Dedication - Dedykacja
The Polish School in Southend-on-Sea is provided for the benefit of all Polish citizens, Polish speaking people 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.
Flight Lieutenant Tadeusz Pawel Chłopik
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 by parachute.
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 where he died are in Rochford District, Essex; And Mark's Farm where his fighter plane crashed 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 was born in Lwów in 1908 and 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 Lwów, Poland on 18th June 1908.
The day he died - 15th September 1940 was the worst day of The Battle of Britain. It was the 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 day he died.
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 the same as his Hurricane P2954 WX-E.
Tadeusz Chłopik was keen to join the armed forces, especially the Polish Air Force. He was able to go to a special high school called Korpus Kadetów Nr. 1 at the Garnizon Lwów in Plac Mariacki, Lwów, a high school with a military ethos. He joined the cadet school aged 14 in 1922 and studied there until aged about 17 or 18 in 1925 or 1926. The cadet school was re-formed in 1918 at Kraków Lobzów and it moved to the Garnizon Lwów in 1921. He passed his exams and gained his "Matura" diploma, after which he joined the Polish Air Force as a young man about 18. 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 north, west and southwest, against the Communist Russian invasion from the east during most of September 1939. Three divisions of the Nazi controlled Slovak Army also attacked from the south. The Polish Air Force Academy (Szkoły Podchorązych Lotnictwa - SPL) at Dęblin had a large fleet of P.11C fighters and P.23B light bombers and they were immediately put into wartime defensive service against the Nazi German and communist 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 soon after went to France to serve with Polish Air Force comrades in the Armée de l'Air - The French Air Force. We believe he was posted to the French 1/145 squadron, but we do not know whether he flew missions during the Battle of France, possibly 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 Lwów, Poland in 1892, the same Polish city where our pilot Tadeusz was born. Kapitan (later Major) Adam Chłopik fought in the land war, first against the invading Nazi German forces, then against Soviet Russian forces who were the allies of the Nazi Germans. Many of the German war-zones in Poland were handed over to the Russians by the Nazis. Together, the two evil dictatorships were both carving up free independent Poland between them, as they had done before since the mid to late 1700s. The Russian Soviet communists were invading Poland from the east, while the Nazis where invading from the west, north and southwest and Slovaks from Hitler's Slovakia puppet regime invaded Poland from the south. 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, Major Adam Chłopik was slaughtered by the Russians. He was one of the more than 25,000 Polish soldiers, police, officials, academics, doctors, lawyers, engineers, managers, priests, politicians, teachers and others who were savagely massacred under the direct orders from Stalin himself and on orders signed by Stalin. They were buried in secret mass graves by the Russian Communist regime. Major 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 by the Russians is often called the "Katyn Massacre" after one of the largest 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 peasants and as a result, they 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, Stalin's signature can be seen on the order paper issued by him. Soviet Russia had done the same acts of murder many times before then and since then to its own Russian people - dissidents, intellectuals, the Russian elite and anyone they suspected or wrongly accused. Ironically, about 1 year later on 22 June 1941, the Nazi 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 brains and the most experienced of the military experts available. They had earlier murdered their own elite officer corps and then murdered the valiant Poles - who were all needed to become their allies against the Nazis. One of those much needed and war experienced Polish officers was Major Adam Chłopik who was murdered in Kharkov. Adam was the brother of our own local hero - Tadeusz Chłopik. Major Adam Chłopik had been kept in Starobelsk POW camp, he was murdered in Kharkov Prison and buried near Piatykhatky village in The Ukraine.
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. They also operated from RAF Castle Camps, half in Essex, from January to May 1945.
RAF Andrews Field, RAF Castle Camps, RAF Debden, RAF Fairlop, RAF Hornchurch, RAF North Weald and RAF Stapleford - Many Polish squadrons operated at these and many other RAF airfields in Essex and from just over the border in RAF Duxford and RAF Sawbridgeworth from where they frequently used Essex airfields such as North Weald, Stapleford and others regularly.
303 Squadron - is a Polish fighter squadron in the RAF which operated from RAF Debden in early 1943 and twice from RAF Andrews Field in early 1945 flying Mustang high speed, long range fighters.
302 Squadron - is a Polish fighter squadron in the RAF which operated from RAF Fairlop in Essex flying Spitfire high speed fighters until September 1943.
317 Squadron - is a Polish fighter squadron in the RAF which operated from RAF Fairlop in Essex flying Spitfire high speed fighters until September 1943.
© Copyright : Glen Dryhurst, 2007