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Marian Ludwik NIEWOLSKI

Polish Air Force


Marian Ludwik Niewolski was born in Męcinka near Jedlicz on June 26, 1919. He was involved in aviation all his young life. He lived in Świerzowa Polska near the airport in Krosno, where he used to go to watch planes and the work of maintenance crews. Aviation was his passion.

As a first-year student at the Junior High School in Krosno, he became a member of the Gliding Club and, together with other students, took part in the construction of the CW-III glider no. 44. He realized his dreams by obtaining a pilot's license and becoming a glider instructor. He graduated from the Non-Commissioned Officer Aviation School, obtaining the specialization of a gunner in the rank of corporal.

After the outbreak of World War II, he was called up to the 64th Bomb Squadron. The squadron was stationed in Nosów. The 64th Bomb Squadron took part in the Defensive War of Poland in September 1939 as the Squadron of the Light Bomber Brigade. The commander of the VI Light Bomber Squadron in which Cpl. Marian Niewolski flew was Major Alfred Peszke. The squadron consisted of: 10 PZL.23B Karaś aircraft, 1 Fokker F.VIIB/3m aircraft and 2 RWD-8 aircraft.

The very high losses suffered by the Squadron during the first days of the war meant that on September 10, the commander of the Bomber Brigade, Lt. Col. John the White ordered to untie it, followed by the evacuation of personnel from two squadrons to the east. After the Soviet aggression on September 17, 1939, and the beginning of repressions and arrests of Polish soldiers by the Soviet authorities, together with other soldiers, Marian Niewolski crossed the Romanian border. He was sent to an internment camp. The government of France and England made efforts aimed at organizing the transfer of Polish soldiers from Romania and incorporating them into their units fighting against the German occupier. By sea, at the end of October 1939, a large group of Polish soldiers together with their commander Lt. Col. Jan Biały, reached Marseilles, sailing from the port of Balchik to Beirut and then to France.

The Polish airbase was located in Lyon and Rennes. The commander of a group of Polish airmen in Rennes was Lt. Col. John White. After the capitulation of France, the group of Polish airmen was divided into several smaller ones, which were evacuated from France by different routes. From Port Vendres on the Mediterranean Sea, they sailed to North Africa. From Casablanca, they reached Glasgow by sea. During the formation of the Polish Air Force in England, Cpl. Marian Niewolski was assigned to the 307th Night Fighter Squadron "Lwowskie Owls".

The crews had arrived at the Squadron on September 10, 1940, and training began on September 11. On December 3, 1940, combat readiness was achieved. The 307th Night Fighter Squadron of the "Lwowskie Owls" was part of the defense of the British coast. Its task was primarily to search for German submarines. Such flights were less dangerous than bombing missions over Germany and France, but much longer and more tiring, lasting 10-12 hours. At first, the Squadron patrolled the Bay of Biscay, then the North Atlantic. The Squadron's badge depicted an eagle owl in the moonlight destroying a German aircraft over the number 307. Squadron airmen had the right to wear turquoise silk scarves with their uniforms with an embroidered eagle owl and the Latin motto of the city of Lviv "Semper Fidelis" (always faithful).

In the book "Yellow Tiger 1977/10 - Owls keep watch in the dark", Andrzej R. Janczak describes an episode from a training flight with the participation of Cpl. Marian Niewolski: “Today, the topic of training is radio procedure in the air. One of the phrases is: "Receive you laud and clear, switch off". The first to taxi to the start is the commander of "A" squadron, captain pilot Józef Nałęcz-Tański with corporal gunner Marian Niewolski. The plane is climbing to 18,000 feet when the gunner, seated in the center of the machine, in the rotating turret, began to experience shortness of breath. So he turned on the intercom and turned to the pilot: "Captain, I'm out of oxygen!" Tański, all ears in anticipation of the announced report, presses the transmitter button and reports to ground control: - Receive you loud and clear, switch off! – and continues to gain height. The gunner doesn't give up: "Captain, I'm out of oxygen, please come down lower" The pilot repeats his report: "I'm receiving you loud and clear, I'm switching off!" At 23,000 feet, the desperate Corporal Niewolski screams at the top of his voice: "Damn it, Captain, I'm suffocating, please go down!" Nothing helped. The pilot, taken over by the task at hand, probably thought that these were new elements of the exercises. It's not very clear to him at the moment, but it's okay when he lands, he'll know everything. His feverish thoughts were accompanied by a constant increase in altitude, so at 28,000 feet, Corporal Niewolski cried out desperately for the last time, then lost consciousness. Of course, the pilot sent a confirmation of good reception to the ground. The British controllers, unable to get along with Captain Tański, called one of the Poles for help. It didn't help, however. The "raging" pilot kept confirming excellent communications.

All hope began to be pinned on running out of fuel. And indeed, the brave fighter reported that the time allotted for the exercise was running out and requested permission to enter the landing circle. Naturally, permission was granted immediately. On the ground, the doctor, Captain Szlązak, took the unconscious gunner to the infirmary, where Corporal Niewolski quickly recovered. The culprit, on the other hand, explained bashfully: 'Because it's too damn much all at once. And English, and formulas, and you have to watch out for the shooter!”  Meanwhile, on December 3, 1940, 307 Squadron receives an order to stop night training and direct all efforts to day work.

