Poland was granted a narrow strip of the coast, only 142 km long witch included Hel peninsula, an almost empty region with two small fishing harbours: Hel and Puck, without great port of Gdansk, who became artificial formation with title of Free City of Gdansk.
After this events Germany laid claims to the Polish regions of Pomerania, Silesia and Gdansk. These demands were accompanied by revisionist propaganda, increasing from year to year. At first they undermine and sabotage and then to violate, the provisions of the Treaty and international agreements.
As a results there was an increase of Germany military power which also included the growth of the German Navy /Kriegsmarine/, after Hitler's accession to power.
The Treaty of Versailles prohibited Germany possession of submarines, naval air force and restricted her surface fleet to 6 battleships, 6 cruisers, 12 destroyers and 12 torpedo boats. Such a navy could not constitute a treat to Great Britain or France, but it was a treat for the Baltic countries. At first they started secretly in co-operation with Soviet Russia, Finland and Spain /submarines/. In the year of 1925 the budget of the German Navy was some 104 million marks but in the year 1939 it reached the sum of 2 billion marks!
Meanwhile they launched first "pocket" battleship the "DEUTSCHLAND" /1931/, then the cruiser "NURNBERG" /1934/, the sixth ship of this class to be build in Germany after World War I. In the same year, two battleships were laid down with official displacement of 26.000 tons,but actually with displacement of 31.850 tons each, or three times as much as envisaged in Treaty of Versailles. These were the"GNEISENAU" and the "SCHARNHORST". In the year 1937-38 three more cruisers were launched and 1939 saw the worlds two the biggest battleships: "BISMARCK" and "TIRPITZ" - 41.700 tons each!
In the year 1939, Germany had a Navy
of two new and two old battleships,three "pocket" battleships,eight cruisers,
34 destroyers and torpedo boats and 57 submarines!
The first years of independence were very difficult. Germany attempted with the assistance of paramilitary German organisations to regain Silesia a highly industrialized and rich in coal region. Of course such actions forced Polish citizens to resist and fight in three bloody uprisings. Then in 1920 Soviet Union invaded Poland and quickly reached the suburbs of Warsaw our capital.The Communists tried to conquer Poland and then the rest of Europe for ideological reasons. Unfortunately for them, they lost the fight and the war against Poland and we have some 20 years of peace, after it had established non - aggression pacts with Germany and Soviet Russia.
After the World War I - Poland had many of experienced naval officers and petty officers who came from ex-Russian /72%/, Austrian /22%/ and German / 6%/ navies, /about 260 officers some of admiral ranks/ and they were trying to get warships from ex-foreign navies as war reparation. At first Great Britain promised 1 cruiser, 4 destroyers, 2 floating-bases and several motor torpedo boats. Later on, Admiralty cancelled this under the pressure of British prime minister DAVID LLOYD GEORGE, who was always unfriendly towards Poles.
In the year 1919, the so called River Flotilla was formed on the rivers of WISLA and PRYPEC on the border with Soviet Russia.During the 1920 war with Soviet Russia, the River Flotilla had 18 ships and 20 well armed motorboats operating on Prypet and Dnieper rivers with crews of 46 officers, 500 POs and seamen.
In the year 1920, a base in Puck was formed for the Polish Naval Air Force with ex-German aircrafts.
At last, in 1921 international body of ministers at Geneva agreed to hand over: 6 ex-German torpedo- boats, 360 tons each one, 27 knots, 3x 75 mm or 2x 75 mm guns and 1 x 2 torpedoes. They were named after regions of Poland: MAZUR, KASZUB, KUJAWIAK, SLAZAK, KRAKOWIAK and PODHALANIN. Moreover, other ships were bought: gunboats GENERAL HALLER, KOMENDANT PILSUDSKI - 342 tons each, guns 2x 75 mm /Finland/. Four small minesweepers came from Denmark: CZAJKA, JASKOLKA, MEWA, RYBITWA, and four river gunboats and a hydrographic ship at Gdansk.
Of course all of them served as training ships until 1931, except MAZUR, GENERAL HALLER, KOMENDANT PILSUDSKI, which stayed afloat until September 1939 after rebuilding.
Between 1920 and 1927 several plans were laid down concerning our future navy but none was approved by the Ministry of Defence due to the lack of money. It was very difficult to get money for new ships, but the Chief of the Polish Navy - Rear-Admiral J. SWIRSKI finally started to build in the Polish shipyards 4 new minesweepers and 1930 in French shipyards 2 destroyers: WICHER, BURZA, 3 submarines WILK, ZBIK, RYS . Again in 1935 other ships, 1 minelayer GRYF in French shipyard and 2 destroyers: GROM, BLYSKAWICA in England and in 1936 : 2 submarines ORZEL and SEP in Holland. In 1937 Poland started building of 2 minesweepers: ZURAW, CZAPLA.
After new port of Gdynia was built,the
Polish navy had a base at Oksywie and another at Hel Peninsula with a new gun
battery 4 x 152,4 mm /Bofors/.
On the eve of the war the Polish fleet had:
Moreover some training and auxiliary ships:
The disproportion of German and Polish Navies was so great that the Polish Navy has no chances in fighting at the high seas and for defensive fighting off shore it could be done on a limited scale only.
On land, preliminary mobilization steps were being taken and the Navy authorities under Rear-Admiral J.SWIRSKI began making efforts to obtain assistance from France and Great Britain.Polish-British Agreement was signed on August 25th 1939 then the Polish-British Naval Agreement on Nov.1939
On the following days,a bloody fighting was going on the Polish land, sea-coast, in the air and at sea.
But before this, on August 25th 1939 the German training battleship SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN called at the port of Gdansk, with a "Courtesy Visit". Capt. KLEIKAMP of this ship knew the main lines of: "FALL WEISS" plan and directives issued by the Commander in Chief of the Kriegsmarine, - Admiral RAEDER:
"Destruction of the Polish naval forces , blocking sea routes leading to Polish ports , paralysing of Poland sea trade and ensuring security for German sea routes."
Cpt. G.KLEIKAMP received an order from his superior C-in-C GROUPE OST,Admiral ALBRECHT to take a convenient position for attacking the Polish military outpost of WESTERPLATTE and wait for the hour "Y" -THE TIME OF STARTING THE WAR.
Exactly at 0445 a.m. on September 1st
1939,the battleship SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN started shelling the Polish military
out-post of Westerplatte from distance of 600 meters!
According to the relation of Sub-lieut.B.SIEMASZKO from MAZUR :
"About 0700 a.m. on September 1st three
unidentified planes came over Oksywie and left untouched because the Polish
Naval Headquarters got information from Army Group TORUN they would be
friendly aircrafts. Then about 0800 a.m. a messenger came on board and handed
over an official message to C.O.- Lieut.cdr. T.RUTKOWSKI, but when leaving the
ship he said to some friends that German had already attacked and bombed Puck.
I was sent to a Signal Station ashore to check this information,they confirmed
it, but still no more news came. At noon when lunch began, a messenger came
with a coded signal and captain told me to decode this signal.There was an
order : "Open envelope SMOK" . Right after that, captain informed officers
that the war with Germany is in progress and ordered Action Station. Very soon
a strong formation of about 30 enemy aircrafts appeared over Oksywie and
attacked shore batteries and ships in port . One bomb exploded at quay near
MAZUR and another hit a bow and ship was in sinking condition. Nearly 40 crew
members were killed and many others wounded."
About noon of the same day another group of German bombers (about 20 - 30 planes) raided the Gdynia-Oksywie naval base. This time the following ships were sunk: gun-boat MAZUR, (C.O. Lieut-cdr. T. RUTKOWSKI), divers-boat NUREK /C.O. Warr-off. W.TOMASIEWICZ/ and a tug-boat. Moreover the floating naval-school ship BALTIC was damaged, all with heavy casualties.
On September 1st at 1745 Polish vessels: WICHER, GRYF, KOMENDANT PILSUDSKI, GENERAL HALLER, JASKOLKA, MEWA, CZAJKA, RYBITWA, CZAPLA ZURAW were attacked, while at sea about 4 miles from Hel,by 32 German Junkers JU-87-B dive-bombers.The German aircrafts attacked the Polish mine-lying ship GRYF with 300 mines on board. In spite of heavy anti-aircraft fire of all Polish ships, splinters of one bomb killed C.O.GRYF cdr. St.KWIATKOWSKI and about 10 others, but no damages were incurred by the ship.
It was first time when a strong group of air-crafts attacked a group of naval units in this war. It was a new German tactic , which was repeated several times at sea by the Japanese.
Meanwhile, the minesweeper MEWA was damaged, Sub-lieut. Z.MIELCZAREK and some four crew members were killed, and some were wounded.
This German air-attack killed the Polish plan of lying mine field 12 miles SE of Hel during the night of 1st September across the sea route between Pilau and Gdansk. All vessels returned to the Hel roadstead except destroyer WICHER engaged in patrol duty of the southern part of Gulf of Gdansk.
The German plan was simple and effective: a sea blockade round Polish coast and Gulf of Gdansk. The first ring consisted of motor gun-boats and minesweepers, the second ring of destroyers and torpedo boats under Rear-Admiral G.LUTJENS. Farther at sea to the West,there were cruisers and some 10 submarines near the Danish Straits. To destroy Polish ships and naval bases at day time,the Germans used aircraft's in small groups, mostly dive bombers and from time to time the guns of the battleship SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN anchored opposite the Polish military out-post at WESTERPLATTE. At night they tried some raids by destroyers or torpedo boats inside Gulf of Gdansk.
On September 2nd, two small passenger ships GDANSK and GDYNIA /C.O. Lieut.res.St.KOSKO/ were sunk by German dive bombers with loss of 70 crew members .TheSCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN unsuccessfully tried to destroy a Polish gun battery at Oksywie.In the evening German aircrafts /bombers and dive-bombers/ attacked naval base,the roadstead and shore battery on the peninsula without visible effect.
On the early morning of the 3rd,the two German destroyers LEBERECHT MASS /C.O. -Cdr.F.BASSENGE/.and WOLFGANG ZENKER /C.O. Cdr.G.POENITZ/ having together 10 guns 127 mm in total, left Pilau in direction of Gdansk then changed the course towards Hel. From the distance of 18.500 metres they started shelling Hel roadstead where the destroyer WICHER / 4 x 130 mm guns/ and mine-layer GRYF /C.O. Cdr.St.HRYNIEWIECKI/ 6 x 120 mm guns/ were anchored . The Polish ships answered with all guns. In the mean time,the Polish battery of Hel /4 x 152 mm guns/ took part. In effect of this duel, GRYF was hit twice, Sub.lieut. L.DANDELSKI and several others were killed and some wounded. Two German destroyers were damaged, one left to Pilau, another to Gdansk with tug boat.Casualties on the German destroyers: four seamen killed and several others wounded.
The defeat they had suffered,
demonstrated to the Germans that this two Polish ships were still dangerous to
their light forces.
The Westerplatte was attacked without mercy by the German battleship the SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN 280 mm and 150 mm guns, special land howitzers 210 mm and field guns 105 mm, aircraft's bombs and land forces continuously for seven days and nights. Several land attacks were repelled. According to the operating plans, they were to offer resistance for 12 hours only. Defenders were decimated, there was no more water, food and ammunition.One third of the soldiers were wounded and 16 killed. German losses were 20 times bigger.When further resistance was pointless from the operating point of view and could lead to further bloodshed the Commanding Officer - Major H.SUCHARSKI gave order to stop fighting on 7th September 1939. For the Poles a name of the WESTERPLATTE means same as for Americans name of the CORREGIDOR.
There were some 7.500 survivors from the various defending troops. Their guns : 4 x 105 mm, 1x100 mm, 15 x 75 mm, 9 x 37 mm a/a and a/tanks,a dozen or so mortars and about 140 heavy machine guns.
All died fighting including Cdr.Eng. Z. HORYD /C.O. battalion of seamen/, Sub-Lieut.N.HERNES,Sub-Lieut.res.L.MISTAT,Sub-Lieut.eng.A.SIERBINOWICZ. Second in command was Lieut.eng.J.SOBIERAJ and Aide de Camp was Sub-Lieut.B.SIEMASZKO - survivor from the MAZUR . Toward the evening September 18th all the ammunition was gone. On the September 19th last officers and seamen of platoon defended Kepa Oksywie with exceptional bravery for almost whole day until 0430 p.m. Then rallied around the commander of the Coast Defence - Colonel St.DABEK, who having exhausted all possibilities of fighting and unwilling to yield himself prisoner, took his own life with a pistol bullet.
This is generally accepted that 1500 - 2000 defenders died in this battle and some 3500 were wounded or missing. The enemy losses were approximately the same.
The Polish minesweepers were adapted also for mine lying operation, each one had 20 mines. Except the MEWA (Lieut.-Cdr. W. LIPKOWSKI) already sunk, there were still following ships: CZAJKA (Lieut.-Cdr. A.CZERWINSKI), RYBITWA (Lieut.-Cdr. K. MILADOWSKI), JASKOLKA (Lieut.-Cdr. T.BORYSEWICZ), ZURAW (Lieut.-Cdr. R. KASPERSKI) and CZAPLA (Lieut.-Cdr. E. CECENIOWSKI) - all under command of Cdr. Z. BOCZKOWSKI.
They were operating in the Gulf of Gdansk and the Bay of Puck, with the base at small fishing port Jastarnia in the middle of Hel peninsula.
During fighting on land, when the Polish defenders took positions on Oksywie hills on September 12th JASKOLKA, CZAJKA, RYBITWA opened gunfire against the German forces with great success.
At night September 13/14th, same ships laid some 60 mines 4 miles SE of Hel naval base. Again at night on September 15th CZAJKA, RYBITWA, JASKOLKA,ZURAW and CZAPLA bombarded the German position North of Oksywie.
ON SEPTEMBER 17TH 1939,- 0600 a.m. THE SOVIET RUSSIA INVADED POLAND AND THE PARTITION OF POLAND BETWEEN GERMANY AND RUSSIA HAS BEGAN.
When the fighting at Islet of Oksywie were over on September 19th -1939, only Hel was still defending itself and the Polish submarines were still active in the Baltic Sea with only one base at Hel.
But the Germans located very soon their concentration areas and sent against them a large numbers of antisubmarine crafts and aircraft's. Their crews experienced very hard moments.
The WILK under the command of
Lieut-Cdr. B.KRAWCZYK was attacked by four German minesweepers and was
forced to dive up to 87 metres. From 2nd to 7th of September the Germans
dropped on this submarine at least 42 depth charges. Unfortunately the
damages were not possible to repair at Hel still being attacked by planes.
The WILK received permission to go to England or Sweden.
Lieut-Cdr.KRAWCZYK decided risky passage to England then to internement in
Sweden.On 15 September,the WILK radioed to the Polish Naval
Headquarters at Hel :
The RYS a third Polish submarine under command of Cdr.A.GROCHOWSKI also experienced very hard moments being tracked and attacked by depth charges. On September 18th having run out of fuel and suffering numerous damages, including periscope, the ship had to call at Staves - Sweden.
The ZBIK under command of Cdr. M.ZEBROWSKI was the only submarine that escaped detection by Germans in the first days of war. She was operating in southern part of the Baltic Sea, but unfortunately without success except that German Minesweeper M85 /500 tons/ sunk on mine on 1-10-39 , laid by ZBIK ,in position 54'45 N and 18'45 E , with loss of 24 seamen. After 25 days, having run out of fuel she came to Sandhamn at Sweden.
The ORZEL at first under command Cdr.H.KLOCZKOWSKI then Lieut-Cdr. J.GRUDZINSKI operated the longest in the Baltic. But already on September 4th and 5th she was attacked several times by the enemy ships and planes and numerous damages were caused. On September 10th the Cdr..KLOCZKOWSKI fell ill. His condition was growing worse, besides there occurred a mechanical failure of air-compressor. Of necessity ship was called first neutral port Tallin on the evening of September 14th. The sick commander was taken to a hospital, and here is very interesting story of this ship according the Polish historian Edmund KOSIARZ:
"The Estonian authorities prolonged ships stay in the port for 24 hours, motivated by the fact that a German merchant ship was leaving the port and than acting illegally, probably under pressure from a German envoy, they interned ORZEL. On September 16th the disarming of ship began: the artillery ammunition, the gun locks and 10 torpedoes were removed ; the maps were also taken away.Most of crew, however, including the new commanding officer, Lieut-Cdr. J.GRUDZINSKI, could not resign themselves to the thought of internment. The brave sailors wanted to continue fighting with the enemy at any price."
"During the night of September 17/18th they effected a breakdown of the electrical installation in the port, putting it out of order; when the port was enveloped by darkness, they overpowered two Estonian guards, cut of moorings and the ship - not without difficulty -began to leave the port. The escape was soon noticed. The Estonian ships lying in the port opened fire on the ORZEL an so did a coastal battery. Yet ORZEL luckily manage to escape being hit, soon dived to 30 metres and in spite of an attack by depth charges, got out."
"But then new difficulties emerged.There was no maps of the Baltic Sea aboard with which to navigate. The navigation officer Sub-Lieut. M.MOKRSKI , drew two maps from memory, using only a List of Lights .The guns were ineffectual, their locks missing. However, still left on the ship were six torpedoes which Estonians had not time to unload.The crew began to look for target, hoping to met some convoy or a larger naval ship. During the night of October 8th/9th as fuel was running out, the ORZEL entered Sund Strait."
"After reaching the island Ven, the submarine stopped,for there was the risk of being spotted by ships patrolling the straits.For the whole day she rested on the bottom of the sea and it was not until the evening of October 9th that she made her way through the narrow straits between Helsingor and Halsingborg. The ship spent two more days in the Kattegat straits, first between Kullen cape and the island Anholt, later off cape Skagen The crew strove determinedly to encounter the enemy. On October 12th lieut-cmdr. GRUDZINSKI took the ship to the North Sea and two days later on October 14th he established communication with the British Admiralty."
