On December 8th, 1940 the 307 were sent on their first sortie to intercept a bogey. But without radio communication
the mission had to be aborted and they returned to base (at Jurby on the Isle of Man). Subsequent patrols were
equally uneventful. At the start of 1941 that Polish crews began conducting night patrols for German bombers but
did not encounter enemy aircraft. On the night of January 9 - 10, the crew of Grodzicki/Karwowski landed safely.
But Sgt. did not encounter enemy aircraft. But Sgt. Joda and Sgt. Gandurski were forced to ditch due to adverse
weather conditions, and tragically both men were killed.
The squadron became fully capable on the night of March 12-13, when the crews of Sgt Jankowiak and Sgt Karais
fired upon and damaged a Heinkel 111. The following night P/O Lewandowski and Sgt Niewolski scored a probable
against another Heinkel.
During the night of April 11-12 the crew of Jankowiak and Lipinski successfully shot down a He-111. The Polish
aces salvaged a piece of the wreckage - they nailed a section of Heinkel wing to the door of the "A" Flight's hut.
|RAF Boulton Paul Defiant 1671 of the 307 Polish Night Fighter Squadron Jurby Base (late 1940)
|Sgt Jankowiak posing in front of his Defiant after scoring his second victory on 12 April 1941
photo courtesy Robert Gretzyngier
|The only existing RAF Boulton Defiant plane
This one was flown by the 307 Polish Night Fighter Squadron
at RAF Museum at Hendon No. 1671 EW
The 307 Squadron was among the Allies best weapons during World War Two. These men were in a class by
themselves - experienced, fearless, and precise. Hence, their nickname, "Eagle Owls" was very appropriate. They
were more than just pilots - they were night hunters. Skilled in air warfare, the men of the 307 were agile, fast, and
sharp in spotting the enemy and swooping down to obliterate them - as silent and as deadly as that of natures
raptors, the eagle and the owl.
The idea for an all-Polish night fighter squadron was formed on August 24, 1940 during formal talks between the
Polish Government-in-Exile and the British government. Less than two weeks later Squadron No. 307 was
assembled at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey ready for training.
Initially, the pilots flew the Boulton Paul Defiant, which was an interceptor aircraft already in service in the RAF. The
Defiant was referred to as a "turret fighter" because it was not fitted with forward facing armaments, a situation
which caused quite a lot of consternation among the pilots and commanders. The Defiant had a serious design
flaw which rendered the aircraft completely vulnerable during daylight combat. It was no match for the faster and
more maneuverable Messerschmitf Bf 109 of the Luftwaffe. Thus, the Defiant had a bad reputation despite its brief
"success" at the Battle at Dunkirk. (Incidentally, the Defiant did manage to shoot down 15 to 20 German planes at
Dunkirk. However, the Germans mistook the Defiant for the Hurricane, and had been closing in from behind. When
the Luftwaffe realized their blunder and corrected their strategy, the Defiants were literally slaughtered head on.)
When the RAF converted the Defiant to night flying, its performance improved markedly. Regardless, the Defiant
was the source of frequent accidents large and small, earning its nickname "Daffy". When the Polish Squadron
were told that their missions would be flown on the Defiant, they were displeased, to say the least.
The unit had moved to several different bases since its inception, but their next move to RAF Clyst Honiton proved
to be fateful. The base was 4 miles SE of Exeter and on the night of May 11-12. The Germans attacked the airbase
dropping approximately 450 bombs. Damage was extensive but luckily there were no casualties. In the midst of the
attack, the crew of Sgt. Malinkowski and Sgt Jarzembowski were able to scramble to their planes, and taxied down
the airstrip that was littered with craters and blazing fires. They took to the skies unscathed, tracked down a He-111
and shot it down at blank range. This was not the last victory of the 307, but it was certainly the last scored on the
|No. 307 NIGHT FIGHTER SQUADRON
|Aerial view of Exeter airfield, Devon from the north-east. In May and April 1941, the Luftwaffe caused
extensive damage was caused during intensive night raids over the airfield. Note the damage, still
visible, in the foreground, and bomb craters have been filled with the rubble
from bombed houses in Exeter.
