18 (Polish) Operational Training Unit/18. Operačně Výcviková Jednotka

It is only fitting to remember all of the 18 (Polish) OTU otherwise known as the Ośrodek Wyszkolenia Bojowego Załóg Bombowych No. 18 OTU aircrew that died whilst serving with the RAF, they risked their life to protect their country and also risked the lives of their families if they were captured or identified by Nazi forces occupying their home country:

1940
The unit was formed in 14th March 1940 at Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

On 1st August Fairey Battle L5075 crashed whilst landing at RAF Bramcote without injury to the pilot.

On 23rd September Fairey Battle K9480 crashed into the a houses at 31 Ruffs Drive and 1 Laughton Crescent, Hucknall after stalling. Korporal EV Rozmiarek was killed along with residents:Albert Evans, Alice Evans and their children Ronald, Alice and John. Korporal Rozmiarek was the first RAF Polish casualty of the war. He is buried in Hucknall cemetery.

1941

The unit moved to RAF Bramcote in January, Warwickshire that June.  During June the unit were detached to No.9 Bombing and Gunnery School at Penrhos for armament and firing practice in the summer of 1940 taking Fairey Battles including L5271/U. Training included using the .303 Vickers K-type gas-operated machine gun. The OTU's satellite station was at RAF Bitteswell, Leicestershire as part of 6 Group. 

On 3rd February Wellington P9221 undershot while landing at Bramcote and hit a crane, all the crew survived.

On 4th February Wellington 1C R1298 flying from Bramcote crashed four miles south-west of Middlewich after hitting a barrage balloon. all 10 people died on board -  Flight Officer D Warburton, Flight Officer Z J Perkowski, Flight Officer A Minkiewicz, Sergeant L Jachna, Sergeant V C Hill, Sergeant B T Abbott, Sergeant J P Orynek, Sergeant S J Wojciechowski, Sergeant W L Gosden RNZAF and Leading Aircraftman Korporal H R Kwiatkowski.

Leading Aircraftman Sydney Walter Green earned the George Medal whilst serving at 18 OTU sometime between January and March 1941 for "Saving Life after aircraft crash"

On 23rd April Avro Anson R3408 Hit a balloon cable at Walsgrave, the pilot Sgt J B Malony, Pilot Officer O Sablik, Sgt I J Rudlicki, W/O S Ripley and F/Sgt R Hanson were all killed.

Wellington L4297 struck trees and crashed at Bulkington on 29th April. Pilot Officer B J Hawkes, Sergeant J Zwolski, Sergeant T Szostak and Sergeant Z P Gaik were all killed.

On 20th September Wellington X3195 had an engine failure and crashed while force-landing at Burton Hastings.  All the crew survived
 
Two Wellingtons (T2907 and X9793) were written off on 26 September (crew???)
 
On 29 September Wellington R3216 stalled on landing at Bitteswell killing Sgt E J H Heather, Sgt S Cupryk , P/O J Jozepajt, F/O Z Stepien, Sgt J Ksiezyc, Sgt T Astramowicz and F/Sgt J S Fisher . The rear gunner, Sgt J Zietkiewicz survived the accident. Motor transport driver, S W J Green, received the George Medal for bravery in his attempts to rescue the crew.

On 4th October  two Ansons  collided mid-air near Bramcote. All the crew of R9708 were killed:  F/O Stanislaus Hermanowski, F/O Roman Miarczynaki, Sgt Reginald Brown, Sgt Lawrence Armstrong Scott, AC Eric Mason whilst those in R9709 survived:  Sgt David Kenneth Waters, Sgt H F G C Russell and Sgt W P L Anderson.

Wellington R1138 hit a tree at Ullesthorpe on 23rd October All the crew survived.

Three days later a similar incident befell Wellington X9807 at Wolvey. This time the crew were not so lucky and Pilot Officer Z Smolik, Sgt Z Laskos, Sergeant J Teodorko and Sergeant M Lydka were all killed.

