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Thread: Flight Lieutenant Michal Stanislaw ANDRUSZKO, DFC, No.318 Squadrom

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    Default Flight Lieutenant Michal Stanislaw ANDRUSZKO, DFC, No.318 Squadrom

    ANDRUSZKO, Michal Stanislaw, Flight Lieutenant (P.1199, Polish Air Force) - No.318 Squadron - Distinguished Flying Cross - approved 20 February 1945. Information from Spink Auction catalogue of 25 November 2010. Recommendation dated 26 November 1944, states:

    Flight Lieutenant Andruszko commenced his operational tour on 6.5.1944, and completed it in October, 1944, after doing 99 sorties in 151.25 operational hours. During this period, he proved to be a most efficient Tac/R pilot who always displayed great determination and set an excellent example to all who flew with him. On 19.7.1944, during a Tac/R mission IESI area, he observed some horse drawn transport moving along a road. Diving low in the face of intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire, he attacked and, although hit, he successfully continued his reconnaissance from low altitude. Eventually, he had to make a forced landing just inside our lines and received head and arm injuries which necessitated his removal to hospital. On 18.8.1944, soon after discharge, Flight Lieutenant Andruszko undertook a detailed and difficult Tac/R in the Fano area. In order to obtain accurate observation, he came down to 4,000 feet in the face of anti-aircraft fire which holed his petrol system. Even so, he completed his mission and returned to base with valuable information. Ten days later, on 28.8.1944, he undertook an artillery recce in the area south of Pesaro. Encountering constant anti-aircraft fire at all heights, his task became extremely difficult but, displaying keenness and determination he repeatedly climbed to 8,000 feet and dived down to within a few hundred feet of the ground to observe the strikes of our artillery. In this way, the three targets given him were soon occupied. Later, he discovered two more targets in the same area and, directing fire with skill and precision, all five targets were destroyed in spite of difficult conditions. During 30 sorties undertaken in the face of light and heavy anti-aircraft fire, F/L Andruszko displayed great courage and devotion to duty and obtained a great deal of information of real importance. For such consistently good work, I strongly recommend that he be granted the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    Biography and Notes:, Born Wolkowysk, Poland, 1917; after leaving school he undertook compulsory Military Service in the Polish Army, volunteered for transfer to the Polish Air Force and was posted for a three year course as an Officer Cadet to the Aviation Training Centre at Deblin, December 1936; towards the end of his three years he also completed a Fighter Pilot Course, June - July 1939; commissioned Second Lieutenant III/5th Air Force Regiment, Eskadra 151, 1.8.1939, on the invasion of Poland, 1.9.1939, Eskadra 151 was sent to the front; Andruszko’s Eskadra consisted of 10 PZI.7a aircraft, commanded by Lieutenant Jozef Brzezinski, the Eskadra moved very quickly from base to base until leaving Poland for Romania at the end of September; Andruszko offers the following insight:

    ‘On my first operational flight there was a large German bomber passing. Excitedly, I followed to his tail, pressed the trigger. After two or three rounds both machine guns jammed. Another day on reconnaissance flight watching a German troop concentration, a shell burst in front and gashed the petrol tank. I made myself ready to parachute out but had to get away from that lot as far as possible. The aircraft was trimmed a bit nose heavy. Holding the map on my left hand, I left the stick to turn on the emergency fuel tank. The plane went down and I was left floating in the air. Maybe just as well. I would probably attempt to crash land and with a fixed undercarriage that could have been fatal.

    “I landed on the other side of the river amongst some Polish units torn to pieces. My road back to the unit was on the other side of the river, so I grabbed a horse and let him carry me across the river. At the first village, I traded him for a bicycle. A lorry heading in my direction picked me up. Arriving at the destination in the dark I heard my name called. It was the very last lorry leaving”.

    Faced with overwhelming odds of 4 to 1 aircraft against, Polish Air Force Personnel were evacuated to either Romania or Hungry having lost 90% of their operational aircraft in action; here Andruszko was interned in camps before being able to leave Romania for Lyon the following months; in France, the Polish Government and Polish Armed Forces had reformed under General Sikorski; Andruszko was drafted as Navigator into the French Armée de l”Air at the start of 1940 and was stationed at the Base Aérienne de Toulouse; he was not impressed, “in charge of a tiny detachment I was posted for the air defence of Toulouse. There were two or three aircraft, more obsolete than the Polish, that had never seen a pop gun near them, never mind armaments”

    He did not have to wait long for a move, however, as France fell shortly after his posting. “Soon it was evacuation again. A lot of us gathered at the small port in the south (Port Vendres). Amongst all that lot was the ex-Commander of the Polish Air Force. Somehow, he secured a passage on a French merchant ship. He could take two of us as adjutants, but lots had to be drawn. A friend of mine and myself were lucky. We landed in North Africa (Oran)”.

    From Oran, the Polish Airmen went to Casablanca and from there in spite of torpedo and air attacks the convoy reached Britain; upon arrival, Andruszko was posted as a Pilot Officer to the Ground Training Centre of the Polish Air Force, Blackpool.

