No. 304 Polish Bomber Squadron

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No. 304 (Land of Silesia) Polish Bomber Squadron
304th Polish Bomber Squadron.svg
304 Squadron logo
Active 22 August 1940 – 18 December 1946
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allegiance Poland Polish government in exile
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Role Bomber Squadron
Anti-Submarine Squadron
Transport Squadron
Part of RAF Bomber Command
RAF Coastal Command
RAF Transport Command
Nickname(s) "Ziemi Śląskiej im. Ks. Józefa Poniatowskiego" (Land of Silesia, bearing the name of Prince Józef Poniatowski)
Insignia
Squadron Codes NZ (Aug 1940 - May 1942)
2 (Aug 1943 - Jul 1944)
QD (Jul 1944 - Dec 1946)
Aircraft flown
Bomber Fairey Battle (training)
Vickers Wellington
Transport Vickers Warwick
Handley Page Halifax

No. 304 (Land of Silesia) Polish Bomber Squadron (Polish: 304 Dywizjon Bombowy "Ziemi Śląskiej im. Ks. Józefa Poniatowskiego") was a Polish World War II bomber unit. It fought alongside the Royal Air Force under their operational Command and operated from airbases in the United Kingdom, serving from April 1941 as a bomber unit in RAF Bomber Command, from May 1942 as an anti-submarine unit in RAF Coastal Command and from June 1945 as a transport unit in RAF Transport Command.

History[edit]

Bomber Command[edit]

304 Squadron was created on 23 August 1940 at RAF Bramcote, and from 1 December 1940 it operated from RAF Syerston, as a part of No. 1 Bomber Group (along with No. 305 Squadron created at the same time).[1] It was declared ready for operations with Vickers Wellington Mk I medium bombers on 24 April 1941.[1] The personnel included 24 entirely Polish air crews (initially three-men, later six-men) and approximately 180 of ground crew.[1] At night 24/25 April 1940 two crews flew the first combat mission against fuel tanks in Rotterdam.[1] In the following months the squadron joined in a night bombing campaign over Germany and France. First losses occurred on 6 May and 8 May 1940 (in the second instance, a crew of the British advisor w/cdr W. Graham).[1] On 20 July 1941 the squadron moved to RAF Lindholme base. In 1941 the squadron completed 214 missions lasting 1,202 hours, losing 47 killed airmen.[1]

In first four months of 1942 an intensity of actions raised. Due to big losses suffered in early 1942, including six crews lost in April, and a difficulty to get replacements, it was decided to transfer the squadron to RAF Coastal Command. In Bomber Command the squadron completed 488 missions in 2,481 hours, dropping some 800 tons of bombs, losing 102 airmen KIA or MIA and 35 POW.[1]

Coastal Command[edit]

On 10 May 1942 it was transferred to RAF Coastal Command along with the Wellingtons.[1] From 14 May 1942 it based at RAF Tiree, from 13 June 1942 at RAF Dale.[1] Apart from patrolling duties over Biscayne Bay, seven crews took part in a thousand-aircraft raid at Bremen on 25/26 June 1942 (losing one crew).[1] Several times Polish crews attacked U-Boats and fought with German long-range aircraft. A noteworthy event was a skirmish of one Wellington with six German Junkers Ju 88 on 16 September 1942 over Biscayne Bay; The Polish aircraft was badly shot, but managed to hide in clouds, and claimed one Ju 88 shot down.[1] On 9 February 1943 one Wellington fought against four Ju 88 for nearly an hour, with two Polish crewmen injured; similar combat with four Ju 88 took place on 5 September 1943, without losses.[1] From 30 March 1943 the squadron based at RAF Docking, from 10 June 1943 at RAF Davidstow Moor (equipped with radar-fitted Wellington Mk XIII), from 20 December 1943 at RAF Predannack, from 19 March 1944 at RAF Chivenor.[1] On 4 January 1944 a Wellington strafed and damaged German submarine U-629.[2] On 18 June 1944 the squadron was credited with sinking a U-Boat, quoted to be U-441[1] (it is disputed in new publications, though).[3] From 19 September 1944 it was based at RAF Benbecula, from 5 March 1944 at RAF St Eval.[1]

