Jan Adam Paczka - Navigator of the 300th Squadron „Ziemi Mazowieckiej” during the Second World War.

Published on: 2020-10-09
Updated on: 2020-10-09
Category: Articles

Kraków 2017-05-15

Jan Adam Paczka

Jan Adam Paczka
Jan Adam Paczka

Jan Adam Paczka; great patriot, Polish aviation engineer, soldier of the defensive war against the Germanis and the Muscovites, navigator in the 300 Masovian Bomber Squadron, lecturer at the Navigators School in Canada, engineer in the aviation industry in Argentina in Cordoba, lecturer at the University of Cordoba and the University of Lima ( Peru).

Jan Adam Paczka was born on December 11, 1911 in Kraków. He had four brothers. He received a comprehensive education. He graduated from gymnasium in Kraków. He studied in Germany, among others. He knew several languages. He was fluent in English and German. In the interwar period, he worked as an engineer at Polskie Zakłady Lotnicze in Okęcie-Paluch. During this time, he got married.

Memoirs written by Jan Adam Paczek himself.

In short, almost telegraphic, because I do not remember the dates or the names, because I did not keep a diary (and today, after so many years, the hypnotist would probably take it from my memory), I want to present a description of my participation in the Second World War.

In 1939, I was not mobilized as needed in the aviation industry (I am an aerospace engineer). In the first days of September 1939, PZL (Polskie Zakłady Lotnicze) were bombed. Work in the Plant has been discontinued. I put on the uniform of an infantry lieutenant, said goodbye to my wife, was supposed to meet her after the war at the Ursuline Sisters, and reported to the recruitment point. I was instructed to go with my own industry to Rivne, where planes from France were to arrive.

I set off to the south-east of Poland. Fight at Dęblin. They play machine guns and cannons. I'm going in the direction of the shots. I meet several officers: a general among them. I am asking for the staff of Polish fighting units. Please accept me, at least as a simple soldier. I want to fight. How did I get here? Which branch am I from? I explained. Same advice: Go to Rivne. I will be needed there, planes will come there.

More and more often I met groups and individual soldiers coming from the west. They said they had been smashed and relieved of their obligation to continue fighting. Most often they went with a gun. Even some of them carried machine guns with them and were shrouded in the will to continue fighting. Out of these retreating soldiers, I organized three infantry companies, a reconnaissance platoon, and a gendarmerie squad, as the gendarmes were also found among the refugees. A reconnaissance platoon on bicycles that I confiscated for the army, issuing receipts with my signature.

In the tragic march of the masses to the east, I met officers, but none wanted to take command or join this unit. I was also in Brest in civilian disguise with platoon member Jan Pacholczyk and a sergeant, whose name I do not remember. Both of the balloons. I dreamed - of the goddess of naivety - with the powers I had at my disposal - to take over Brest, which was occupied by the Germans. Already far in the east of Poland I met the retired artillery colonel - Brzeziński, who was also organizing new troops from survivors. Colonel Brzeziński called his group the Brzoza Group after his surname. I put my group under his command and, at his request, took the command of the reconnaissance unit, as he had not had such a unit so far, although according to him I should command the battalion.

I underwent combat baptism with the Russian cavalry on a hurry. A night battle in some big village. It was a terrible battle. They shoot at you from behind, from the side, from windows, from bushes, especially when they hear: "Don't shoot, we're Poles." We emerged victorious from this battle. I took about 50 horses. I now had half a platoon on horses, half on bicycles. With the group of Col. Brzeziński, I entered general Kleeberg's troops. Overall, we were going to help Warsaw. Various skirmishes and battles. After all, I'm with my scout ahead. So far we have emerged victorious. Coming out of every fire, I believed that I would not die in this war.