The ORZEL was met with the
British destroyer VALOROUS on October 14th near Firth of Forth and
entered the British naval base at Rosyth, after forty days of her dangerous
cruise.After some repairs she joined the Second Submarine
Hel peninsula was the last Polish bastion of defence. There was a small fishing port and other port for the Polish naval units. Just before the war there were some fortifications build including naval depots, workshops for running repairs, small floating dock. Moreover there was a shore artillery which comprised of four 152 mm guns, four 105 mm guns, two 100 mm guns, eight 75 mm guns. Defenders consisted of naval and land forces of 3500 men.
After GRYF was sunk in port Hel, the crew managed to remove their three 120 mm guns from ship to shore. Also four 75 mm guns from gun-boats /COMMANDANT PILSUDSKI and GENERAL HALLER/ -They served as additional batteries.
Hel was bombed by aircraft's from the beginning of war very frequently, especially shore battery . But after Oksywie last fights on September 2O Germans sent another battleship SCHLESSIEN to help SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN to bomb Hel naval base. Moreover another German ships took part: artillery training ships DRACHE and FUCHS coast guard ships MOVE and SIEGFRIED and torpedo-boat T 196 but without success.
Once again on September 25th, Rear-Admiral Herbert SCHMUNDT /C-in-C the German Naval Forces Baltic Sea/ gave an order to the SCHLESSIEN /C.O.- Cdr K. UTKE/ and the SCHLESWIG - HOLSTEIN /C.O. Cdr.G.KLEIKAMP/ to resume the naval bombardment of Hel battery. In this artillery duel theSCHLESSIEN was nearly missed and asked for smoke screen. The SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN was hit twice and both battleships retired. But the shells from this last battleship damaged one gun of the Polish shore battery, some gunners were wounded including commanding officer - Lieut.Cdr. Z.PRZYBYSZEWSKI.
On September 27th both battleships once again opened fire against Hel . The SCHLESSIEN started from Jastarnia towards Hel, and the SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN directly Hell battery from the distance of 14.000 meters. This time commanding officer of the Polish battery was Lieut-Cdr. B.MANKOWSKI /experienced officer after French and USA artillery courses/. After third salvo of the Polish battery the German battleship SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN was framed and with next salvos her gun turret was damaged, and she retired with her sister ship SCHLESSIEN. But they too inflicted several damages to the Polish battery.
Of course all the times Hel was under heavy air-attacks /a naval base, port and town/.
"In spite of the successful repelling of attacks of ships and Nazi troops, the resistance of the defenders of Hel could not last much longer. The enemy had not broken them but the ammunition was running out. Serious difficulties appeared in the securing of food for civilian population. Besides, further resistance on Hel was losing its operational importance since it could not have any major effect on the defence of the country which by then had been almost entirely occupied by the enemy. Hel also lost its significance as a base for the ships since those had either been destroyed or interned or else had forced their way to British bases."
"Taking into account the general situation the Commander in Chief of the Navy, rear-admiral J.UNRUG decided on 1st October to surrender."
"At 1100 a.m. on October 2nd, the German Armed Forces entered Hel taking prisoners about 3200 seamen and soldiers. The losses in killed and wounded amounted to about 210 men. The German losses were approximately the same."
" In the defensive war on the coast in 1939 the Polish defenders wrote glorious pages in the history of Polish arms. Fighting under most difficult circumstances, deprived of aid from the Allies, cut off from the rest of country, the Polish seamen were the first to offer resistance to and engage in combat against the might of the Nazi Kriegsmarine. They yielded to superior force but the white and red flag did not disappear from the worlds seas."
P.S.1 : The last Polish land unit "Group POLESIE" under command of General Fr.KLEEBERG fought with the German and the Soviet troops in Eastern Poland until October 5th 1939. In this group were crews of the Polish River Flotilla and midshipmen of Polish Naval Officers School, under command of Cdr.S.KAMINSKI. Killed in action: Lieut.W.WYROSTEK, Sub-lieut.res.E.GRZEDZINSKI, midshipmen W.DULEWICZ,J.KONKOL,W.PILARSKI, P.RYBIANSKI, J.STEIFER,and 15 seamen.Died of wounds midshipman L.PORWISLAK. .
P.S.2: Amongst several thousands officers of the Polish Armed Forces executed by the Soviet authorities in period 1939 - 1941 there were the Polish naval officers and midshipmen too :
At KATYN : C.Basinski, B.Bonczak, Z.Bakowski,B.Brodowski, K.Czernicki, C.Czyzewski,T.Duracz,E.Finger, S.Gargul, M.Genzel, S.Godek, J.Graniczny, I.Grudniewicz, W.Iwaszkiewicz,Z.Jastrzebiowski, E.Jodkowski, E.Jozwikiewicz, W.Kaczynski, S.Kamienski, T.Karge, A.Zachoranski, W.Kitlas, R.Kuzio, F.Lambert, J.Lipka, B.Lubinkowski, S.Maltze, N.Maluszynski,.J.Molewicz, A.Marzecki, L.Moszczenski, A.Mrozik, M.Niemirski, G.Niezabitowski, S.Paciorkowski, L.Pawlikowski, R.Pienkowski, F.Politur,A.Popiel, B.Porydzaj, R.Pufahl, E.Rojek, B.Rutynski, S.Rybinski, A.Sadowski, E.Siekierski, M.Sierkuszewski, B.Sokolowski, W.Staszkiewicz, J.Steibal, L.Szefer, Z.Szymkiewicz.
At STAROBIELSK: W.Jasik, J.Kierkus, J.Marciniewski, J.Maj, S.Murzicz, J.Podczaski, S.Sowinski, K.Taube, M.Wojciechowski.
At OSTASZKOW : H.Sulkowski .
The Following Polish Naval Officers and midshipmen were executed during the German occupation of Poland :M.Blonski, T.Braminski, R.Czeczot, W.Foldzinski, B.Gonera, M.Januszewski, E.Kowalinski, A.Kreisler, L.Maslocha, W.Nabrodzki, W.Szczepanowski, M.Uniejewski, A.Wasowicz, T.Ziolkowski, W.Gierdzielewski, , F.Sokolowski, J.Zdeb, B.Mikulowski, W.Galinski, A.Kasztelan, S.Stokwisz.
The Polish destroyers ORP BLYSKAWICA /C.O. Cdr.W.KODREBSKI/, ORP GROM /C.O. Cdr.A.HULEWICZ/,and ORP BURZA /C.O. Cdr.St.NAHORSKI/, under the Senior C.O.- Cdr.R.STANKIEWICZ arrived on September 1st 1939 about 1300 hours to Leith roadstead near May Island /Firth of Forth/ Scotland in company of HMS WANDERER and HMS WALLACE.
On September 3rd, a representative of the Royal Navy revisited Cdr.R.STANKIEWICZ on board of BLYSKAWICA, with news that this day 1100 a.m. the Great Britain declared war against the Germany. From this moment situation was clear.Now the Polish Navy was not alone and took part in fighting alongside with the powerfull Royal Navy against the German Kriegsmarine.
Next day, Cdr.R.STANKIEWICZ who was the Senior Polish Officer left for London and reported to the First Lord of Admiralty - Mr.Winston CHURCHILL and to the First Sea Lord of Admiralty - Admiral Dudley POUND. They decided that the Polish vessels should stay under operational command of the Royal Navy but with the Polish commanding officers.For communication purposes each ship should have a British Liaison Officer with signal,radio,coder specialists.
Meanwhile on September 3rd 1939 the German submarine U-30 torpedoed and sunk the British passenger ship ATHENIA without warning with 1102 passengers and 315 crew on board and the long war at sea has began.
From now our main enemy at sea were
U-Boats ! German Navy started the war with 57 U-Boats,managed to build during
war 1113 U-Boats,mostly torpedo and some mine-layers and supply ships. They
lost at sea 630 , in European bases 123 and 215 were destroyed by own crew in
the end of war. During the war Uboats sunk 149 and damaged 48 allied war
ship,sunk 2882 merchant ships = 14,408.422 BRT.( from the memoirs of
Adm.K.DOENITZ-"10 Years and 20 Days")
In this chronicle only most
important events are printed .
The Polish destroyers were sent round
Scotland to Plymouth / Devonport RN base.There C. in C. Rear-Adm. M.Dunbar
NASMITH visited Polish destroyers . To begin they were used in patrols and
escorts of merchant ships round England and in English Channel. Also some
small repairs and improvement of stabilities were done.
THE POLISH NAVAL HEADQUARTERS /Chief
rear-adm.J.SWIRSKI/ were established at first in Paris /11-Oct.39/ then
transfered to London /29-Dec.39/.Two administrative divisions were created :
Senior Polish Naval Officers - The North Command/C.O. Cdr.W.KODREBSKI/in
Greenock and South Command/C.O. Cdr.K.NAMIESNIOWSKI/ in Plymouth,later on one
at Gibraltar.Above mentioned were responsible for discipline,rotation,health
and training of officers and crews ashore.
At the end of October 1939 the Polish
ships were sent to Harwich /East England/ and joined the British First
Flotilla for escort and patrols duties in North Sea .Times spent at Harwich
were very hard, exhausting and very dangerous because proximity of German
bases, air and naval units, magnetic mines laid by aircrafts or
motor-boats,the British defensive mine-fields not to mention of navigation at
night in shallow waters with strong currents. In effect only few British
destroyers remained intact of this flotilla.
Unfortunately Polish destroyers were not
fited with modern anti-submarine devices /ASDIC=Allied Submarine Detection
Investigation Commitee/ and air/surface radio-location /RDF=Radio Direction
Finder later called RADAR=Radio Direction And Range/.First Asdick was fitted
in July 1940 on ORP BURZA.Then gradualy all Polish vessels have all kind of
Asdick,Radar and additional devices, like IFF /Identification Friend or Foe -
working with radars/, HF/DF /High Frequency Direction Finder - fixing U-boats
communication on short waves/,HEADACHE listening device of German
radio-telephones/and DECCA /for better navigation/.
On the April 9th 1940,the Germany
attacked and occupied Denmark. Then in few days they had landed in various
parts of Norway. But there it was not so easy, the Norwegian were fighting
gallantly together with some British, French and Polish troops landed there to
stop German offensive in Norway. On April 10th to 13th a fierce fighting took
part at sea between the German and the British units at Lofoten area with loss
of 10 German and 5 British destroyers.
In mean time Polish destroyers took part
as escort of the British battleships RODNEY and VALIANT at North Sea,
then they left to Scapa Flow preparing for Norway.
On the April 19th 1940,the Polish
destroyers : BLYSKAWICA /C.O. Cdr.St.NAHORSKI/, GROM /C.O. Cdr.
A.HULEWICZ/ and BURZA /C.O. Cdr.W.FRANCKI/ left Scapa Flow for
Lofoten-Norway.But BURZA having some damages during stormy weather had
to return to Scapa Flow for few days repair.BLYSKAWICA and GROM
arrived Lofoten and their task consisted in destroying the German shore
batteries, enemy positions, viaducts, railroad and supporting Allied troops
ashore with gun fire.
On the May 2nd 1940 BLYSKAWICA
fought a duel with the German battery shore of 88 mm.The enemy opened fire and
scored several hits.One shell fell into galley, two shells hit the port side,
pierced the steam pipe and wounded three men. BLYSKAWICA responded with
their 120 mm guns with about 100 rounds.The fire proved to be accurate and
several enemy guns position were destroyed.
Every day the Polish destroyers were
attacked by German aircrafts, but the gunners of both ships repelled those
attacks with great devotion.
The GROOM too, harassed the German
positions day and night with their guns.On May 3rd, she fired nearly 500
shells and destroyed one shore battery.But in the morning on May 4th 1940 one
German bomber in surprise attack from high level drooped bombs which hit
torpedoes at midship.The explosion broken the ship in two part and this brave
and modern ship sunk in four minutes in the Rombaken Fjord near
Altogether killed in action : one officer
/Lieut.eng. A.KRAKOWSKI/, 25 POs and 33 Seamen, moreover about 30 were
wounded.All the wounded were placed on rafts,but German shore positions kept
firing on survivors.The survivors were rescued by lifeboats of the British
destroyers BEDUIN and FAULKNOR, cruisers AURORA and
ENTERPRISE and taken on board of the British battleship HMS
Same day befornoon, C.in C. of the
British Naval Forces -Admiral of the Fleet the Earl of CORK and ORREY paid a
surprised visit to theBURZA and said to her C.O. - Cdr.W.FRANCKI :/
"Captain, I come here especially to
express my and all British seamen deep sorrow to let you know that your brave
ship GROM has been sunk. Please rise steam and proceed to Herjang Fjord and
transfer survivors and wounded men to hospital ship
In this chronicle only most important events are printed .
The Polish destroyers were sent round Scotland to Plymouth / Devonport RN base.There C. in C. Rear-Adm. M.Dunbar NASMITH visited Polish destroyers . To begin they were used in patrols and escorts of merchant ships round England and in English Channel. Also some small repairs and improvement of stabilities were done.
THE POLISH NAVAL HEADQUARTERS /Chief rear-adm.J.SWIRSKI/ were established at first in Paris /11-Oct.39/ then transfered to London /29-Dec.39/.Two administrative divisions were created : Senior Polish Naval Officers - The North Command/C.O. Cdr.W.KODREBSKI/in Greenock and South Command/C.O. Cdr.K.NAMIESNIOWSKI/ in Plymouth,later on one at Gibraltar.Above mentioned were responsible for discipline,rotation,health and training of officers and crews ashore.
At the end of October 1939 the Polish ships were sent to Harwich /East England/ and joined the British First Flotilla for escort and patrols duties in North Sea .Times spent at Harwich were very hard, exhausting and very dangerous because proximity of German bases, air and naval units, magnetic mines laid by aircrafts or motor-boats,the British defensive mine-fields not to mention of navigation at night in shallow waters with strong currents. In effect only few British destroyers remained intact of this flotilla.
Unfortunately Polish destroyers were not fited with modern anti-submarine devices /ASDIC=Allied Submarine Detection Investigation Commitee/ and air/surface radio-location /RDF=Radio Direction Finder later called RADAR=Radio Direction And Range/.First Asdick was fitted in July 1940 on ORP BURZA.Then gradualy all Polish vessels have all kind of Asdick,Radar and additional devices, like IFF /Identification Friend or Foe - working with radars/, HF/DF /High Frequency Direction Finder - fixing U-boats communication on short waves/,HEADACHE listening device of German radio-telephones/and DECCA /for better navigation/.
On the April 9th 1940,the Germany attacked and occupied Denmark. Then in few days they had landed in various parts of Norway. But there it was not so easy, the Norwegian were fighting gallantly together with some British, French and Polish troops landed there to stop German offensive in Norway. On April 10th to 13th a fierce fighting took part at sea between the German and the British units at Lofoten area with loss of 10 German and 5 British destroyers.
In mean time Polish destroyers took part as escort of the British battleships RODNEY and VALIANT at North Sea, then they left to Scapa Flow preparing for Norway.
On the April 19th 1940,the Polish destroyers : BLYSKAWICA /C.O. Cdr.St.NAHORSKI/, GROM /C.O. Cdr. A.HULEWICZ/ and BURZA /C.O. Cdr.W.FRANCKI/ left Scapa Flow for Lofoten-Norway.But BURZA having some damages during stormy weather had to return to Scapa Flow for few days repair.BLYSKAWICA and GROM arrived Lofoten and their task consisted in destroying the German shore batteries, enemy positions, viaducts, railroad and supporting Allied troops ashore with gun fire.
On the May 2nd 1940 BLYSKAWICA fought a duel with the German battery shore of 88 mm.The enemy opened fire and scored several hits.One shell fell into galley, two shells hit the port side, pierced the steam pipe and wounded three men. BLYSKAWICA responded with their 120 mm guns with about 100 rounds.The fire proved to be accurate and several enemy guns position were destroyed.
Every day the Polish destroyers were attacked by German aircrafts, but the gunners of both ships repelled those attacks with great devotion.
The GROOM too, harassed the German positions day and night with their guns.On May 3rd, she fired nearly 500 shells and destroyed one shore battery.But in the morning on May 4th 1940 one German bomber in surprise attack from high level drooped bombs which hit torpedoes at midship.The explosion broken the ship in two part and this brave and modern ship sunk in four minutes in the Rombaken Fjord near Narvik.
Altogether killed in action : one officer /Lieut.eng. A.KRAKOWSKI/, 25 POs and 33 Seamen, moreover about 30 were wounded.All the wounded were placed on rafts,but German shore positions kept firing on survivors.The survivors were rescued by lifeboats of the British destroyers BEDUIN and FAULKNOR, cruisers AURORA and ENTERPRISE and taken on board of the British battleship HMS RESOLUTION.
Same day befornoon, C.in C. of the British Naval Forces -Admiral of the Fleet the Earl of CORK and ORREY paid a surprised visit to theBURZA and said to her C.O. - Cdr.W.FRANCKI :/ according Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ/
"Captain, I come here especially to express my and all British seamen deep sorrow to let you know that your brave ship GROM has been sunk. Please rise steam and proceed to Herjang Fjord and transfer survivors and wounded men to hospital ship ATLANTIS."
"About noon O.R.P.BURZA came alongside of HMS RESOLUTION and received all Polish survivors and wounded personnel from GROM.After that when BURZA casted off,the Royal Marines brass-band started the Polish national anthem : "Poland is not yet defeated", all crews of the RESOLUTION and the BURZA stood in attention and the Royal Marines presented arms.It was very touching moment and the Polish crew members will not forget this ceremony. Later on brass band of the Royal Marines played a known for seamen tune BEER BARREL POLKA."
On May 5th, the BLYSKAWICA took place of GROM in Rombaken Fjord, harassing German positions ashore. That day she was heavily attacked by the German aircrafts and on the evening she was hit by some shells of German shore battery 88 mm, but they did not cause major damage.
