Warwickshire based Polish airmen who lost their lives 70 years ago during the Coventry Blitz while serving with the RAF during the second World War have been remembered.
On Sunday 7 th November members of the Polish Ex-Combatants Association were joined by representatives of other local Ex-service Associations and Air Cadets for a Remembrance Service at the St John the Baptist Cemetery, Baginton near Coventry Airport. The Service was held to remember the valour of the Polish Airman who lost their lives whilst serving with 308 ( Krakow ) Squadron at RAF Baginton, between 1940 and 1941.
There are nine graves of Polish airman at the Baginton Cemetery including those of three members of 308 Squadron who lost their lives 70 years ago during the worst night of the Coventry Blitz.
The three polish airman, Aircraftman 2nd Class, Edward Cebula aged 24, Aircraftman 2nd Class, Josef Jurkowski aged 20 and Aircraftman 1st Class, Franciszek Krzeminski aged 31 all died as a result of enemy action on the 14th November 1940, the night of the air raid that destroyed much of Coventry city centre. They apparently left the relative safety of an air raid shelter to investigate falling parachutes believing them to be parachutists, unfortunately they were in fact parachute retarded mines which detonated prior to hitting the ground.
During the service conducted by Rev. Dr Romuald Szczodrowsdki, Polish veterans and their families, members of other ex-service associations and the Air Cadets and staff from 84 (Coventry Airport) & 121 (Nuneaton) Squadrons stood side by side in silent vigil at the graves of the nine Polish Airman as the bugler sounded the Last Post and the standards were dipped in salute of those who gave their lives in the service of their country and the defence of Britain.
Flight Lieutenant Paul Hincks of 121 Squadron said, “The link between locally based Air Cadets and Polish airmen goes back to 1942 when our cadets regularly visited the Wellington bomber units at RAF Bramcote and RAF Nuneaton”.
“In addition to the nine Polish airman buried in the Baginton Cemetery we must not forget the 29 Polish aircrew of 18 Operational Training Unit and 301 Bomber Squadron that lost their lives whiles serving at RAF Bramcote who are buried in the Nuneaton's Oaston Road cemetery”.
“I visited the Polish, British and German war graves in the Oaston Road cemetery this morning and thought how long it had been since a Remembrance service had been held there. In fact I understand that due to aging membership, the Coventry Polish Ex-Combatants Association is being disbanded and that future Baginton Polish Remembrance Services may be in doubt. I sincerely hope that the many other local ex-service organizations which have supported this service for many years will continue to carry on the tradition”.
“It's so important that we don't forget the sacrifice made by the Polish airmen who served with the RAF at local airfields during the war and we are delighted to be able to support the Polish Ex-Combatants Association Remembrance Service”.
More photographs from Polish Ex-Combatants Association Remembrance Service