I remember October 6, 1939. An avalanche of various types of artillery fire was pouring down on us near Kock. Our masters defend Napoleon - with artillery. There were 20-30 soldiers left of our companies. Our ammunition is exhausted. I was captured. The Germans announced that they would let us go, even with side arms. I was with a group of officers in a country cottage. I only remember the name of Lt. Deca. None of this group wanted to run away. It was probably the influence of the German declaration that the officers would be free. On that first night, the hut was guarded by two German soldiers. They circled the cabin one way and the other. Through the window I watched how many I would count when they were both back on the same side of the cabin. Jump from the window, run and drop for a bush, perhaps a gooseberry, with your face facing the hut. After such three jumps, I was far from the hut. I found the bike hidden in the bushes and drove to the house of a farmer with whom I was with the unit a few days ago. I left him my uniform, binoculars and a revolver. He shaved my beard, shaved me and put me in civilian clothes.

I worked for this farmer for a few days as a farmhand to find out how to run away. After a few days I got on my bike and I'm going. To Warsaw. Today I know that this child's faith in success, free from doubts, without thinking about success, only a desire put into action, just like a child, desires and reaches with his hand for the desired thing and conquers it. Because the Germans saw me a farmhand working in a nearby field. It couldn't go wrong since I acted like a child that desires. So I'm riding a bicycle. On the way, a unit of German soldiers in two ranks. I stand in front of the line and "heil Hitler" to the sergeant and "zeigen Sie mir bitte den Weg nach Warschau." Sergeant Hitler greeted him and said: "geradeaus und den ersten Wer nach rechts". We greeted Hitler again and I left. I got to Warsaw by bike. Good knowledge of the German language (I studied in Germany, and my colleagues from German studies - Slavic origin taught me the correct pronunciation) was helpful for me.

In Warsaw, I found my wife and returned with her to Krakow, where I started gathering among my friends young people willing to fight in the future. The Gestapo arrested two boys - the name of Morawa - and they gave my surname. Two Gestapo sergeants came to the bar that I had opened. We became friends. All three had the same name John. An order came to their squad to arrest me. It was these boys, human souls in the Gestapo service who notified me. Run away Hans. Tomorrow at 10 am they come to arrest you.

There was no time. During the night, we worked out passes and the three of us went to Hungary: a Hungarian (he was supposed to help us with his knowledge of the Hungarian language, but on the way, in a certain situation full of nervousness, he left us), one from Poznań - I forgot his name, and I did. The citizen of Poznań made a hand-drawn stamp with the German eagle, which we transferred to paper with a hard-boiled egg.

The escape from Krakow took place by train. With "left" documents, we entered the compartment of "Nur für Deutsche" as Germans. A friend of Poznań, who worked in the press office in Bydgoszcz, did not know German as well as I did. Everything was going according to plan. At one of the stations, during the inspection of my documents, the conductor began to have suspicions because he did not find a confirmation of departure from Germany on the document. In the corridor in the pulmanie, I caused a scuffle and I began to curse the ineptitude of the German rail services with my throat, while I, as an officer, now have to explain that some official forgot to stamp me properly. The Germans began to leave other compartments, and in order to avoid a growing scandal, the German inspector and his accompanying soldiers finally left the car. Thanks to this, my colleague was not checked. We reached Vienna without any further obstacles.

After crossing the Hungarian border, we came to a small town, where we entered a Catholic presbytery looking for help on the way to the capital to find a Polish Consulate. The priest who welcomed us promised to help. The priest left the room for a moment. My head was beeping and I followed the priest. I saw him through the half-closed door talking to the police on the phone. Without hesitating any longer, we escaped from the rectory. Next we stumbled upon the monastery building. We asked for help saying that we are Poles. The nuns collected some money among themselves and gave it to us. They did not want to let us in, warning that the sister superior could hand us over to the police. Going further on foot, we were stopped by Hungarian policemen who had our descriptions received from the priest with them. They stopped us, handcuffed us, and took us to the station. They kept us until the night, then put us in a car, transported us to the border and let us go. They warned us not to enter Hungary again. We took a different path, trying to become like the local population.

