12 March 2018

Son attends rededication service for his father on 75th anniversary of his death

The son and grandchildren of a Second World War pilot previously buried as an ‘Unknown Polish Airmen’ attended a rededication service at his grave on the 75th anniversary of his death.

 

 Rededication service for Tadeusz Stabrowski attended by his son and grandchildren. ©Ph Sergeant CD

Porucznik (Pilot) Tadeusz Stabrowski’s son was only six-months-old when his father’s Spitfire was brought down by anti-aircraft fire on 11 March 1943. 

Born on 16 May 1917 in Poland, Tadeusz  joined the Polish reserve air force as an Officer Cadet in 1935. Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939 he was taken prisoner and interned in Romania, but managed to escape after securing a false passport. He made his way to France and then England – arriving in June 1940. He trained at RAF Aston Down and was posted to 258 Squadron. While in England he married and had a son. Tadeusz was later posted to 308 (City of Krakow) Squadron operating Spitfires.

A fellow pilot, Tadeusz Schiele described him as “a loveable drunk and crazy artist-painter. On the ground he was humble, unkempt, constantly blinking, reckless, always late, absentminded and in disregard of everyone and everything. In the air he became a calm, precise and brave pilot with nerves of steel and one of the best I have ever known.”

Pilots of No. 317 Polish Fighter Squadron enjoying a break in the Operation Room of RAF Ouston, 27 April 1941. F/O Tadeusz Stabrowski  is pictured in the left foreground, in the chair. © IWM (HU 128889)

Photo caption: Pilots of No. 317 Polish Fighter Squadron enjoying a break in the Operation Room of RAF Ouston, 27 April 1941. F/O Tadeusz Stabrowski  is pictured in the left foreground, in the chair. © IWM (HU 128889)

Tadeusz’s son and his family travelled from Canada to attend the moving service in Le Crotoy Communal Cemetery on Sunday (11 March). The service was organised by the Polish authorities, and the Commission provided the new headstone inscribed with his name.

Tadeusz was last seen ditching his Spitfire in the Channel and although it was reported that he escaped his sinking aircraft, a rescue seaplane found no trace and it is presumed he died of hypothermia. His body washed ashore in April 1943 and was buried as an Unknown Polish Airman in Le Crotoy Communal Cemetery.

 Rededication service for Tadeusz Stabrowski attended by his son and grandchildren. ©Ph Sergeant CD

In September 2017, following a request by the Polish Department of Cultural Heritage and Wartime Losses, experts from Pomeranian Medical University carried out an investigation into the identity of the Unknown Polish Airman in Le Croy.

Their investigation, which included DNA comparison, confirmed the identification of the previously unknown airman as Flying Officer Stabrowski.

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