On May 6th BLYSKAWICA was attacked several times by aircrafts almost continuously. Many bombs exploded near the ships sides, her gunners shot down one and damaged two more aircrafts. In the following days the air raids continued.On May 10th, the German carried out very strong air attack which was effectively repelled and again one plane was shot down and another damaged.
The task of the BURZA in the Norwegian waters consisted of patrol duties Lofoten Fjords, covering landings of Allied troops in Narvik areas.This time C.in C. of Allied Land Forces - the French General BETHOUART had his headquarters aboard BURZA. Moreover BURZA took part in air defence Harstad in the Lofoten where a transhipping base of Allied forces was placed. Air bombing of Harstad and Skaaland were very frequent, some times up to 17 a day !
After May 10th, the Polish destroyers
BLYSKAWICA and BURZA left Norway and went to Scapa Flow and from
there to Harwich-England.
Again the Polish historian E.KOSIARZ /according relation of Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ, Torpedo officer BURZA/:
"On May 24th, BURZA was recalled from a patrolling mission and dispatched to the area of Calais as reinforcement for the two British destroyers WESSEX and VIMIERA,which were busy shelling a German armoured column proceeding along a seaside road. BURZA also opened fire on tanks /1st Gun.Officer - Lieut-Cdr.J.TCHORZNICKI /. It did not long before a squadron of diving planes, 27 bombers strong, appeared above a group of ships.The first round of bombs hit the destroyer HMS WESSEX ,which soon went to the bottom.The HMS VIMIERA heavily damaged hid behind a smoke screen and did not take part in fighting. The air-attack was concentrated on the the BURZA. The enemy attacked her from various directions and from different altitudes.The Polish seamen bravely engaged in the fight."
"The situation was made worse by fact that the ships main guns were not adapted to anti-aircraft fire. The BURZA could defend herself only with 2 Vickers 40 mm, 2x2 Hotchkiss 13.2 mm and 2x4 Vickers 12.7 mm, but the crew did it so bravely and heroically that their fighting deserves the highest recognition.It should be all the more appreciated since the crew was fully aware of the danger that threatened the ship.In order to emphasize their will to fight and their indomitable spirit, the Captain W.Francki gave order to hoist biggest white and red flag up the mast.The attack by German planes lasted for about 15 minutes. The bombs falling near the ship disturbed the water with their explosions; the roar of the diving planes and the thunder of the artillery caused such a noise as the ears could hardly bear.The enemy then began to attack from low an altitude that some of the bombs did not have enough time to assume vertical position ; they fell into water sideways and bouncing,swept past the ship in horizontal flight."
"............The shocks were so strong that one could hardly keep up and the men often fell or dropped on their knees.At that time all the doors on the bridge fell out and all square watertight hatches stood open.The falling bombs caused fountains of water so high that frequently one could see nothing but water,smoke and steam."
"At one moment, three big bombs fell near the ship and their explosion caused the safety valve in boiler nr.1 to open and jam.The bomb reports and the thunder of guns were now joined by the deafening roar of steam which was escaping swiftly from the boilers through the jammed valve.The ship lost speed temporary.To make matters worse one a/a gun 40 mm got jammed at about that time,and the machine gun crew was running short of ammunition.The commanding officer Cdr.W.Francki then ordered to fire the torpedoes and to throw out depth charges to avoid additional explosions should the ship be hit by a bomb.The order was executed by 2nd Torpedo Officer - Sub-Lieut.J.TUMANISZWILI - This foresight unfortunately was justified. The ship standing still,was hit by two bombs.Fortunately the ships engine started again, after efforts of 1-st Eng.Officer : Lieut.L.SZMIDT and 2-nd Eng.Officer: Warr.off. WAWRZYNCZYK. Although the ship suffered damage,the German attack was not crowned with success : one plane was destroyed and another was damaged.The BURZA with her bow mutilated,managed to reach Dover under her own power ; from there she was towed to the shipyard in Portsmouth for repairs."
On May 27/28th BLYSKAWICA entered action for the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk /Operation Dynamo/. At first she took part together with two other British destroyers in the evacuating British military staff from port of Dunkirk already in flames and on fire from the German tanks.There she was attacked by one plane and shot him down. In the English Channel she was attacked by planes and submarine but without success. BLYSKAWICA saved British destroyer GREYHOUND from sinking with a large number of evacuated soldiers on board when hit by bomb. She succeeded in towing HMS GREYHOUND safely to Dover. Next days on patrol duty in English Channel she attacked enemy submarine and several time opened fire on German planes. In the night 30/31 May she rescued 15 members of French destroyer SIROCCO which had been torpedoed by the German motor-torpedo-boats.During evacuation of Dunkirk Royal Navy lost 6 destroyers and 19 were damaged.
When the Polish destroyers were fighting in Norway and off French Costs, the Polish submarines were very busy patrolling North Sea. On April 8th 1940 in the morning ORZEL/C.O.Lieut-Cdr.GRUDZINSKI/ spotted the German ship RIO DE JANEIRO- 6.800 tons - off Lillesand the southern shores of Norway carrying troops. ORZEL sent signals ordering ship to stop her engines, in accordance with international law. Then ORZEL hoisted signals to leave the ship in 15 minutes or the ship will be torpedoed. Because it was no answer and the German radio-man started to send alarming signals, ORZEL could not delay any longer and fired her torpedoes. RIO DE JANEIRO was hit and this time her deck swarmed with the soldiers who began to jump to the rafts.Next day ORZEL sunk one unindetified small naval vessel. On 15th ORZEL was attacked several times by enemy ships and aircrafts - altogether dropped on her about 110 of depth charges and she was forced to dive down to 105 meters.
On May 23rd ORZEL left for her last patrol, the tragedy probably occur on 25th May at position Latitude 57 degr.North and Longitude 3 degr.40 minutes East.She and her crew were lost without trace, probable a mine, aircraft or another mishap.Together lost : C.O. Lieut.Cdr. GRUDZINSKI, Lieut.A.PIASECKI, Lieut. eng.F.ROSZAK, Sub lieut.H.KAMINSKI, Sub.lieut.M.MOKRSKI, Sub.lieut.eng.J.SOSNOWSKI,midshipman/eng/ E.Brocki, Warrant Off./eng/. W.FOTEREK, Warrant off. J.STELMASZYK, 32 P.Os and 20 Seamen, moreover the British Liaison Officer and his two POs.It was a painful loss for the Polish Navy like theGROM in Norway - both very fine and modern ships with excellent crews.
TheWILK /C.O.-Lieut-cdr. B.KARNICKI/ another Polish submarine while on patrol of North Sea on the June 20th had very unusual experience : she came unexpectedly at night upon a German submarine and rammed her.The attack was carried out by officer of watch - Lieut.B.ROMANOWSKI. Of course after that deliberate collision,the German submarine probably sunk, but WILK suffered severe damage and must go back to base at low speed.On July 15th WILK was again at sea on patrol but this time she was first spotted by German aircraft which dropped 6 bomb very close and 12 farther away.Damages were very small and ship returned to her base.In the second half of 1940 she carried out several more patrols but in 1941 WILK was transferred to the reserve and served only as the training submarine.
On July 8/9th GARLAND took part as the escort ship of the British Fleet consisted of the battleships WARSPITE, MALAYA, ROYAL SOVEREIGN, and the aircraft carrier EAGLE, 5 light cruisers and 16 destroyers. GARLAND duty was to escort the EAGLE. Same time the Italian Fleet was near Kalabria /Cape Stilo/ and had the battleships CONTE di CAVOUR and GIULIO CESARE, 7 heavy cruisers, 12 light cruisers and 24 destroyers. After short guns duel between battleships, the Italian battleship GULIO CESARE and the heavy cruiser BOLZANO were hit and the Italian Admiral decided to withdraw, leaving fight to aircrafts and destroyers. In this period of fight GARLAND used her guns with success.
Again the GARLAND /C.O.
Cdr-K.NAMIESNIOWSKI/ on July 19th, while on patrol with the Australian cruiser
SYDNEY and the British destroyer HAVOC and with another group 4
British destroyers met two Italian light cruisers BARTOLOMEO COLLEONI
and GIOVANNI delle BANDE NERE near Cape Spatha at Crete Sea.
The BARTOLOMEO COLLEONI was damaged by gun fire and sunk by torpedoes.
Another Italian cruiser was damaged too, but escaped. This time GARLAND
took part in fighting.
Moreover on 19 and 28 July 1940 two Polish motor-gun-boats S2 and S3 were commissioned and joined the Third MGBs Flotilla at Fowey. MGB-S1 joined the MGB Flotilla on August 1940, unfortunately she was lost during fire at sea together with her C.O. Lieut.T.SOKOLOWSKI on October 16th 1940. MGB- S4 joined in December 1942 and MTBs /Motor Torpedo Boats/ S5, S6, S7, S8, S9, S10 / in 1944/1945.
Initially the Polish MGBs/MTBs were based at Ramsgate under command of Lieut.W.SZUSTER then Lieut.A.JARACZEWSKI.The following officers were in command of those boats :
Crew .......................2+10................. ........ .........2+15 /off+seamen/
On August 12th BLYSKAWICA /C.O.- Cdr.W.FRANCKI/ - while staying at Portsmouth took part in repelling heavy German air-attack and shot down one plane. On September 3rd 1940 BURZA spotted a periscope and together with BLYSKAWICA attacked U-boat with DC.Visibility was bad, results were not ascertained, although some crew member of BLYSKAWICA sighted enemy conning tower from distance about 700 metres and gunners open fire to this target, who then disappeared leaving large patches of oil on surface of the sea.
During month of September BLYSKAWICA, BURZA and GARLAND another destroyer received from Royal Navy, were incorporated into the Fifth Destroyers Flotilla operating from Devonport.The task consisted in carrying regular patrols in the English Channel and off French Coast.This was necessary in view of the imminent threat of German invasion of England. Patrolling were at each night and days spent in Devonport but in 15 minute readiness what proved to be very hard service.
In the night October 10/11th 1940 twelve destroyers including BURZA and GARLAND took part in shelling French port and base Cherbourg together with British battleship REVENGE,cruisers NEWCASTLE, EMERALD and air bombardment. French shore gun batteries were put out of order and port of Cherbourg was left in flames.According information later received, German troops in port were annihilated.
Crew : 10 officers and 190 POs/ seamen
BURZA /C.O.Cdr.A.DOROSZKOWSKI/while at convoy duty, received urgent message on October 26th 1940 to proceed with utmost speed together with the British destroyer ECHO to position about 75 miles from Ireland in West Atlantic where the big Canadian passenger liner EMPRESS OF BRITAIN /42.000 BRT/ was in critical condition. She was attacked and bombed by the German long distance aircraft Focke-Wulf. The ship was on fire, some life-boats were at sea with survivors and some were still on board in bad conditions. Several survivors were floating on the surface of the sea. BURZA rescued 254 persons including women. Similar number were rescued by ECHO. It was in position Lat. 55.04 N, Long 10.19 W, about 1550 Lt.
RMS "EMPRESS OF BRITAIN" - before
MS "EMPRESS OF BRITAIN" - on fire
seen from ORP BURZA /Z.Wagner/
On November 26th 1940 patrol ship
MEDOC /C.O.Cdr.R.STANKIEWICZ/ was torpedoed by German plane in English
Channel and sunk. Cdr.R.STANKIEWICZ, one midshipman and one P.O. died.Later in
April 1941 all ex-French ships were given back to the Free French
The OURAGAN /C.O.
Lieut-cdr.T.GORAZDOWSKI / and THE two British destroyers DOUGLAS and
KEPPEL joined escort of the four British minelayers and the cruiser
EDINBURGH North of Faroe Islands on January 1941. But later on she
sustained several damages during stormy weather, including partly flooded
engine and boilers-rooms /about 300 cubic meters inside!/ On April 30th she
was handed over to the Free French Navy.This ship during her 287 days in the
Polish Navy spent at sea only 31 days, 63 days at ports and 194 days at
dockyards ! On January 19th 1941, the Polish flag was
hoisted on board of ex-British submarine URCHIN,, named SOKOL
/C.O. Lieut-cdr.B.KARNICKI / and joined III Submarine Flotilla, then on
February 20th she joined IX Submarine Flotilla at Dundee.On April 10th again
she joined V Submarine Flotilla at Portsmouth.
On November 26th 1940 patrol ship MEDOC /C.O.Cdr.R.STANKIEWICZ/ was torpedoed by German plane in English Channel and sunk. Cdr.R.STANKIEWICZ, one midshipman and one P.O. died.Later in April 1941 all ex-French ships were given back to the Free French Navy.
The OURAGAN /C.O.
Lieut-cdr.T.GORAZDOWSKI / and THE two British destroyers DOUGLAS and
KEPPEL joined escort of the four British minelayers and the cruiser
EDINBURGH North of Faroe Islands on January 1941. But later on she
sustained several damages during stormy weather, including partly flooded
engine and boilers-rooms /about 300 cubic meters inside!/ On April 30th she
was handed over to the Free French Navy.This ship during her 287 days in the
Polish Navy spent at sea only 31 days, 63 days at ports and 194 days at
On January 19th 1941, the Polish flag was hoisted on board of ex-British submarine URCHIN,, named SOKOL /C.O. Lieut-cdr.B.KARNICKI / and joined III Submarine Flotilla, then on February 20th she joined IX Submarine Flotilla at Dundee.On April 10th again she joined V Submarine Flotilla at Portsmouth.
Crew : 4 officers+ 32 POs and seamen
After overhaul of MGB-S1 /C.O. Sub.lieut. T.DABROWSKI/ joined Third MGB Flotilla at Fowey, on January 31th 1941.
PIORUN/C.O. Cdr.E.PLAWSKI/ and GARLAND/C.O. Cdr.K.NAMIESNIOWSKI/ were on convoy duty south of Iceland on April 12th 1941 when PIORUN and the British destroyer LEGION were sent to position Lat. 64.50 N and Long 27.25 W to help auxiliary cruiser RAJPUTANA who was torpedoed. Unfortunately when they arrived this ship already sunk, so together with the British LEGION and French destroyer LEOPARD they rescued 290 survivors and landed them at Reykjavik. On April 19th both ships were in escort of the battleship RODNEY who unfortunately struck and sunk British trawler TOPAZ , this time PIORUN rescued only four seamen - remaining 21 were lost.
On May 22nd 1941 The Polish Navy received new "Hunt"-class destroyer KRAKOWIAK /C.O. Lieut.cdr. T.GORAZDOWSKI/ - /ex- SILVERTON/.On May 30th 1941 another new "Hunt"-class destroyer with name KUJAWIAK/ C.O. Lieut-cdr.L.LICHODZIEJEWSKI/ - /ex-OAKLEY/ and on April 30th 1942 same type as SLAZAK / C.O. Lieut-cdr.R.TYMINSKI/ - / ex-BEDALE / joined Polish Navy.
Crew = 8 officers/ 160 POs and seamen
At this time British Admiralty received information from Coastal Command that the German battleship BISMARCK and the heavy cruiser PRINZ EUGEN with some destroyers had left Korsfjord near Bergen and were heading North.C-in-C of Home Fleet Adm.J.C.TOVEY, based at Scapa Flow, sent to Danish Strait between Iceland and Greenland the battle-cruiser HOOD, the battleship PRINCE OF WALES and six destroyers.
Immediately after the HOOD and PRINCE of WALES left Scapa Flow. Admiral J.C.TOVEY put out to sea with the battleships KING GEORGE V, RENOWN and the aircraft carrier VICTORIOUS and four destroyers.Polish Midshipmen on board the KING GEORGE V- were :K.ZUBKOWSKI, St.OLSZOWSKI, L.ANTOSZEWICZ, Z.CHMIELEWSKI, J.SUCHENEK-SUCHECKI.
Early On the morning of May 24rd,the HOOD and PRINCE of WALES /C-in-C Vice-Adm.HOLLAND/ engaged the enemy. An artillery battle began the attack, but unfortunately, in one of the first German salvos, the ammunition room of the HOOD was hit and, after an explosion,the vessel quickly sank. Out of her crew of 95 officers and 1.324 other ranks, only 3 men survived. The Polish Navy also lost four midshipmen : K.ZUREK, St.CZERNY, K.SZYMANSKI and L.TRZEBIATOWSKI. Later,the BISMARCK damaged the PRINCE OF WALES, which was forced to withdraw from engagement. However, one of the fuel tanks of the BISMARCK was also hit and this caused fuel to leak into the sea. Because of this the German C-n-C Vice-Adm.G.LUTJENS decided that his plan to act as raider on the Atlantic Ocean should be abandoned and that ship should return to the French port St.Nazaire. In addition, he instructed the C.O.cruiser PRINZ EUGEN to go to Brest under the cover of darkness.
When those dramatic events took place, the PIORUN /C.O.- Cdr.E.PLAWSKI / was far away with the convoy WS 8B together with the British destroyers COSSACK, MAORI, SIKH, ZULU /Fourth Destroyers Flotilla - Captain Ph.VIAN/.
In mean time the BISMARCK was later hit by one torpedo from aircraft's of the VICTORIOUS on May 24th 2330 hours then on May 26th 2053 hours was hit again by two torpedoes from aircraft's based on the ARK ROYAL which caused damages to her rudder and one propeller.
In this situation the British Admiralty ordered Captain VIAN to leave the convoy and to join the search of the BISMARCK. This time the weather was very bad with heavy seas and poor visibility.
Thanks to report of the Catalina flying boat, Captain VIAN got new bearings for enemy and changed course of his flotilla accordingly,proceeding there with maximum possible speed.The ships were moving in line abreast at distance of 2.5 miles between each of them. The PIORUN came ahead of others and lost contact temporary with the British destroyers.At about 2200 hours she came unexpectedly upon a large ship. But fortunately this was SHEFFIELD who later disappeared.
