Zygmunt Witymir Bieńkowski

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Zygmunt Witymir Bieńkowski (2 May 1913 Kolbiel – 15 August 1979) was a Polish pilot and a writer of many articles and poems. His 303 squadron diary is held in the Polish Museum and Sikorski Institute in London.

Poland republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Zygmunt Witymir Bieńkowski was the son of Leopold Bieńkowski (1883–1942) and Zofia Braun (1891–1943). His father was a Polish Member of Parliament from 1922 to 1928. Both his parents died in Soviet Gulag camps. [1]

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk.

Gulag government agency in charge of the Soviet forced labor camp system

The Gulag was the government agency in charge of the Soviet forced-labor camp-system that was set up under Vladimir Lenin and reached its peak during Joseph Stalin's rule from the 1930s to the early 1950s. English-language speakers also use the word gulag to refer to any forced-labor camp in the Soviet Union, including camps which existed in post-Stalin times. The camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners. Large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as by NKVD troikas or by other instruments of extrajudicial punishment. The Gulag is recognized as a major instrument of political repression in the Soviet Union.

Trained as a pilot at Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin, he did not fight in Poland in 1939, but was evacuated westwards, escaped to Romania, then to France and on 27 June 1940 arrived in England. During the Battle of Britain, he served with 55 OTU in Aston Down. In May 1941, he joined No. 245 Squadron. In July 1941, he was transferred to No. 303 Squadron, based at Northolt. On 6 November 1941, Bieńkowski claimed a Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter shot down. On 12 April 1942, his aircraft was shot up by a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, and he had to force land with collapsed landing gear near the English coast. [2]

Dęblin Place in Lublin, Poland

Dęblin is a town, population 16,656, at the confluence of Vistula and Wieprz rivers, in Lublin Voivodeship, Poland. Dęblin is the part of the agglomeration with adjacent towns of Ryki and Puławy, which altogether has over 100 000 inhabitants. Dęblin is part of historic province of Lesser Poland, and for centuries the area of the town belonged to Stężyca Land, Sandomierz Voivodeship. Since 1927 it has been the home of the chief Polish Air Force Academy, and as such Dęblin is one of the most important places associated with aviation in Poland. The town is also a key railroad junction, located along the major Lublin – Warsaw line, with two additional connections stemming from Dęblin – one westwards to Radom, and another one northeast to Łuków. Dęblin is home to a sports club Czarni.

Battle of Britain air campaign waged by the German Air Force during WWII

The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) defended the United Kingdom (UK) against large-scale attacks by Nazi Germany's air force, the Luftwaffe. It has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces. The British officially recognise the battle's duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz, that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941, including the Blitz.

He served from 1 December 1942 until 4 July 1943 as Squadron Leader of No. 303 Squadron. During July 1943, No. 303 Squadron were stationed at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey, where the newly arrived US Army Air Corps 94th Fighter Squadron had just been assigned. He befriended some of the American pilots, who gave him the affectionate nickname "Bing Crosby", a play on his family name.

94th Fighter Squadron

The 94th Fighter Squadron is a unit of the United States Air Force 1st Operations Group located at Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia. The 94th is equipped with the F-22 Raptor.

Bing Crosby American singer and actor

Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. The first multimedia star, Crosby was a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses from 1931 to 1954. His early career coincided with recording innovations that allowed him to develop an intimate singing style that influenced many male singers who followed him, including Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, and Dean Martin. Yank magazine said that he was "the person who had done the most for the morale of overseas servicemen" during World War II. In 1948, American polls declared him the "most admired man alive", ahead of Jackie Robinson and Pope Pius XII. Also in 1948, Music Digest estimated that his recordings filled more than half of the 80,000 weekly hours allocated to recorded radio music.

From January 1945 to 24 February 1945, he commanded 302. On 24 February, his Spitfire Mk. XVI (TB341, "WX-B") was shot down by flak over Germany near Wesel and he was taken prisoner.

No. 302 Polish Fighter Squadron

No. 302 Polish Fighter Squadron RAF was a Polish fighter squadron formed in Great Britain as part of an agreement between the Polish Government in Exile and the United Kingdom in 1940. It was one of several Polish fighter squadrons fighting alongside the Royal Air Force during World War II.

Wesel Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Wesel is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the capital of the Wesel district.

Released by American forces, by the end of the war he was a wing commander. During the war, he flew 74 sorties, claiming one Bf 109 destroyed and a Fw 190 damaged.

He died on 15 August 1979 in London aged 66. He was buried in Gunnersbury Cemetery in West London.

His brother Jan Bieńkowski, was also a pilot; he was shot down over Cherbourg in 1944.

Military awards

Virtuti Militari Ribbon.png Virtuti Militari, Silver Cross
POL Krzyz Walecznych (1940) 3r BAR.PNG Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour), 3 times

 Vliegerkruis (Airman's Cross) (Netherlands) [3] 

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  1. "Airforce". Airforce.wheelart.pl. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  2. Biography at the Polish Air Force website (in Polish)
  3. "Nederlandse onderscheidingen aan Poolse militairen voor de Tweede Wereldoorlog". Onderscheidingen.nl. Retrieved 20 July 2010.