Unidentified Polish Air Force funeral

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by archivist, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    This photograph shows the funeral of one or more Polish airmen and is probably in the Nottinghamshire or Lincolnshire area. Does anyone recognise this building which I believe is on an RAF Station "somewhere in England"

    Attached Files:

  2. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Another, possibly recognisable photo of the church and churchyard where the burial took place

    Attached Files:

  3. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    If the headstones at the front were readable it might be quite easy to identify the location. They are not sufficiently clear when I zoom in on a local copy.
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  4. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    That looks like an old RAF station,the architecture looks like one of the early post Great War or even the Great War its self.On the other hand it could have been a Air Ministry requisitioned civilian airfield.The funeral could be related to a PAF unit in any RAF command.The churchyard shows photographs of three previous PAF burials.

    With the the photograph showing a large attendance at the funeral,it must have been for a higher ranking officer,say a squadron commander.

    https://www.polishsquadronsremembered.com...............this site might be helpful in recognising the funeral details......................contact ratuszynski@yahoo.com
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  5. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    I'm with Blutto on this, enlargement of the two headstones on the second photo would help trace the Churchyard.
    One looks to be Julius? John Rose died 1934 or '36.
    Does it have to be a PAF funeral, or perhaps RAF/Luftwaffe crew? It seems a fairly wide (or 2) grave(s).
    Otherwise from the lack of foliage and greatcoats, it's wintertime.....
  6. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    Because they had no families in this country, most PAF funerals were very well attended, regardless of rank. I think the large number is just as likely to reflect the popularity of the individual
  7. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    This is another photo from the sequence and shows more of the RAF Station if it is any help

    Attached Files:

  8. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    The lorry has military markings but a civilian number plate. Is that normal?
  9. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    RAF Waddington? Enough hangars
    Right time of year, large enough airfield with similar hangars, but too many casualties, (although there are "recent" graves piled with soil) nor was it a "home" base for so many PAF personnel to be there......????
    timuk likes this.
  10. archivist

    archivist Well-Known Member

    I agree with you and the main "home" burial ground for Poles was actually Newark. I was actually hoping someone would recognise the church/chapel
  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    The last photograph appears to have been taken at a Maintenance Command unit,whether it was taken at the HQ at RAF Andover is a different matter.RAF Andover had a number of units,some operational in addition to the Maintenance HQ.The building number No 123 looks to be typical of that utilised by a MU.

    The vehicle shown is obviously a civilian lorry requisitioned by the Air Ministry but for some unknown reason is still carrying civilian plates which have not been replaced by RAF plates.

    PM was the vehicle registration at the time for Guildford,Surrey.

    Waddington's wooden hangars, erected during the Great War were demolished from the summer of 1936 and the work of erecting the Type C hangers commenced to upgrading the station to the 1935 RAF expansion standard.

    I wouldn't associate RAF Waddington with PAF units.
  12. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    Firstly the lorry is a Bedford 30cwt one of a large number supplied to the Air Ministry in 1939; It is a modified version of the model MSC; Until 1940 all Raf vehicles bore a civvilian registration, the vast majority via the RAF depot at Uxbridge with Middlesex County Council, PMT - MT is Middlesex CC . The Marking is M/43 ie 43 group who from 1939 were responsible for the salvage of all crashed and damaged aircraft. The buildings are akin to those erected late WW1 through to the expansion period. but could also be from the early WW2 austerity construction period. Having a quick look at the website re Polish Sqns they lost a lot of men and their squadrons seemed to have been very nomadic across the whole UK ?? as an aside many pre war supplied MT vehicles bore their civvy reg numbers up to 1949, an example is the balloon sqn in Antwerp in the winter of 44/45. All their Fordsons still had their Middlesex CC reg numbers.
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  13. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Certainly looks like the church at Waddington. This church was destroyed in an air raid 8 May 1941.

    Church History

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  14. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    That was St Michaels. There is also a St Helens which is a close match with two openings on the bell tower and very tall buttresses.
    St Michaels had much more pointed corner pinnacles on its tower, as shown in your photo.

    However, they are not there now.
    IF (repeat IF) the funeral(s) were from the 301 Sqdn crashes at Waddington on 1st January 1941, then those casualties are in Newark.

    There are 899 Polish Air Force casualties in the UK as per CWGC. None appear to be in Waddington, at least now.
    Either have the headstone inscriptions enlarged to make out the names or someone needs to recognise the Church or location.

    I can't do anything more to help, I'm afraid
  15. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Bit confused. Have you got your Waddingtons muddled? The only St Helen's I can see that remotely resembles the one in the photo is in Waddington, Lancashire.
    Agree there are no PAF casualties at Waddington but could they have concentrated the graves to Newark at a later date?

  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think the background to the funeral which appears to be held at St Michaels is that No 301 Squadron based at Swinderby lost two Wellington 1Cs to two separate intruders, one,T 2517, on the evening of 1 January 1941,crashing near Digby airfield and the other,T 2518 in the early hours of 2 January 1941,crashing at Wellingore,both close to Waddington The squadron was returning from a raid on Bremen.the rear gunner of T 2518 being the sole survivor out of 12 aircrew.

    Why a burial at Waddington?,I would think that the dead would have been taken to the morgue at RAF Waddington. PAF casulties had been interned in village cemeteries before and then transferred to the Polish plot at Newark later,the plot being established late in 1940/early 1941....Norton Disney had been used before for PAF burials.It would appear that the raid on 8 May 1942 which destroyed the Waddington St Michaels Church by a parachute mine also destroyed graves...not known if these included those of PAF personnel or if the they had been transferred to Newark by this time.

    The naming of RAF Swinderby,located on Thurby Moor relates to Swinderby village located a few miles to the west across the A46. the airfield running alongside the east side of the A46, remote from Swinderby. Since RAF Swinderby has been returned to civilian use,housing development has taken place in the vicinity of the airfield and a new parish has been created by local government, known as Witham St Hughs.

    The Maintenance Unit involved would be the Newark based No 58 MU,a MU reporting to No 43 Maintenance Group and covering an area said to be one third of Great Britain. Any crash within the UK would be recovered by a MU as directed by No 43 Maintenance Group and appropriate to the MUs area of responsibility.The function would be the recovery of crashed aircraft and disposal to various contractors if repairable or salvaged for scrap if written off and transported to the scrap depot at Cowley.

    Late Edit. The raid on RAF Waddington,which resulted in two parachute mines falling on to the village,should have read 1941 not 1942 ...a typo on my part, pointed out by Tim.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2018
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  17. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Thanks, Harry for confirming and supplying additional details to my Post 9. (interred, by the way)

    timuk You are right, I saw the photo of this St Helens Waddington: St Helen, Waddington in Waddington, which had similar architecture, but now realise that this Waddington is Lancashire. Sorry, it was the similarity of the church AND the village name that got me! Thanks for the correction
  18. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Kevin - all credit to you for leading us to the possibility it might be Waddington.

  19. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Timuk's link above (post 13) also leads to photos of the pre-war St Michael's Church at Waddington, Lincolnshire.

    Pre-War Church

    I can see some similarity to the church in archivists' photo showing airmen to the rear. However, there are significant differences?

    Pre-War Church (3).jpg

    Regards ...
    timuk likes this.
  20. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Any facial recognition experts?
    There is a funeral procession attributed to 304 Squadron where one ground crew is identified as being with the Squadron 1942 to 1946. The lorry looks "similar" but.....?
    Of course, as that's also captioned as a mystery funeral, we may have several photographs of the same event, which might indicate someone important enough to warrant such a turnout and a number of photos!

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