On May 26th at about 2237 hours the Leading Seaman Edward DOLECKI on the bridge of the PIORUN was the first to observe a large ship. Cdr.E.PLAWSKI wanted to be sure of its identity and ordered an identification light signal. The answer were salvos of artillery fire .It was the BISMARCK which started with her 150 mm guns ! Immediately the C.O. of the PIORUN sent a radio message to Captain VIAN,who ordered to shadow enemy.The BISMARCK again opened fire 2242 hours with all her guns including main artillery against
PIORUN and MAORI . Of course PIORUN returned fire using her small guns 120 mm ! /Ist Gun.Off.-lieut. K.HESS /. Later on 2355 hours she lost contact with the enemy due to heavy rain and very bad visibility. Because the BISMARCK lost her manouverability, Captain VIAN decided to give order torpedo attack by divergent or by subdivisions. This was only partly carried out by British destroyers which were in visual contact but results were questionable. According British, they obtain two hits and according to the Germans no torpedo hits from destroyers at all.
PIORUN was ordered at about 0500 hours proceed to Plymouth for fuel oil When she came there only 30 tons left in fuel tanks!
Meanwhile time the fate of theBISMARCK has been sealed. Her speed was only 10 knots and the distance to Brest still 400 miles. In her last radio-signal to the German Admiralty, C.O. asked only for U-boat to pick up the Log Book of the Bismarck.
At about 0845 hours the battleships KING GEORG V and RODNEY arrived and an artillery exchange began between the British and the BISMARCK, but very soon after half on hour her guns were put out of action and ship was in sinking condition and on fire. In addition two British cruisers the NORFOLK and the DORTSETSHIRE joined and put more 300 shells into BISMARCK .
At 1015 hours Captain LINDEMAN gave order to abandon ship . C-in-C of the British Fleet - Admiral Tovey gave order to stop fire and to sunk the enemy with torpedoes by the cruiser DORSETSHIRE. She fired two torpedoes into starboard side of the BISMARCK then one torpedo into her port side. The BISMARCK was sunk on May 27th- 1036 hours and from her 2300 crew, only 75 were rescued by the DORSETSHIRE, 24 by the MAORI and some by U-74 and hydrographic ship.
In the last phase of this combat , PIORUN was no longer taking part and after sinking of BISMARCK captain VIAN sent to C.O. PIORUN following signal :
This is worthy of notice that
Vice-Admiral G.LUTJENS who in September 1939 was S.O. of the German destroyers
against the Polish ships WICHER and GRYF in Gulf of Gdansk and in May
1941 the Polish destroyer PIORUN first spotted BISMARCK and in
the effect caused his death at Atlantic.
On July 24th, GARLAND /C.O. Cdr.K.NAMIESNIOWSKI/ left Scapa Flow with tanker OLIGARCH to Seidisfjord in the Iceland and from there took more two trawlers and joined Force A /C.O. Rear-Adm.P.L.VIAN/ in position : Lat.77.25 N and Long.10.35 E . This Force A consisted of THE cruisers AURORA, NIGERIA and destroyers PUNJABI, TARTAR with intention to inspect West Spitzbergen. On August 8th, GARLAND arrived Hvalfjord and same day to Reykjavik in Iceland.
On July 14th 1941 Great Britain and Soviet Union signed an agreement of mutual help in war efforts against the Germany. Same agreement was signed between the Poland and the Soviet Union on July 30th in 1941.
The German aircraft Heinkel 111 was shot down at Portsmouth roadstead on August 27th 1941 by the Polish MGB S2 /C.O. Sub.lieut.E.WCISLICKI/
PIORUN /C.O. Cdr.E.PLAWSKI /and GARLAND /C.O. Cdr.K.NAMIESNIOWSKI/ took part in the operation HALBERD /Convoy to Malta /.On September 17th 41 they left Londonderry/Irland/ and joined a convoy WS 11 X / consisted of 9 passenger ships with troops in company of the battleship RODNEY, two cruisers and 11 destroyers /including Polish/. The convoy reached Gibraltar where Force H /C.O. Vice-Adm.J.SOMMERVILLE/was waited for them. Force H consisted of the battleships NELSON, PRINCE of WALES, two cruisers, the aircraft carrier ARK ROYAL and 7 destroyers /including 2 Polish/.
On September 27th 1941 about noon the Italian aircrafts attacked this convoy near island La Galite with bombs and torpedoes. The NELSON was hit by one torpedo. Afternoon same day a strong force of the Italian Fleet approached from North but later decided to withdraw. At last the convoy with Force H arrived Malta on September 28th. C-in-C Vice-Adm.J.SOMMERVILLE decided to send the NELSON back to Gibraltar for repair. Same day at evening the NELSON with escort of the cruiser EDINBURGH and destroyers PIORUN, GARLAND and two British left Malta. All ships arrived Gibraltar about noon on September 30th. But already on October 2nd 1941 they left with small convoy to U.K.. On board of PIORUN there were special passengers : 4 officers and 20 soldiers of the Polish troops which escaped from the German POW camps in France and special camps in Spain .They were transferred in Gibraltar from the Polish special and secret fishing motor boats /C.O. Lieut-cdr.M.KADULSKI/ operating in Western part of Mediterranean Sea.Thanks to his dangerous trips nearly 500 military personnel were transported from enemy shores to Gibraltar.
In this time also the Polish submarine SOKOL/ C.O. Lieut-cdr.B.KARNICKI/, was present off Sicily near St.Vito. SOKOL belongs to Tenth Submarine Flotilla at Malta.
The Polish MGB S2/C.O. Sub.lieut.E.WCISLICKI/ and S3 /C.O. Sub.lieut.M.BOCHENSKI/took part as escorts of the battleship REVENGE who attacked with her artillery the French base Cherbourg held by the Germans, on September 23rd of 1941.
SOKOL /C.O. Lieut-cdr. B.KARNICKI/ on patrol duty spotted small Italian convoy on October 28th 1941 near island Ischia, escorted by one auxiliary cruiser and two destroyers. Torpedo attack with 4 torpedoes was successful : The transport ship CITTA di PALERMO /Displ.=5400 tons/ was hit and sunk. The Italian destroyers made an attack with depth charges but nothing happened.Three days later on October 31st, while going back to Malta, SOKOL sighted one ship without escort in position 38.05 N and 12.03 E and sunk her with gun fire.
The JASTRZAB /P551/ very old ex-USN submarine /S-25/ build in 1922 was under command of Lieut-cdr.B.ROMANOWSKI since November 4 th 1941, but till April 1942 she was under repairs and sea trials.
Same day in the English Channel the Polish MGBs : S2 /C.O. Sub.lieut.E.WCISLICKI/ and S3/C.O. Sub.lieut.M.BOCHENSKI/ took part in unfortunate operation of intercepting the German battleships GNEISENAU, SCHARNHORST and the heavy cruiser PRINZ EUGEN. The British battleships were far away in Scapa Flow, visibility was bad and the British Air Force was late to inform Admiralty in time. In the last moment Admiralty sent only few torpedo aircrafts and MTBs. One group of three British MTB was covered by the Polish MGBs . Torpedo attacks were carried out in spite of heavy gun fire, but without success. The Germans passed with high speed about 28 knots with air cover of 400 fighter planes. Only the British mines near Belgian and Dutch coasts partly damaged both battleships but they reached to Wilhelmhafen.
On April 25th 1942,the Polish submarine JASTRZAB put out to sea to protect the passage of convoy PQ-15 and soon entered her sector awaiting possible German ships. Minewhile the convoy changed his course to avoid the German U-boats and aircrafts and drifted into theJASTRZAB sector.There was very bad weather and poor visibility. The Escort ships managed to detect her by Asdicks.They made several depth charge attacks,in spite of identification signals by means of yellow smoke. Depth charges caused several damages and C.O. Lieut-cdr.B.ROMANOWSKI decided to surface. Two escort ships : The Norwegian destroyer ST.ALBANS and the British minesweeper SEAGULL opened fire from machine guns, staying in distance about 200 - 600 metres. The British signalman put in operation special investigation rocket but was killed instantly, same fate happened to another British signalman who tried to send signal by Aldis lamp. Captain showed Polish flag and in this time they stopped fire.
But this was not the end, ST. ALBANS came up to 50 meters and started fire again to some members of the crew on deck and SEAGULL too. At last from ST.ALBANS some one asked "Are you German ?" C.O.-Lieut-cdr. B.ROMANOWSKI already wounded, replied :
"No, we are Polish submarine JASTRZAB-P551 - Come alongside in order to take wounded".
JASTRZAB was in sinking condition. C.O. hand over his duties to Sub-lieut. A.GUZOWSKI,only one officer not wounded. Lying on deck were 5 crew members killed and 6 more, including C.O. - wounded. After transferring the crew to ST.ALBANS and SEAGULL - submarine JASTRZAB sunk in position Lat=72.14 N and Long=14.34 E on May 2nd 1942 about 2000 hours.
The British Liaison Officer - Sub.lieut.M.A.HANBURY -from JASTRZAB was wounded and transferred to Murmansk hospital and soon left Murmansk on board of the British cruiser EDINBURGH, but unfortunately she was torpedoed under way to U.K..Again he was rescued with remaining crew by the British destroyer MATCHLESS.
SEAGULL was sunk under way to U.K. from Murmansk.Therefore nobody from SEAGULL could be a witness from this ship in Admiralty court in this affair.
JASTRZAB sailed only 3.000 sea miles, four crew members were killed in action.
The most dangerous convoys were those directed to Murmansk, because of constant treat by the German Navy /cruisers, battleships and submarines/ and by the German Air Force. Moreover on the northern routes the crews suffered from frequent storms, biting cold and blizzards and deck armament was covered by snow and ice.The three Polish destroyers took part in those convoys : GARLAND / C.O. Cdr.H.EIBEL/, PIORUN/C.O. Lieut-cdr.T.GORAZDOWSKI/, ORKAN /C.O.-Cdr.St.HRYNIEWIECKI/,
On MAY 17 th 1942,the Polish destroyer GARLAND and the British destroyer VOLUNTEER left Greenock /Scotland/ with transport ship STEPHEN CASTLE to Reykjavik, then alone back to Seydisjord. On May 21th, a large convoy of 35 ships left Seydisfjord as PQ 16 to Murmansk. At first escort group consisted of the A/A cruiser ALYNBANK, five corvettes, three minesweepers and two submarines.Then a special Task Force was formed CS 10 : the cruiser NIGERIA/S.O - Rear-Admiral H.M.BURROUGH/ and 8 destroyers including GARLAND.
Task force CS 10 left Seydisjord on May 23rd of 1942. Moreover the following cruisers joined : NORFOLK, KENT, LIVERPOOL.
On May 25th in position Lat=70.47 N and Long=00.42 E,Task force CS10 joined convoy PQ 16 already under way to Murmansk.This convoy consisted of large American ships very good armed with a/a guns. Same day another convoy PQ 12 from Murmansk to U.K. met them in this position. At evening when the convoy was in position Lat= 72.50 N and Long.=03.01 E, first attack of the German torpedo-bombers took place. One hour later during second attack one German plane was shot down by escort and merchant ships. From this time some more attacks took place. One merchant ship was damaged.
On May 28th, the Senior Officer of the escort group Cdr.ONSLOW passing by on board of the British destroyer ASHANTI saluted her and ordered to proceed to Murmansk leaving convoy. This was because of several damages, wounded men and short of ammunition. Few minutes before midnight GARLAND took Russian pilot and entered port. There she landed 22 killed and 32 wounded POs and Seamen.
GARLAND crew met at Murmansk rescued crew of Polish submarine JASTRZAB.
After necessary repairs GARLAND left Murmansk to, Archangels and on June 26th 1942 with another convoy PQ 13 went back to U.K. without special troubles.
BLYSKAWICA/C.O. Lieut-cdr.L.LICHODZIEJEWSKI/ resumed her duty at sea after repairs on July 20th 1942. On August 9th she was sent together with the British destroyer BROKE to help an escort of convoy SC- 94. Convoy consists of 33 transport ship and had escort of 7 warships from Canada to Great Britain. Convoy was attacked by the "Wolf Pack" of several U-boats and this time the Canadian destroyer ASSINIBOINE rammed and sunk U-210, but because of this she damaged and was forced to return to base.Other escort ships damaged two nore U-boats but one freighter was sunk.On August 8th, "Wolf Pack" resumed attacks on this convoy : 5 freighters were sunk and crews of 3 freighters left their ships in panic into lifeboats. Later crews of 2 freighters came back to their ships but 3rd was torpedoed and sunk.
In this situation arrived BROKE and later BLYSKAWICA .Third attack of "Wolf Pack" was repelled and the British corvette DIANTHUS rammed and sunk U-379.Then British Admiralty sent as an air support big bombers Liberator from Ireland and American flying boats Catalina from Iceland. On August 10th 1942 came another attack from 'Wolf Pack"- they fired altogether dozens of torpedoes and sunk more 4 freighters. Next days and nights escort kept convoy without losses. At last the convoy arrived to U.K. ports on 13th August. Unfortunately this convoy lost 11 ships - 53.000 BRT. In this attacks took part 17 U-boats, 2 were sunk, 4 damaged.
Later on BLYSKAWICA took part in 17 patrols and convoys including the big British passenger ships used as Troop-carriers .
According to the relation of Lieut. T.LESISZ - Second Gunnery Officer BLYSKAWICA:
In second half of 1942 hundred thousands of American and Canadian troops were transported to U.K. with huge passenger liners called "Monsters" like British QUEEN ELISABETH /84.000 tons/, QUEEN MARY /81.000 tons/, French PASTEUR etc. They crossed Atlantic without escort having speed about 30 knots and zigzagging against eventual U-boat attacks. Somewhere 200 miles west of Ireland they were met with strong escorts until they entered safely home.
On October 2nd 1942, BLYSKAWICA ,the British a/a cruiser CURACAO and two "HUNT"-class destroyers took part in escorting the QUEEN MARY. The weather was very good, sunshine almost no wind and calm sea. Suddenly Leading Seaman WITKOWSKI reported submarine! Every one on bridge looked there but instead they saw a two part..... of the cruiser CURACAO floating on surface who was cut in two by QUEEN MARY. Captain LICHODZIEJEWSKI at once alarmed others destroyers to rescue survivors, but BLYSKAWICA continued escort of fast QUEEN MARY to the port. Only one Officer and 90 Seamen were rescued from crew of 420 officers and men. It was a fault of this young officer on watch who came too close to QUEEN MARY. Such big passengers ships /"Monsters"/ transported in 6 months from America/Canada to U.K. nearly 200.000 troops.
KUJAWIAK /C.O.Lieut-Cdr.L.LICHODZIEJEWSKI/ took part in the Operation HARPOON or the convoy to Malta at the Mediterranean. On June 5th 1942, she and 3 British destroyers left Londonderry/Irland/ and joined Force T with special convoy WS 9 of six ships.
Force T /C-n-C Vice-Adm.CURTEIS/ consisted of 3 parts : "W" - the battleship MALAYA,the cruisers KENYA and CHARYBDIS,the aircraft carriers ARGUS, and EAGLE and 7 destroyers. "X" - The A/A cruiser CAIRO, 8 destroyers/including GARLAND/ and 4 minesweepers. "Y" - One minelayer WELSHMAN, 2 corvettes and 6 trawlers.
On June 14th about 0800 hours the convoy was sighted by the Italian plane and from that time convoy was attacked by JU-88 aircrafts several times, in spite of heavy gun fire from ships and own aircraft's from aircraft carriers. Six enemy planes were shot down by ships and seven more by aircrafts fighters. One ship was sunk and the cruiser LIVERPOOL was damaged and was towed back to Gibraltar. At evening another air attack by some 50-60 planes, but this time enemy lost 11 aircrafts and the British lost 7 fighters. Unfortunately part "W" of Force T returned to Gibraltar on 2130 hours and WELSHMAN having speed about 40 knots left alone to Malta.
On June 15th about midnight, remaining ships passed through the Italian mine fields near Pantelaria island but in the morning the Italian cruisers appeared and started shelling from distance 18.000 meters. To repel enemy, the British cruiser CAIRO and 5 destroyers moved in direction of Italian ships to close distance and to attack with torpedoes. In mean time the convoy was attacked by bombers : one tanker was hit and damaged and later sunk by own crew. One plane was shot down.Two British destroyers: BEDOUIN and PARTRIDGE were damaged by the Italian cruisers. CAIRO was hit by torpedo and KUJAWIAK happily avoided one torpedo.Then again the German bombers JU-88 damaged an American ammunition ship, sunk later by own crew. About 1415,BEDOUIN was damaged and sunk by torpedo from the Italian aircraft.
On June 16th when convoy was close to Malta about midnight some ships were sunk on Italian mines laid by aircrafts : supply ship,three destroyers including KUJAWIAK and one minesweeper. KUJAWIAK was trying to help BADSWORTH and in this manoeuvre had struck a mine and sunk on 0108 hours June 16th 1942 in position Lat=35.52,2 N and Long=14.38,5E. Seven POs and six Seamen lost lifes and 7 were wounded. Only two of six supply ships arrived safely Malta.
KUJAWIAK sailed 32.000 sea miles, had 11 patrols, 4 Atlantic convoys, 69 coastal convoys, 50 times she fought with enemy planes and shot down one plane and probably 4 more.
Many times the Polish MGB,s demonstrated their daring in fighting .On June 22nd 1942 about 0105 MGB-S2/C.O. Sub.lieut.E.WCISLICKI/ detected six German E-boats near the French coast opposite Dover.Undetected MGB-S2 placed herself between French coast and the enemy, who was in moonlight.The Polish MGB-S2 made a surprised attack with 20 mm gun and all MG,s and damaged two enemy units. Another German E-boats tried to encircle the Polish one but lost their bearings and started fire against each others.In this situation MGB-S2 withdraw to NE Varne Buoy and joined another four British MGBS.
