No. 301 Polish Bomber Squadron


No. 301 Polish Bomber Squadron
No. 301 (Pomeranian) Squadron RAF
PSP Dywizjon 301.jpg
Emblem of No. 301 (Pomeranian) Squadron
Active 26 July 1940 - 7 April 1943
7 November 1944 - 10 December 1946
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allegiance Poland Polish government in exile
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Type heavy bomber unit
Role aerial bombardment & special operations
Size ca. 500
Part of No. 6 Group RAF, No. 1 Group RAF
Nickname Pomorski
Patron Land of Pomerania & Heroes of Warsaw
Anniversaries 14 September
Aircraft Fairey Battle I, Vickers Wellington IC, IV, Handley Page Halifax II, V, CVIII, B-24 Liberator III, V and VI, Vickers Warwick CI, CIII
Engagements Operation Sea Lion, Operation Millennium, Operation Intonation, Operation Response, Operation Revenge, Warsaw Uprising
Insignia
Squadron Codes GR (Jul 1940 - Apr 1943, Nov 1944 - Dec 1946)

No. 301 Polish Bomber Squadron "Land of Pomerania" (Polish: 301 Dywizjon Bombowy "Ziemi Pomorskiej") was a Polish World War II bomber unit. It was fighting alongside the Royal Air Force and operated from airbases in the United Kingdom and Italy.

Contents

History

Already before the outbreak of World War II, the Polish government signed an agreement with the Royal Air Force. According to the appendix to the Polish-British Alliance, should the war with Germany break out, two Polish bomber squadrons were to be created on British soil, with additional two being created en cadre[1]. However, following the German and Soviet invasion of Poland, most of Polish airmen who managed to get to the west were incorporated into the Polish Air Forces being recreated in France. It was not until the fall of France that Polish airmen started to arrive to the United Kingdom in large numbers.

Polish evacuees and refugees with experience in aerial warfare were initially kept in a military camp in Eastchurch. Finally on July 1, 1940, the No. 300 Polish Bomber Squadron was created as the first of such Polish units. As the number of Polish airmen, often with experience in fights against the Germans from Poland and France, was high, already on July 24 additional bomber squadron was created. Named No. 301 (Polish) Squadron by the British authorities, the new squadron also received the name of Land of Pomerania, in accordance with Polish naming traditions.

Initially commanded by Lt.Col. Roman Rudkowski, the squadron was equipped with 16 outdated Fairey Battle bombers. The personnel included 24 entirely Polish air crews, while the technical personnel (some 180 people initially) was mostly British. Formed at RAF Bramcote on August 23 it was relocated to RAF Swinderby. On September 14 the squadron flew its first combat mission[2]: three crews took part in bombing raids against the German invasion fleet gathered in Boulogne for Operation Sea Lion[3]. On September 25 the squadron lost its first crew: one of Faireys was damaged by German anti-air artillery over northern France and crashed on landing.

The early stage of 301 Squadron ended on October 20, 1940 when it was withdrawn from active service and badly needed new aircraft arrived. Training with the Vickers Wellington bombers lasted until December. At the same time the number of ground crew was extended to about 400 men. On December 22 the squadron took off for the first bombing raid with their new bombers. The raid damaged an oil refinery in Antwerp. It was repeated on December 28, with no friendly losses. On the night of January 1, 1941 three aircraft crashed on landing because of bad weather. The Swinderby airfield proved unsuitable for medium bombers, and was further damaged by the crashing planes, which resulted in the entire squadron being grounded.

After several weeks the weather improved and 301 joined 300 squadron, both being based at RAF Ingham Lincolnshire, in a bombing campaign over France and Germany. Among common targets were Bremen, Hamburg, Brest and Essen. Overnight of May 31st the squadron took part in a large bombing raid on Cologne. Overnight of June 6 it visited Essen, where it lost two crews. On June 27 it bombed Bremen, losing additional air crew. On July 3 yet another crew was lost. Overnight of July 22 another three were lost to enemy AA fire and fighter planes. The Polish HQ, lacking manpower and experienced airmen, decided to disband the squadron on April 7, 1943.

The remaining crews were then attached to the RAF Tempsford-based No. 138 (Special) Squadron RAF as the newly formed Flight C operating the Handley Page Halifax bomber.

On 7 November 1944, the squadron was reformed at Brindisi, Italy, when No. 1586 Flight was renamed. The squadron operated the Handley Page Halifax and Consolidated Liberator until 1945. In 1945 the squadron returned to RAF Blackbushe, England to operate the Vickers Warwick. In 1946 the squadron re-equipped with the Handley Page Halifax again until it was disbanded at Chedburgh on 18 December 1946.

Patch

Initially the squadron's insignia featured a Pegasus or Griffon, one of the symbols of Pomerania. After the reconstruction of the 301st in 1944 it received a new double name of Land of Pomerania - Defenders of Warsaw. Because of that, the new patch featured the White Eagle with a Pegasus and a Coat of Arms of Warsaw.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ (English) Count Edward Raczyński, The British-Polish Alliance; Its Origin and Meaning. The Mellville Press, London, 1948
  2. ^ The date was later declared the date of squadron's feast
  3. ^ (Polish) Wacław Król. Polskie dywizjony lotnicze w Wielkiej Brytanii. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo MON. ISBN 83-11-07695-2. 


External links



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