Unidentified Grave

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by archivist, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. simon102

    simon102 Member


    Worth a try.

    The Embassy of the Republic of Poland
    47 Portland Place
    London W1B 1JH
    Tel: + 44 (0) 207 2913 520
    Fax: + 44 (0) 207 2913 575
    E-mail: london@msz.gov.pl

    Defence Attaché Section
    Col. Ryszard Tomczak
    tel. 0207 291 3556, fax. 0207 580 1576, londyn@mon.gov.pl

  2. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Hello Simon,

    Thanks for what you have done. I don't think there is any need for any further digging here! That red ink entry you have photographed will stand scrutiny as proof that he was buried there and was exhumed.

    As you will see from previous posts, we have found the site of the re-burial and there is a good clear photo of the headstone. The original stone has been replaced with a nice new one which reflects the fact that he is there with his brother as well as his mother and father.

    Next job is to build a picture of his life in America (where he was born) and his enlistment and training as a pilot. He may have trained in Canada or in England then did operational training at 6 OTU - this must have been in England as the Canadian 6 OTU was not formed until well after his death. His operational service with 304 Squadron was very short lived as he was killed on a training flight only nine or ten days into his service with the squadron.

    When I publish the mini-biography, how would you like the photos credited? This will be on the memorial sites in Poland and England only.

  3. simon102

    simon102 Member

    Hi Neville,

    The reason I mentioned Next of Kin is that there might be a chance of finding his wife's family and they might have photos. The same goes for finding the families of other crew members. Okay so I know it is a big job, it paid off for me when I traced the families of my father's crew and the crew we have just dedicated a memorial to in Pocklington. In the latter case I was sent the pilot's wedding photo. I appreciate that language might be a problem as well.

    Just credit the photos with my name, Simon A. Kularatne.

    Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.


  4. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    No doubt like many other Pals I have followed the developments of this case with fascination as to all the information being collated from one end of Europe to the USA to make a coherent story.

    Just to note that the Grave record seems to indicate that Gramiaks body was washed ashore on Blackpool beach...Perhaps there are also records in Blackpool newspaper archives that may mention it, or a Coroners Inquest. Blackpool was heavily used by the RAF for training and personnel selection so there could be more about it in RAF records, it seems they paid for the initial grave plot...?

    Just musing, carry on please, you're doing him proud!
  5. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Nice idea Kevin,

    The thought of a Coroner's inquest had not crossed my mind since he was a wartime military death.

    The family side is a little more complicated as his widow had a child a little over a year after his death. She subsequently married the child's father and changed its name to his. I don't think enquiries there would be well received and I have no intention of causing distress to the family.

  6. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    I may have missed it yesterday, Kevin, but I vainly searched the BNA for press reports - both of the original crash (but they've yet to launch N Welsh papers that recent) and terms like 'washed' for NW England (but folk only washed ashore from shipwrecks). A NW England 'Polish airman' search promisingly turned up quite a few deaths - but all from other parts on the country rather than local ! More titles & editions are coming online all the time, of course, so more luck may be had in due course - or maybe even now by someone using keywords that didn't occur to me. This may, therefore, meanwhile be best regarded as a physical project at Blackpool Central Library's Local & Family History Centre - see p142 of linked PDF catalogue for their newspaper holdings on microfilm (7 titles of which span 1942).

    Also yesterday, in thinking about where I might be prepared to travel to help, I suddenly realised nobody had yet mentioned the Polish War Memorial in this thread but guess you've already got that angle covered anyway - the whole crew being spread across panels 20 (Sgt G P Gramiak), 25 (Sgt R M Jarno), 60 (Sgt L Ruszel), 73 (Sgt A Tycholis), 75 (F/O L T Wasilevski) & 81 (P/O A A Zielinski). Anyone seeking threads about it on this forum, including Clive's full photo set, can find them c/o site:ww2talk.com ''Polish War Memorial'' at DuckDuckGo and the PDF per-panel list from which I've just loosely quoted (omitting full stops) can be downloaded from Polish War Graves.

    Great to clap eyes on the register entry at last, Simon, but I'm curious why the RAF Recruits Centre (Goodwood Hotel, 209 Hornby Rd, FY1 4JA) would have organised the burial - just because they were nearer Layton Cemy than PAF HQ (Lansdowne Hotel, 54 Crystal Rd, FY1 6BS) ? (partial address ref. Poland in Exile - Blackpool 1940)
    (NB: Gail [Hickman] would have helped you - not Gale though a very easy slip to make.)

    NB: If it would help for me to ring the States, once you begin chasing the family Neville, I can do that - effectively FoC to maybe save you avoidable expense ?

    CL1 likes this.
  7. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member


    You never fail to amaze me! I have already contacted Blackpool Library local history section and I am awaiting results from that. I think that after 2 months in the water they would be very anxious to bury him quickly. I know this from my own Grandfather who drowned and was not even allowed in the church "In case he burst" This is what made my father renounce his religion. I believe that it was a case of arranging it quickly by whoever had the first chance - all the others were buried at Newark in the Polish military plot.

    I will happily take you up on your kind offer of telephoning the family when I find them - providing you do not go to great personal expense.

  8. simon102

    simon102 Member


    Thank you for your well informed post. Silly mistake over the name.

    I checked out the Lansdowne Hotel and if it the same one as 1942 it is what we call a boarding house ie a front door and bay window, probably 3 floors. From family info and elsewhere, Blackpool was completely jammed with RAF personnel during the war. I guess the local authority would have gone straight to the RAF OC in the first instance after finding the body and he would have taken it from there. The archive newspapers might have mention of a Guard of Honour at the burial.

    I had forgotten about the Local & Family History Centre. I will leave that to you Neville, as you have already made contact, unless you want me to check a microfilm.