Another time on August 1942,Poles took part in attack on the German convoy near Calais escorted by 2 patrol ships, 6 minesweepers, 9 E-boats and 4 A/A ships.The main attack was executed by British MTBs and Polish MGB-S2/ C.O. Sub.lieut.E.WCISLICKI/ and S3 /C.O. Sub.lieut.A.JARACZEWSKI/ covered this attack by artillery fire against German escort.In effect two German ships were torpedoed and Poles sank one E-boat and damaged another. Unfortunately MGB-S2 was damaged too, but managed to return to base.
At the beginning of night on August 18th, this armada started the passage of English Channel. Early morning about 0300 hours,armada was a few sea miles from her objects near Dieppe.Unfortunately some landing ships met with the German small coastal convoy and exchange of gun fire started between them.The landing operation was no longer a surprise for the German shore fortifications and troops. First landing crafts approached shore late with sunrise.When landing began the Germans met them with strong artillery and machine-gun fire. Strong German air formations very soon joined the battle.
In about 15 hours SLAZAK repelled nearly 30 air attacks, shooting down 4 enemy planes, fighting shore fortifications and field guns positions /1st Gun.Officer- lieut Z.PLEZIA/, took on board 20 wounded Canadian soldiers, rescued one British pilot and 5 German seamen. One bomb exploded very near SLAZAK and caused damages to her navigation and artillery fire.Three seamen were killed and 13 wounded.About noon Gen.Mjr.J.H.ROBERTS ordered to withdraw. From total 6018 soldiers taking part in landing 1410 were killed in action and 2200 were taken as prisoners of war.On board of ships were 550 killed and wounded, moreover British Air Force lost 190 airmen.
SLAZAK arrived Portsmouth naval base same day on 1915 hours.
BLYSKAWICA /C.O. - Lieut-cdr L.LICHODZIEJEWSKI/ took part in Operation Torch and left Gibraltar on November 1942 / Senior Officer Destroyers/ at first as escort of Force O then of convoy KMF A1 with landing troops against Algiers sector.
In spite of several German air attacks
by JU-88 on November 7th, the convoy landed safely troops on November 8th
about 0100 hours and sent a signal : " LANDING SUCCESSFUL IN BEER GREEN".
But later BLYSKAWICA was sent to another sector of operation 110
miles East near Bougie to help the British destroyer ZETLAND damaged
by aircracfts.Again landing at Bougie on November 11th about 0400 hours was
successful but several air and submarines attacks on shipping were very
On November 12th 2 transport ships were sunk, 12 ships,1 aircraft carrier,1 cruiser and 2 destroyers were damaged.
On November 13th 1 transport ship was
sunk,14 ships, 2 cruisers and 3 destroyers were damaged.
BLYSKAWICA having speed only 5
knots arrived Algiers same day at 2228 hours.On November 13th 2020 hours she
left Algiers for Gibraltar, were she arrived on November 15th 0410 hours for
An Encouter with the E-boats- as told by first Gunnery Officer ORP KRAKOWIAK-Lieut.J.TUMANISZWILIThe action I shall now relate took place in October of 1942.We were escorting a pretty large convoy we'd picked up from Milford Haven and were approaching the Eddystone Lighthouse, which marks the entrance to Plymouth/Devonport. A few minutes before 2000 hours the Commanding Officer - cmdr.J.TCHORZNICKI walked in to his way to the bridge. He said : "We just received a radio message about enemy activity in the sector we are about to enter.Please call me up as soon as you need me." A few minutes later, already on the bridge,I was in communication with the ship's artillery.I heard gun masters reporting their readiness. I also heard the short wave radioman reporting German chatter.E-boats were getting ready to attack.We fired starshells,and at the same time the radioman heard a high -pitched voice ordering a torpedo attack against the destroyer.In the yellow lights of the first starshells, I noticed a white mane on the dark surface, just as if someone with a fat white finger were making a comma sign. The enemy MTB's accelerated to attack. The C.O. ordered :"Full spead ahead !" I shouted :" Open fire!" Shortly after that ,the ship recoiled with the roar of the foregun ,located just below the bridge. Asdick reported hearings "pings" at 40 degr. and distance of half -mile ."Hard port!" - called the C.O.."Torpedo bearing 20 ! ,"Torpedo bearing 40!","Torpedo bearing 60!"- reported lookouts. To my horror,I saw fluorescent wawes moving rapiddlly on a collision course.In the yellow glow of our starshells,I could see three racing E-boats. Subconsciously I was waiting for a thunderous crash and explosion, but nothing happened.Torpedoes passed a few feet away without hitting us.Now the enemy opened fire with light artillery and machine huns.Multicolored tracers brightened up the sky line and engulfed us in a hail of bullets. In the roar of gunfire,the boom-boom of the pom-poms and excitable barking of our Oerlicons,the whistles,buzzes and cracks of bursting shells, reated an ear-splitting cacophony.Sudenly,something crashed close by. A shell exploded.We all fell flat."Are you all right ?" called C.O. getting up.I touched my legs.They were still in place.The lookout was crying, "They got me ...son of bithes...they got me ".I smelled the ominous smell of cordite and gun powder.The "guns" reported several men wounded. The noisy din suddenly stopped. The battle was over.The E-boats disappeared. One had been hit and was seen smoking.Looking astern,I saw a minesweeper sinking. It got one of the torpedoes fired at us.We circled around and picked up survivers.No other ship was hit.We radioed a request for permission to land the wounded.After that we enter Devonport with convoy."Close call,Captain" shaking his hand.I went to my cabin and could not believe my eyes. It was totally destroyed.A shell had exploded on my bunk and ruined everything. I walked towards the mess room feeling some pain in my left foot. When I removed my rubber boots,some dirty,brown blood oozed out. I was wounded and would have to be helped.Fortunately the bone was not damaged and I was permitted to go home.
KRAKOWIAK /C.O. lieut-cdr.J.TCHORZNICKI/ as Senior Officer of British TYNEDALE and 4 British MTBs left Devonport/Plymouth naval base on November 1st against German convoy near Guernsey Island. Enemy convoy consisted of 2 ships a 2000 tons each and one smaller with 4 big escort ships with guns of 100 mm and MGs.At first convoy was shelled with flares and artillery fire directed by Lieut. J. TUMANISZWILI, then attacked by MTBs. In effect one transport ship was torpedoed another was on fire but KRAKOWIAK was damaged too. One enemy shell penetrated into boiler room, hit and stick into boiler shield. But mechanic-stocker Z. WAGNER removed this shell and throw it overboard. Moreover small fire was extinguished and one PO and one seaman were wounded. On Nvomber 2nd KRAKOWIAK return to base.
From the beginning of the Atlantic convoys, Polish ships escorted convoys many times and fought effectively against the German U-BOATS.The fiercest struggles in the Atlantic took place between August 1942 and May 1943 when losses in shipping were about 600.000 tons per one month !
BURZA after refit and re-armament under the command of Lieut-cdr.F.PITULKO joined Escort Group B-3. Her first duty was a convoy Greenock- Argentia and St.Johns /New Foundland/ on November 11th 1942. She arrived Halifax without problems only some minor damages caused by stormy weather.Another difficulties were fuelling at sea from tanker or another big ship. At Argentia the damages were repaired by USN PRAIRIE.But
after leaving Argentia with another convoy she met THE heavy weather again and her bow was damaged, so she returned St.Johns for temporary repairs.
Right after this convoy, BURZA left with another convoy SC 115 on December 22nd 1942 from Greenock to Argentia /New Foundland/ again in stormy weather.Christmas holiday she spent in Argentia.
"On January 16th 1943 PIORUN /C.O. Lieut-cdr.T.GORAZDOWSKI/ and the British destroyer MUSKETEER were sent to Seydisfjord /Iceland/ as part of escort of convoy JW 52 consisted of 16 ships to Murmansk. Immediate escort consisted of 8 destroyers and 3 corvettes and 2 trawlers all under command of the British destroyer ONSLOW. Farther away nearly 50 miles ahead there are the cruisers KENT,GLASGOW and BERMUDA with few destroyers.Somewhere 100 miles North were: the battleship ANSON and one aircraft carrier with destroyers including the Polish destroyer ORKAN /C.O. Cdr.St.HRYNIEWIECKI/.This force was under the command of Admiral Bruce FRASER."
"First few days the convoy met stormy weather and one ship was forced to return to Iceland. On January 22 weather improved and first asdick contact was made with the German U-boat. Some attacks were made with depth charges without results. On January 23rd afternoon the German reconnaissance aircraft appeared and from this time escort expected enemy air attacks.On January 24th before noon snow storm covered armament partly with ice. About noon same day the convoy was attacked by 3 aircraft He-115. Two enemy were shot down by heavy anti aircraft fire from escort and ships. On January 25th afternoon six enemy torpedo-bombers tried to attack convoy but were forced to withdraw by heavy anti aircraft fire. On January 26th before noon Russian fighter-bomber came and provided air cover. The convoy JW 52 arrived at Polarnoye near Murmansk on January 27th 1943. A special British Liaison Officer for Archangelsk naval base left PIORUN. Next day during our stay at Polarnoye one Russian naval officer /commander/ visited the Polish officers."
"After two days at Polarnoye escort took another return convoy RA 52 with 11 transport ships and left Russian naval base on January 29th 1943. Up to February 1st convoy was under Russian air cover . On February 3rd one ship was torpedoed by the German U-boat and sunk, the crew was rescued. Some days after that the British Admiralty sent a warning to escort that German battleship SCHARNHORST with destroyers left base at Norway and is approaching convoy. Fortunately came another snow storm and the Germans did not find out convoy, who changed course farther North. On February 5th 1943 PIORUN and 7 British destroyers left convoy to Seydisfjord /Iceland/ then to Scapa Flow. Before this date ORKAN arrived Scapa Flow, who was in mean time with the battleship ANSON near Bear island. "
To convoy escort belonged too the cruiser SCYLLA, the small aircraft carrier DASHER with 20 planes and 15 destroyers including ORKAN. Ahead of convoy were the cruisers CUMBERLAND, BELFAST and SHEFFIELD.
At first, the troubles were not caused by the Germans,but by stormy weather,ships of convoy were unable to keep their stations and dispersed in all directions. Escort ships had plenty troubles to find them and to send to their stations. Six ships were damaged and returned to UK. Moreover two British vessels : the aircraft carrier DASHER and cruiser SHEFFIELD were damaged too and left convoy.
"One part of this convoy was for Murmansk and another one for Archangelsk. ORKAN escorted ships to Murmansk/Polarnoye and on February 28th her duty was over."
According to the relation of Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ :
"PIORUN left Scapa Flow with another warships /the battleships or cruisers /KING GEORGE, HOWE, BERMUDA/, moving between Orkneys, Iceland and Greenland, against eventual German raiders. But after some time, all ships were forced to withdraw to Seydisfjord because of stormy weather. Later on, PIORUN was directed to patrol various Iceland fjords against eventual German U-boats. On February 2nd 1943, PIORUN entered Eya fjord/Akureiri/ on the northern part of Iceland and anchored there for few hours. But later on, the weather changed and strong winds caused that large ice field closed entrance to the fjord. In this situation PIORUN cant leave this fjord. Unfortunately situation did not change for several days, there was short of fresh drinking water and provision. At last after nearly 3 weeks one British battleship came through ice fields and supplied PIORUN with fresh water, provision and with 3 bags of mail ! PIORUN left this fjord in wake of this battleship out to the sea. PIORUN joined screening ships, cruising near Bear island for 4 days but without any contacts with Germans.When the convoy reached Barents Sea, screening force called Seydisjord for fuel oil and back near Bear island to wait another convoy from Murmansk."
According to the relation of Sub.lieut.A.BROWARSKI :
"ORKAN joined the escort of 2 cruisers , 8 destroyers and 2 trawlers of the convoy RA-53 from Murmansk to UK on March 2nd.Convoy consisted with 10 transport ships and soon met the stormy weather. Right after storm on March 3rd, the convoy was attacked by two German formations each nine JU-87 - one ship was sunk and two planes shot down.Part of the crew was rescued by trawler.The German air bases were in 300 miles distance.When the convoy passed between Spitsbergen and Bear island about 1100 hours, the German Junkers attacked again.One ship was bombed and sunk and two planes were shot down."
"After fifth day at sea convoy met very heavy storm : heeling were up to 60 degrees and the height of waves up to 23 meters ! There was impossible to change the watches and cooking by ships galleys, position La= 76 N and Long=10 E . At night the storm abated a little and in this situation two ships were torpedoed and sunk with total loss of crews."
"After sixth day at sea on March 9th ORKAN and the other British destroyer were permitted to leave convoy and proceed to Iceland / Eyafiordhur /,where opposite small town Akureyri,they anchored. Convoy RA-53 was directed to Scotland."
According to the relation of Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ :
"Screening force : the battleships DUKE OF YORK, ANSON and 3 destroyers including PIORUN on March 8th again put at sea under Admiral FRASER . The danger was real for the Admiralty got information that the German battleship SCHARNHORST left Baltic and joined the battleship TIRPITZ in Altafjord /Norway/. This screening force was on alert by three days and was engaged in patrol of Denmark Strait /Iceland/ until convoy RA-53 passed safely then called Hvalfjord /Iceland/."
" BURZA was the fightingest ship
we have ever seen "
BURZA arrived St.Johns/Nova Scotia/ on February 25th and GARLAND on March 1st 1943.
On March 10th convoy was attacked by "Wolf Pack"- /"Groupe Neuland"/. HARVESTER seeing U-444 on surface tried to ram her, but damaged her propeller and was unable to keep proper speed. The French corvet ACONIT sunk already damaged U-boat including her crew.Unfortunately damaged HARVESTER was torpedoed and sunk one hour later by another U-432. This time again C.O. of ACONIT /Lieut Levasseur/ sunk this U-boat. Polish destroyers BURZA and GARLAND made several depth charge attacks but without visual results .
Very special performance was made by ships surgeon of BURZA - lieut.A.OZEGOWSKI- in this action.He was put into raft and sailed from BURZA to ACONIT in the choppy sea and back to help some wounded and sick men.
The losses in this convoy : four ships torpedoed and sunk , moreover destroyer HARVESTER torpedoed and sunk including Cdr.TAIT. German losses : four U-boats sunk and one probably.
The Polish submarine DZIK /C.O. Lieut-cdr.B.ROMANOWSKI/ spotted one big tanker near Spartivento /Mediteranean Sea/ on May 24th and fired four torpedoes from distance 800 metres.Two torpedoes hit tanker and a big fire broke out. Immediately after that DZIK was attacked by Italian escort with about 58 depth charges.According British aircraft the tanker was badly damaged and on fire. But later, the fire was extinguished and tanker was towed to nearby Messina.
DZIK left Malta on June 8th and after four days near Messine at evening spotted transport/passenger ship of 4000 tons. Salvo from distance 3000 m was well aimed, two torpedoes hit and ship immediately sank. Her escort at first started to rescue the crew and later attacked DZIK with 12 depth charges. No damages were recorded and ship returned base /Malta/ on June 22nd 1943.
On June 4th 1943 BURZA/C.O.Lieut.cdr.F.PITULKO/ left Greenock/Scotland/ as escort one convoy to Freetown/Siera Leone- West Africa/.The convoy arrived there without troubles on June 23rd. Then BURZA took part in some convoys to Lagos /Nigeria/ and Matadi /Congo/. On July 28th BURZA left Freetown with the convoy to UK. She arrived Greenock on August 19th .
PIORUN and 7 British destroyers took part in escorting the battleships NELSON, RODNEY and the aircraft carrier INDOMITABLE from Scapa Flow to Gibraltar, on June 17th 1943.The fleet arrived Gibraltar on June 23rd. Later on PIORUN joined escort group for the battleship WARSPITE and the aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE on June 28th and on June 30th they arrived Algiers. Above mentioned British ships left to Alexandria and PIORUN left to ex-French naval base at Mers-el-Kebir /N.Africa/ where she joined the Fourth Destroyers Flotilla and escorted the battleships KING GEORGE and HOWE to Gibraltar.
The Operation "HUSKY" - invasion of Sicily, was the first operation from the sea on such a big scale.First thing was landing of Allied troops on three small islands between Tunesia and Malta : Pantellaria, Lampedusa and Linosa, in order to destroy artillery positions and to have there air fields and supply depots.The Allied land forces were about 160.000 - British, Canadians and Americans ready in ports of Mediterranean Sea. They had in disposition :1645 British and 945 American transport ships C-in C. of this operation was the US Gen.D.EISENHOWER, the British Gen.H.ALEXANDER was in charge of all land troops, the British troops were under command of the British Gen.B.L.MONTGOMERY and the American troops were under command of the US Gen.G.S.PATTON.
Admiral B.RAMSAY was C-in-C of British ships screening transports of troops, Gen. B.L. MONTGOMERY on landing east coast and American ships screening transports of troops Gen G.S.PATTON, on southern coast were under command of US Vice-Admiral H.K.HEWITT.
For this operation were : 6 battleships, 2 aircraft carriers, 14 cruisers, 3 monitors, 80 destroyers /including 3 Polish and 6 Greek/, 36 escorts, 34 minesweepers, 26 submarines / including 2 Polish and 1 Dutch/, 5 gunboats /including 2 Dutch/, 1 minelayer, 7 special ships for staffs, 58 auxiliary ships, 319 big and 715 small landing crafts.Altogether were used 2590 ships / 282 man's of war and 2308 landing and transport ships/.C-in-C of this armada was Admiral A.CUNNIGHAM.
Air support belongs to the 113 British and 146 American wings, altogether about 4000 aircrafts various types and destinations. C-in-C of this air armada belongs to the British Air Marshal A.TEDDER.
The Polish ships took part in this operation as follows: PIORUN/Cdr.St.DZIENISIEWICZ/,SLAZAK /Cdr.R.TYMINSKI/, KRAKOWIAK /C.O. Lieut-cdr.W.MARACEWICZ./, SOKOL /Lieut-cdr.J.KOZIOLKOWSKI/ and DZIK /Lieut.cdr.B.ROMANOWSKI/
At first, the Polish submarines SOKOL and DZIK started patrols near the Italy naval bases Messine and Taranto in the first days of June 1943. Patrols were very difficult because of Italian and German aircrafts.
