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A superb Polish Air Force Virtuti Militari multiple gallantry group, Killed in Action 14th April 1942 over Holland.


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A superb Polish Air Force Virtuti Militari multiple gallantry group, Killed in Action 14th April 1942 over Holland.

Virtuti Militari 5th Class cross (officially numbered 9263); Cross of Valor (Krzyz Walecznych) with 3 additional award clasps; Polish Air Force  Active Service medal for 1939-45, second award clasp;  Polish September Campaign Cross 1939 (Fahnen Fleck); 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star; Defence medal; 1939-45 War medal. (mounted for display)

Also with Polish 300  Bomber Squadron enamel badge, Poland shoulder titles 2 types, Polish Pilots badge by Gaunt & Son, London.

NOTE: The Active Service medal 1939-45 and bar, is a post WW2 manufacture.

Sgt Pilot, Wladyslaw Zalejko a Wellington bomber pilot with 300 squadron Royal air force.

The group comes with a substantial file of research including information from the Polish Institute and a photograph of Zalejko, who was killed in action in 1942 over Holland.

Born 12 September 1914. St Petersburg in Russia.

1932 enters SPLJM Bydgoszcz age 18.  In 1935 graduates is an aircraft mechanic. Completed glider pilot course and then bomb pilot training courses at Radom Sadkow. Admitted to 6 Air Regiment and training Squadron graduate as a Pilot instructor.

A non-commissioned officer of The sixth Air Regiment based in Lwow, he participated in the 1939 September campaign as a pilot of the 65th bomber squadron.

31st of August 1939 65th bomber fighter Moves from LWOW to Nosow  airfield Biala Podlaska.

2 September 1939 – Target Czestochowa a German motor column.

3 September 1939 moved to Zabkow airfield.

7 September 1939 Target Rozan.

9 September 1939 flight moves to Franopol.

11 September 1939 moved to Falenicze Nr Wlodzimierz Wolynski.

12 September 1939 Target Lodz

14 September 1939 moved to Kutniki.

18 September 1939 evacuated to Romania.

On 20 September 1939 he Is recommended for the Cross of  Valor (Krzyz Walecznych) by commander six Squadron counter signed by the brigade commander in recognition of completing three, missions as follows:

  • 2 September 1939 – target Czestochowa , despite heavy enemy fire he reaches target.
  • Seventh of September 1939 – Target Rozan equally under heavy enemy fire.
  • 12 September 1939 – Target Lodz, he flies is playing and difficult circumstances.

He later received an additional 3 award bars.

After reaching France he applied to transfer to Great Britain.

December 1939 gained entry into the RAF / Polish air force in the UK Number P 780146

30 September 1940 he’s a pilot instructor for bombing in gunnery school West Freugh.

Once in Great Britain he served in 300 bomber squadron based at Hemswell.

On 1 July 1940, the No. 300 Polish Bomber Squadron was created as the first such Polish units at RAF Bramcote, as a part of the Polish Air Forces in Great Britain. As there were a large number of Polish airmen, often with experience in combat against the Germans from Poland and France, additional bomber squadrons were created by 24 July.

Between 19 July 1940 and 8 May 1945, the crews of the squadron flew 3,891 sorties and spent 20,264 hours in the air.

Initially equipped with Fairey Battle light bombers, the squadron was equipped with Vickers Wellington medium bombers on 16 November 1940. The squadron used several variants, including Mark IC, IV, III and X. In 1941 while the unit was equipped with Wellingtons and flying from Hemswell on ‘Gardening’ (mining) operations, the squadron’s Intelligence Officer was Michael Bentine, later to become well known as an entertainer. On 5 March 1944 the unit was re-equipped with Avro Lancaster bombers and continued to use that bomber until the end of World War II (Mk I and Mk III variants).

During the war, the squadron took part in most of the notable air offensives in Europe, including attacks on Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine preparing for Operation Seelöwe, also ships such as the German battleship Gneisenau docked in Brest, France, other naval facilities in Wilhelmshaven and its U-boat facilities in St. Nazaire, Millennium Offensive on large bombing raids on Cologne, bombing raids on V-weapon sites, D-Day, in support of crossing the Rhine, the Battle of the Ruhr, the bombing of Hamburg and the Battle of Berlin.

While serving in 300 squadron he participated in the following operations:

12 June 1941  Dusseldorf;  12 to 13 of June 1941 osnabrück;  16th 17th of June 1941 Duisburg;  7 to 8 July 1941 Boulogne;  8 to 9 July 1941 Munster; 10 to 11 July 1941 Düsseldorf;  6 to 7 August 1941 Frankfurt;  14 to 15 August 1941 Hanover;  16 to 17 August 1941 Cologne;  13 to 14 September 1941  Brest;  21 to 20 to October 1941 Bremen;  26 to 27 October 1941 Hamburg;  1 to 2 November 1941 kiel;  9 to 10 November 1941 Hamburg;  26 to 27 November 1941  Emden;  17 to 18 December 1941 brest;  23 to 24 December 1941 Cologne;  27 to 28 December 1941 Düsseldorf;  28 to 29 January 1942 Boulogne;  11 to 12 February 1942 Le Havre;  22 to 23 February 1942 Wilhemshaven;  9 to 10 March 1942 Essen;  25 to 26 March 1942 Essen;  26 to 27 March 1942 Essen;  5 to 6 April 1942 Cologne; 8 to 9 April 1942 Hamburg;  10 to 11 April 1942 Essen;  12 to 13 April I think so1942 Essen.

25th of October 1941 – awarded the Virtuti Militari 5th Class Number 9263.

On 14 April 1942 in the Vickers Wellington Number Z1213 he participated in a mission Essen as the target.

The crew comprised F/OP Pajer; Sgt J Balucki; Sgt J Kuczak; Sgt K Lubojanski; Sgt W Strelecki and Sgt W Zalejko.

Unfortunately after a long battle with a German night fighter in the region of Boeckel Holland the plane was shot down, the only survivor being Sgt J Kuczak who became a prisoner of war.  Sgt Zalejko  is buried in the military send cemetery that Eindhoven-Woensel ( Holland)

It must be recognized how rare the award of the Virtuti Militari is, the Polish equivalent of the Victoria Cross, being Polands highest military decoration for heroism and courage in the face of the enemy at war. Created in 1792 it is the oldest military decoration in the world still in use. approximately 1156 being awarded during the second world war, makes it rarer that the German Knights Cross (1716 awarded) and the British D.F.C, D.F.M or A.F.C.

The Cross of Valor with 3 further award bars is even rarer, their being only 426 examples of Air Crew receiving 4 awards of this medal.

The Air Craft was shot down by Major Hans-Dieter Frank who had joined the Luftwaffe in 1937, but was killed himself with his crew in a mid air collision on the 29thSeptember 1942. He was credited with 55 victories.

Condition – NEF

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