On June 9, 1941, the new CO of the squadron was S/Ldr Antonowicz, who became very popular with the crew. He
made appeals for a long-awaited change of aircraft, and the RAF command complied by converting the unit to
Bristol Beaufighters. The Beaufighter (a variation of the Bristol Beaufort bomber) was a heavy aircraft perfectly
adapted for night flying. It was used effectively during the Battle of Britain, and carried heavy armaments in addition
to airborne interception radar. Nicknamed the "Rockbeau" and "Torbeau" for its impressive capabilities in
rocket-armed ground attack, and torpedo-bomber against Axis shipping.
(The Beaufort was a twin-engine torpedo bomber which was in service from 1940 to 1942 and saw action in the
Mediterranean, and assisted in destroying shipping supply routes to Rommel's Afrikacorps. By 1942, the Beaufort
was removed from active service and relegated as trainer aircraft until it was declared obsolete in 1945. )
By August 1941 the men of the 307 were flying missions on Beaufighters . But there were other problems that
plagued the unit. Though the new aircraft was fitted with AI (airborne radar), was better armed, and flew faster, it
posed more serious problems that those of the much-maligned Defiant. Pilots experienced numerous accidents
and close-calls due to the Beau's defective engines. Many members of the crew perished in fiery crashes. As a
result, the Beaufighter was nicknamed, a "Flying Casket".
|Bristol "Beaufighter" Mk.VIF EW-Z - crew of No. 307 Polish Night Fighter Squadron
The crew Turzanski/Ostrowski made the first contact flying the Beau on October 28, when from a distance of 80
yards, Turzanski spotted a Heinkel and fired at its fuselage, but the enemy dove into the clouds and disappeared
from view. The crew claimed a probable but was not credited for it. In November the Luftwaffe increased its activity
over the channel, giving the 307 more missions to do. On the first night of November the same crew successfully
intercepted and downed 2 Do-215s. Both kills were duly confirmed.
On the night of Nov 23-24, 1941 the crew of F/O Dziegielewski and P/O Swierz shot down a Ju-88 which took a
fiery nose-dive from a high altitude finally crashing into the ground in a spectacular blaze for all the citizens of
Plymouth to see.
The beginning of 1942 was mired in unceasing mishaps and accidents, due to mechanical defects of the aircraft. In
a period of four consecutive days, three Polish crews were killed in flying accidents. In one incident, during a test
flight by F/O Andrzejewski, pieces of the fuselage began to break off and the entire port wing became twisted.
Andrzejewski was able to land the plane safely. The investigating committee discovered problems with quality
control at Crewe.
The tragic events were alarming, and far too numerous. On April 3 the crew of Bukowieci/Puzyna crashed during
take-off. Shortly thereafter, another crew dove their plane into the sea and perished. Too many fatalities and all
were due to mechanical and/or weather problems, except one - which was the result of pilot bravado.
On April 25, 1942, the crew of F/O Neyder and Sgt Wozny successfully shot down a Ju-88 while F/Sgt Illaszewicz
and P/O Lissowski succeeded in damagaing a Do-215. The 307 scored successes the following night as well.
The most illustrious Polish victory came on the night of May 3-4, 1942. The Luftwaffe conducted a massive raid on
Exeter, which they dubbed, the "Baedeker" raids. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the men of the 307 did not
hesitate to fly into the face of the enemy, and score a few kills: F/Sgt Illaszewicz and F/O Lissowski scored 2 kills;
F/O Neyder and Sgt Wozny with F/O Andrzejewski and Sgt Wozny each recorded one German plane shot down.
The bravery of the Polish Eagle Owls Squadron was remarkable - that they were able to defend the city of Exeter
with only 4 Beaufighters.
F/O Zbyszko Maciej Lissowski was awarded the DFC for his valor and service. The Distinguished Flying Cross. He
was the first member of the unit to receive one. He was also awarded the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari
Military Order VM V kl. 1939-1945
(Editors Note: Previously, Lissowski also scored kills on: April 23-24; April 25-26; and on July 17-18, 1942)
|Left to Right: F/O A. Dziegielewski, F/Lt A. Alexandrowicz, F/O S. Andrzejewski and F/O J. Malinski. Dziegielewski
received a half-crown for a drink and condoms, after he shot down a Ju88 over Plymouth in November 1941.
