Flying Officer Stanislaw Czternastek
On 5th February 1941, Flying Officer STANISLAW CZTERNASTEK was returning from a Circus bomber escort operation, flying Hurricane I V7598 Code: KW-U , when, in thick fog, he collided with another Hurricane (V6618) piloted by P/O. Bronislawa Wydrowski who managed to bale out, though he was badly injured. Czternastek wasn’t so fortunate, as eyewitness Spr. J.F. Hopper of the 263rd Company, Royal Engineers described in a personal letter…
“Talking about planes I saw a terrible accident the other day. I’m not sure whether it was Tuesday or Wednesday. There was about a dozen Hurricanes on patrol or whatever it’s called and two of them collided. They came down locked together but one of the pilots managed to bail out. The other one must have been killed or badly injured because we only saw one parachute coming down. Really darling it was a terrible sight. If it had been two Jerry planes I’d probably have been cheering but as it was I felt sort of sick.”
Stanislaw Czternastek was born on 6th May 1916 in Przemysl, Poland. He went to University to study law but took up gliding in his spare time. After completing the second year of his studies, he left to join the army. At the beginning of 1937, he commenced flight training in Deblin, graduating as a pilot in June of that year, when he was posted to 123 Fighter Squadron.
On the 1st of September, he flew an obsolete PZL P7 in defence of Warsaw and was shot down by a Me110, baling out successfully, on his second sortie of the day. Further missions followed until the Russian invasion, when he escaped to Romania on the night of the 18th September, making his way to Marseille in France where he joined the other Polish airmen being assembled by the French, at Lyon-Bron airfield.
However, by the end of December, he had decided to leave France and join one of the first groups of Polish airmen travelling to Britain in order to join the R.A.F.
After studying English and taking his flying theory exams at RAF Eastchurch Czternastek converted to Hurricanes at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge. On 12th October 1940 he joined 32 Squadron at Acklington. He flew with 32 till December 1940 when he was posted to 615 Squadron at Kenley.
Czternastek was killed when his Hurricane came down at Appleton Manor Farm, near Dover after the horrible collision that occurred on the 5th February 1941. He is buried in Hawkinge Cemetery and also remembered on the Polish War Memorial, Northolt.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.
SGT. OWEN MICHAEL JENKINS R.A.F.V.R. of 615 Squadron, Kenley also lost his life on this operation. He was shot down over Calais flying Hurricane I, V6980, Code: KW-U.