1942
Tadeusz J.Bieganski, Piotr Kujawa(or Czeslaw?), Jerzy Polczyk, Jan Sadowski and Jan A.Tokarzewski died when Wellington Mk.IC N2848/G crashed on Buckden Pike during a blizzard on 30 January.  Sadowski survived the crash but only Jozef Fusniak survived the conditions suffering a broken ankle.  He received the British Empire Medal at Buckingham Palace in May 1942. There is a great interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFigsYYJ0Bo and the rest of his story is told in the book Fighting High - World War Two - Air Battle Europe, Volume 2 ISBN - 978-0-9562696-1-4.  There is now a memorial to the crew on Buckden Pike erected in 1972.

On 2nd February Wellington R1006 caught fire during maintenance on base at RAF Bramcote. Fortunetely there were no casualties.

On Februry 16th the unit also used RAF Thurleigh after 160 Squadron left the base. Eventually 127 crew were based on the airfield. 

On 14 March Wellington T2961 hit a hut and trees whilst taking off from Bramcote.  Pilot Officer D M Jones, Flight Officer W A Kozlowski, Sergeant T A Hipp, and Sergeant J Stengierski were killed.  Flight Officer Z Luba was injured but survived.

On 17th May Wellington IC N2806/T crashed near Chollerford, Northumberland killing Egon Baczkiewicz, Jozef Bogusiak, Eugeniusz Kalicecki, Wladyslaw Kubera, AleksanderSwitalski.

a day later Wellington DV783 crashed at Thurleigh airfield on night flying exercises killing Wojciech J.Kempski,Jan Klimczyk, Zdzislaw Kozlowski, Aleksander K.Skora,  Andrzej Wisniewski.

Wellington R1287 hit a petrol bowser taking off from Bramcote on 25th March all crew survived.

On June 3rd 18 OTU left Thurleigh as the base was handed over to the 8th Airforce, USAAF. Most of 5th detachment was returned to Bramcote in five Wellingtons whilst others left in trucks.

On 26th June 18 OTU took part in a 1,000 plane bomber raid over Bremen Germany, the OTU lost at least two aircraft. DU765 or (DV765?), XW-N was shot down by a night-fighter over Lollum, near Wonseradeel.  All the crew escaped but became PoW's   Flight Officer Karol Boratyński, Sergeant Jan Laudan, Sergeant Władysław Kowalikm, Korporal Czesław Rajpold and Sergeant Antoni Pozorski survived. Rajpold later died in a German hospital on 26th August 1943 being buried at Berlin Charlottenburg military cemetery.  Boratyński ended up in German POW camp L3 gaining POW no.2154.  On the same night Wellington IC T2612/XW-H was shot down by Luftwaffe ace Helmut Lent at  Andijk north-west of Enkhuisen, Holland, killing Maksymilian Niemczyk, Zygmunt Wieczorek, Stanislaw Wolski, Aleksander Rozdzynski and Wlozimierz Jerzy Mikos after their bombing raid on Bremen. One of its engines was recovered by NFLA in 1974 and there is a memorial at the site between the streets 'Hoekweg' and 'Kleingouw'.

Antoni Kosturkiewicz was killed on 11th July after 304 Squadron Wellington IC Z1072 NZ-G crashed just after take off from Bramcote. Also killed were the 304 squadron Pilot Officer Michal Mazurkiewicz and passenger 2nd Lt Pietraszek.  The survivors were: F/O Peski, P/O Wodzinski, F/Sgt Adamczyc and passengers Cpl Szpec and Cpl Feliks Jaruszewski. The aircraft had only been with the squadron a matter of weeks transferring from 150 Squadron on 21st April.

During bad weather on 19th August Wellington T2903 crashed into a hill at Chipping Camden. Sergeant Stefan R.Czopik, Flight Sergeant Stanislaw Dusza, Sergeant Stanislaw Fatyga, Pilot Officer S K Kepinski,  Sergeant Stanislaw Lis, and Sergeant Edmund Tuliszka were all killed.

On 24th September Wellington DV708 crashed on take off from Bramcote on 24th September 1942 with hydraulic failure.  All the crew survived.

During October a training flight from 18 OTU was absorbed by 6 Operational Training Unit - this unit was to provide pilots for Coastal Command along with a Czech unit absorbed at the same time.

