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HARD RAIN



by Piotr Gorka


Avro Lancasters of No.300 Sqn "Mazovian" during bomber raid on Nordstern rafinery near Gelsenkirchen.

The litography pesonally signed by five airmen 300 Sqn among them Sgt.Boguslaw Morski,

the only survivor of three Polish crews downed that night.



L/E 320 Limited Edition signed & numbered prints


Each of these editions are individuall numbered

Overall print size:  25 3/4"wide   20"high    65,5 x 51 cm

Image size: 21"wide   14 3/4"high      53,2 x 37,5 cm

Printed On HQ Acid Free Permanent Paper 250 Gr



signed by


Flight Lieutenant  TADEUSZ WIERZBOWSKI  CV*

Warrant Officer  CZESLAW BLICHARSKI  CV

Warrant Officer  ANDRZEJ GORSKI  CV*

Flight Sergeant  BOGUSLAW MORSKI  CV

Flight Sergeant  JERZY SZCZUKA  VMV CV




        The portrait of a Lancaster in the raid on Gelsenkirchen oil plant is very well rendered, it is true we flew into dense searchlights and massed AA guns. Me, as a bomb airmen, being in the nose glazed canopy, I had an excellent view...  We were lucky we were not caught by a searchlight, but I could see other aircraft caught by the lights... On the way back we were shot down by a night fighter over Holland.

 


F/Sgt Boguslaw Morski

300 Bomber Squadron





Avro Lancaster of No 300 Squadron in flight in 1944. The 'Masovian' Squadron was the onlynon-Commonwelth unit equipped with the type.










BIG RAID ON THE GELSENKIRCHEN

 

 

         On the night of the 12th eight of No.300’s Lancasters took part in big raid on the Nordstern oil plant Gelsenkirchen, but a traagedy beset the squadron - three of the 17 Lancasters lost by the RAF in this action were Polish. Lancaster I BH-N LL807 was destroyed by AA guns over Holland and its crew, F/Lt Jerzy Rozanski, F/O  Waclaw Bakun. F/O Mieczyslaw Hahn, Sgt Gustaw Szeliga, Sgt Albin Pacula, Sgt Rajmund Barzdo, F/Sgt Marian Wroblewski were all killed. BH-C DV282 crashed into the sea with the crew F/Sgt Franciszek Rembecki, F/O Boguslaw Morski, F/O Jozef Feil, Sgt Feliks Bladowski, Sgt Jan Bokros, Sgt Stanislaw Misztura, Sgt Wladyslaw Leppert, who drowned, except for F/O Morski who was made PoW. Lancaster III BH-S JA683 was shot down near the targed by a night fighter and its crew, F/O Henryk Burkiewicz, P/O KazimierzAndruszkiewicz, F/O Eugeniusz Józefowicz, Sgt Edward Porowski, Sgt Jan Sumiga, Sgt Michal Golec, Sgt Lucjan Klucha, were killed instantly exept for Klucha, who jumped and hid for two days before being captured and executed by the Germans.


Mr Boguslaw Morski over the grave of his fellow crew members who died at night 13 06 1944.

 




                                                                          

THE HEAVIEST BOMBERS

 

 

       Four-engined Avro Lancaster bombers entered RAF service in 1942 and soon afterwards the Polish Air Force Inspectorate applied for conversion of Polish squadrons onto the type. The RAF 'HQ' refused to deliver Lancaster to the Poles, suggesting aircraft types with less numerous crew. The Polish Air Force HQ believed that at least one squadron should be equiped with the most modern heavy bombers. In 1943 the British suggested to re-equip No.300 Sqn with Handley Page Halifax bombers, explaining that there were not enough Lancasters even for the RAF. This offer was rejected in view of the Halifax among Polish crew of No. 138 Squadron RAF. It was accepted that Wellingtons would continue to be used until Lancasters were available. Eventually, Lancaster conversion training commenced in December 1943 but No. 300 Sqn did not receive its first aircraft of the type until March 1944 by which time it had moved to RAF Faldingworth. First combat opreation on the Lancassters was flown on the  night of 18 April. Less than a week later, on 24/25 April No.300 Squadron suffered its first combat losses: two crews were killed. During the firs two months of operations, 50 airmen were killed and was barely enought Polish flying personnel for ‘A’ Flight. That was why a new ‘B’ Flight was formed from British Commonwealth aircrews. This situation continuet until early September when ‘B’ Flight became all-Polish again. During a little over a year of Lancaster operations No. 300 Squadron dropped over 6,500 tonnes of bombs or half the entire tonnage dropped by all Polish bomber squadrons during 1940-1945. Over 160 airmen of No.300 Sqn were killed during these operations, equal to about one fifth of the personnel losses in Polish Air Force bomber units.

