Fighting the U-boats

Aircraft & Air forces

Polish Air Forces

Polish Air Force markings

The 304 Dywizjon Bombowy was formed on 22 August 1940. On 7 May, 1942 the Squadron 304, then a part of Bomber Command, was transferred to RAF Coastal Command. The squadron was a squadron of the Polish Air Force rather than a RAF squadron which it operated with. On 14 May, 1942 the 304 was in the airport Tiree at one of Hebrides islands. This was the only Polish squadron that fought the U-boats at sea.

26 May 1942:
Crew of Tadeusz Buczma found a U-boat at Atlantic and attacked it. According to the British Admiralty, the attack was successful and the U-boat was believed to have been damaged. That was the first attack by Polish aircraft on a U-boat.

31 May 1942:
Other polish aircraft attacked U-boat at night ... but after the photos that crew took, British claimed that the crew attacked a ... whale. That happened many times to allied aircraft that attacked non-sub targets (whales, surface wrecks etc)

13 June 1942
304 was transferred to airport Dale in Wales. 304 was now patrolling in Bay of Biscay.

6 July 1942:
Crew of Adolf Nowicki attacked U-boat which already was diving. 6 bombs were thrown but no serious damages to the U-boat.

10 July 1942:
Crew of Franciszek Krzyszczuk attacked a U-boat on surface. After the attack of the depth charges, a oil on the sea was shown. A second aircraft was called from the polish aircraft to throw some other bombs and did it, as the polish did not have any more. The second aircraft threw the second bombs to the position that the U-boat dived. The U-boat was probably damaged.

3 August 1942:
Crew of Edward Zarudzki attacked U-boat with 6 depth charges. On the sea was shown oil and babbles. The U-boat was probably damaged.

Squadron 304 emblem

13 August 1942:
Crew of Adolf Nowicki made her "first success". The Poles met a U-boat in Atlantic (near Bay of Biscay) in position 47N/10W. The Polish crew had a successful attack as 3 depth charges found the U-boat, which was turned on the left and later submerged. At sea could be shown oil, many pieces of the U-boat and also many babbles and fume of course from the bombs. British Admiralty claimed that U-boat was sunk. No confirmation was found after the war.

For the other months polish aircraft did not find U-boats ... but many German fighters that were patrolling the Bay of Biscay.

28 March 1943:
Crew of Tadeusz Kolodziejski attacked with depth charges at middle of Bay of Biscay a U-boat and damaged it seriously.

30 March 1943
304 was transferred to airport Docking at Norfolk but soon was transferred on 10 June 1943 to Coastal Command at airport Davisdow Moor and there new Wellington aircraft types were assigned Mk-XIII. After some training with these new types, polish aircraft did not meet U-boats but again German fighters. Anyway the new crew were transferred in December to new airport Predannack at Comwall.

4 January 1944:
Crew of Julian Kolan attacked with depth charges and machine guns a U-boat in the Bay of Biscay. The U-boat, U-629 (Bugs), was damaged, forced to abort its mission and did not sail again until March.

28 to 29 January 1944:
Successful attack of crew Leopold Antoniewicz at La Manche. The U-boat was probably very seriously damaged.

3 to 4 March 1944:
Crew of Jozef Werakso attacked U-boat which was already surfacing. The depth charges were thrown around near to the U-boat that was lost under water immediately. The British Admiralty claimed that the U-boat could have been sunk but after war no confirmation could be found.

25 to 26 March 1944:
Polish crew attacked a group of 2 destroyers and one submarine. Attack fortunately was not successful, as that group was British. After the attack, the British with signals identified their nationality. That was a mistake of by the British air controllers, as they did not inform the Polish crew that a British group of ships was patrolling.

May 1944
Crew of Leslaw Miedzybrocki after 6 hrs in the air at 3:15 with a Leigh Light found a U-boat and quickly a second U-boat on the surface. The two U-boats opened fire with their machine guns and cannons. Some found their target to the Polish aircraft and the fire was possible to the aircraft. But Miedzyrobrodzki attacked one of the U-boats and according to the British Admiralty, was seriously damaged. The Wellington aircraft was seriously damaged but the crew was unhurt and managed to return back to the airport. That was the only battle between U-boats and Polish aircraft, the only time that U-boats opened fire to the Polish aircraft.

18 to 19 May 1944
Crew of Stanislaw Kielty, equipped with a Leight light, found U-boat but had to abandon the attack. The bomber was unsuccessfully attacked by a German fighter. The Polish crew returned safely to the base. That was the only time that Poles found a U-boat under cover of a German aircraft. The German successfully covered this U-boat.

18 June 1944:
Crew of Leopold Antoniewicz left for a patrol between Bay of Biscay and La Manche. According to the report CHI/UBAT/31 the Polish aircraft, at 22:54 hours, the captain saw from the right some smoke at sea. The weather was good and the sea was quiet. The captain turned 45 degrees as a black object was shown at sea. It was a surfaced U-boat. The captain immediately decided to attack and after moving into position, a second U-boat, already was surfacing 1,5 miles from the other U-boat, was seen.

The captain decided to attack the first U-boat that slowly started to dive. At 22:57 6 depth charges were dropped on the U-boat. The bombardier saw that 2 bombs first were 10 yards of the starboard deck of the U-boat. The rest were thrown accurately on the middle of deck and port side. A member of the crew saw explosions and big smoke covering the diving U-boat. When the smoke was clear somehow, the U-boat was disappeared under water. The aircraft turned left immediately to attack the other U-boat that was diving already. After one minute the aircraft turned to the position that attacked the first U-boat and saw. 2 pieces of a U-boat with fire and smoke big oil at sea near the oil, some cylinders well something could be seen. Many pieces of the U-boat were reported. The aircraft did not leave but made another 3 turns around the position to confirm that the U-boat was sunk. At the second turn the oil spill was bigger than before. At the last turn more oil could be seen and also other pieces on the surface. At 23:12 the Polish aircraft left the position and continued her patrol.

The opinion of the commander of squadron 304 was positive. The attack was very successful, the crew did well by sinking a U-boat. British admiralty claimed that the attack was fatal, the large oil spill and the indicated that the U-boat was destroyed. Coastal Command agreed with the Admiralty.

For decades this attack has been attributed to the loss of U-441 but now it is believed to have been sunk on 8 June by a British Liberator aircraft.

U-1191 disappeared in the same waters and this could have been the cause of her sinking but this cannot be proved at this stage.

19 September 1944
The 304 Squadron was transferred to airport Benbecula at Hebrides.

12 to 13 January 1945:
Crew of Jerzy Glowacki attacked a U-boat near Hebrides with 6 depth charges. The attack was considered to have been successful but was not confirmed. On 11 January another attack was made near Hebrides but no results could be established.

2 April 1945
A German U-boat (U-321) was sunk from Polish aircraft.

22 April 1945:
The last time that Polish aircraft had contact with a U-boat. No confirmed results of the attack.

Post-war Coastal Command records incicate that Polish aircraft attacked U-boats 31 times with the following results:
2 U-boats believed sunk (U-321 and [U-441 claimed])
2 U-boats seriously damaged, 3 more probably damaged.
16 attacks slightly damaged U-boats or results not confirmed.
8 attacks were not successful.

Post-war operations
On 14 June, 1945 the squadron was transferred to Transport Command where it operated until 18 December, 1946 when it was disbanded.

Compilation by Milton Varvounis
special thanks to Mike Ingham.

Aircraft & Air forces