Marian Hesse and Edmund S. Mistecki were killed when Wellington I.C DV802/C crashed at Ryton near Bramcote on 2nd October after an engine fire whilst taking off, There was only one survivor Sergeant Strangryciuk who received serious burns. (other names?)

Eugeniusz Brill was killed on 8th November when Wellington I.V Z1325 stalled while flying low near Hinckley on a night flight from Bramcote.  The aircraft had previous damage after being shot up by a Messerschmitt Me110 that April whilst with 460 Squadron as UV-H.

Wellington DV770 overshot landing at Bramcote on 20th November . The crew escaped unharmed.

On 30th November Wellington Z1414 crashed at Monks Kirby while attempting to land in poor visibility. Sergeant Leonard Krukowski (Polish) was killed whilst Pilot Officer T Jencka,Sergeant J Kmiecikewicz, Pilot Officer O M  Kolacz, Sergeant W Marczak and Pilot Officer L Orchol survived.

Photo of Z1318 whilst with 18 OTU here

The wreckage of N2813 was found on moorland close to a deserted homestead known as Esgair pen y Garreg. ????Date/Circumstances

1943
On 2nd January Wellington L4379 was abandoned over Wilford, Nottinghamshire due to icing over of the carburettor. Sergeant Eugeniusz Korzeniowski was killed but the rest of the crew survived: Pilot Officer A Ratajczak, Pilot Officer C Czekalski, Sergeant J Drapala, Sergeant R Baszowski and Sergeant M Nogacki.

RAF Nuneaton was also used as a satellite from its opening on 7th February until the OTU moved.

Leading Aircraftman Michal Lewczuk was killed on 5th March.  From his records it looks like he was a mechanic for the squadron.

On 27th March the OTU moved to RAF Finningley, South Yorkshire using Bircotes as a satellite Station. RAF Bramcote and Nuneaton were overtaken by 44 Group of Transport Command.

On 1st April Flight Lieutenant CHS Pain joins from 617 Squadron at RAF Scampton as adjutant.

Stanislaw I. Grabarczyk and Michal Zarebowicz were both killed when Wellington I.C  DV804 XU-F crashed during the pilots first solo flight whilst trying to land at Finningley. In July 1941 this aircraft had taken part in the 'Grand National' a bombing raid from Base - Southwold - Ouddorp - Dusseldorf, Julich - Noordland - Southwold - Base. 

Roman Drapala, Mieczys. J.Frankiewicz, Tadeusz M. Opulski and Tadeusz Pasternak were killed when Wellington III BK353 flying from from Finningley crashed near Belton, Grantham during asymmetric training on 12th May.

July RAF Finningley Wellingtons (numbers and a few codes only!) 149 D, 3541 Q, 124 S, 712 X, 461 ?, 730 ?, 3357?, 695? 681 ?,471 ?, 7054 ?, 425 ?, 625 ?, 695 ?, 3648 ?, 3311 ?, 3426 ?, 445 ? 420 ?, 448 ?,

On 4th July the pilot of a Wellington with W/O Sergeant Usher and N/Sergeant Bertram Pinner crashed - both survived

On 24th July Wellington X HE730. from Finningley crashed into the Bristol Channel during night navigation exercises after wireless call for help. Sergeant G E Palmer, Sergeant Douglas Edward Henry Stroud, Sergeant W J Thorne,  Sergeant K Edwards and Sergeant Norman Claude Cleaver were all killed. The only body recovered was that of Edwards who is buried at Coalville (Hugglescote) Cemetery. Stroud has his name listed on the Runnymede Memorial.

On 25th July Sergeant Usher and N/Sergeant Bertram Pinner were amongst those on a Nickel drop over Alencon, France. In Wellington

On 2nd August Wellington III X3800 crashed near Wroot on asymmetric training killing Sergeant Lesle Albert Charlton, Sergeant Ronald Henry Smith, Flight Sergeant Eric Hempel Sherman RAAF and Sergeant John William Perry.