Later he was KIA.
|Sgt Illaszewicz (pilot) and F/O Lissowski (navigator).
|F/O Andrzejewski in foreground
The Baedeker raids were a series of German attacks against British cities from April to May 1942. The Luftwaffe
bombings of Exeter, Canterbury, Bath, Norwich and York, were in reprisal for the RAF's bombing of the ancient
German city of Lubeck on March 28-29, 1942. In a fit of fury, Hitler ordered retaliatory strikes against British towns
only for their cultural and historical significance. The German attacks were brutal and relentless, causing death and
destruction in many towns. But despite the iron will of Hitler, he could not destroy British morale.
Exeter suffered a total of nineteen air attacks resulting in the deaths of 265 citizens, and injuring 687 (111 of those
were serious injuries). Of the 20,000 houses in Exeter, 1,500 were destroyed, while 2,700 were seriously damaged,
and 16,000 had slight damage. Businesses, shops, offices and stores were all hit by bombs. It has taken Exeter
more than 20 years to recover from the bombing and rebuild a new infrastructure.
Incidentally, the name Baedeker was the title of a popular British Travel Guide, and one which captured the
attention of the German propaganda machine. Baron Gustav Braun von Stumm was reported to have said on
April 24, 1942 that the Luftwaffe will " go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the
Image Copyright: User_Ww2censor.png
|Memorial of the Exeter Blitz - photograph of the ruins of St Catherine's Almshouses was preserved
amongst modern buildings as a memorial of the Blitz (Image copyright: Barry Lewis. 2012)
Shortly after the Exeter raids, the RAF converted the unit once again, to the Beaufighter VI, powered by Hercules
engines. This design was more sophisticated and proved to be more reliable. Needless to say, it was an instant hit
with the men of the 307. The crew had just enough time for briefings on the new plane, and get familiar with the
plane, when they flew into action again. On the night of June 27-28 the crews attacked and intercepted enemy
bombers: Ranoszek/Trzaskowski and Wojcyznski/Sluszkiewicz each scored one Do-217 damaged; similarly, so
did F/O Podgorski and F/Lt Sawczynski on July 1st;
Tragedy struck the 307 yet again. On the night of July 17, 1942, the 307 lost its best crews - F/Sgt Ilaszewicz and
F/O Lissowski. The two were carrying out a patrol mission, following a convoy in the channel. While flying low over
the ships amidst adverse weather conditions, the pilot R/T engine encountered mechanical problems and radio
contact was lost. In the aftermath, the squadron could not confirm what happened. Illaszewicz was an ace pilot
and could have easily made it back to Exeter on one engine. Besides that, the plane had more than sufficient fuel
left. In the end, the unit conceded that their buddies were shot down by enemy gunfire.
Copyright Photo from Imperial War Musuem © IWM (HU 91898) URL: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205022772
|Beaufighter VIF EW-Z Zocha EL154 Exeter in Autumn 1942
Capt pil Jerzy Damsz-in middle; Witold Sylwestrowicz (first on the right)
On Dec 21, 1942 the 307 Squadron, then based at RAF Predannack in Cornwall, were reequipped to fly the famous
Havilland Mosquito, designed by its namesake, Geoffrey de Havilland. The prized Mosquito was a shoulder-winged,
twin engine, combat aircraft designed to perform multiple roles: from low to medium altitude tactical bombing,
high-altitude night bombing, path-finder, and photo reconnaissance. Its most astounding feature, and one that was
responsible for the Mosquitos great speed, was that it was built out of wood ( metals were a scarce and expensive
commodity during the war). The Mosquito Mk III, was the units only two-seater aircraft, and had the call letters
HJ853 as well as the squadron letters EW-X.
The Mosquito Mk llF was equipped with four 20mm canon and four .303 machine guns as well as the newest
AI MkV. Even the cockpit was heated. Visibility was excellent. It had a range of 1,500 miles and ceiling of 35,000
feet, speed of 400 miles per hour. It was the fastest plane in the world at the time and a marvel to behold. The
Mosquito was a fantastic airplane. To the men of the 307, this plane was beyond their wildest dreams, and it
raised their hopes and anticipation of winning the war, and flying back to their beloved homeland, Poland in these
glorious Mosquitos. In the end, sadly, their dream never transpired.
|Mosquito NF II EW-U DZ749 over the sea 1943
on Sept 11,1943 Sgt Pil Lucjan Szemplinski and F-Sgt Frank Tillman shot down two Junkers 88
|Inside cabin of Mosquito FB.VI
pil. Alfred Suskiewicz on right and Leon Michalski
The latter half of 1942 was rather uneventful, with no opportunities to go into battle. For whatever reason, the
Luftwaffe was "not showing up", and the RAF Command had forbidden the men of the 307 to venture further than
midway across the Channel ( a precautionary tactic to prevent their AI from falling into enemy hands).
During this interlude the squadron devoted some time to other activities On September 10, 1942, amidst great
pomp and circumstance, the 307 Squadron bestowed Exeter with the Polish flag. Present were all the Polish
Ministers of State, important representatives of the RAF and British Diplomatic Corp, as well as the City Fathers
of Exeter and important guests from other parts of Devonshire.
The Squadron leader Jan Michałowski presented the Polish flag to Rowland Glave-Saunders, then Mayor of Exeter,
with these words, "May it remind (the people of Exeter) in the future when the war is over... that at one
time Poles and Devonians lived, fought and died for one cause."
A 307 diary was created and F/O Malinski composed a beautiful ballad of the 307 Squadron. These were special
months indeed, in which the Polish squadron and the local citizens formed closely knit ties.
S-Ldr Michalowski presented Polish national flag to the city officials - Nov 15-1942 Exeter
From the latter part of 1942 to 1943, the 307 were in active service and flew sorties all over the airfields of Nazi
occupied France. The 307 carried out successful bombing runs over Nazi factories, railways and other sensitive
enemy targets. By the end of 1943, the Mosquito took on the mission of Light Night Striking Force, conducting
harassing raids against the Nazis as well as diversionary raids. The Mosquito was also equipped to carry massive
payload, dropping numerous 4,000 pound HC blockbuster bombs, called "cookies".
The design of the bomb was very basic for its purpose. It didn't have fins because it was meant to be dropped
straight down onto its target. The effect was to literally blast the entire roofs off buildings so that smaller, incendiary
bombs could be dropped into them.
The 4,000 pound "cookie" was particularly dangerous to handle. Because of the airflow over the detonating pistols
fitted in the nose, it would often explode even if dropped, i.e., jettisoned, in a supposedly "safe" unarmed state.
Moreover, the safety height above ground for dropping these "cookies" was 6,000 feet - any lower, and the dropping
aircraft would be damaged by the atmospheric shock waves caused by the explosion. The RAF went on to
develop larger bombs such as the Tall Boy (12,000 lb) and Grand Slam (22,000 lb)
This photo illustrates the scope of an RAF 4000 pound bomb. The crew of the 692 Squadron at RAF Graveley
Huntingdonshire loaded the bomb onto a De Havilland Mosquito B Mark IV ( It was the same type of bomb
carried by the Mosquito aircraft of the 307 Squadron.)
|NB. This photo is copyrighted. It is part of the collection of the Imperial War Museum. (CH 12621)
The author was: Daventry B J (F/O), Royal Air Force official photographer
On May 18, 1943, the 307 was briefed about their upcoming mission. They were strictly forbidden to attack any
ground or air target. The instructions were explicit - that if they were to encounter enemy aircraft they had to open
full throttle and sped home. At the time it seemed that these tactics were shameful, and the plan irritated the Polish
pilots, but they followed instructions. It was only later when they were thanked by Command, that they realized their
mission was to serve as a diversion. They kept the German fighters occupied while Allied Bombers completed its
mission at the Mohne Dam.
