, they elected to continue flying the defective Caudrons. On June 2, the squadron moved to the airfield at Dreux. The aircraft were dispersed on the edge of the field and carefully camouflaged. Two days later, the Poles finally received the long-awaited radios. Up to that point, they scrambled at the signal of an automobile horn. To beef up GC II/10, on May 5, the squadron was ordered to patrol in the Rouen area. This was done by Flight "B". Half an hour later, Flight "A" was moved to Bretigny-sur-Orge, south of Paris, with the task of defending the French capital. The next day, the squadron was charged with the same duties. In the evening of June 6, the squadron was attached to the 42nd Fighter Group, defending a sector of the Seine between Vernon and Meulan. Two three-aircraft reconnaissance flights on the route Meulan-Magny-en-Vexin-Fleury-sur-Andelle-Vernon and along the Seine were the squadron's only activity on June 7th. The next day found the squadron with twenty-one planes in good order. The other thirteen needed a lot of fixing. Some were being generally checked after forced landings, while multiple tasks were performed on others: changing a stabilizer or rudder, replacing Plexiglas in a cockpit, a carburetor, parts of an electrical installation, and so on. That day Flight "A" was assigned to GC II/10. At 3:54 p.m., a section of five aircraft, led by kpt. Wczelik, took off to patrol over the Vernon-Meulan area. South of Rouen, the Poles attacked a group of about twenty Messerschmit 110s and had a good scrap with them. They landed at 5:10 p.m. Officers Wczelik and Czerwinski claimed victories, but none of the other pilots saw the enemy aircraft crash. Commander Kepinski recognized only one of them as probable but soon after, around the area of that clash, the wrecks of five Me-110s were found.

After a fight analysis, por. Tadeusz Czerwinski was credited with two enemy aircraft shot down, while kpt. Wczelik, ppor. Aleksy Zukowski, and ppor. Jerzy Godlewski with kpr. Piotr Zaniewski were credited with one Bf110 each. The squadron suffered no losses, but most of the aircraft were shot-up and temporarily unserviceable. At Bernay, on June 9, the squadron was joined up with Flight "B", to sweep in full force in the front-line area. Eighteen aircraft took off at 2:30 p.m. Led by maj. Kepinski were Commandant de Marmier, kpt. Laguna, kpt. Wczelik,por. Zdzislaw Zadrozinski, por. Jan Obuchowski, por. Julian Kowalski, ppor. Czeslaw Glowczynski, ppor. Jerzy Czerniak, ppor. Lech Lachowicki-Czechowicz,ppor. Jerzy Godlewski, ppor. Bronislaw Skibinski, sierz. Jan Palak, plut. Andrzej Niewiara, plut. Mieczyslaw Parafinski and kpr. Edward Uchto. Over Vernon, the squadron attacked an enemy formation of about 50 Do 17s escorted by about 20 Bf 109s. Due to the radio malfunction the attack was poorly coordinated.

 Czeslaw Glowczynski recalled;

 ".. My radio didn't work so I wasn't aware of any warnings. I soon noticed a group of about 30 BF 109s, some 3,000 feet below. Since our leader didn't react. I come close to him and waggled my wings. I pointed down; he nodded that he sees them and continued to fly straight. I gave him a sign that I will attack. I thought that at least a part of our group would follow me in this attack, but I found myself alone, with the exception of my wingman, ppr. Czerniak. Our position was advantageous since we attacked from above, with the sun behind us. With full speed, I swooped down on the rearmost Bf109. The swiftness of my attack caused the whole German formation to break up. One of them went down steeply, smoking heavily. Immediately, I went after another one, which, after few bursts, crashed in a forest south of Rouen. I was then shot at from behind. Several bullets came near my head and shattered my instrument panel. I managed to force land on a front-line strip at Evreux. Czerniak got one Bf109 as well, and he landed with me. It took the whole evening to fix my plane, and I returned to the unit the next day.."

 Jerzy Czerniak's account of this flight;

 "... The weather was beautiful and, flying in the direction of the area of operation, we were climbing slowly. At 12 or 15 thousand, we started to look for game. For over thirty minutes, the flight was uneventful, and looking at Czeslaw, I could tell that he was greatly disappointed with not seeing any Huns around. That's when I sow silver planes below us. I gave Czeslaw a sign, and we altered our course a little to have the sun directly behind us. Next, Czeslaw dived and I followed him, unlocking my guns in case there would be a scrap. It happened that there was one. We approached the Messerschmitts and Czeslaw coolly positioned himself right behind one of them and started to shoot. Others maneuvered themselves behind Czeslaw who continued spraying his wiggling victim. All this time, I flew behind my colleague, observing the scene. One Messerschmitt started to shoot at him and that's when I intervened. I jumped at the German and gave him a burst right in the cockpit. He must have got it since he flipped over, going down. I served him another portion and stayed with him till he crashed into a French farmer's yard.."

 Ppor. Glowczynski was credited with one Bf 109 destroyed and one damaged, while ppor. Czerniak got one Bf 109 destroyed. Plut. Parafinski also scored, destroying a Bf 109, while kpt. Wczelik and sierz. Markiewicz shared one Dornier 17 destroyed. Two planes crashed south of Andelys and others near Louviers. This time, the squadron suffered a loss of three pilots. Killed in action were por. Obuchowski, ppor. Lachowicki-Czechowicz and kpr. Uchto. por. Kowalski was slighty wounded, while ppor. Godlewski force landed at Villacoblay. The rest of the pilots landed at 3:50 p.m. A few aircraft were unserviceable. Godlewski tried to join his unit on a new plane but nose-dived during the takeoff. He come out of the accident unscathed, but couldn't up with the squadron. The Poles fought with German fighters from II./JG 27. The pilots from this unit claimed three Moranes shot down. Credited with victories were: Gruppenkomandeur Hauptmann Werner Anders, Feldwebel Karl Witzel and Feldwebel Karl-Heinz Bendert. In reality, the Luftwafe lost three Bf 109s. Leutnant Hans Bosch ( Hptm. Anres wingman ) and Feldwebel Karl-Heinz Kranich become POWs. Leutnant Hermann Kugler went missing. Slightly wounded, Hptm. Andres force landed near Creil.

Dominik Kościelny

Below; captioned, 'Dreux 22 July 1940'

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