On July 4th 1943 the Polish Prime Minister and C-in-C Polish Forces abroad gen.W.SIKORSKI lost his life while his plane crashed right after start into the sea at Gibraltar.
On July 8th 1943 ORKAN/C.O. Cdr.St.HRYNIEWIECKI/ took on board the coffin with body of Gen.Wl.SIKORSKI and left Gibraltar. ORKAN arrived Plymouth at evening July 10th, the coffin was transported ashore and burried at Newark on July 16th 1943 in cemetery of the Polish airmen.
According to the relation of Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ- Torpedo Officer PIORUN :
"PIORUN /C.O. Cdr.St.DZIENISIEWICZ/was on anchor in MERS-el-KEBIR the French naval base near Algiers on July 4th when about 1200 hours came signal from the admiral ship that all ships at port should lower their flags half-mast in order to honour the death of the Commander in Chief of Polish Forces- General W.SIKORSKI."
"On July 6th 1943 PIORUN arrived to Algiers and there joined to task Force H - with C-in-C Admiral CUNNINGHAM. At Algiers Admiral called all commanding officers of this task force for briefing . When Cdr.DZIENISIEWICZ came back,let us known that PIORUN is assigned as escort of the battleships during invasion of Sicily."
"For PIORUN this operation started at night July 10th 1943, state of sea was 4-5 what proved to be not so good for infantry in landing crafts. The battleships and cruisers fired salvo after salvos to destroy the Italian shoare batteries and other fortifications. Meanwhile heavy bombers from North Africa bombarded the enemy. Impatient Admiral CUNNINGHAM left at sea his flagship to one British destroyer who passed us with high speed with admirals flag towards Sicily coast. We know the actual situation during this invasion from frequent radio reports and also from the German radio in english language. I remember for example a warning : "Invasion forces will be drown in their own blood ". In spite of this Allied forces proceed according plan but during the first days and nights fighting was very heavy. The American and the British troops slowly going ahead . PIORUN moved alongside of eastern coast of Sicily through ports Syracuse, Augusta and Catania to the North."
"On July 15th PIORUN was sent to the West as additional escort of the British aircraft carrier INDOMITABLE who proceed to Malta. During night July 16th 1943 she was torpedoed in surprised air attack. This happened because enemy plane was misleaded with her plane who after patrol against enemy submarines was about to land on INDOMITABLE. In effect aircraft carrier got list and in this state returned Malta. Italian plane was shot down by gun fire of PIORUN and another British destroyer nearby."
"After few days at Malta PIORUN left with some light cruisers and destroyers in direction of west coast of Kalabria. During night of July 21st 1943 this force arrived near the city Crotone. There factories of ammunition and armament were bombarded by ships guns nearly half an hour. Fires broke out.It was a complete surprise attack, no Italian reaction at all. Because the Italian naval base Taranto was nearby so our units withdraw with maximum speed back to Malta. Again PIORUN joined Force H."
SLAZAK /C.O. Cdr.R.TYMINSKI/ and KRAKOWIAK /C.O. Cdr.W.MARACEWICZ/ took part as artillery support of landing troops at night and next day on the eastern coast of Sicily.The enemy air attacks were not successful against ships and landing crafts, but more troubles were from rough sea and breakers.
At evening July 10th the British units took Syracuse and started towards Augusta and Catania. Same problems had the American troops in southern coast of Sicily, but later they moved North toward Palermo. Syracuse and Catania were the main supply ports for the British and there were the Polish destroyers SLAZAK and KRAKOWIAK as anti aircrafts defence.
Allied troops fought not only with the Italians but also with the German forces from which they encountered a stiff resistance. Despite for all that, allied troops on August 17th 1943 entered Messine and after 38 days of fighting Sicily was conquered. Nearly 150.000 Italians and Germans were taken as prisoners of war. Some 12.000 of enemy soldiers and about 19.000 of Allied soldiers were killed or wounded. Eight Italian submarines were sunk and three U-boats. Allied losses at sea : sunk - 9 freighters, 5 landing crafts, 1 destroyer,1 minesweeper, damaged - 1 aircraft carrier, 2 cruisers, 1 monitor, 2 destroyers and 3 freighters.
According to the relation of Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ :
"During consecutive nights Force H the battleships NELSON,RODNEY,VALIANT,the cruiser ORION and some destroyers including PIORUN moved into the Strait of Messine and bombarded Italian shore batteries and other fortifications with their main guns. One shell of above mentioned battleships had about one ton of weight ! Next time again were the battleships WARSPITE and VALIANT with some destroyers including PIORUN . Later on PIORUN took part of the Force K : the cruisers MAURITIUS and ORION and destroyers of 24th Destroyers Flotilla in order to support with artillery fire the landing of the British troops at Reggio di Calabria, but it was not necessary."
"On September 3rd PIORUN took part in invasion of Italy in Operation BAYTOWN near Reggio and Pelaro. The operation started with bombardment by heavy bombers from Africa and shelling by hundreds of field artillery from Sicily, the battlerships and cruisers from sea for some hours. Then big armada of landing crafts from Sicily started towards main land. But it was no opposition because Italian and German withdraw in mean time to better positions."
Few days after that Italy announced armistice - but not Germans.
Because of mountainous character of a region,Allied progress was slow and difficult. To outmanoeuver German troops Allied landed at Salerno beachheads on September 9th 1943 in Operation AVALANCHE .The troops consisted of 5th American Army and some British and Canadian divisions. Landing was screened by Southern Attack Force under command of US Rear-Adm.HALL. Northern Attack Force consisted of the British ships.But German counter attacked on land with support of artillery and aircrafts. Situation of landing troops was critical and in this time the British Fleet saved the situation.
The British special force consisted of 6 battleships /NELSON, RODNEY, KING GEORGE, HOVE, WALIANT and WARSPITE/, 2 Fleet aircraft carriers / ILLUSTRIOUS, FORMIDABLE/, 5 escort aircraft's carriers/HUNTER,BATTLER,STALKER,ATTACKER,UNICORN/ monitor/ROBERTS/, 10 British cruisers, 3 US cruisers, and about 60 destroyers including PIORUN, SLAZAK and KRAKOWIAK !
From the relation of Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ - Torpedo Officer PIORUN:
"It was maybe the biggest artillery duel between shore batteries and ships at sea opposite Salerno beachheads. PIORUN was forced several time to withdraw farther away because of very near misses. Moreover German attacked with strong formations of dive bombers and also with rocket-bombs guided by radio. Such a rocket-bomb damaged battleship WARSPITE not far from PIORUN and SLAZAK, damaged US cruiser SAVANNAH, HMS UGANDA, British destroyers LOYAL, NUBIAN. Of course the Polish destroyers took part in shelling enemy position ashore, fighting with enemy aircrafts and submarines. On September 9th PIORUN made 6 depth charge attacks and this time probably one enemy submarine was sunk."
On September 16th 1943 PIORUN and 3 British destroyers came to Augusta /Sicily/ and on September 23rd they escorted monitor ROBERTS to Malta naval base.
Meanwhile the Italian fleet surrounded and proceed to Malta between September 10-21th
On September 26th after long and bloody fighting German withdraw from Salerno and some ships were directed into another operations. Allied forces win the battle with loss of about 7.000 British and 5.000 Americans.
From the relation of Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ - Torpedo Officer PIORUN:
"PIORUN and the British destroyer QUAIL were sent on September 27th 1943 to Brindisi as an escort for the Italian light cruiser SCIPIONE AFRICANO were was King of Italy EMMANUEL, marshal BADOGLIO with Italian government going Malta to sign agreement of peace.Speed of this unit was about 32 knots ! On September 29th 1943 this unusual unit arrived La Valetta."
DZIK/C.O.Lieut-cdr.B.ROMANOWSKI/ and 3 British submarines from Tenth Submarine Flotilla /Malta/ were sent to Genoa bay against enemy shipping,on September 15th 1943. DZIK took position near port Bastia /Corsica/ and about noon on September 21st torpedoed two ships but immediately after that was attacked by 3 Mbs. After 3 hours later when attacks were over it was found that radio station and log were damaged. Next day DZIK torpedoed a barge with torpedo with "zero depth" setting - successfully. Then again two barges ! Having no more torpedoes DZIK return to Bizerta and later left to Malta naval base on September 28th. Altogether DZIK sunk 2 ships = 10.000 tons, 3 big landing crafts=2.000 tons, 4 barges= 1000 tons and 1 tugboat.
ORKAN /C.O. Cdr.St.HRYNIEWIECKI/ after period of "working up" at Scapa Flow on September 21st 1943, was directed to Support Group EG 107 operated in North Atlantic against "Wolf Packs" of U-BOATS.To this group belong the British destroyers MUSKETEER, ORIBI and ORWELL. On September 29th, ships left Londonderry /Ireland/ at midnight to met convoy ONS 19 . After escorting this convoy to Hvalfjord /Iceland/, Support Group was directed to another convoy going West, because a strong U-boats "Wolf Pack" / Rossbach/ was reported.
Convoy was met on October 3rd 1943 and going North into this dangerous area. When ORKAN was in position Lat=59.20 N and Long=041.13 W she was again directed to met another convoy SC 143 from Canada. Convoy was met on October 6th in position Lat=45.40 N and Long= 033.10 W. At evening ORKAN received a warning that near this convoy is about 30 U-boats.About 2245 hours some hundred meters astern exploded one torpedo.
On October 7th about 0045 hours MUSKETEER sighted U-boat and later ORKAN too.They fired flares and started depth charge attacks. According German sources it was U-758 who escaped. Same day at evening convoy ships reported some U-boat on surface at 12 miles distance. Investigation by Support Group brought no results.
On October 8th about 0601 ORKAN found with radar U-boat in bearing 180 and immediately reported this to MUSKETEER. In this time one explosion occurred astern.Then when ORKAN started to turn about 0603 hours, a torpedo hit the ship port side near gun nr.4. Ammunition in powder magazine exploded, bottom fuel tanks were ripped open and fuel set on fire. Only one officer left alive - Lieut-cdr.St.POHORECKI and very few crew members. Several crew members died in cold water of hipertermia, because MUSKETEER arrived with assistance in about one hour time late, fearing eventual another torpedo attack. Although she did not lower life boats into the sea but 2 officers and 5 seamen of MUSKETEER jumped into water and helped those Polish men who has not enough strength.This was example of great courage and devotion in the name of solidarity the British and Polish seamen .
ORKAN was sunk October 8th 1943 at 0603 hours in few minutes, in position La=56.08 N and Long=027.05 W with loss of lives : Cdr. St.HRYNIEWIECKI, Lieut-cdr.M.ROZANSKI, Lieut. W.PRYFKE, Sub.lieut.L.DAAB, Sub.lieut.A.PILARZ, Sub.lieut.E.SOPOCKO, Lieut-cdr.eng. St.PIERZCHLEWSKI, War.Off.eng.J.GRZONKA, Sub.lieut.J.FAJKOWSKI, Sub.lieut.surgeon E.KIELBINSKI, War.Off.deck M.GALLAS, Sub.lieut.M.DRABINSKI, midshipmen J.KWASNIEWSKI, E.WOZNICKI.Moreover 166 PO,s and Seamen.
MUSKETEER rescued :Lieut-cdr. St.POCHORECKI, 39 PO,S and Seamen and 3 British Seamen - all from ORKAN, who was sunk by U-379 with a new device : electric torpedo with hydro-accustic guiding system.
Between October 1st and 10th PIORUN and another British destroyers took part in patrols at Adriatic Sea near Yugoslavian coast from their new bases : Brindisi and Bari.
Force EG.8 consisted of 6 destroyers including BURZA and GARLAND arrived to port Angra/ Terceira-Azores/ on October 8th 1943 to protect new British air fields on the islands Fayal and Terceira, received temporary from Portugal. It was Operation ALACRITY .Their duties were patrolling Atlantic near Azores against German U-boats. From now the British long distance planes had landing at Azores from New Foundland and back. This was disastrous in effect to U-boats operating there. In two first months Germans lost 25 U-boats in so called Atlantic Gap.On November 5th 1943 BURZA and GARLAND returned to Gourock/Scotland/.
The islands of Aegean Sea were still occupied by German land and air forces, therefore were dangerous to Allied shipping in this area.
DZIK /C.O. Lieut.A.KLOPOTOWSKI/ left Malta on October 11th 1943 on patrol of Aegean Sea near islands Levitha and Kalimos then between islands Amargos and Anafi to block port at Kos island. Later on DZIK returned to new submarine base at Beirut / First Submarine Flotilla/ on October 26th.
KRAKOWIAK /C.O.Lieut-cdr.W.MARACERWICZ/ left Alexandria with two British destroyers on October 28th, then joined the cruiser AURORA with object to patrol western shores of Turkey. But in few hours later this unit was attacked by 12 German JU-88 , bombs exploded very near AURORA and KRAKOWIAK but caused no damages.
SOKOL/C.O. Lieut-cdr.J.KOZIOLKOWSKI/ left Beyrut in first days of November and joined other submarines on patrol of Aegean Sea. On November 11th SOKOL spotted the German two mast schooner,she surfaced on started gun fire, when crew abandoned this ship, C.O .SOKOL sent there a Boarding Party with Sub.lieut.R.FRITZ ,Sub.lieut.O.GLINSKI and A.B.Seamen J.DASZKIEWICZ, J.FUSIARSKI, in order to sunk this ship with high explosives. Later, when Boarding Party returned SOKOL submerged. Next day they stopped and sunk with artillery fire one cutter, the crew : 2 Greek and 2 German were taken on board. On the evening November 18th NE the coast of Crete, SOKOL sunk with gun fire and torpedo one German schooner with the German troops. Part of crew and soldiers were evacuated ashore. In the next bay SOKOL sunk another schooner in spite of R-boot who attacked SOKOL .
KRAKOWIAK left Alexandria with destroyer PETARD on November 7th 1943 having on boards British troops for the islands Leros and Samos. In mean time joined the cruiser PENELOPE and destroyer ROCKWOOD. This unit anchored in small bay Mandalaya /western coast of Turkey/ were troops were transferred to British MTB,s . At evening the destroyers left for patrol south of islands Amorgos and Levitha. On November 10th 1943 KRAKOWIAK and PETARD after midnight took part in bombardment of port Levitha occupied by the German.Then near port Kalimnos KRAKOWIAK damaged by gun fire one ship who was sunk later by ROCKWOOD. But this time German counter-attacked with another "Wunder Waffe": glider bombs. ROCKWOOD was hit and damaged and was towed by PETARD. Altogether during that night on November 11th the unit was attacked 14 times ! Next day about noon KRAKOWIAK and PETARD came back to Alexandria.
PIORUN /C.O. Cdr. St.DZIENISIEWICZ /the British destroyers TYRIAN, GREENVILLE and the US-destroyer TUMULT left Augusta /Sicily/ on November 8th 1943 in order to support the American 5th Army bombardment enemy positions near Gate,North of Neapol. Meanwhile the destroyers patrolled sea coast from islands Ischia and Capri. At night PIORUN spotted two Italian MTBs. PIORUN started with flare lights and gun fire, but enemy left with very great speed towards shore, then our unit returned to Neapol.
On the November 26th SLAZAK /C.O. Cdr.R.TYMINSKI/ as Senior Officer of escort convoy from Gibraltar to Levant. Another ships were 3 British destroyers,1 Greek destroyer, 4 US-destroyers and the British a/a cruiser COLOMBO. In this convoy were 12 transport ships with troops and supplies. Convoy was attacked by the German aircrafts very soon at afternoon by 6 He-177 and Do-217 with glider bombs then with torpedoes. Altogether this day convoy was attacked 10 times ! Some splinters of exploding bombs damaged SLAZAK radar and a/a gun 40 mm .Only one ship was sunk but 550 soldiers were rescued 550 soldiers. Next day again 15 aircrafts Ju-88 attacked convoy with bombs. From splinters 4 Polish seamen were injured and later on November 30th were transferred to KRAKOWIAK who joined them and left for Tobruk. On December 1st 1943 convoy arrived Alexandria.
In February 1944 GARLAND /C.O. Cdr.B.BISKUPSKI / with the British destroyer MALCOLM took part part in convoy to Takoradi / Ghana / then to Georgetown /Ascension Island /. After that came back to Freetown on February 17th 1944.
On April 8th GARLAND arrived at Neapol and took part in Operation SHINGLE with another Allied ships in Anzio and Nettuno to support landing of American 5th Army. Allied ships were under command of the American Rear-Adm. J.P.LUCAS and consisted of 4 cruisers, 24 destroyers, 2 gunboats, 2 anti aircraft's ships, 2 submarines and 43 minesweepers. For transport of 50.000 soldiers with equipment's were used 8 big transport ships, 244 landing crafts and 48 others. They met later with stiff resistance of the German and fighting lasted up to mid of May. During this time Germans used at sea special electric torpedoes with divers /Negro/. The German aircrafts sunk the British cruiser SPARTAN and destroyers JANUS, INGLEFIELD, then U-boat sunk the cruiser PENELOPE.
After refit at Gibraltar BURZA/ C.O. Lieut-cdr.- F.PITULKO/ left this base on February 6th 1944 in order to join a convoy MKS 38 and SL 147 from Azores to U.K. BURZA joined escort group B 3 under the command of Cdr F.J.WALKER. At night from 8 to 9th convoy was attacked by "Wolf Pack", but this time the German lost 6 U-boats
On February 24th BURZA left Moville with convoy KMS 43 to Gibraltar and OS 69 to West Africa . BURZA arrived Gibraltar on March 7th 1944 and two days later came SLAZAK and KRAKOWIAK.