Operation Chastise was an Allied bombing run on the German Mohne and Edersee Dams. It was carried out by the
men of 617 Squadron who were regaled as the "Dam Busters". Using an innovative new "bouncing" bomb, they
successfully breached the dams, flooding of the Ruhr valley, damaging hydro-electric power stations, factories and
mines. It took several months for the Germans to normalize production. Tragically, Fl/Lt Antoni Dziegielewski and
his navigator Fl/Lt Adam Wegiel were shot down by enemy fire during Ranger patrol - but not before having
destroyed several German locomotives near Tierce and Ancenis; searchlights, and two control boats at the end of
the seaplane flare paths, one of which sunk. Dziegielewski was flying a Mosquito II N.F. 11. Dz 288. EW-Z.
Weather conditions were good but somewhat hazy with 6 miles of visibility.
Occasionally, the 307 flew daytime sorties. On June 14, 1943, F/Lt Szablowski and F/O Pelka were flying the
Mosquitos over the Atlantic and spotted enemy U-boats which had surfaced. They wasted no time in strafing the
Germans, even though they were under clear orders not to attack surfaced U-boats. Little damage was done to the
enemy, but U-68 and U-155 were damaged, and the Germans suffered casualties. The Polish units aborted patrol.
But five days later, flying with the Australian unit (No. 410) they shot down a German BV138 flying boat.
On September 11, 1943, the 307 scored a great kill. While patrolling over the Bay of Biscay, four aircraft of the
307, shot down four Ju88s and two Me110s, damaged three other Me110s and one more Ju88, without any losses
on Allied side. (Thanks to the Polish controllers, F/Lt Malinski and F/Lt Koterla who vectored the Polish planes
from via the British cruisers. )
The men of 307 were sent to RAF Drem on November 9, 1943. Their mission was focused on patrolling the regions
of Edinburgh and Glasgow at night or during inclement weather. The monotony caused considerable boredom for.
the men who were used to being in the middle of action. They were eager to return to normal duties.
By the end of the month, the 307 were relieved to finally return to active battle, and were dispatched on missions
day and night. On November 22, the crew of F/Sgt Jaworski and F/O Ziolkowski intercepted a He177, but
they were not quite sure what they had shot. This was a He177 - a new aircraft which was designed with two
nacelles, each with a circular nose-radiator, containing a pair-line 1,200 HP engines. Jaworski took aim and
fired a few bursts from between breaks in the clouds, thus forcing the German aircraft to ditch. It was a
spectacular win for the 307, that caused quite a commotion back at base. Afterwards, all nine crews were taking
part in similar missions vying for the chance to shoot down these new exotic planes. More successful missions
followed, and the morale of the 307 was flying high.
In early January 1944, the 307 was converted to Mosquito XIIs and XIIIs, each equipped with the newest airborne
radar. The crew soon began missions to Norway, to survey enemy targets. In the midst of their new exploits the
unit suffered a terrible loss. W/O Szemplinski and F/Sgt Tillman, who were a very popular Polish-British crew were
tragically killed during an operational flight in adverse weather conditions. They crashed on a mountainside near
Benholne while on patrol.
By early May, following a transfer to Church Fenton, the unit returned to offensive missions. After being briefed
about Intruder and Ranger operations, the 307 were sent out to attack enemy shipping, radar stations and a
multitude of other secondary structures (in Belgium, France, Holland, and Norway, but mostly in Germany.)
In June 1944, Polish units worked in very close co-operation with allied bombers by escorting them, or patrolling
enemy bases in order to divert the German fighters. When Operation Overlord was set in motion, two aircraft
sections were detached to Coltishal every day to conduct the Intruder mission as well as Ranger missions.
For the remainder of the year, the 307 were devoted to flying various operational missions. During this time, no
notable successes were achieved, but losses were suffered. On 8 August Zwolinski/Gajewski were killed over
Holland. On 17 September, Jaworski/Szymilewicz was killed while flying cover for the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade
at Battle at Arnhem (Market Garden). On September 18, during a training flight, F/Lt Madej and F/O Gasecki
collided in mid-air with another Mosquito and were killed.
|Exeter during the Baedeker Raid
|Exeter during the Baedeker Raid
The unit celebrated an auspicious occasion on August 31, in which British Air Vice Marshall Henderson, decorated
F/Sgt Kazimierz Gutowski (Chief Mechanic, Flight "M") with the British Empire Medal. The citation praised
Gutowski's excellence and unceasing dedication. He served with the 307 from its very inception.
