August 30, 2018

AUGUST 30 - DAILY CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

AUGUST 30

1940

RAF 303rd Kosciuszko Squadron began air operations. The pilots had been waiting for weeks and desperate to get into the action. Most of them were veterans and experienced in the strategies of aerial battle.  They had to endure weeks of being trained on bicycles by the British commanders at RAF Northolt. Finally the Polish aces had the chance to fly in combat. They scored their first victory (though officially still non-operational) by shooting down a German Messerschmitt Bf 110 of 4./ZG 76 (initially incorrectly recorded as a Dornier Do 17). The wreck was excavated in 1982. Polish pilot F/O Ludwik Paszkiewicz scored the kill during a so-called training flight. He was already an skilled and accomplished pilot.  After Squadron Leader Kellet's personal recommendation, the squadron was declared officially operational next day by No. 11 Group RAF.


Battle of Britain:  Six of the squadron units Hurricanes took off to carry out a mock attack on 6 Blenheim bombers in the St. Albans area. Polish Officer Ludwik Paskiewicz, described the attack in his official report as follows, "After a while we noticed ahead a number of aircraft carrying out various evaluations… I reported it the Commanding Officer, S/Ldr [Squadron Leader] Kellett, by the R/T (radio-telephone), and, as he did not seem to reply, I opened up the throttle and went in the direction of the enemy…Then I noticed, at my own altitude, a bomber with twin rudders – probably a Dornier – turning in my direction…Then I aimed at the fuselage and opened fire from about 200 yards, later transferring it to the port engine, which I set on fire…The Dornier…dived and then hit the ground without pulling out of the dive and burst into flames. I have been firing at an enemy aircraft for the first time in my life." When he returned to base, Paszkiewicz was reprimanded for disobeying orders, but also congratulated for making the squadrons first kill.  (Note:  Paskiewicz'  aerial attack was immortalised in the famous classic scene, "Repeat, please" scene in the film the Battle of Britain.)


1978

Henryk Zygalski died on August 30, 1978. He was a civilian cryptologist with the Polish General Staff's Biuro Szyfrów (Cipher Bureau), housed in the Saxon Palace in Warsaw. He worked there with fellow Poznań University alumni and Cipher Bureau cryptology-course graduates Marian Rejewski and Jerzy Różycki. Together they developed methods and equipment for breaking Enigma messages.  The Polish Underground captured a German Engima machine, which Rejewski and his colleagues worked on breaking the Enigma Code. Before World War Two broke out the Polish mathematicians had already constructed working replicas of the Enigma machine and gave one each to the authorities in England and France.



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