On March 14th evening convoy SNF 17 left Neapol to Oran with escort : SLAZAK /C.O. Cdr.R.TYMINSKI/ as Senior Officer and KRAKOWIAK/C.O. Lieut-cdr.W.MARACEWICZ/,destroyers CATTERICK, MENDIP, CRETE and cruiser DELHI. Near Bougie on March 17th convoy was attacked by U-boats,according German sources U-371 sunk one troop-ship DEMPO /Displacement 17.000 tons/ and another freighter. SLAZAK confirmed that two ships of this convoy were torpedoed. Then convoy was again attacked but this time by the German aircraft Ju-88 without success. On March 18th convoy arrived Mers-el-Kebir /ex-French naval base at Oran/.
PIORUN in Operation TUNGSTEN - According information's from agents the TIRPITZ German super-battleship/sister ship of BISMARCK/ damaged by British midget submarine X-6 on November 20th 1943 was already repaired. Therefore British decided to attack her again but this time with aircrafts. To do this job were established two task forces :
The 1st - consisted of 6 aircraft carriers with escort of 10 destroyers.
The 2nd- consisted of the battleships ANSON and DUKE of YORK, one cruiser and four destroyers including PIORUN /C.O. Lieut-cdr.T.GORAZDOWSKI/. In mean time at sea there were two convoys to and from Murmansk.
Above mentioned task forces left Scapa Flow about noon on March 30th. On April 1st 1944 PIORUN and JAVELIN got order to escort two tankers to position Lat.= 74.12 N and Long= 006.25 E .They arrived there on April 3rd.
Relation according to the Lieut-Z.WEGLARZ - Torpedo Officer and P.O. K.GORLACH from PIORUN
"The weather was excellent, sunshine, no wind and calm sea. Our radio receivers were on, for news passed constantly from the aircraft carriers near the enemy occupied shores of Norway. At 0415 hours 42 Barracuda torpedo bombers made a surprise attack on the German battleship TIRPITZ anchored in Kaa Fjord /part of Alten Fjord/. Most of the German planes were on patrols looking for Murmansk convoys. The German a/a shot down only 4 British bombers but the TIRPITZ was hit 23 times with 500 kgs bombs. Bombs made considerable damages in the battleship super structure, killing 122 and wounding 316 crew members. In effect the TIRPITZ was unable to move for another 3 months. On April 7th PIORUN and JAVELIN returned to Scapa Flow."
"One week later PIORUN took part again in the operation TUNGSTEN on April 13th, but because of bad weather and visibility when Task Forces where in position Lat=61.08,5 N and Long=001.01 W - operation was cancelled."
Once again the British tried to attack TIRPITZ on April 21st 1944 but same situation occurred and operation was called off . PIORUN took part as escort of aircraft carriers. On April 26th attack was made early morning when planes started 0445 hours and returned 0700 hours. Four enemy ships were sunk or damaged and one auxiliary vessel. Lost 1 torpedo-bomber Barracuda and 4 fighter planes.
Operation CROQUET started on May 3rd when following ships left Scapa Flow in order to attack the German convoys alongside Norway : The Fleet aircraft carrier FURIOUS and the Escort aircraft carrier SEARCHER with the cruiser BERWICK and two group of destroyers. First group was WIZARD /Senior Officer/ and WAKEFUL.Second group was BLYSKAWICA/C.O. Cdr.K.NAMIESNIOWSKI-Senior Officer/, PIORUN /C.O.-Cdr.T.GORAZDOWSKI/, Canadian ALGONQUIN.
On May 6th 1944 0700 hours in position Lat=64.00 N and Long=005.10 E the British 18 Barracuda/9 bombers and 9 torpedo/, 20 Martlet,Hellcat and Seafire fighters attacked the German convoy and sunk 2 big ships, damaged one tanker and two other freighters. Moreover they shot down two German sea- planes and lost two Barracuda.This force returned to Scapa Flow on May 7th.
Operation POTLUCK started on May 12th from Scapa Flow with the aircraft carriers EMPEROR and STRIKER and escort consisted with the cruisers ROYALIST, SHEFFIELD and two group of destroyers : First group was ONSLOW /Senior Officer/, URSA and WAKEFUL. Second group was BLYSKAWICA/Senior Officer/, PIORUN and OBEDIENT. On May 14th in position Lat=65.19 N and Long=008.46 E started first group of aircraft's and came back after about two hours. Then next day on May 15th in position Lat=63.18 N and Long=004.50 E started second group of aircraft's. Altogether they sunk one freighter and damaged three small ships and some minesweepers. They shot down too 4 German He-115 and damaged one FW-200. One own aircraft did not returned back.This force returned to Scapa Flow on May 16th 1944.
BURZA after her long duty at sea was sent to West Hartlepool docks /Newcastle/for general refit, most crew was disembarked and ship was put into reserve on May 9th 1944.
BURZA sailed 98750 sea miles, took part in 45 operations/patrols, escorted 14 ocean convoys and 25 offshore convoys, 17 times attacked U-boats sunk one and damaged 4 U-boats, 19 times was attacked by enemy aircrafts and shot down 2 planes. 3 times bombarded enemy shore positions and rescued about 500 shipwrecked persons, 3 times she was severely damaged.
After the war BURZA was towed in 1951 from U.K. to Poland and later on May 31st 1960 she was first Polish Naval Museum at Gdynia.
Operation OVERLORD was a cryptonym for invasion of France and Operation NEPTUN was the name for supporting this by Allied Navies. C-in-C of whole operations was US General D.EISENHOVER, C-in-C of the land forces was the British General Sir Bernard MONTGOMERY, C-in-C of sea operation was the British Admiral Sir Bertrand RAMSAY and C-in-C of Air Force was the British Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh Mallory. Operation OVERLORD and NEPTUNE were the biggest ever made by combined forces.
General D.D.EISENHOVER on May 8th 1944 decided that day of invasion of the France - D-DAY- will be Monday June 5th 1944. But because of bad weather he changed D-DAY for Tuesday June 6th.
Before the invasion, in Great Britain were concentrated 23 division of infantry, 10 armoured divisions and 4 divisions of paratroops.There were 18 American, 14 British, 3 Canadian, 1 French and 1 Polish divisions. The Air armada consisted of 4 air armies altogether 10.860 fighting aircrafts, 2300 transport aircrafts and 2600 transport gliders. The Naval armada consisted of 1213 various fighting ships and about 4100 various landing crafts. Altogether on the British soil were ready nearly 2,880.000 troops.
During the Operation NEPTUNE following Polish ships took part : SLAZAK, KRAKOWIAK and DRAGON in attacking the enemy shore batteries,fighting with MTB.s ,aircrafts and supporting landing crafts by gun fire. BLYSKAWICA and PIORUN joined the 10th Destroyer Flotilla ready to protect from the West Allied landing, against the German ships.
On June 5th about midnight a heavy air raid by Allied bombers took place against the enemy fortifications, rail and road junctions, bridges and railway stations from Cherbourg to Le Havre in Normandy.Then on June 6th about 0130 hours 3 parachute divisions /American and British/altogether 24.500 soldiers with guns and equipment landed beyond German fortifications causing big confusion in the German defense lines.They used for this action 2395 planes /transport and combat/ and 867 gliders.Once again at dawn another heavy air raid against German shore fortifications was made by 1136 British and 1083 American heavy bombers escorted by 2.000 fighters - nearly 7.600 tons of bombs were dropped.
In mean time big armada of ships closing in with the minesweepers in front line, then the battleships,cruisers and destroyers took their position, according sectors provided for them /Western sectors for the Americans : Utah, Omaha and Eastern sectors for the British : Gold, Juno, Sword /. The American sectors were supported by US battleships NEVADA, ARKANSAS and TEXAS moreover the crusers US AUGUSTA, TUSCALOSA, VINCENNES and QUINCY with others smaller ships. The British sectors were supported by British battleships NELSON, RODNEY,WARSPITE, RAMILIES, monitor ROBERTS, cruisers MAURITIUS, SCYLLA, ORION, GLASGOW, BELFAST, ENTERPRISE, FROBISHER,DANAE and Polish DRAGON. Moreover in this operation took part the French cruisers MONTCALM and GEORGES LEYGUES, the Dutch cruiser JAVA.
At 0530 hours on June 6th 1944, the battleships and cruisers opened fire against the enemy shore batteries. DRAGON /C.O. Cdr. St.DZIENIESIEWICZ/ belongs to Force D : the battleships WARSPITE, RAMILIES monitor ROBERTS and the cruisers MAURITIUS, ARETHUSA, FROBISHER, DANAE and DRAGON - Their task was to destroy the German batteries in sector S /Sword/.Very soon the German torpedo-boats / T-21, MOVE, FALKE and JAGUAR/ made a torpedo attack against this ships firing a salvo of 24 torpedoes .Only the Norwegian destroyer SEVER was hit and sunk. At first DRAGON /1st Gun.Off.Lieut.cdr.J.LUKASZEWSKI,2nd Gun.Off.-lieut.T.LESZISZ/ opened fire against shore battery 105 mm Calleville sur Orne, then to battery 150 mm Trouville, then to fortifications Caen and at last against the German tanks concentration near Varaville. DRAGON,destroyed a group of 25 tanks, thanks to shore observers and their signals.
About 0600 hours the Polish destroyer SLAZAK/C.O. Cdr.R.TYMINSKI/in sector S/Sword/ and the Polish destroyer KRAKOWIAK/C.O. Cdr.W.MARACEWICZ/in sector G/Gold/ who were with landing crafts, opened fire against first lines of German shore defence together with the British destroyers. Ahead of the landing crafts were motor barges with rockets 127 mm shelling beaches from short distances.
About 0730 hours landing crafts in sector S came to beaches and fierce fighting has began.Thanks to artillery support of SLAZAK in this sector the German were forced to withdraw and C.O. of the Canadian Marines ashore sent a signal to SLAZAK:
Results of D-Day were favourable : The American and the British troops established footholds an enemy shores about 5-10 km deep and 10-30 km wide. Moreover in spite of rough sea nearly 133.000 troops landed, in sectors Sword,Juno,Gold.They received 6.000 various transport ships with 900 tanks and armoured cars, 240 field guns, 80 a/a guns, 280 a/tank guns and about 4300 tons of ammunition and supplies. Similar amount of armament and ammunition received the American sectors. Losses : British and Canadians - 4.300 soldiers and Americans about 6.000 .
Next two days SLAZAK and
KRAKOWIAK supported with their guns Allied troops ashore according air
or land observers who were correcting shelling by radio
After short refit at Portsmouth the
Polish cruiser DRAGON /C.O. Cdr.St.DZIENISIEWICZ/ joined force
CS 10 /BELFAST/ on July 7th 1944. According instruction from
BELFAST she was anchored in position La=49.22,2 N and Long=
000.21,9 W at 2345 hours.
On July 8th at 0427 hours
DRAGON was torpedoed by so called "human torpedo"/Neger or
Ein-Man-Torpedo/. In effect one officer /Sub.lieut.K.MARKS/ and 37 PO.s
and Seamen were killed and 17 wounded.
About 0520 hours arrived corvette
"KIII" and later tugboat AL-PEQUIANCE and towed
DRAGON to sector JUNO where she joined artificial port Mulberry. On
July 15th remaining crew left the ship and on July 16th 1944 DRAGON
name was taken off the books of the Polish Navy.
The Landing operations in Normandy
was protected at sea against eventual German surprise attack from West by
10th Destroyer Flotilla /S.O.-Captain B.JONES/. The Flotilla was composed
of : 19th Division- TARTAR /D/, ASHANTI, HAIDA, HURON and 20th
DivisionBLYSKAWICA /D/, ESKIMO, PIORUN, JAVELIN.
Air reconnaissance before dusk on 8th
June had shown four enemy ships proceeding to the NE from Brest.These were
2 large destroyers of Narvik Class / 5x150 mm guns and 8 torpedoes/, 1
ex-Dutch destroyer / 4x120 mm guns and 8 torpedoes/, 1 Elbing destroyer
T24/ 4x102 mm guns and 6 torpedoes/. According orders of C-in-C Plymouth
the 10th Destroyer Flotilla to sweep along a line parallel to and 20 miles
from the French coast between Isle de Bas and Isle Vierge.Captain
B.JONES adapted following tactic : Line Ahead for comfort and Line of
Bearing for Action - in addition a manoeuvre" White Pendant" to avoid
enemy torpedoes and crash into enemy for short distance
According to the relation of Lieut.M.WASILEWSKI -
Torpedo Officer - BLYSKAWICA
"At first the Tenth Destroyers
Flotilla proceed South with 28 knots, visibility about 2.5 miles. Between
Ile de Batz and Ile de Vierge they slow down to 18 knots.The flotilla
being disposed with divisions in Line Ahead with 20th Division two miles
to the northward of the 19th Division and a little ahead. Distance between
the ships in division were 4 cables. Moreover each division executed 30
degrees zigzag from main course, against eventual U-boat attacks. In case
of contact with enemy, divisions were told previously to stop zigzaging
and to take a Line of Bearing. Eventual German torpedo attack were not
expected at the distance more than 10.000 yards."
On July 8th at 0427 hours DRAGON was torpedoed by so called "human torpedo"/Neger or Ein-Man-Torpedo/. In effect one officer /Sub.lieut.K.MARKS/ and 37 PO.s and Seamen were killed and 17 wounded.
About 0520 hours arrived corvette "KIII" and later tugboat AL-PEQUIANCE and towed DRAGON to sector JUNO where she joined artificial port Mulberry. On July 15th remaining crew left the ship and on July 16th 1944 DRAGON name was taken off the books of the Polish Navy.
The Landing operations in Normandy was protected at sea against eventual German surprise attack from West by 10th Destroyer Flotilla /S.O.-Captain B.JONES/. The Flotilla was composed of : 19th Division- TARTAR /D/, ASHANTI, HAIDA, HURON and 20th DivisionBLYSKAWICA /D/, ESKIMO, PIORUN, JAVELIN.
Air reconnaissance before dusk on 8th June had shown four enemy ships proceeding to the NE from Brest.These were 2 large destroyers of Narvik Class / 5x150 mm guns and 8 torpedoes/, 1 ex-Dutch destroyer / 4x120 mm guns and 8 torpedoes/, 1 Elbing destroyer T24/ 4x102 mm guns and 6 torpedoes/. According orders of C-in-C Plymouth the 10th Destroyer Flotilla to sweep along a line parallel to and 20 miles from the French coast between Isle de Bas and Isle Vierge.Captain B.JONES adapted following tactic : Line Ahead for comfort and Line of Bearing for Action - in addition a manoeuvre" White Pendant" to avoid enemy torpedoes and crash into enemy for short distance battle.
According to the relation of Lieut.M.WASILEWSKI - Torpedo Officer - BLYSKAWICA
"At first the Tenth Destroyers Flotilla proceed South with 28 knots, visibility about 2.5 miles. Between Ile de Batz and Ile de Vierge they slow down to 18 knots.The flotilla being disposed with divisions in Line Ahead with 20th Division two miles to the northward of the 19th Division and a little ahead. Distance between the ships in division were 4 cables. Moreover each division executed 30 degrees zigzag from main course, against eventual U-boat attacks. In case of contact with enemy, divisions were told previously to stop zigzaging and to take a Line of Bearing. Eventual German torpedo attack were not expected at the distance more than 10.000 yards."
"At this time the German force disintegrated as each ship sought it own best course and fought seperately.Therefore the British flotilla was forced to split up to follow the scattering German ships. At first TARTAR and ASHANTI fired on Z-32 and ZH-1, while HAIDA and HURON engaged Z- 24 and T- 24 . Big Z- 32 was hit several times and ZH-1 was hit in boiler and was put out of action. But shortly after that Z-32 escaped North unfortunately she came under fire of 20th Division. Z-32 was seen from BLYSKAWICA for short time, thanks to star shells of the gun nr.2 at distance 5.600 y, speed about 28 knots from plot , inclination Green 090 degrees. Captain BLYSKAWICA did not tried to fire torpedoes because four torpedoes had ship were not sufficient in this distance to go home. Decision was in compliance with the opinion of Torpedo Control Officer :"
" T.C.O. should study the tactical situation so that he can advise his Commanding Officer , who may be otherwise engaged,as to the best moment for firing torpedoes and see that no opportunities are missed"
"Instead, BLYSKAWICA open fire to Z-32 from this close range /2-nd Gun.Off.- lieut.M.WOZNIAK/. Z-32 got several hits in this 12 salvos artillery fired from BLYSKAWICA and another salvos from ESKIMO. But BLYSKAWICA and later PIORUN /1st Gun.Off.-lieut. J.TUMANISZWILI/ although were under fire from Z-32 too, fortunately no one of this ship was hit and Z-32 again disappeared South. At 0133 hours BLYSKAWICA was forced to withdraw with great speed about 30 knots to East together with ESKIMO and JAVELIN because ships of 20th Division found themselves under heavy artillery fire from unknown ship. But PIORUN maintained his course 260 and speed 20 knots in direction were Z-32 disappeared. In this confusion Z-32 came near TARTAR and started fire with all guns. One shell exploded at the bridge of TARTAR , 4 men were killed and 9 wounded including captain, moreover radar and communication were damaged, boiler nr.1 was hit too. It was on 0159 hours according PIORUN log-book. ASHANTI came to rescue and fired on Z-32 with success. Z-32 withdraw in direction of Isle Vierge."
Because ZH-1 was out of action and did not moved, TARTAR and ASHANTI came closer and from distance 700 y sunk her with artillery fire and 2 torpedoes. About 0203 hours PIORUN joined BLYSKAWICA, ESKIMO and JAVELIN.
HAIDA and HURON were still pursuing Z-24 and T-24 to the westward. Meanwhile HAIDA and HURON had been outpaced by their targets, but before hitting Z-24. Shells struck chart house and W/T office and after guns were put out of action Z-24 but she manage to stranded herself in the French waters.The torpedo boat T 24 escape undamaged.
"About 0246 hours 20th Divisions met TARTAR on course North, later on HAIDA and HURON joined. Ten minutes later HAIFA observed on radar and reported on R/T unidentified ship approaching - it was ASHANTI, then again HAIDA reported on R/T about another ships - this time it was 20th Division. Thanks to several means of identifications like IFF on radar screen and others, fatal engagement between Allied ships were avoided."