By Oct of 1944, the 307 was re-equipped with the latest version of the Mosquito, the Mk XXX. It was dubbed the
"Wooden Wonder" due to more powerful engines. It was a popular plane among the 307 crew. By the end of the
year however, flying missions began to slow down considerably and days were rather uneventful. Then disaster
struck again on December 12, the crew of Wieczorek/Ostrowski collided in mid-air with a V-2 German rocket, but
miraculously the crew landed safely. The Mosquito however was written off.
RAF Wooden Mosquito Fighter Bomber - assembled at Walter Lawrence and Sons joinery works in Sawbridge Hertfordshire
The start of 1945 was typically uneventful but plagued with adverse weather conditions. There were very few
opportunities for battle with enemy aircraft. Among the last victories achieved by the 307 Squadron were on March
27th, when F/Lt Tarkowski and F/O Taylor (British) shot down a Ju188 during a raid near Bonn; on April 25th, when
the CO and W/Cdr Andrzejewski scored one kill on FW190 and damaged another, while both planes were still on
the tarmac. That same night, Sgt Leszkiewicz and Sgt Lewandowski scored a Ju88 damaged in Flensburg, but had
to ditch after the enemy flak fit their tail. After surviving for three days in a dinghy, they were taken prisoners by
The piece de resistance came on May 9, 1945 when Allied victory was imminent. W/Cdr Andrzejewski led a fleet
of six aircraft of the 307 in Operation Nestegg. The Mosquitoes strategy was to force the surrender of the German
garrisons at Guemsey and Jersey. The Polish squadron merely made low passes over the German positions but
without firing a shot... and soon afterwards the Germans raised their white flags. The Germans had surrendered.
The war came to an end, and a glorious victory it was for the Allies. But not for the Poles. It was a bitter victory for
all Polish servicemen - because Poland had been taken over by the Soviet Communists.
There was no home to go back to.
The 307 was nicknamed the "Eagle Owls" (in Polish, 307 Dywizjon Myśliwski Nocny
"Lwowskich Puchaczy" ) in remembrance of the Polish fighters who defended the
city of Lwow during the Polish-Ukrainian war of 1918-1919. (The Polish resistance
were called Lwow's Eaglets (in Polish, Orleta Lwowskie) The nickname was
appropriate for the 307 Squadron, whose night flying missions demonstrated the
same power and stealth of an owl hunting its prey at night - silent, unseen, and deadly.
The 307 Squadron was the only Polish night fighter squadron fighting alongside the
RAF during World War II. Squadron 307 was disbanded on January 1947.
They will be Remembered.
|Fl-Lt Antoni Dziegielewski
Near the end of January 1944, the 307 flew a successful mission
with four of their EW Mosquitos They swooped down over Stavanger,
a Luftwaffe based in Norway, and shot down a Junkers W.34, two
Near the end of January 1944, the 307 flew a successful mission
with floatplanes (probably destroyed), and strafed enemy cargo
train and shipping.
The article, Mosquitos Patrol Norwegian Coast reads as follows:
R.A.F. Mosquitos, in offensive patrols along the Norwegian coast
today, attacked several Blohm and Voss flying boats at Stavanger
sea plane base. They destroyed one and scored shell hits on
others,.after which the Mosquitoes encountered an enemy plane,
which was shot down. (The Canberra Times, January 1, 1944 page 1 Australia)
(Editors note: This report was in reference to the No. 307 Polish Eagle Owls Night
Fighter Squadron, who flew the mission on that day.)
|No. 307 Polish Eagle Owls Squadron - Click on Photo to see enlarged version
|Successes of the 307 Squadron
Total of 31 enemy aircraft destroyed
17 damaged in the air
4 destroyed, 2 probables and 1 damaged on the ground and water.
4 locomotives and 28 trains destroyed
many M/T boats,, flak batteries and other targets.
28 pilots and 26 gunners or radio navigators were killed in action.
6 of that number were non-Polish members of the squadron
NB. For detailed lists of Scores and Losses, visit the website of
Polish Squadrons Remembered.