After various adventures, we reached the still existing Polish Consulate in Budapest. With a request from the consul for a train ticket to some place in the south of Hungary, I went to the police. I got a ticket in my name on which the consul wrote +50. You had to get off at the last station. The Drava, which borders the river, had to be crossed in a different way. We found a small boat and its owner, who took us five to the other side. This is how I transported 50 Poles across the Drava River to Yugoslavia.

The Yugoslavs welcomed us as brothers. In Yugoslavia, we were given passports, money and sent to France. I had a "left" passport with the name of Hans Kasten in German. We got to France by ship. I've been to Modan, Camp de Carpiagen and Vichy. In France, I met my wife's brother Tadeusz Tylka and Stanisław Kukułka. We all knew each other from the junior high school in Kraków. They confirmed my data because, as it turned out, I was threatened with arrest as a German spy due to my fluency in the German language.

France has fallen. Again with my own industry to England, which I got on the ship Alderpool. In England, I was in the Officers' Legion, in which officers served simple soldiers. We were stationed in Scotland. I applied to the so-called cichociemnych, to send me to some branch. Finally, to aviation.

After the navigation course, I made 33 combat flights in the Squadron of the Masovian Land, Squadron 300. (Jan Adam Paczka flew on Wellington Mk.X planes with BH code letters on the sides)

My second flight to Hamburg in an electromagnetic storm is described in the book by Wacław Król "Polish Aviation Squadrons in Great Britain 1940-1945".

A combat flight to Hamburg on 2/3 August 1943.

At 17:00, the crews check in in the briefing room. From the check-in we got the impression that the flight would probably be canceled due to the weather, which meteorologists presented in the darkest colors. For almost the entire 985 mile round trip, rain clouds with peaks up to 25,000 feet. Zero temperature - important due to icing - at 9,000 feet. There is icing everywhere in the clouds, from menacing to light. Along the route, near the enemy's coast, a thunderstorm. Above the target is covered with 8/10 clouds with peaks at 16,000 feet.

An hour before take-off, the crews left for their planes. We all waited for flights to be canceled.

Talks with the mechanics were interrupted every now and then by glances towards the watch office. But where there! The red rocket, announcing the cancellation of flights, is not visible! It was almost 23:00. The pilots started their engines later than usual. Taxi to take off began.

A flight to Hamburg on Wellinton without additional tanks belongs to long flights. Therefore, the plan provides for a flight of 5,000 feet, roughly halfway through the route, due to fuel efficiency. Then we were supposed to ascend, taking advantage of the gaps in the clouds. The target was to be bombed from a height of over 18,000 feet due to German anti-aircraft artillery.

What if we don't find a cloud break in the second half of the tour? That is why we decided with the pilot to gain altitude immediately after take-off, up to a temperature of - 20 degrees C, at which icing practically does not exist. We were supposed to save fuel on the way back.

We were flying partly under the clouds and partly in the clouds. We have reached a temperature of - 19 degrees C at 21,500 feet. We were calm, we got a slight frost.

In terms of navigation, the flight was difficult, because after a flight of approximately 315 miles, the navigational aids ceased, which was also caused by icing of the antennas.

We flew on DR, that is, according to a plan prepared on the ground, with a few calculations along the route of the winds, of questionable value by the way. About 20 miles before we crossed the enemy's shore, we encountered a chain of cumulus clouds that rose up to 5,000 feet above our altitude. There is a disciplined silence on the plane. It is a silence peculiar to flying crews and calm, you can feel the crew's alertness and their work in it.

We're approaching that mountain of clouds.

Hello navigator, says the pilot.

Hello pilot, I'm listening.

Ahead of us is a mass of black cumulus. I'd like to skip it. Do you see What do you think about it?

A long moment of silence.

Hello navigator, what bye doing? Why don't you answer?

Just wondering what to say.

It was difficult for me to speak for anything. I know that miracles can happen in cumulus, but on the other hand, if we start avoiding it, we are ready not to find a target on the DR that we don't know how it is. Maybe there is actually a small coverage? Then they would say that such an old crew did not find their destination! So I'm asking:

What's the temperature now?

Steels - 19 degrees C.

