Last flight of RAF Mosquito in 1943, when 2 Polish airmen got killed in the crash

On 21 March 1943, a Royal Air Force Mosquito aircraft crashed half a mile from RAF Exeter, killing two Polish airmen from the 307 Squadron stationed there. The Mosquito, a twin-engine fighter-bomber, was a highly versatile aircraft used for various missions during World War II.

Higher Cemetery in Exeter. Photo: British Poles

The two Polish airmen killed in the crash were Major Pilot Jan Michałowski and Navigator Flight Lieutenant Stanisław Szkop. Michałowski was a highly experienced pilot with over 2,000 hours of flight time, and had flown in the Polish Air Force before the war. Szkop was also a professional airman, having flown in the Polish Air Force and the RAF before joining the 307 Squadron.

Higher Cemetery in Exeter. Photo: British Poles

The 307 Squadron was a Polish-manned squadron formed in 1940 under the command of the Royal Air Force. It was part of the larger Polish Air Forces in Great Britain, comprised of Polish pilots who had escaped from German-occupied Poland to fight alongside the Allies in World War II. The 307 Squadron was stationed at RAF Exeter from 1942 to 1944, where it flew Mosquito aircraft on bombing and reconnaissance missions over German-occupied Europe.

Higher Cemetery in Exeter. Photo: British Poles

The cause of the crash that killed Michałowski and Szkop is unknown, and investigations at the time were inconclusive. However, it is believed that the aircraft may have suffered a mechanical failure or been hit by enemy fire.

The two Polish airmen were buried with full military honours at the Exeter Higher Cemetery, where their graves can still be visited today. They are remembered as heroes who gave their lives in the fight against fascism and as members of the proud tradition of Polish airmen who fought alongside the Allies in World War II.

Artur Sławkowski

Photos: British Poles

Cover photo: Twitter @307 Project

From the editor: 307 Squadron Project organises the commemorative events The Last Flight Of Mosquito DZ261 at Farringdon and at Higher Cemetery in Exeter on Friday, 24 March to mark the 80th anniversary of the death of W/Cdr Jan Michałowski and F/Sgt Stanisław Szkop. The organisers cordially invite you to commemorations, including unveiling a memorial in memory of the two airmen outside Farringdon Village Hall.


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