View Full Version : Franciszek Grabowski Liberator AL523

Don Clark
7th September 2023, 00:10
Franek, well known and liked member here, is a researcher of Polish aviation with a number of articles and two books published, as far as I know.

His first book, published in 2017 is an analysis of the July 1943 aircraft crash at Gibraltar that took the life of 16 of the 17 passengers and crew aboard, including Gen Sikorksi (Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile and Officer Commanding the Polish Army), his daughter, and several other senior Polish personnel and UK MPs.

Franciszek Grabowski Liberator AL523 - Analiza Techniczka Katastrofy Gibraltaskiej (Instytut Pamlieci Narodowej, Warsaw 2017)

Franek's own FB note (translated from Polish, so e&oe, Sir...

"It has been 80 years since the investigation into the most important air disaster in Polish history began. A catastrophe with dramatic consequences for the Polish state and nation. So far, the causes of the disaster have not been formally clarified. It can be done, as evidenced by my publication published 5 years ago with a hook, but nobody is interested in it. Why? Whether it is ignorance or perhaps fear of precedent, I cannot decide."

More than one book has been published on this disaster in the years since, at least two of them in English.
It is unfortunate that Franek's own 2017 Polish work, apparently the latest of these, is not readily found in the usual book listing sites like bookfinder.com.
It's a shame it doesn't rate a mention in the Bibliography and Further Reading sections of the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1943_Gibraltar_Liberator_AL523_crash
though Franek himself might like to update at least the Further Reading section there.

The publisher, Instytut Pamlieci Narodowej (Institute of National Remembrance) fortunately kindly provides an English edn of it's Books pages.
Unfortunately, Franek's Liberator AL523 is not listed there at present.

2018 75th Anniversary Note
The 80th Aniversary has now passed, too

Franek Grabowski
7th September 2023, 13:49
Few words to clarify.
The full title in English would be Liberator AL523 - Technical Analysis of Gibraltar Accident.
The book is purely technical. It explains what fact were actually established by CoI investigating it, which is not apparent from the report. It also explains the technical issues of ditching of Liberator based on investigations of the period. Another part of the book is simulation of the flight based on performances of Liberator as well as visualisation of what witnesses were supposed to see. A few myths were killed, eg. the famous Mae West mystery.
There is no single word on conspiracy theories, apart of debunking some by technical analysis.
The book is out of print and there is unfortunately no English version. I understand it is so specialised, that there would be no interest with commercial editors, and perhaps only few, with understanding of technical matters would appreciate this.
As such, the book was largely ignored, and nobody even attempted to prove me wrong.

Don Clark
7th September 2023, 22:29
Thanks, most interesting.

Referring back to your latest "10 Years" post:

"...it would be a shame if my research, often unique, would be wasted with me. I think and I hope that everyone contributing to the forum should consider this. We have lost a few members over the years, so there is a time for everyone. I would wish that members of the group would take more care in preserving and sharing their work, for posterity. It does not mean it shall be a freeload, it might be such after certain period of time, but it is most important it is not lost forever."
I hold genuine respect for your work and agree wholeheartedly with your comments. Could not agree more.

In my own case, firstly, that accounts for my posting style: striving for accuracy and detail, fully sourced, preferably to original docs of the time. Though well aware that my ponderous posts are not to all tastes, my aim is to show that information need not be lost for ever, and that anyone who wishes may see where to search and find such things both today and in the future.

Further, preservation and access for posterity are especially fundamental to my work on 211 Squadron RAF: for over 20 years I have been publishing my research on line at my website www.211squadron.org. I won't be able to do that forever, but thanks to the National Library of Australia, there are annual archived copies of my entire site in Trove/PANDORA at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-24825.

This leads me to this point: in 1998, I had self-published 211 Squadron RAF: Greece 1940-1941 - An Observer's Notes and Recollections as a 36p A4 booklet, thus preserving my late father's annotated Flying Log Book ms of the time. Only some 60 copies were printed, all gratis, most of them to old Squadron hands and family, others to eg National Library of Australia and British Library to meet the "deposit copy" obligation of book publishers. As more and more material came my way, especially from Squadron old hands back then, it was plain that more work was going to be needed. So I turned my little book into a website, back in 2001. I've had a couple of enquiries to turn the site back into a book, since. As the website continues to develop, that is not practical: too large and too hard to update in print.

And so, with that as a parallel, back to your own work. I realise that translating Liberator AL523 into English would be a very large task. Might you consider, the book being out of print, putting at least the Polish text online in a website? (I imagine IPN permission might be required).