Well, there is no need to worry about icing.

Okay, navigator, we're flying through these clouds.

OK, pilot.

After a while we were in the middle of the cumulus. Darkness engulfs us, starts throwing us a little. After two minutes of flight, the cumulus was over and we found ourselves in a kind of ravine. Clouds pile up on either side, a rough sea of clouds some thousand feet below us.

We are pleased to start looking at the storm, which is now clearly visible. Lightning strikes around us, mixing with artillery shells, close to us, far away, quite far and at different heights. We are lucky.

Personally, this is the first time I have seen lightning bolts starting at our height and falling down. Now lightning, I thought, and then we'll drop our cargo. Bombs are falling like these lightning bolts!

Oh, what's this? Were the navigation lights on?

Hello pilot, are the navigation lights on?

Who says?

Navigator. See the colors of our plane, especially the wingtips.

No, it's not navigation lights, it's electrical discharges.

Yes, it's not beacons. The ends of the ballasts also glow purple. Oh, they're yellow now!

And see what a halo the propellers have!

We fly like a glowing Christmas tree among these clouds with stars above us.

Who said that?

Rear gunner.

I was standing in the astrodome. Small electric sparks were raining along the perimeter of its steel frame. I felt like Faraday in my cage.

Far to the left of us, we saw a glow piercing through the clouds. This is Hamburg on fire. This time we attacked Hamburg from the south. We approach the target and enter the artillery range. More and more missiles around us, no searchlights this time. Coverage around 8/10. We should drop the bombs in a minute. However, we cannot see the markers.

Hello, this is the tail gunner. I can see the river and the bay.

Yes, we are on target.

Bomb door open. The bombs are gone!

Now we have just passed the green markers.

I see markers, says the tail gunner.

Okey. Thank you, I think we dropped the bombs accurately.


The crew is happy. Come on! We're leaving the target, crossing the artillery again. We passed. We change course.

Now we are crossing the Kiel Canal. But this artillery beats! And how accurate! Traach! Well, I think we got it now!

Rear gunner, what crackled there?

We got hit in the hull, but there's nothing next to me. The turret turns fine.

Hello, pilot. Above us there are three single-engine machines. This is the Focke-Wulfy 190. They pike down.

In such weather, storm, night, and they are in the clouds and almost in formation. Well, I think to myself, but we are probably no less brave - in such weather, in such fire and those fighters!

Pilot right! But they shoot accurately here! Right still! Yes, right now, all fire is on our left.

There is a strong fire ahead of us.

Good, we're on the course. We are to pass it right on, a little to the right.

What is this town?

I will see in a moment - I compare the map with the terrain and I can determine it easily.

Hello pilot, it's called Westhever on the map. I mean, we're pretty sure it is.

Well thank you.

Change of course again. The engines play melodiously.

Hello pilot.

Yes, I'm listening.

It's 03:35. Got my first fix, we're about three miles to the right of the course. We are flying perfectly.

After a while I cry out:

Hello pilot, we could lower ourselves a little, smoke a cigarette, a little cold in here.

Okay, as soon as I can, I'll get down. For now, there are clouds.

We were over the base at 05:08. We landed at 05:17. The flight took 5 hours and 17 minutes.

End of combat flights.

Our hero, Jan Adam Paczka, did not mention in his reports why his last flight was flight No. 33. The reports were supplemented by the hero's family. - While waiting for the flight, he got so severe diarrhea that he practically did not leave the toilet. Then, while he was "fighting" in the toilet, an alarm was announced for the entire squadron. Another navigator replaced him. He did not get his plane back. They all died. Another man from the crew rescued with him, who refused to fly, saying that he would not fly without the Package.

The combat flight No. 34 for Jan Adam Paczek was to be a Wellington Mk.X BH-F (JA 117) on 20/21 February 1944. The task is to mine waters in the Brest area. The plane was probably shot down. It was the last Polish Wellington shot down. Hello memory of the crew! Crew: pilot Władysław Kabaciński b. October 20, 1918, navigator Zygmunt Grzesiak, born August 15, 1912, rtg Alfons Stankiewicz, bombardier Ferdynand Pitka, gunner Witold Połczyński. It should be added that the full turn was 36 lots. Jan Adam Paczek had a full turn because the 300th Squadron was already rearming with Avro Lancaster planes.