    “Soon we were under the wings of the Royal Air Force. A wonderful caring service in which I was proud to serve”. Posted to No. 15 FGTS, Carlisle, 26.9.1940 and undertook further training at O.T.U. Aston Down and at I.T.S. Hucknall before being posted for operational service as Pilot with Transport Command to 271 Squadron (Harrows), Doncaster, 14.5.1941; the squadron was primarily tasked with moving men and equipment of Fighter Squadrons from station; posted to No. 13 F.T.U., Lyncham, April – May 1942.

    Posted as part of a Polish Detachment to No. 1 Aircraft Delivery Unit, Middle East, July 1942; this unit was responsible for ferrying aircraft from Takoradi on the Ivory Coast of West Africa to airfields near Cairo; this was the main route for reinforcing the Middle East – aircraft would arrive via the sea terminal at Takoradi, be unshipped and assembled and then flown 4,000 miles across Africa; Andruszko comments, “A number of us were sent to an Aircraft Delivery Unit…. Africa was nice. Flying was exciting across jungles and deserts. We had casualties. Some went down in the jungles, some died in the deserts”.

    As Andruszko’s Log Book shows, he flew in a vast assortment of aircraft during this posting, including Hurricanes, Beaufighters, Hudsons, and Falcons; posted to No. 3 A.D.U., Casablanca, Morocco, 3.5.1943; serving with this unit until 21.1.1944, he added Spitfires to his collection; undertook an artillery course and was posted to 74 O.T.U., Petah Tiqva, Palestine, February 1944, in preparation for a posting to an operational Fighter/Reconnaissance Squadron in Italy; posted to 318 (Gdansk) Fighter Reconnaissance Squadron, (Spitfires) Quassassin, Egypt, 4.4.1944, and flew with the squadron to Madna, Italy; his first operational sortie with the squadron was 6.5.1944, in support of the British 8th Army’s drive into Central Italy; he was shortly to be transferred in the same capacity to 225 Fighter Reconnaissance Squadron, Lago; he flew in 25 sorties with the latter before returning to 318 Squadron, Trigno, June 1944; he recommenced Artillery Recce and Photo/Tactical Recce sortie; by 11.10.1944 he had completed 99 such soties; promoted Flight Commander, August 1944.

    “Our main duty was cooperation with the Army – Reconnaissance, Artillery Direction or Photo. There were plenty of targets on the ground. The Spitfire was well armed, so I never brought the ammunition back to base… On one of the assignment flights, I saw a German staff car coming on a rather exposed road. It got the taste of four machine guns and two cannon (next day it was reported that the General commanding that Sector was killed). As I pulled out the artillery shell hit me. Miraculously it hit the thick under carriage bar and exploded there. Splinters tore up the oil tank. Being deadly scared of prison camp, I headed towards our lines. The engine was getting red hot and grinding. Had to switch it off – too late to parachute out – nowhere to land, only hills and mountains. First slope of a hill had to do – hit the mound of earth, somersaulted and ploughed on the back the rest of the way. Apart from the cockpit handle buried in my left arm and a few pebbles in the skull I was ok, hanging upside down on the straps and trapped”

    With the end of his operational tour Andruszko returned to the UK, and was posted on a refresher course to 286 Squadron, Western Zoyland, Somerset; he completed the course, 19.3.1945, and after two more training courses was posted to India, 11.9.1945, and on to No. 36 Staging Post, Ferry Flight, “One day I delivered an aircraft to the Maharaja of Jodhpur. I boarded the passenger collecting Dakota due for New Delhi. I don’t know how but somehow the pilot missed the message that New Delhi Airfield was closed. We were approaching to land, I happened to look out of the window, there were cyclists and a car heading towards us. Suddenly the engines revved up wildly, big bang, and we were in the air again. The pilot had mistaken the broad, well-lit avenue for a runway. With the wing half sheared off we landed at the next airfield.”

    Andrusko returned to the UK in February 1946, and was finally released from the Polish Air Force on 3.12.1946, after having service a total of 10 years, spanning service in the Polish Air Force, the French Armée de l”Air and the Polish Air Force, Great Britain.

    Tragically in 1987, a year after the death of his wife, Michal Stanislaw Andruszko was found drowned in a river near his home in Bungay, Suffolk.

    Sold with the following in 2010:

    1) Distinguished Flying Cross, G.VI.R., reverse officially dated ‘1945’.
    2) Poland, Republic, Cross of Valour, with Second and Third Award Bars.
    3) Poland, Republic, Air Force Active Service Medal.
    4) 1939-1945 Star
    5) Africa Star, with North Africa 1942-43 Bar.
    6) Italy Star.
    7) Defence and War Medals.
    8) France, Republic, Combattant’s Cross.
    9) France, Republic, War Medal, no clasp,
    Last edited by HughAHalliday; 20th January 2022 at 11:52. Reason: correcting date.

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