On 3rd August Wellington X HE256 (or HE526) suffered engine failure after take off on a nickel mission dropping leaflets F.104 and F.110 and crashed at Partridge Hill Farm,  injuring Sergeant N Walker.Pilot Officer L T Bowers, Pilot Officer H C Atkinson, Segeantt J R Taylor, Sergeant S Edwards and Flight Lieutenant Hill.

On 1st September Wellington MkIII BK445 from Finningley with RAFVR crew crashed at West Feldom Range, Richmond killing the Pilot Sergeant Victor Henry Wigmore and Rear Gunner Sergeant Harold Dean after the fabric from the aircrafts wing started to peel off during flight Wigmore was buried at Highgate Cemetery, London whilst Dean was buried at Burton on Trent Cemetery. Navigator Sergeant Albert Andrew Rees was injured but Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Sergeant Callaway and Bomb Aimer - Sergeant Edgar Farrer both escaped uninjured.

Edmund Stanczuk died in a road accident on 10 September.

On 3rd October Wellington BK242 crashed after overshooting the runway at Finningley. Sadly all five men in the aircraft were killed. This included Sgt Edgar Farrer who escaped the crash on 1st September 1943 He is buried at Uphall Cemetery, West Lothian.

Stefan K.Alberti , Roman Kot, Jerzy Sawicki and Mieczyslaw Solecki  died after one of the engines on Wellington BK471 failed on the evening of 21 October.  The crew tried to get the plane back to RAF Bircotes but whilst landing the plane caught fire and crashed. The crew are buried at the Polish cemetry at Newark.  There was one survivor Marynowski Zbigniew Antoni.

Edmund Formaniewicz, Czeslaw Gozdz,Leading Aircraftman Stefan Majewski and Stanislaw L Piorek were killed when Wellington III  BJ645 crashed at Everton whilst practicing asymettric flying. Formaniewicz, Gozdz and Majewski are listed as dying on 27th Sepember but Piorek is listed as dying on 28th September.

On 3rd/4th November a Wellington was lost - no further details

Several aircrew moved to the new RAF base at Worksop on 11th November.

Wireless operator Sergeant Jan Gawlik was killed on 13 November after being hit by a Wellington propellor whilst at RAF Finningley whilst on a training flight from Bircotes. He is now buried in Newark cemetery but name not on CWGC listings.

On 26th November a Wellington from Worksop got into trouble after bad weather had started to come across the country and landed at RAF Ossington, en route to RAF Tilstock after calling 'Darkie' to the airbase.

On 30th December Martinet I JN429 flew from Bircotes on a sortie for fighter affiliation sortie the aircraft lost control whilst making a dummy attack and crashed west of Worksop killing RAFVR Flight Officer Peter Robert Street DFM and Sergeant J M Holmes. Street is now buried at Great Berkhamstead (St Peter) church cemetery.

1944
On 20th January a Wellington III (BK273) on night conversion training overshot the runway and sheared a blade from its starboard
propeller as it tried to gain height.  It crashed into the grounds of Worksop College killing all the RAFVR crew:Pilot: Flight Officer. Richard Harvey Brooke Jennings (now buried at Southend-On-Sea (Sutton Road) Cemetery), Navigator: Pilot Officer Robert Frederick Wade  (now buried at Islington Cemetery and Crematorium, London), Air Bombadier:  Pilot Officer Colin William Owen Sears (now buried at Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery), W/Op/ Air Gunner: Sergeant Patrick Downes (now buried at Great Crosby (SS. Peter and Paul) Roman Catholic Churchyard, Liverpool) and Air Gunner: Sergeant Kenneth Ernest Dudley Sillatoe (now buried at Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery).

Juliusz J. S.Zywicki drowned after Wellington III  BK156 crashed at Workington on 23rd February after suffering several problems.

On 27th January Wellington X HE983 lost control at 9,000 feet over the bombing range at RAF Misson and crashed about a mile
outside of of Lound killing Sergeant Michael Mullins now buried at Salisbury (London Road) cemetery, RCAF Sergeant John Alan Jefferson from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada now buried in Harrogate (Stonefall) cemetery, Sergeant William Roy now buried at Dinsdale (St John the Baptist) graveyard, Sergeant Robert Joseph King now buried at Barking (Rippleside) cemetery and Sergeant George Prentice now buried in Sharlston (St. Luke) churchyard extension.