"In mean time HURON got radar contact with undignified ship, fired star shells and found Z-32. HAIDA reported by R/T that enemy course was 090 degrees, therefore Allied ships steered estimated course 065 to cut Z-32 from Cherbourg area. But right after HURON corrected that course of Z-32 was 270 degrees ! BLYSKAWICA immediately turned to the West and spotted Z-32 thanks to star shells fired by HURON. Whole 20th Division open fire against Z-32 and also HURON and HAIDA then TARTAR and ASHANTI from longer distance. At last Z-32 disoriented ran firmly aground on the rocks of the Ile de Batz heavily afire."
Destroyers battle near Isle de Batz : 19th Division - TARTAR, ASHANTI, MAORI, HURON/ British/ and 20th Division - BLYSKAWICA/Polish/,ESKIMO/British/, PIORUN/Polish/, JAVELIN/British/
Later on ,Tenth Destroyers Flotilla
took part in several operations against the Germans in the western part of
the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, for example German Minesweepers
Flotilla was wiped out on 14/15th June 1944 . PIORUN and ASHANTI while
covering positions off the Channel Islands /Jersey/ and St.Malo
unexpectedly ran into a force of seven German M-class minesweepers
escorting small convoy.
Now according to the relation of
Lieut. J.TUMANISZWILI /1STGun.Officer/: “ It was a dark night, no stars,
no moonlight. Suddenly 25 minutes after midnight, a report came from
Asdick Operator : ENEMY BEARING 120. Cdr.T.GORAZDOWSKI verified this by
radar and said there were several echoes moving with the speed of 15 knots
on course 340. He ordered to increase the speed, decided to attack with
ASHANTI and gave me the order to have guns ready. We were closing rapidily
, distance in yards to the enemy units by radar: 5.000 , 4.000 , and 3.500
when we recognised three ships and started the fire with starshells to
illuminate the enemy. Having enemy clearly in gun sights I corrected the
enemy inclination and speed, then ordered loud: FIRE WITH ALL GUNS. But
German returned a heavy fire against PIORUN and ASHANTI and the battle
began.Very soon two leading German ships were hit, causing explosions and
fires. In the meantime PIORUN was hit too, near gun nr.4 Some ammunition
was set on fire, but fortunately it was quickly extinguished. One
C.P.Officer and one seaman were wounded. This time C.O.- PIORUN decided to
fire its torpedoes to targets and scored one hit on 15th June 0048 hours.
/Torpedo Officer -sub.lieut. L.KAWERNINSKI/. Meanwhile, the enemy ships
were illuminated with starshells and gun salvos soon smashing into them.
As a result M343 was sunk and 5 minesweepers left aground, ablaze or badly
damaged /M412, M422, M432, M442 and M452. About 0226 hours the battle with
German minesweepers was over and in the morning we were entering
Plymouth-Devonport with a big Polish ensign on mast, very proud after
On August 12th 1944 the British Coastal Command plane spotted one large convoy west of La Rochelle at Biscay Bay. Not far away on patrol was: British cruiser DIADEM, Polish destroyer PIORUN and British destroyer ONSLOW. PIORUN artillery fire damaged one big transport ship and caused fire on board .On the signal from DIADEM "Close and finish her off" - Captain GORAZDOWSKI ordered his T.O.-Sub.lieut.KAWERNINSKI to fire a salvo of two torpedoes - from distance 1400 yards - First torpedo missed some yards before her bow but another hit and explosion sunk this ship.It was so called "Blockade Runner" SAUERLAND about 6- 8 thousands tons of displacement.
Operation Dragoon - Allied invasion of southern France- began on August 15th 1944 between Toulon and Nice in Provance and huge forces had been concentrated , comprising about 881 warships and transport ships including 5 battleships, 9 aircraft carriers, 24 cruisers and 111 destroyers. For air support were about 4700 aircraft's. The only Polish ship on the Mediterranean Sea was GARLAND /C.O. Lieut-cdr.B.BISKUPSKI/ belonging to task force of the British Admiral T.TROUBRIDGE composed of one cruiser, four aircraft carriers and ten destroyers on patrole near Crete island.
During one August night,thanks to
Asdick Operator - B.WOJCIKIEWICZ, GARLAND avoided two torpedoes
fired by submarine.
On September 18th, the seven British
destroyers including GARLAND were ordered to Santorene /Thera/
island. Then what happened according relation of Asdick Operator -
"Right after destroyers left aircraft
carriers, asdick-operator on the watch reported to the bridge "Starboard
15 - distance 2000 yards - echo ". Answer from bridge was : "Keep this
echo" Again operator reported :" Echo very small , 5 degrees wide,
metallic and very high - closing " Captain ordered forward guns to be
ready and sharp lookout then ordered Action Station and to send signals to
nearby ships. Then one of signalman spotted on the surface of sea
......small black smoke."
According to another relation -Lieut
St.GORAZDOWSKI - Navigating Officer
"When distance to this smoke was some
few hundred meters, we on the bridge smelled burning fuel oil very
characteristic of Diesel motors. From distance of 200 meters from the
water a small funnel brought to the surface with dense smoke. Not far
after that funnel it was a periscope of submarine ! In this moment all
this disappeared. Now we know this was U-boat with Schnorkel or Diesel
GARLAND came closer and having
an accurate position of U-boat from Asdick fired from bow a salvo of 24
bombs of Hedgehog but without success, echo is moving still then
GARLAND attacked by pattern of 10 Depth Charges, another British
destroyer made an attack too and the third British destroyer was keeping
echo of U-boat. Still no results - in mean time the night came - but about
0430 hours again ships resumed D.C. attacks. First attack was made by
British TROUBRIGDE then by British TERPSICHORE and finally
by the Polish GARLAND /Torpedo Officer Sub.lieut.
K.OKOLOW-ZUBKOWSKI/. U-boat at first surfaced for some short time then
sunk. Whole crew except 3 men were rescued, altogether 48 very young men
with her captain 22 years of age. In the moment GARLAND collided
with U-boat bow and was damaged . U-407 was sunk in position La=
37.27 N and Long=024.31 E. GARLAND with all prisoners of war was
ordered to Alexandria and received a nice signal from admiral
On September 18th, the seven British destroyers including GARLAND were ordered to Santorene /Thera/ island. Then what happened according relation of Asdick Operator - B.WOJCIKIEWICZ :
"Right after destroyers left aircraft carriers, asdick-operator on the watch reported to the bridge "Starboard 15 - distance 2000 yards - echo ". Answer from bridge was : "Keep this echo" Again operator reported :" Echo very small , 5 degrees wide, metallic and very high - closing " Captain ordered forward guns to be ready and sharp lookout then ordered Action Station and to send signals to nearby ships. Then one of signalman spotted on the surface of sea ......small black smoke."
According to another relation -Lieut St.GORAZDOWSKI - Navigating Officer
"When distance to this smoke was some few hundred meters, we on the bridge smelled burning fuel oil very characteristic of Diesel motors. From distance of 200 meters from the water a small funnel brought to the surface with dense smoke. Not far after that funnel it was a periscope of submarine ! In this moment all this disappeared. Now we know this was U-boat with Schnorkel or Diesel Luft Mast."
GARLAND came closer and having an accurate position of U-boat from Asdick fired from bow a salvo of 24 bombs of Hedgehog but without success, echo is moving still then GARLAND attacked by pattern of 10 Depth Charges, another British destroyer made an attack too and the third British destroyer was keeping echo of U-boat. Still no results - in mean time the night came - but about 0430 hours again ships resumed D.C. attacks. First attack was made by British TROUBRIGDE then by British TERPSICHORE and finally by the Polish GARLAND /Torpedo Officer Sub.lieut. K.OKOLOW-ZUBKOWSKI/. U-boat at first surfaced for some short time then sunk. Whole crew except 3 men were rescued, altogether 48 very young men with her captain 22 years of age. In the moment GARLAND collided with U-boat bow and was damaged . U-407 was sunk in position La= 37.27 N and Long=024.31 E. GARLAND with all prisoners of war was ordered to Alexandria and received a nice signal from admiral TROUBRIDGE :
On October 13th GARLAND took part in support of the British landing in Greece.
Again the following British ships
were handed over to the Polish Navy :
MTB-427 on August 30th 1944 and named S-7 her first C.O.
MTB-427 on August 30th 1944 and named S-7 her first C.O. -Lieut. A.JARACZEWSKI.
From September 1944 till the end of year the all Polish warships except GARLAND were engaged in escort and patrol duties in European waters and North Atlantic.Then GARLAND joined them on November 28th 1944.
THE JALTA AGREEMENT ABOUT NEW EUROPE WAS SIGNED ON FEBRUARY 11th 1945.- between F.D.Roosevelt, W.S.Churchill, J.Stalin - NOT FAVOURABLE FOR POLAND.
First months of 1945 year the Polish warships were engaged in escort and patrol duties in European waters, against German aircraft's, MTBs and U-boats, some of them were in refits too. Nothing out of way happened.
On April 29th 1945 at Caserta headquarters the British Marshal H.ALEXANDER signed a document of unconditional surrender with the representatives of German Troops in Italy. Same day Adolf HITLER designated Admiral K.DONITZ as his successor and committed suicide .
On May 4th 1945 at Luneburg headquarters Marshal B.MONTGOMERY and Admiral H.FRIEDENBURG signed a document of unconditional surrender of all German Forces in Germany, Holland, Norvay and Denmark.
On May 7th 1945 0241 hours /GMT+1/ the Document of Unconditional Surrender the German Forces on the East/West Fronts were signed by: GEN.Gustaw JODL/Germany/ and Gen.Bedell SMITH/USA/.
It was established the date of termination of World War II on May 8th 0001 hours 1945! In Great Britain this day was celebrated as VE-DAY / Victory in Europe /.
But for special request of the Russia, another document was signed at Berlin on May 9th 1945 by Marshal Wilhelm KEITEL /Germany/ and Marshal Georgij ZUKOW / Russia/, Marshal Arthur TEDDER /U.K./
The First Polish warships to enter German naval base at Wilhelmshaven were KRAKOWIAK/C.O. Lieut-cdr.W.LOSKOCZYNSKI/ and SLAZAK/C.O. Lieut.cdr.W.FARA/ on May 27th 1945 with special group of the British Naval Officers. During five days the Polish officers met with several representatives of the Royal Navy and the First Polish Armoured Division/C.O. Gen.K.RUDNICKI/ who had captured Wilhelmshaven on May 6th. From this day the Polish Flag was hoisted in this city.
The Second Polish warship to enter the German naval base at Wilhelmhaven was cruiser CONRAD /C.O. Cdr.St.DZIENISIEWICZ/ on June 7th 1945.
The final act of the war was called "OPERATION DEADLIGHT" and consisted in sinking of 110 captured U-boats in Atlantic /Area YY/ position La= 56.10 N and Long=010.05 W.
Among warships , almost symbolic function had a Polish destroyer BLYSKAWICA / C.O. capt.W.FRANCKI/ who sunk by gun fire 4 U-boats on November 27th 1945. Then in the next days another Polish destroyers took part : PIORUN/C.O. Cdr. W.MARACEWICZ/, KRAKOWIAK /C.O. Cdr.W.LOSKOCZYNSKI/ and in January 7th 1946 GARLAND/C.O. Cdr.M.KADULSKI/ who sunk the last U-boat U-1010 by the Polish warship !
This story would not be fully told,not to mention the living conditions and weather.Destroyers were nearly 27 days per month at sea.The crew was divided into three watches each one 4 hours,round the clock. The seamen slept in large compartments in hammocks,POs in smaller compartment in berths and officers in cabins.Days and nights in suits.When Action Station is sounded ,everybody first jumped into their seaboots,put on duffelcoat and cap, grab a lifebelt and rush on deck to his station.After some training it takes only about one minute ! Food was good but meals depend of ....weather!On board each Polish destroyers were surgeons always ready to help.The best example: GARLAND in Murmansk convoy.All compartments were watertight with pressure ventilation /cold or hot air/ and constant electric lighting.
Now about weather,one example : /Torp.Officer - Lieut.Z.WEGLARZ /-:
"Destroyer BLYSKAWICA,while in convoy duty at N.Atlantic was caught by very heavy storm of hurricane category.It was on 4th of December 1941 .Convoy nearly stopped,heavy rains drove in sheets and the motion of ships were extravagant.Keeping stations was impossible , each one heave to weather.The waves were about 17 metrs heigh,sometimes the head of watery cone would topple on board and swamped the deck.Side heeling up to 62 degrees.All lifeboats including their davits were gone,fore-deck and gun-shields were indented inside about 15 cms,Nr.2 torpedo-tube was damaged,steering gear jammed in position "Port 20 ",main gyro out of action,compartments partly flooded through ventilating ducts and looks like after earthquake. C.O. cmdr.W.FRANCKI gave me order to collect some 12 men and proceed astern to compartment of steering gear ,to move rudder with manual control. Same order got 2nd Eng.Lieut.F.CZELUSTA to repair jammed steam-rudder gear. Steering by hands in this situation was very difficult and accurate only to +/- 10 degrees each side.After some two hours engineers repaired steam-engine-rudder gear and we moved slowly back to Scotland.This time we had one Polish Army news reporter.Unfortunately this trip was his first and last - all time he remained in cabin,unable to move and completly shocked. After two days , without rest or meals we reached Greenock."
Another situation was during voyages to Murmansk at winter time with blizzards,hard frosts,tons of ice on deck and armaments with grim prospect in case to fall into icy waters.
Final demobilization of the Polish warships in Great Britain took part on September 1946
Sailing under the Polish flag during the war were together 47 warships including : 2 cruisers, 10 destroyers, 5 submarines. Operating from British bases during the war, the Polish warships covered 1,213.000 miles or 2,245.476 km. They took part 787 times in escorting convoys or fleet, 1.162 patrols and special operations. Polish warships were engaged 665 times with enemy, including 40 times with surfaces ships, 175 times with U-boats and "live-torpedoes", over 50 times with shore batteries and about 400 times with enemy aircraft's.
In course of this operations the Polish warships sank 7 surface ships, 2 submarines, 39 transport vessels. Probably sank : 2 surface ships, 3 submarines and 2 transport ships. In addition to this the Polish warships damaged 11 surface ships as well as 8 submarines. With a/a artillery at least 20 aircraft's were shot down and 10 probably. Polish ships rescued 47 times the crews of Allied ships and 35 times of aircraft's.
These exploits were paid for with the loss of 2 submarines and 3 destroyers - 404 dead / 23 officers,8 midshipmen,137 P.O., 236 seamen/and 191 wounded officers and enlisted men.
Note : Detailed List of P.N. Casualties are in the book "Mala Flota Wielka Duchem"-J.Pertek-Poznan 1989-pages 515-573
For the merit shown in combat, devoted effort, valour and courage, the Polish Seamen were awarded during the war : 51 VIRTUTI MILITARY CROSSES, 1.046 CROSSES OF VALOUR, 69 ORDERS OF MERIT WITH SWORDS, SEA MEDALS 2756, as well as 79 British and 15 French decorations.
Note : Detailed List of P.N.
Personnel decorated are in the book "Polska Mar.Woj./Od Pierwszej do
Ostatniej Salwy w 2-giej Wojnie Swiatowej"/-Album-London-1947"
First Sea Lord - Adm.A.CUNNINGHAM
in the letter dated 12 May 1945 wrote to the Polish C-in-C - Adm.J.SWIRSKI
My Dear Admiral!
My Dear Admiral!
British historian B.TUNSTALL write in 1944 that of all the navies of the United Nations, none fought better under extremely difficult operating conditions than the Polish Navy.
The British Liaison Officers on board of Polish warships:/Reference - Mr.Donald Kindell- "KNOWLEDGE NOT SHARED IS LOST"/
A/Lt P.E.C.BROWN, Lieut.cdr. R.J.BURCH,S/Lt.R.J.G.BURNEY Lieut.cdr.W.G.L.COOPER, Lt.J.R.A.DENNE, Lieut.cdr.S.H.DENNIS, Lt.L.H.DODD, Lt.S.J.FOVARGUE, Lieut.cdr.D.A.FRASER, TY/S/Lt.M.A.HANBURY, TY/Lt.E.F.HAYMAN,Lt.A.M.HARTLEY, TY/S/Lt.A.F.HILL, Lieut.cdr.C.J.O.MALCOLM, TY/A/S/Lt. /Sp/G.P.MARLOW,Lieut-cdr.I.N.Mac MILLAN RNR, TY/Lt G.A.McCALVEY, Lt.K.O'Ombrain NOTT, TY/A/Lt.R.G.SERVICE, TY/S/Lt.G.G.TAYLOR, Lt.M.B.VERTUE.
On the occasion of the visit Polish destroyers in England after the war and anniversary of the funeral of Vice-Admiral J.SWIRSKI the local press wrote :
"The Poles are always gallant fighters and as we were hard press, such allies were more than welcome, moreover under J.SWIRSKI command, we could always be certain of the readiness and efficience of his men and ships."
After the war ORP BLYSKAWICA returned home to Poland -Gdynia on July 1947 and was the biggest and best warship of the Polish Navy.
In 1976 ORP BLYSKAWICA
terminated her long and successful duty and now is a very interesting museum
afloat like: VASA /1627/, VICTORY /1765/, CONSTELLATION
/1797/, MIKES /1905/, AURORA /1917/, NORTH CAROLINE,
ALABAMA, YORK TOWN, INTREPID, LITTLE ROCK,
NAUTILUS etc. in other countries.
References : Publications of the Polish Naval Historians: J/M Czerwinski, J.Lipinski, E.Kosiarz, M.Kulakowski, J.Pertek, St.Piaskowski, R.Witkowski,Z.Wojciechowski/, periodicals, relations of witnesses, maps, diagrams, photos and artists impressions.
Technical co-operation : J. Rogozinski firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information here is the e-mail address: