THE HARD DAY'S EVE
by Piotr Górka
Spitfires of No. 54 Squadron RAF return to his base in Hournchurch during Battle of Britain.
Spitfire KL-B uswally was flown by New Zeland ace Al Deere, but KL-A was flown by another
New Zelander ace Colin Gray.
L/E 330 Limited Edition signed & numbered prints
Each of these editions are individual nambered
Overall print size: 25 1/2"wide 18 1/2"high 64 cm x 46 cm
Image size : 22"wide 13 1/2"high 55 cm x 34 cm
Printed on HQ Acid Free Permanent Paper 250 Gr
PRICE 149 € plus postage
S/N 330 signed by artist and
Flight Lieutenant LUDWIK MARTEL VMv CV*
No 54 and 603 Squadrons, in the Battle of Britain.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to see your work. They are all very good indeed and they stress beautifully the advantages of all the machines that we have flown. I fully agree with the opinion of Gen. Skalski and I will gladly sign each of your works, as they truly deserve support.
F/Lt Ludwik Martel No 54, 603, RAF in Battle of Britain and 317, Polish Fighting Team, PAF
Before Polish units were formed and trained within the RAF, nearly 100 Polish pilots had reinforced established fighter squadrons (including Blenheim nightfighting units). Poles would frequently move from one unit to another, and many fought with two or more RAF squadrons. During of Battle of Britain they flew operationally with Nos 17, 23, 32, 43, 54, 56, 65, 74, 85, 111, 145, 151, 152, 213, 229, 234, 238, 249, 253, 257, 501, 601, 603, 607, 609, and 615 Sqns. In these hardest days four Polish airmen served on 54 Squadron. They were: Wojciech Klozinski, Walenty Krepski, Ludwik Alfred Martel and Leon Switon.
During operational sorties on 7 September the Spitfire-equipped 54 Squadron lost two pilots. P/O Saunders was killed when his aircraft dived into the ground from low atitude. The same day one of the Poles, P/O Walenty Krepski, was reported missing during an operational flight in the Whitby area. Probably his Spitfire I, R6901, hit the water while flying low near Flamborough. 54 Squadron ORB stated that.
'his very limited English vocabulary was certainly a contributory factor in this unlucky and regretted mishap'
Only a few days before, on 3 September, 54 Squadron had moved from Hornchurch to RAF Catterick. By this time only seven pilots remained of the original team from the early stage of Battle of Britain. Among replacement pilots were two Polish airmen: P/O Walenty Krepski and P/O Ludwik Martel. Krepski was the second Polish pilot lost by this squadron after Klozinski was shot down and wounded on 15 August. P/O Ludwik Martel, on the other hand, would fly Spitfires throughout the rest of the Battle of Britain, althought at the end of this month he would move to 603 Squadron.
Spitfire Mk II KL-B P9398 'Kiwi 2' at Hornchurch on 5 July 1940 a few days before it was lost. Al Deere had three SpitfirSpitfire Mk IIA P9398 'KIWI 2' at Horn-es marked as Kiwi. Kiwi 1 he hed recorded separately as both P9390 and N3180. Both Spitfires were on the strength of 54 Sqn at Hornchurch and he was flying N3180 when he provided cover for the rescue of S/Ldr White from France. P9390 was the aircraft lost at Dunkirk. Kiwi 2 was P9398 and he recorded this as 'crashed in Kent' after the head on collision with a Bf109. Kiwi 3 was R6981 and also was lost in Kent. His next three Spitfires did not carry the Kiwi logo as by that stage fellow 54 Sqn pilot George Gribble had suggested it wasn't bringing him a lot of luck R6932 was next and then
X4236 which was blown up by a German bomb at Hornchurch on takeoff flipping the aircraft upside down. This was followed by X4276 which crashed in Yorkshire after a trainee pilot collided with his Spitfire, chopping off his tail.
A gothering of some The Few of Duxford in 1968 during the filming of ‘Battle of Britain’ movie. here with Lord Dowding in the wheel chair are: Tom Gleave, Robert Stamford Tuck, Ludwik Martel (Polish, in Battle of Britain 54 Sqn), John Kent (Canadian, 303 Sqn ‘Kosciusko’ in Battle of Britain), Boleslaw Drobinski (Polish, 65 sqn in Battle of Britain) and Al Deere (New Zelander in Battle of Britain 54 Sqn) talking to Dowding. In back Hurricane with Polish national marking, white and red chessboard.