At 13:15 on the 4th February 1946 a Lancaster Bomber entirely crewed by Polish airmen was hit by a lightning storm whilst on manoeuvres above Wigston.
Eye witnesses report that the pilot whilst emerging from the clouds took a sharp turn whilst their aircraft was in flames so they could avoid hitting the centre of the town.
Sadly there was no survivors.
What happened that day.
On the 4th February 1946 the crew of 6 Polish Airmen took off from Faldingworth, Lincolnshire to go on to an operational exercise.
At 13:15 that day the crew encountered a lightning storm whilst flying above Wigston.
The Lancaster Bomber was hit by the lighting and immediately set on fire, eye witnesses report.
Onlookers in the town going about their daily business looked up and were shocked to see the aircraft coming down towards the town.
The Lancaster Bomber was aflame, plummeting from the skies. In a heroic manoeuvre, the pilot sharply banked the plane to avoid crashing into the town. Instead exploded into an open field. Narrowly missing Wigston’s Long Street Modern School by a mere 10 feet. This school is now All Saint’s Church of England Primary School.
This avoided many civilian casualties.
Upon crashing, houses around the area shook. Windows smashed and houses lost their roof tiles.
The six Polish servicemen were all instantly killed.
300 Polish Squadron
Before the outbreak of World War II, the polish government had signed an agreement with the Royal Air Force. This detailed a plan to send two Polish bomber squadrons to Britain in the event of Poland being invaded by the Germans.
However following the German invasion and subsequent Russian invasion most of the Polish Airmen were incorporated into the Polish Air Forces being created in France.
It wasn’t until the fall of France that Polish Airmen made there way to the United Kingdom in large numbers.
There was a large number of airmen arriving into the country who had experience in combat against the Germans. Thus additional bomber squadrons were created.
The crew of the Lancaster Bomber
There was six members of the 300 Polish Squadron who sadly lost their lives that day.
Wing Commander Romuld Sulinski KSOVM D.S.O D.F.C – Pilot and commanding Officer
Flying Officer Wladyslaw Jedrzejczyk – Navigator
Warrent Officer Michal Szwandt – Air Bomber
Flying Officer Czeslaw K. Sulgut – Air Gunner (no photo available)
Warrant Officer Waclaw Brzezinski
Flight Sargent Feliks Mikula – Flight Engineer
Wing Commander Sulinski was a last minute replacement for the military operation.
Memories of the crash.
Only 7 years old at the time of the crash. Jennifer Smith was allowed to explore the wreckage a few days after the crash. She picked up a piece of Perspex window as a souvenir. What for she never knew.
A few months later the council were preparing to build the new estate around the town. Some POW’s from the camp at Shady Lane in Oadby
were drafted in from to help dig the roads and foundations out.
A local young lady befriended one of these young men. He used to call in for a cup of coffee whilst working. The family called him “Blondie”.
Jennifer showed the young man her souvenir and he offered to make a cross from the Perspex, which he did, and it has been treasured ever since.
Evidence of the crash.
The school takes great pride in telling the Airman’s heroic story. Parts of the wreckage are displayed in the school. Along with a plaque dedicated to the airmen who lost their lives that day.
These pieces include various parts of the aircraft that were found in the field. Part of the wing trim; Body trim; Carburettor; Parts of the undercarriage. These were found when the foundations were dug for the new school.
There is also a piece of a Beech tree that has grown through part of the aircraft’s instrument panel.
Recent memorial and Celebration of these heroes.
The school has recently planted a Beech tree where the original was destroyed by the crash. In memory of the Polish Airmen.
On Remembrance Day, November 2008, members of the school council attended a service around the tree to remember the sacrifice of these men.
A week later, the school presented a book about the schools involvement in the history of the crash to descendants of the flight crew. The students shown the members of the family their collection of wreckage parts, told stories of the men and shared information about the squadron and the aircraft that crashed.
In 2009 The school held an open morning inviting members of the public to share in the a morning of remembrance for the Polish Aircrew. Past pupils who witness the crash attending this special service. The Leicestershire Aero Club presented a flypast to the students and community. Members of the Polish Air Force and the RAF sent representatives to the service. Canadian and Indian Air Force Personnel also attended.
The school remembers all the men and women who lost their lives in all wars twice a year, but especially the six polish Airmen Every February 4th and November 11th.
A Lancaster Bomber also crashed in the fields where Thurnby Lodge now is. It crashed during a training exercise. Click here to read more.
All images from All Saints Church of England Primary School, Wigston.
If you are interested in Post-War Leicester then we recommend the following book (Click on the images or links below)Post-War Leicester
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