  9. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Thanks Simon,

    I am very happy to have an interested person at the scene! This is not about personal kudos for me and I am content for you to do anything you like independently. Following your kind offer, if there is a need to check a microfilm, you are the best placed person to do it and I will definitely take advantage of your offer.

    With you as "My man in Blackpool" and Steve's uncanny knack for coming up with great bits of information (and for keeping my feet on the ground!) we can't fail. There are a lot of other people on and off this site who have also helped. I hope to have an ultimate result of being able to write his story and to put the two halves of the family back in touch after a War and a Cold War.

  10. aussie_59

    aussie_59 Senior Member

    Very interesting thread! Not sure if anyone noticed, but something is a miss with the naming of the front row crew in both photos... either Gramiak and Riley are incorrectly noted (in one of the photos) or the "left to right" is vice versa... or something to that effect. I only thought Id mention it, because as brothers, there may be some physical similarities if youre looking at unidentified 304 Sqdn photos for a picture of Gregory...

    Good luck with it all.

  11. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Hello Lorenzo,

    Thanks for your comment. I noticed the same, but I have no way of checking it out ......Yet!

    I am on the track of a family member and even if he does not know the answer, he may have family photographs which will reveal the faces. This is why I have not published that photograph. Unfortunately he was only in the squadron for 9 or 10 days before he was killed so there is little chance of him being in any of the many unidentified photos.

    Watch this space!

  12. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Thanks Lorenzo - all audit welcome with open arms I trust - but I just don't see the problem unless we're maybe interpreting different orders from the 2-line captions. Sorry to seem pedantic in my analysis but, for the avoidance of ambiguity, I'm reading the captions bookwise ... so the relationship is:

    1 :mellow:1 ... 2 :mellow:2 ... 3 :mellow:3 ... 4 :mellow:4

    (Front L-R) Leftmost person 1, Centre-left person 2,​
    Centre-right person 3, Rightmost person 4

    And to convince myself, I knocked up this screenshot comparison:

    If I'm wrong, all I ask is to be told why ... I can take it (sob) ... do I need glasses ? :wacko:

  13. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Hello Steve,

    I have to admit that I thought Lorenzo was right. But sight of your comparative picture makes me think again. I think it is a case of looking too hard for too long at the same pictures. I think I will just wait until I have talked to the family before I make any definitive opinions.
  14. aussie_59

    aussie_59 Senior Member

    Sorry. Must have had foggy glasses... on looking at it again. All seems correct
  15. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    I have made contact with a couple of organisations in New Jersey which I hope will put me in touch with the Gramiak family over there and I have made some arrangements to acquire Polish Air Force documents connected with Grzegorz Piotr Gramiak so I will, hopefully, be able to write up the biography in the near future.

    I have also been informed that Grzegorz was part of an intake of Polish airmen who arrived at RAF Kirkham on 27th December 1941, so he was not part of the Canadian forces and he travelled independently to join the Polish forces in England.
  16. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    If anyone has kindly been trying to get us the 1940 census image from Ancestry and been stumped, I've just discovered (true to bad OCR form) they have the surname indexed as GERWICK if you please - but at least correctly in Newark ! They also list an older Anthony & Mae Gerwick couple in Newark but it's probably safe to ignore them - at least for now.

    CL1 and Tricky Dicky like this.
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Steve

    Well Sherlocked

  18. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    I am totally impressed with your detective work Steve!

    "George" is obviously Grzegorz and "Charles" must be Victor J who, judging only by his age at death, had to be born in 1922 and therefore be 8 years old on the 1930 Census.

    Makes me wonder why we have not heard of Joseph or Henry or some of the girls. On that topic, the Findagrave entry for Mary states that she was survived by a brother E. Henry Gramiak
  19. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Hmm, thanks each but just applied lateral thinking as I see it - or, dare I pun it, 'alimentary my dear old son' ! TBH, though, I'm still utterly foxed by US vital records - can't even seem to find a birth record to maybe cast light on the brothers' apparent naming anomalies. I don't know if you followed my earlier PGSCTNE Polish-American Marriage Database link on the mother's maiden name but it didn't seem to contain so much as one single date - WTF compared to the output of, say, our mostly-wonderful voluntary OPCs (maybe best e.g. Dorset OPC but topically, here, also Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project) ?!

    Anywho - w/o further ado c/o Ancestry Library Edition (as paid for by my Council Tax) - tada-a-ah:

    I've not yet studied it, BTW, beyond extracting the key file-renaming data. In doing so, though, I could see how both the LDS (FamilySearch) & Ancestry maybe managed to misread the surname but, since I could also see the correct version in what was written, I therefore believe it to be 100% correct despite its ambiguous handwritten script.
    NB: I was kicking myself for not having popped into my local library whilst out shopping on Thursday but, not knowing then what I found out yesterday, it wouldn't have done me much good - it's all question of timing ...


    Edit: Because forum upload system drastically downsized Ancestry's 2.85MB original image to a few hundred KB, I replaced it with a zip archive to stop system thus meddling and degrading readability !!!
  20. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Red Goblin strikes again!!!

    The handwriting is not brilliant but the detail is impressive. I still cannot get my head around the naming conventions but this census reinforces my belief that George is Grzegorz and Charles (Carl) is Victor.

    It occurs to me that in the earlier censuses, Paul and Victoria were illiterate (see columns about reading and writing ability) and may have dictated the details to whoever filled in the census forms. If their grasp of English was not brilliant they might have just verbally used differing names - it is easier to give a name you can pronounce!

    Probably the only way this can ever be verified is by checking the original registrations at birth. Whatever is on the original registrations will be their legal names. In the final analysis, it is not desperately important as the two young men fought under specific names, and that is how I will identify them in my final article.


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