The fate of Jan Aadm Paczek.

After combat flights, I completed the Staff Navigation Course in England. I was a navigation instructor in Canada at the School of Navigation in Jarvis, Ontario. In the history of this school, only once a student obtained a grade for the final exam, which allowed him to obtain an officer degree. I lectured in English. In the afternoon, I helped Polish students. So I am the commandant of the course. Sixteen students complete the course with an officer diploma. Next course. I am eliminated from the examination board. A special examination board from Training Command is here. Eleven students graduate with officer ranks.

I was offered to stay permanently in the Canadian Air Force, starting with the rank of captain. I was a young romantic. I didn't want to stay in the English Speaking World. I declined. After all, we have been betrayed. The defeat of Germany found me in Charlottown on Prince Edward Island, where I was Polish Senior Officer.

V.E.Day was celebrated - Victory in Europa Day. The speech was given by the Air Force Station, Flying Chief Officer, Navigation Officer and then my turn. I said briefly: "For you gentlemen it is a day of victory in Europe, but for us victory it is a day of slavery in Europe and we cannot enjoyce witch you. Thank you gentleman. " (For you, gentlemen, it is a victory day in Europe, but for us, Poles, it is a day of captivity in Europe and we cannot rejoice with you. Thank you, gentlemen.). And I sat down and ordered the Poles to stay in their quarters. Don't go outside. Do not participate in cheers for joy. I went back to England. I thought my behavior on Prince Edward Island would hurt me. But no. In England I was offered a contract with the RAF for 18 years and then I would choose one of the British Common Welth countries. I didn't accept either.

I applied for an assignment to the Polish 305 Squadron, which was stationed in Germany during the occupation of Germany. With the help of Polish soldiers, I brought my wife and son from Poland, who was born a week after my escape.

I chose Argentina as my place of residence. The future will show what he chose wrong. I worked 36 years in a military aircraft factory in Cordoba. Most recently as: Jefe Division Aerodinamica y Estructura ”. I was also a "Personal superior categ I". I taught technical English and German at the local university and technical subjects at Escuela Superior de Aerotecnica. I was sent to Peru, where at the university of the same name, I gave 125 hours of aeronautical structure calculation lectures. I am currently retired.

I wrote it down in a nutshell. Especially the period of hostilities and adventures in traveling from Poland to France. In no novel about warfare I have met such a love of soldiers for my commander, with the exception of Sienkiewicz's Deluge. Four soldiers grabbed my arms and legs, took my boots off, cleaned them and helped me get dressed again. Or else I was going to the most dangerous place, and I used especially older non-commissioned officers as permanent liaison between me and General Brzeziński.

I already know this from my wife. In Krakow, after my escape, the Gestapo men came to arrest me. They arrested my brother Mieczysław Jan Paczka. I lived in his apartment. They released him when they realized that Mieczysław Jan was not Jan Adam. Besides, Mietek did not speak German. But they kept him sick for a week. Mietek always said the same feverishly. He was "forged on four legs." Later, when his wife left Kraków, he came to her in Humniska asking about me.

Jan Adam Paczka was awarded the Virtuti Militari V class Cross and the Cross of Valor with 1 ferrule for his participation in the fights of a bomb squadron.

On September 9, 2003, Jan Adam Paczka received an order to collect the entire crew of the Wellington Mk.X BH-F aircraft, which did not return to the base after completing the combat task. The order was carried out.

The end.

Compilation based on family documents of Jan Adam Paczek.

Many thanks to Mrs. Bogusława Zdziech for the shared family materials.

People who knew Jan Adam Paczka and want to broaden their knowledge about his life, please contact us by e-mail iskra2009@gmail.com

Written by Karol Placha Hetman