t a 1998 meeting of the Historical Commission of the Polish Air Force Association in Great Britain, which was held under the chairmanship of gen. pil. Tadeusz Andersz, at the suggestion of płk. pil. Stanisław Wandzilak, it was decided to prepare a complete list of the personnel of the Polish Air Force in Great Britain. Płk. Wandzilak previously obtained permission from the British Ministry of Defence Records Office (RAF) in Hayes for making available to the Association the four census roll books of all ranks of Polish personnel recorded in RAF service number order. Following further discussion, the proposal of płk. Wandzilak was approved, and Anna Krzystek was chosen as the person responsible for entering the more than 17,000 names on the computer. The books made available by the British were handwritten, with different handwriting, and often difficult to read.
Anna Krzystek’s task took almost four years to complete. It was only in 2002, after many attempts at alphabetical order and deletion of duplicate names with the same dates of birth, but saved under different service numbers, was it possible to determine the exact number of Polish airmen serving during the War in Great Britain. This number was reduced from the original 17,600 to 16,868. With the help of Mrs. J. Hawran, the director of the Polish section of the MoD in Hayes, and the commitment of her Polish staff, Anna was able to enter missing data: Polish and English ranks and trades of individual airmen. With the knowledge of the Historical Committee of the Association, Tadeusz Krzystek printed the final version as List of personnel of the Polish Air Force. In 2003, he brought several copies with him to Warsaw for the World Convention of Polish Airmen, where the List aroused great interest among the Convention participants. It was decided, therefore, to expand the current version by adding to each name information about the place or country in which the airman settled after 1947, as well as the date of death and place of burial, if they were known.
Retired, in a secluded Penrhos, North Wales, Tadeusz Krzystek passionately devoted all his spare time to updating the List, often late into the night, searching through books. Here, living in peace, he finished his work “Personnel of the Polish Air Force in Great Britain in the Years 1940-1947”.
Although the work of Anna and Tadeusz Krzystek is known among historians and aviation enthusiasts as the “Krzystek’s List”, really it is a work of many people. Invaluable contributions were made particularly by Mrs. Danuta Sławińska from the Polish Air Force Association in Great Britain and Mrs. Małgorzata Goddard and Mrs. Barbara Kroll from the Polish section of the Ministry of Defence archives.
At present the List contains 17,137 names (the original document was supplemented with soldiers who served in the PAF, for example, in the Inspectorate, but who were never formally admitted to the RAF and airmen transferred e.g. to the Army shortly after admission to PAF), 4,601 (26%) photos. Place of birth was established for 9,583 (55%) of the PAF members. The List contain also information about decorations awarded to airmen during their service in Polish Air Force in Great Britain as: Order of Virtuti Militari (VM), Cross of Valour (KW), Cross of Merit (KZ), Air Force Medal (ML), Wounds and Injuries Badge and British (ODRK), i.a. Distinguished Flying Cross and Distinguished Flying Medal. Missing information will also be gradually included.
All texts published on the web page, except Tadeusz Krzystek’s biography, were taken from the last edition of the List.
Polish Air Force in the West
he Polish Air Force in the West was formed with airmen who, after the September 1939 defeat, by various routes through Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Greece and Syria, got through to France. Once there, a significant number – about 9,000 – of the Polish Air Force airmen was organized under the command of the Commander in Chief, gen. Władysław Sikorski. When in May 1940 the Germans attacked France, due to various organizational difficulties, only 174 pilots out of about a thousand Polish pilots flew operationally. Nevertheless, they achieved 52 air-to-air victories and probably another 10. After the fall of France, about 6,200 PAF airmen were evacuated to the UK. Earlier yet, at the end of 1939 and beginning of 1940, about 2,300 flying and ground personnel were transferred to the four established Polish bomber squadrons. At the end of 1940, the PAF in the Great Britain exceeded 8,000 personnel. read more…
PAF in Great Britain after the warT
he Polish Air Force in Great Britain was disbanded in November 1946. Some PAF personnel returned to the homeland, others joined the Polish Resettlement Corps RAF (Polski Lotniczy Korpus Przysposobienia i Rozmieszczenia). The Command of the PAF was reorganized into the Inspectorate General PRC RAF. Airmen were transferred to eight PRC stations and began applying for a return to Poland or to join the Resettlement Corps. read more…
Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF-PLSK)T
he service of Polish women in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (PLSK – Pomocnicza Lotnicza Służba Kobiet) during World War II was a valuable contribution to the war effort of the Polish Air Force in Great Britain. Polish WAAFs constituted over 13 percent of the ground personnel of PAF. read more…
n early 1943, the Polish Air Force Command received a message that in the Middle East along with gen. Anders 2nd Corps had arrived about 1,500 boys aged 15 years (actually 12 to 16 years). Many of them were orphans who lost their parents in Soviet Russia in exile or in prison camps. Gen. Stanisław Karpiński submitted a plan of organizing an air force technical school for teenagers, which would be the nucleus of such schools after returning to a free Poland. Commander-in-Chief, gen. Sikorski, gave his consent, and ordered him to make arrangements with the British authorities. read more…
Losses of PAF personnelI
n the period 1940-1945, 1,879 members of the PAF were killed, 31 percent of the 6,158 flying personnel. These figures correspond with the number of Polish Airmen who fell in the British Campaign 1940-1945 and also with the names engraved on the Monument in Memory of the Fallen Polish Airmen located in the Pole Mokotowskie in Warsaw. read more…
cknowledgements of the authors, Tadeusz and Anna Krzystek, included by them in the final, third edition of “Polish Air Force Personnel in Great Britain”:
Lucyna Artymiuk for help in finding the names of airmen whose fates after 1947; Halina Bożek nee Krzystek for assistance in completing the list of PAF personnel; Tadeusz Chwałczyk for additions sent for the second edition in 2007; Zenon Dudek for additions and valuable comments about recipients of the Virtuti Militari Cross; Tadeusz A. Dziewulski (1924-2007) for help in editing the historical introduction to the first issue; Robert Gretzyngier for his professional help on the first edition; Piotr Hodyra for additions concerning 301 Bomber Squadron airmen; Zbigniew Kumoś for help given on the second edition of “Personnel”; Jacek Kutzner for corrections and supplements to the first edition; Andrzej Lewandowski for an amendment to the third edition of 2012; Wojtek Matusiak for comments and corrections to the first edition of 2002; Jerzy Pawlak for additional data on graduates of the “Szkoła Orląt” in the years 1925-1939; Danuta Sławińska for her help and patience in the transfer of many updates preserved in the records of the office of the Polish Air Force Association in London; Józef Zieliński for professional comments and assistance in the 2007 edition of the book; Wojciech Zmyślony for placement on his website of an appeal for airmen who are on the list of PAF with the notation “no further information”.T
he Polish Aviation Historical Foundation would like to thank: Chris Kropiński for his help with the project, Wiesław Grudniak, Grzegorz Korcz, Izabela Półtorzecka, Grzegorz Zaleski and all those who sent in their comments and updates for the Krzystek’s List.