   No.300 Sqn crew in front of the Lancaster in which they subsequently died during the Gelsenkirchen raid on the night of 12/13 June 1944. Third from right is the skipper, F/O Jerzy Wladyslaw Rozanski, one of the colourful character of the Polish A F. Before WWII he hed failed his medical test for air force  service but he excelled in sports flying nevertheless. During the war  he was initially a ferry pilot in Britain and in Africa. Following his service in No. 112 'Sharks' Squadron RAF he returned to Britain where he then flew about 20 combat sorties on Spitfires in No. 306 Sqn (Polish). He transferred to bomber units in 1943.







Mr Czelaw Blicharski ex 300 Sqn, is signing the prints




ANDREW MYNARSKI HISTORY

 

 

   Among the bombers shot down that night was also the Lancaster X VR-A KB726, of No.419 Squadron of RCAF, whose gunner.  Andrew Charles Mynarski was born the second son to recent Polish immigrants in Winnipeg, Manitoba on October 14, 1916. He was a quiet person, although his ready humor would come out after you got to know him. He enjoyed working with his hands, especially woodworking. Before the war, he was employed as a cutter at a local furrier where his craftsmanship was highly valued. On his own, he loved to design and build  furniture.


    After a brief stay in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force shortly before his 25th birthday. He became an Air Gunner. His first operational posting was with Number 9 Squadron in October, 1943. In March, 1944, he replaced another mid upper gunner in 419 (Moose) Squadron and joined the crew with whom his name would be forever linked.

 

   A week later, on the night of June 12, they were to take off on the Lanc's fourth mission, their target: the rail marshalling yards at Cambrai, France. It would be the crew's 13th sortie. They would be over the target on Friday the thirteenth. While waiting to go, the crew couldn't help but think of these omens.  Andy found a four leaf clover in the grass by the planes.  He insisted that his closest buddy in the crew, tail gunner Pat Brophy, should take it.

 

    Shortly after crossing the French coast, the Lancaster was briefly coned by enemy searchlights. After some evasive maneuvers, they were in the safety of darkness again. They began descending to the level of their planned attack when a Ju88 came in from astern. Its cannons blazed from below. Three explosions tore the aircraft. Both port engines were knocked out and began to flame. Hydraulic lines to the rear turret were severed and the fluid ignited, turning the rear of the fuselage into an inferno. The captain, Art de Bryne gave the order to bail out.


    Warrant officer Mynarski left his post at the mid upper turret and began to make his way to the rear escape door. Through the fierce flames, he could see his friend Pat Brophy, desperately trying to escape from the immobilized rear turret. Pat was trapped. The turret had jammed in a position where the doors to escape didn't line up and, in his frantic attempts to free himself, he had broken the manual back-up system as well. By now, all of the other crew members had made their escapes from the stricken aircraft.


    In complete disregard for his own safety, Andrew crawled through the flames toThe Victoria Cross assist his fellow gunner. Not noticing that his own flight suit and parachute had caught fire, he fought heroically to free the turret, but all his efforts were in vain. Brophy  signaled that there was nothing more he could do and that he should bail out and save himself. Reluctantly, Mynarski complied. Backing through the flames to the escape hatch, he stood up and, before jumping, he saluted his doomed comrade.

 

    French witnesses saw him plunge earthward in flames but when they found him, he was so severely burned that he died within hours.

 

    Ironically, Pat Brophy survived, unhurt. When the Lancaster crashed at a shallow angle, two of its twenty bombs immediately exploded, throwing the tail gunner clear. His watch stopped at 2:13 a.m., Friday, June 13,

1944.

 

    Posthumously, with the rank of Pilot Officer, Andrew Charles Mynarski was awarded the Victoria Cross, the British Commonwealth's highest award for bravery.












Piotr Górka © 2007