In Coastal Command the squadron undertook 2,451 missions in 21,331 hours, losing 19 aircraft and 69 KIA, 6 MIA and 31 killed in non-combat flights.[1] It claimed 31 submarine attacked and was credited with two U-Boats sunk and five damaged, it also claimed three aircraft shoot down, three probable and four damaged.[1]

Its last mission was on 30 May 1945, looking out for possible German submarines that would not surrender.[4]

Transport Command[edit]

After the end of the war in Europe, on 14 June 1945 it was transferred to Transport Command, operating scheduled services with Warwick C.3s to Greece and Italy,[4] but after April 1946 the Polish squadrons were restricted to flights within the UK.[5] In May the squadron converted to Halifax Mk C.8 unarmed transports and was disbanded a few months later on 18 December 1946.

No. 304 Squadron plane sunk German submarine U-321.

Aircraft operated[edit]

Aircraft operated by 304 Squadron[1]
From To Aircraft Version
23 August 1940 Fairey Battle Mk I
1 December 1940 Vickers Wellington Mk IA, Mk IC
10 April 1943 Vickers Wellington Mk X
10 June 1943 Vickers Wellington Mk XIII
14 September 1943 Vickers Wellington Mk XIV
5 August 1945 Vickers Warwick C Mk I, Mk III
1 January 1946 Handley Page Halifax C Mk VIII

Squadron bases[edit]

The squadron operated from the following airfields:[1]

From To Base
23 August 1940 RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire
1 December 1940 RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
20 July 1941 RAF Lindholme, South Yorkshire
14 May 1942 RAF Tiree, Inner Hebrides
13 June 1942 RAF Dale, Wales
30 March 1943 RAF Docking, Norfolk
10 June 1943 RAF Davidstow Moor, Cornwall
20 December 1943 RAF Predannack, Cornwall
19 March 1944 RAF Chivenor, Devon
19 September 1944 RAF Benbecula, Outer Hebrides
5 March 1944 RAF St Eval, Cornwall
June 1945 RAF North Weald, Essex
September 1945 Chedburgh, Suffolk

Commanding officers[edit]

Officers commanding No. 304 Squadron were as follows:[1]

From To Name
23 August 1940 22 December 1940 Ppłk. pilot Jan Biały (RAF advisor s/ldr w. Graham unitl 8 May 1941, KIA)
23 December 1940 13 November 1941 Ppłk. pilot Piotr Dudziński
14 November 1941 15 August 1942 Mjr nawigator Stanisław Poziomek
16 August 1942 28 January 1943 Mjr pilot Kazimierz Czetowicz
29 January 1943 18 November 1943 Kpt. pilot Mieczysław Pronaszko
19 November 1943 10 April 1944 Kpt. nawigator Czesław Korbut
11 April 1944 2 January 1945 Mjr. pilot Jerzy Kranc
3 January 1945 Kpt. pilot Stanisław Żurek

Ppłk. - podpułkownik - equivalent w/cdr; Mjr. - major - equivalent s/ldr; Kpt. - kapitan - equivalent f/lt

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Król, Wacław (1982). Polskie dywizjony lotnicze w Wielkiej Brytanii (in Polish). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo MON. pp. 190–208. ISBN 83-11-07695-2. 
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur: U-629
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur: U-441
  4. ^ a b Moyes 1976, p. 226.
  5. ^ Rawlings 1982, p. 198.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918 -1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jaworzyn, Josef F. No place to Land: A Pilot in Coastal Command. London, William Kimber, 1984. ISBN 0-7183-0510-8.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA, RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing, 1998 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Konarski, Mariusz. 304 Squadron. Sandomierz, Poland/Redbourn, UK: Mushroom Model publications, 2005. ISBN 83-89450-18-6.
  • Król, Wacław (1982). Polskie dywizjony lotnicze w Wielkiej Brytanii (in Polish). Warsaw: Wydawnictwo MON. ISBN 83-11-07695-2. <
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1964 (new edition 1974). ISBN 0-354-01027-1.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Coastal, Support and Special Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Jane's Publishing Company Ltd., 1982. ISBN 0-7106-0187-5.
  • Sturtivant, Ray ISO and John Hamlin. RAF Flying Training and Support Units since 1912. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1997, ISBN 0-85130-252-1.

External links[edit]