“THEY SAVED LONDON”*
Polish intelligence officers managed to deliver to the British parts of Hitler’s secret weapon V-2 in a hair-raising operation known as “Most III” (Wildhorn III). A few days before the Warsaw Rising started, a RAF Dakota headed for Poland from Brindisi (Italy) in a top-secret mission to take parts of a V-2 rocket which were collected by the Polish Home Army soldiers near Sarnaki. The following presents an excerpt from J Garliński’s book “Hitler’s Last Weapons” prepared by the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
The Warsaw Uprising Museum pays their respects to all involved and the Dakota crew:
F/Lt Stanley G. Culliford (pilot) – a New Zealander (RAF)
F/O Kazimierz Szrajer (co-pilot) – a Pole (PAF)
F/O J.P. Williams (navigator) – (RAF)
F/Sgt J. Appleby (radio-operator) – (RAF).
Operation MOST III (WILDHORN III)
“The airfield chosen for the operation was one abandoned by the Germans in southern Poland. It had been given the code-name of ‘Butterfly’, and all the passengers [had] gathered in secret quarters nearby… The flight could not be fixed for a definite night because of the weather.
On 25 July, the weather report at 8 p.m. was good enough for a Dakota to take off from Brindisi… The crew was British, but the pilot was a New Zealander, while the co-pilot and interpreter was Polish…
The flight was uneventful, yet the whole operation was nearly called off. The Eastern Front now ran through the very centre of Poland, and the territory still in German hands was crowded with units retreating westward… Two German Storch reconnaissance planes landed on the airstrip. They took off again shortly afterwards, but there was no certainty that they would not return…
Twice the Dakota had to overfly the landing-ground which it lit up in the sharp glare of its twin searchlights, and when it climbed after its first unsuccessful run, the roar of its engines shattered the night silence. When it finally landed, it was surrounded by a crowd of underground soldiers and of local boys…
Haste was necessary. The incoming passengers climbed out and vanished into the night, and then the westbound group began to get aboard… The engines roared, the aircraft vibrated, moved a few inches and stopped… The wheels had sunk in and made take-off impossible.
After discussing matters with the despatch officer, [the pilots] ordered all the passengers to get out and the baggage to be unloaded… The soldiers of the reception team were ordered to dig small trenches in front of the aircraft’s wheels and fill them with straw.
Once this was done, (…) the bag of V2 parts was loaded, the remaining passengers climbed in and the luggage was thrown in behind them. The shrieking engines rang out over the slumbering fields, and must have awakened every German for miles around… The plane still refused to move…
The crew was now faced with the prospect of following instructions to set fire to the aircraft, if take-off was not possible. But [the officers] decided to make one more attempt. The soldiers laid boards under the wheels. For the third time, the wretched passengers were told to board…The short July night was beginning to brighten into dawn.
This time, at last, the Dakota began to move. Its take-off, was accompanied by the joyful shouts of the soldiers who ran alongside waving their weapons and caps.
The flight to Brindisi was without incident. But… on take off, believing the brakes to have jammed, they had cut the cables… They landed in Brindisi without brakes.”
Source: Warsaw Rising Museum
*They Saved London – The inscription on the monument in Sarnaki (Poland) where a V-2 was found and hidden by Polish underground soldiers in May 1944.
Excerpt from the book by J. Garliński “Hitler’s Last Weapons”, 1978
Picture: Facebook of the Warsaw Uprising MuseumHistory