Janczak also describes one of the fights fought by kpr. Marian Niewolski together with the pilot Lt. Maksymilian Lewandowski: "Oon the night of March 13/14, 1941 at 11.42 p.m., the Defiant N3439 plane takes off with the crew: lieutenant pilot Maksymilian Lewandowski and corporal gunner Marian Niewolski, with the task of patrolling north of Formby at an altitude of 20,000 feet. Around 00.50 the gunner spotted a twin-engine plane without lights. He gave the command to the pilot: "Turn left, enemy!" The pilot made a turn to the left, but after a while he received a new order: "Turn Right!" (it's just that the gunner, sitting with his back to the pilot, was wrong about the direction at first). The enemy was flying south-east towards Liverpool. After the second turn, when the Defiant was only 50 yards from the enemy, the gunner fired a one-second burst, followed by a three-second burst.

The crew saw the shells concentrating on the starboard engine and in the forward part of the fuselage. The enemy veered sharply to the left and dived down. The gunner fired one more round, but did not see the result. The Defiant circled around for some time, but it did not find the German. As a result, the crew was awarded the Heinkel He-111 as probably shot down." Not a complete success yet, but the British, concerned about the Luftwaffe's ever-increasing night attacks, still feeling a shortage of trained pilots, are slowly beginning to change their minds. As usual, restrained in their assessments, they finally become convinced that the squadron will break the impasse and become a valuable unit. Squadron leader George Tomlinson was of the same opinion when, a few days after the first damaged German bombers, he asked the telephone operator to link up with the headquarters of the Ninth Fighter Group: "I have nothing more to do here," General McCloughry was telling General McCloughry. “I see for myself that they are well trained and can fly and fight alone. Please recall me from the squadron.

The farewell ceremony of the departing commander lasted like a village wedding — three days (March 18—21, 1941). On the last evening, over a glass of wine, the pilots offered Tomlinsoncwi a Polish "gapa", while the gunner gave him a decorative card with the dedication: "In memory of the Commander 307 Esk. s/ldr Tomlinson from Polish aircraft gunners". On the reverse, they signed their autographs: Z. Górski, M. Trawicki, J. Banyś, Lakman, S. Kondras, J. Starosta, S. Kaliszewski, J. Karais, K. Frąckiewicz, J. Stangierski, M. Łydka, J. Broda, J. Woźny, H. Ostrowski, M. Niewolski. The Polish commander also had a reason to be proud, because he was promoted to the rank of major."

In the published series “Squadrons of the Polish Air Force in the West 1940-1946”, Robert Gretzyngier's title "307 Night Fighter Squadron of Lwów Eagle Owls" was published. On page 14, the air combat described above is confirmed: “Around midnight, F/O Maksymilian Lewandowski and Sgt Marian Niewolski in N3439, participating in the “Shortshrift” flight, noticed a twin-engine enemy aircraft. The gunner opened fire, hitting the bomber's nose and right engine. The German veered sharply to the left and dived straight down. The gunner fired another round from about 60 m and the enemy disappeared from sight. This bomber, initially classified as probable, was later classified as damaged. Further flights were stopped by bad weather.”

The squadron was disbanded on January 2, 1947. It ended the war with 3,879 sorties in 9,057 hours, 30 3/4 aircraft shot down, 7 probably shot down, and 17 damaged. On the ground, 5 aircraft were destroyed and two damaged, besides, one radar station, a river boat, one cutter, 35 locomotives and many others were destroyed on the ground. 51 pilots died and 3 were taken prisoner. From the available materials in the final phase of the participation of the Polish Air Force, it can be concluded that part of the crew of the 307th Night Fighter Squadron "Lwowskie Owls" was part of the 304th Bomber Squadron "Ziemia Śląska".

In 1942, aviation activities moved to the continent and the planes of 304 Squadron began bombing raids over German territory. The desire to participate in the fighting, which took place closer and closer to the borders of Poland, meant that some of the airmen, including Marian Niewolski, moved to 304 Squadron. Lt. Col. Pilot Jan Biały was ordered to form the third Polish bomber squadron - 304 Squadron "Ziemia Śląska", of which he became the commander. The 304 Squadron was a sub-unit of the Polish Air Force's bomber aviation, whose task was to combat enemy submarines, transport ships and ground targets. The squadron was formed on August 23, 1940 /RAF Bramcote/. The first order of the day was issued on August 28, 1940. Operational readiness was reached on April 24, 1941 / Syerston /. The squadron's first combat flight took place on the night of April 24/25, 1941.

On the night of April 12/13, 1942, during a bombing raid on Essen, Germany, it was shot down by German anti-aircraft defense Wellington X9687. The crew consisted of: pil. Walery Misniakiewicz, pil. Marian Bratkowski, Capt. nave Edward Młynarski, rtg. Wladyslaw Graczyk, Sgt. Marian Niewolski, Sgt. Jan Broda, there were also three passengers on board, soldiers of the 304 Squadron.

During the shelling, Capt. navigator Edward Jerzy Młynarski, other crew members after landing in enemy territory were arrested and placed in a prisoner of war camp. The 304 Squadron received its last operational task on May 30, 1945. It was transferred to Transport Command on June 14, 1945 /St Eval/. Disbanded on December 18, 1946 /Chedburgh/. st. Sgt. Marian Niewolski was awarded the Cross of Valor twice. After the end of the war, he came to England, then emigrated to Canada. He died in Canada on August 15, 1993 at the age of 74.

Fron a Polish text by Tadeusz Wais

Marian Ludwik Niewolski

Marian Ludwik Niewolski in 1962

Copyright: Niewolski family

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