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Thread: J.A. Balawajder of 158 Squadron.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default J.A. Balawajder of 158 Squadron.

    Greetings all, this is a bit curly but please bear with me.
    Recently I was doing a little research into a man I met when I was very young, maybe six or seven years old (I'm now 46). I'm an avid scale modeller and was thinking of building a model of the Handley-Page Halifax B. III that I knew he crewed...back in 1974, Airfix even did a kit of an aircraft from his squadron...158. I always found the diagonal yellow stripes on the twin fins of the Halifax from 158 particularly striking. As part of my research, I came across this;

    Now I know this is a long time ago but for anybody interested, I have some info on this man.
    My name is Nick Schwanck and I come from Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. In the mid-sixties my parents lived in an inner suburb of Melbourne where my mother met and became friends with a woman who was a moderately eminent actress appearing on television and in films fairly regularly...her name was Sheila Florance. Her husband had been a bombardier in the RAF during the Second World War...Jan Adam Balawajder. He was Polish.
    The serious wounds referred to on the raid on Wanne Eickel were sustained from 20mm cannon rounds that entered the side of the aircraft and injured Jan (John) in the thigh...he never fully recovered from this injury and I remember him undergoing surgery as late as the 1970s. Being shot in the leg by a German night-fighter and spending six hours in the freezing channel ended his war.
    He also told me a story concerning his 'crash landing' referred to in the link posted above. The tail gunner was forced to traverse his turret so he could escape out the back. He jumped from the turret and landed in mud which sucked off his flying boots. Jan told me that the sight of four exhaust flames in the dark was the worst nightmare of crews because they knew that a lurking night fighter had spotted them. They were particularly afraid of aircraft fitted with 'Schräge Musik' armaments.
    Jan died of natural causes sometime in the mid to late 1970s. Sorry I can't be more specific about that. I remember him being a pretty decent fellow and he was always very kind to me...especially since I enjoyed his war stories so much. He once showed me a Luger and a Walther P.38. Big 'no-nos' under Australian law.
    I know this isn't much...I was a very young kid but I hope this goes some way to tying up a small loose end for somebody.
    Greetings from Tasmania, Australia.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Thanked 12 Times in 12 Posts


    I have some additional information. I have sent you a PM.
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post


    I recall Jan passed away around 1982. I have been in touch with Jan's stepson, but contact ceased, and never had a chance to attempt to recover it. I had a brief look at 158 Sqn ORB, but it was a huge lot, and I would need some spare hours to find Jan and his flights.
    Drop me an email or pm woth your email address if you need more details.

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