Medal image

Chciuk, Wladyslaw

In France he was selected for one of the first squadrons to be reequipped by the French to continue the flight. Joining the “Montpellier” Squadron, he quickly learned the characteristics of the MS 406 and adapted quickly to the French fighter plane. His logbook shows not only the many patrol and defensive actions but records his first credit for probably shooting down an enemy aircraft, (it was trailing smoke and badly damaged when lost from sight). Despite the abilities of the Montpellier Squadron, they were soon forced to evacuate when the French signed an armistice with the Germans.

First by boat to North Africa and later to Great Britain, he rejoined the fight again this time beside the British. Assigned to 308 Squadron, (City of Krakow) he missed the Battle of Britain as he had stayed fighting in France too long to transition to British aircraft in time for the initial battle. By 1941, he and 308 Squadron were in the thick of the battle. He was selected for the award of his nation’s top military honors, the Virtuti Militari Cross and the Cross of Valor. As the Air War went over occupied Europe from the British Skies, losses among Fighter command escalated. The experienced Polish flyers in 1942 made up almost 20% of the RAF flyers and constituted the second largest Air Force until the arrival of the US forces in strength in late 1943.

As the Allies air offensive gained momentum, increasingly the fighter squadrons were called upon for more tactical missions. It was during a ground-attack rhubarb that F/O Chciuk was forced to bale from his flak damaged aircraft over occupied France. Injured upon landing, he was captured by the Germans and sent to POW camp VI/B in Warburg. While a POW he teamed with some other Polish officers to form a singing quartet to lend some comfort to the general body of prisoners.

... Go back | Continue reading...