Dedication

Dedication - Dedykacja

 

The Polish Saturday School in Southend-on-Sea is provided for the benefit of all Polish citizens and to all people interested in the Polish Language and Culture.

We are grateful for all that Polish people do for our country and for all they have done for us in the past.

It is for this reason that we dedicate this website to the name and honour of a Polish Air Force airman who remains very near us - he is buried in a war grave at the War Memorial in the military section of Sutton Road Cemetery in Southend-on-Sea.

He is a wartime pilot who served, fought and died for his country - Poland.
He served and died for our country - The United Kingdom.
And he fought alongside all who served with The Allies - the millions of fellow men and women, the airmen, soldiers, sailors and civilians during the Second World War.

Flight Lieutenant (Kapitan) Tadeusz Pawel Chłopik (P76691) was a "Battle of Britain" fighter pilot ace in The Royal Air Force. He served in 302 Squadron, RAF "City of Poznan Squadron", (Polish Air Force). In Polish it is called :  302 Dywizjon Myśliwski "Poznański". He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1940.

 

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Flight Lieutenant Tadeusz Pawel Chłopik

 

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Hawker Hurricane - 302 Squadron RAF (Polish Air Force)


Flight Lieutenant Chłopik was a fighter pilot in 302 Squadron, RAF based at RAF Duxford. He was the Red Team Leader "Red 1" That means that he was the commander or leader of Red Flight, the second wave behind the Squadron Commander's flight. On 15th September 1940 during the Battle of Britain, he had been fighting twice that day in fierce air combat with enemy aircraft who were attempting to bomb London and to destroy the RAF North Weald airbase in Essex.

His squadron had been scrambled twice that day for two defensive sorties against massive waves of German Dornier bombers with Me109 and Me110 fighter escorts. He had already destroyed or helped to destroy two enemy aircraft, but on the second sortie it is believed that his aircraft had suffered damage from the debris flying from an enemy aircraft that he had destroyed. That debris damaged his aircraft and it is believed that he was then also attacked and chased by enemy ME109 fighters. His Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft P2954, WX-E was so badly damaged that he had to bale out.

He baled out over Rawreth near Rayleigh in Essex and his aircraft crashed nearly 2 miles away in Mark's Farm near Battlesbridge . Rawreth Parish and Rayleigh are in Rochford District, Essex and Mark's Farm is in Rettendon Parish in Chelmsford Borough near South Woodham Ferrers, Essex.

By the time help reached him, he was already dead. Evidence relating to the condition of his parachute and observations suggest that his parachute was either damaged or it failed to open correctly. He died in Rawreth aged 32 on Sunday afternoon, 15th September 1940. He is buried in the Military Cemetery at Sutton Road in Southend on Sea, Essex. He was born in Lwow, Poland on 18th June 1908.

The day he died - 15th September 1940 was the worst day of The Battle of Britain. It was day of the greatest number of enemy attacks, the greatest number of invading German aircraft, the greatest number of aircraft shot down - 61 Luftwaffe and 31 RAF aircraft were lost and the greatest number of aircrew killed. Fl Lt Chłopik was one of 16 RAF pilots and 93 Luftwaffe aircrew who died that day. That worst day with its highest number of attacks and highest aircrew losses became known as - "Battle of Britain Day" which is celebrated every year on the 15th of September.

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford has a vast collection of aircraft. The Gate Guardian aircraft at the entrance to the museum is a Hawker Hurricane mounted on a pedestal. It is the first aircraft you see  -  and it is Tadeusz Chłopik's aircraft  -  it is painted and marked as his  Hurricane  P2954  WX-E.

Tadeusz Chłopik had joined The Polish Air Force as a young man. He was able to go to a special high school called Korpus Kadetow No. 1, a high school with a military ethos. He passed his exams and gained his "matura" diploma. He then joined the Air Force Officers Training School at the Polish Air Force Academy (Szkoły Podchorązych Lotnictwa - SPL) at Dęblin. On 15th August 1930, he graduated as an Air Observer with the rank of "Podporucznik" (pilot officer or lieutenant). He was posted to the 41st Bomber Reconnaissance Flight (Eskadra) in the 4th (Toruń) Air Regiment. In 1932, he trained as a pilot at the Air Force Officers Training Centre in Dęblin. From 1933 to 1937, he was a pilot in both the 141st and 143rd Fighter Flights (Eskadra) in the 4th (Toruń) Air Regiment, during which time, he flew mainly the PZL P.7, a single seat fighter. This was an all metal high wing monoplane with a radial engine, an open cockpit and armed with 2 machine-guns. Probably, he also flew the newer and much faster single seat PZL P.11C  which could also carry under-wing bombs. From 1937 to 1939, he was a flying instructor at the Air Force Training Centre No.1 in Dęblin. He taught the new young trainees in the art of military flying at the Polish Air Force Academy (Szkoły Podchorązych Lotnictwa - SPL). For training, he would have also flown the two seat PZL P.24 advanced trainer / fighter. This was a high-wing monoplane similar to the P.7 and P.11, but it had an enclosed cockpit, it was much faster and it was also armed with cannons.