If a site were possible, in Polish or English, I understand that Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych (Polish State Archive) provides for archiving digital material, including that from individuals, as noted at https://archiwa.gov.pl/en/discover/projects/electronic-documents-archive/. Might that be worth considering, if you have not already done so? My Polish, as you would no doubt expect, is very poor. Not so poor as to not understand your Liberator AL523 subtitle at first look, but poor enough to be most grateful that sites like the Polish State Archive offer their site content in Polish and in English...

Finally, I was fascinated by recent developments in book publishing by print-on-demand, where a fellow 211 Squadron friend, having achieved a very lengthy (484 pages) heavily illustrated fictionalised narrative for a long lost uncle, found it possible in 2021 to have the book published (and listed) by Amazon, as print on demand in paperback and hardback, and as Kindle. Amazon take quite an amount of the cover price but that did not deter the author, who was determined to have the story told and available for posterity. I was quite surprised, not so long ago, to hear from him how many copies had been sold.
Gerald's War https://www.amazon.com.au/Geralds-War-true-tragic-peace/dp/B09NH3CPLN/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=Nigel+Williams&qid=1694121613&sr=8-11
My review: https://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?31336-N-Davies-Williams-quot-Gerald-s-War-quot

Anyway, wishing you well in all your endeavours, Franek.

Hardly need to add that this researching and reporting history for posterity drives many of us: at this site and forum, and at many others on like topics. Just a few examples: Jagan's own collaboration on the Indian Air Force at Bharat Rakshak , then The Aerodrome for WW I, then those on other topics like the Center for Research: Allied POWS Under the Japanese (that continues long after the death of founder Roger Mansell), the RN Naval History site with scope from the Battle of Trafalgar 1805 to the Falklands 1982 (continuing long after the 2016 death of founder Gordon Smith), and so on and so on...

Franek Grabowski
8th September 2023, 14:09
Regarding the book, getting it self published in English would require a bit of effort in obtaining copyrights for some photos or preparing drawings. Translating the text could be also a challenge, as I would need to find all primary sources used to get exact quotes, and locating them in the stash could be equal to landing on Mars. Then someone with good knowledge of technical English should edit the text accordingly. Aside, I hate translating and I hate to return to things, that I have already completed. I prefer to start on another topic. Though, I am aware of a translation of my book for personal purposes, and possibly I can obtain this one.
I guess I can prepare an article on that, though, if anyone is interested in publishing.
In regard of the book in general, there are some issues, but I own my text and I can do with it whatever I like, the problem is with editing, see above.
Self publishing is an option, several ways to go. For the moment, I need to go this way with my book about Polish airmen in Pakistan Air Force. Here, the problem is that whenever I think that it is ready, I find new stuff which must not be omitted. Aside, I have another book project, several hundred pages long, which turned into a nightmare. So it is the problem of will and time.
That said, congratulations on your No 211 Sqn project. All commendable. It is somewhat out of my scope, as I am aware of no Poles there, and this is my primary interest. Nonetheless, I always support such projects regardless if of my interest or not. The only thing I stress on is to have decent scans of documents and photos saved for posterity, as there is no worse pain than to have a thumbnail jpeg of a most interesting photo.
The other thing is making it part of a system. There are numerous sites providing information but they are not standarised and above all not linked. With the quantities of information, hundreds of thousands of airmen, aircraft, thousands of units, this is impossible to have a story of each one ever covered. But I can imagine that if this information is gradually converted into computer data, with the help of ever increasing tools, one day a search box will produce all the information answering particular querry.

Don Clark
8th September 2023, 23:11
Thanks, Franek, appreciated: likewise, Polish Air Force out of scope for me! Agree, no Poles known to me 211 Sqn 1938-1946.

I forget who it was who remarked, every book ever published is a manuscript ripped untimely from it's author's hands.

I think I did the right thing back in 2001, taking a PDF of my little book and copying text & images to start (!) a website.
Of course, it was really a very little book!

Still, it might be just enough of interest to make it available (by link to PDF) on my site: a thought for the future.

Franek Grabowski
9th September 2023, 01:05
You know, Sikorski crash is a big history. Having it solved would be a remarkable feat for any historian. It was also an interesting challenge to scientifically approach to a 70+ old aviation crash, with a very interesting results.
Then of course there are minor topics. They do not affect big history, but they are part of it. So it is our area. I am interested in Poles, you are not. But then there are unexpected finds. My researches brought me to East Africa and famous roll out the barrel mission. Many moons later, one of the men crossed paths with a Polish pilot in a rather interesting circumstances. So I cannot exclude that some of the airmen of No 211 Sqn had some contacts with the Polish airmen, perhaps flew with them during or after the war. It is also possible that some of the aircraft were delivered by Polish pilots. I think that the last Blenheim was delivered to Singapore by a one. You never know, but having it all in a database helps to find such links. Are they important? In most cases no, but it is fun to find them or read about them.