On 3rd March weather conditions over Nottinghamhire had deteriorated and snow blizzards meant many trecious landings were attempted. Wellington 'C' from Worksop asked to land at Ossington but was turned away and asked to fly to Lichfield. The aircraft suffering from icing up on its way to the West Midlands and returned to Ossington to land.  the aircraft landed on the runway safely. 

On 7th March Wellington (HE818) on another night training flight crashed in Blyth close to the memorial that now sits on the
village green. Pilot Officer Frank Reginald Bedford now buried at Harrogate (Stonefall) cemetery, Sergeant Charles Robson (Peter) Whisk now buried at South Shields (Harton) cemetery, Sergeant Ralph Wallace Tunnicliffe now buried at Hasland Cemetery and Sergeant Derek William Tindell now buried at Camberwell New cemetery. There was only one survivor from this Flight Sergant C Clitheroe who died in August 1944.

On 17th March a Wellington coded 'K' landed at Ossington with assistance of a flare path set out with sodium lights.

On 15th April Abermarle V1609 crashed after the pilot disobeyed orders to fly over one of the crews homes and struck a chimney of a house in the village of Hartford . Flight Sergeant Robert Phillip Henry Brown RAAF , Sergeant J Crichton, W/O Faulkner Adrian Andrew Ormiston RAAF and Sergeant A G Crowe were killed. Sergeant A Ewen survived but was injured.

On the same day Wellington X HE804 piloted by Flight Sergeant Peter Holt crashed near to Trumans Lodge in Clumber Park after suffering engine failure after taking off from Worksop. all the crew survived

On 19 May Wellington X LP381 crashed into trees at Peak Hill, Carlton Road Worksop attempting to land on the way back from France on 'Nickeling' operation.  The pilot Sergeant Jozef Pawlik, from Łobaczowie, Poland and Sergeant (gunner) Piotr  Pawlowski were both killed and are buried in the Polish Cemetery at Newark on Trent, the rest of the crew survived: Flight Officer Z Norski, Sergeant W Sledziewski and Sergerant Z Bukalo

On 27th June Wellington III Z1592 crashed at Baner Farm, Middle Rasen, Lincolnshire after catching fire during a cross-country sortie, Sgt G.K. Cameron, Sgt E.A. Crowe, Sgt G.F. Marchington, Sgt G.W. Dunham, Sgt E. Bunt and Sgt R.S. Cracknell were all killed. The crew were all in the RCAF

Andrzej Chmielowiec, Wladyslaw Doda, Leon Gawlowski, Stanislaw T. Hryniewiecki, Lucjan Klepacki and Marian Lewicki died in a Wellington over Rossington, Doncaster on 13th July.

On 6th September Wellington HE433 from Worksop suffered an engine failure and crashed at Rampton.  All the crew survived P/O Laurin from RCAF was the pilot

The last wholy Polish crew to die on an 18OTU flight were Wieslaw Grubski,Mieczyslaw Gutowski, Antoni J.Jankowski, Sergiusz Korol,Tadeusz Krzesinski and Zbigniew Lasko who were killed on 1st August when Wellington X HE993 sideslipped into the ground at Asbourne. HE993 was previously AL-B in 429 Squadron.

On 15th October Wellington X HE289 was practicing bombing but had an engine fail before getting to site, the crew managed to get some of the bombs dropped but not all, the aircraft belly landed at Kelstern killing Sgt  Piotr Kulagowski - the last polish fatality from 18OTU.

1945
OTU disbanded on 30th January.

There is a great page dedicated to Czeslaw Kowalczyk at polandinexile.com/kowalczyk.html. this shows how arduous the Poles escape from their native country was. The RAF interigation of escaped POW Sergeant Piotr Bakalarski shows what lengths Polish pilots took to escape and the torture they received if recapturedi www.polishsquadronsremembered.com/300/ER_300_Bakalarski.html

There were of course many other service personnel in the OTU and I'll add their names as and when I find information on them.

Many thanks to Di Ablewhite and 304 Squadron for all the extra information