We do not know Kapitan Chłopik's war experience against the invasion of Poland by the Germans and Russians in September 1939, there were no records. We assume that he fought as a fighter pilot in Poland against the Nazi German invasion from the west and south and the Communist Russian invasion from the east during most of September 1939. The Polish Air Force Academy (Szkoły Podchorązych Lotnictwa - SPL) at Dęblin had a large fleet of P11C fighters and P23B light bombers and they were immediately put into wartime defensive service against the German and Russian enemy forces. We know that Kapitan Chłopik escaped certain death at the hands of the Germans and Russians and he evacuated with his trainee pilots to Romania and later went to France to serve with Polish Air Force comrades in the Armée de l'Air - The French Air Force. We do not know whether he flew missions during the Battle of France, probably not. Then in 1940, after the invasion of France by Nazi Germany, he went to England to join The Royal Air Force as an officer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve. He gained the rank of Flight Lieutenant (Captain) the same as his rank in the Polish Air Force Academy. Soon after training in an RAF Training Unit, he was posted to 302 Squadron, RAF "City of Poznan Squadron", (Polish Air Force). In Polish it is called :  302 Dywizjon Myśliwski "Poznański". He commanded the "Red" Team of powerful 330 mph (532 km/h) Hawker Hurricane fighters powered by a Rolls Royce "Merlin" Vee 12 engine and armed with 8 Browning 0.303 (7.7mm) machine guns.

Flight Lieutenant Chłopik had a brother 18 years older than him who was an officer in the Polish Army. His brother Adam, was born in Lwow, Poland in 1892, the same Polish city where our pilot Tadeusz was born. Kapitan Adam Chłopik fought in the land war against the invading Soviet Russian forces who were the allies of the German Nazis and they were both carving up Poland between them. The Russian Communists were invading Poland from the east, while the Nazis where invading from the west. Fl Lt Tadeusz Chłopik did not know what had happened to his soldier brother, a Prisoner of War in Russia, but in late April or early May 1940, Kapitan Adam Chłopik was one of the more than 25,000 Polish soldiers, officials, academics, politicians, teachers and others who were slaughtered, massacred and buried in mass graves by the Russian Communist regime. Kapitan Chłopik was one of nearly 4000 Poles murdered and buried in Kharkov, Ukraine, USSR, one of the many Soviet murder and burial sites. The murder of the Polish elite is often called the "Katyn Massacre" after one of the mass graves in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk in Belorussia, USSR. As prisoners of war, the Poles were not a risk, but they were murdered because they were elite, educated, sophisticated bourgeois people and not working class and were considered by the Russian Communists to be enemies of the "people". Stalin had ordered his NKVD Soviet secret police and Soviet armed forces to carry out the massacres. Soviet Russia had done the same to its own Russian elite or those they suspected many times before and since. Ironically, only 1 year later, the Germans turned on their Russian Communist allies by invading the Soviet Union. This meant that Stalin and Communist Russia then needed all of the allies, armed forces and military expertise that they could get, but regrettably and stupidly, Stalin, the Communists and Russia had destroyed the best and most experienced of the military experts available - the Poles - who were to become their allies, and one of those was Major Adam Chłopik, the brother of our Tadeusz Chłopik.

 

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RAF Rochford  -   which is now London Southend Airport, was a very busy wartime fighter base from 1939 to 1945.

RAF Rochford was a "front line" airfield near the coast and very active during "The Battle of Britain" in 1940.

Three Polish RAF squadrons operated from RAF Rochford in Southend on Sea :

317 Squadron  -   is a Polish fighter squadron which was based at Southend for a few weeks in 1943. During 1944, 317 Squadron returned for preparations and training for the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in France.

302 Squadron  -   is a Polish fighter squadron which was based at Southend for a few weeks in 1944 for preparations and training for the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in France.

308 Squadron  -   is a Polish fighter squadron which was based at Southend for a few weeks in 1944 for preparations and training for the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in France.


RAF Bradwell Bay  -   Polish squadrons in the RAF also operated from RAF Bradwell Bay beside the Roman Fort of Othona nearby on the other side of the River Crouch beside the River Blackwater :

307 Squadron  -   is a Polish night fighter squadron in the RAF which operated from RAF Bradwell Bay in late 1944 / early 1945 flying DeHavilland Mosquito high speed twin engined fighter-bombers.


RAF Hornchurch, RAF Andrews Field, RAF Castle Camps  -   Many Polish squadrons operated at these and many other RAF airfields in Essex.