There are not many WWII heroes still living in Britain, especially those who came from other countries to liberate the world from the evils of Nazism.Born in foreign countries, and often forced to leave their homes, they found a new life on the welcoming ground of the British Isles.
I decided to do this project when I found out about the Polish pilot- Franciszek Bakalarski who remained in Blackpool after the end of the World War II.
Mr Bakalarski was born on 29th of January 1919 in Biala Podlaska in Poland. Having obtained his pilot license in 1937, he first flew on a Polish trainer aircraft called RWD8.
After the resistance of the Polish Army against the dual invasion in September 1939 collapsed Mr Bakalarski crossed the border to Romania and then travelled to France. When France fell he made his way to the UK and joined Polish squadrons of the RAF. After acquiring his British Pilot’s license, Franciszek Bakalarski began to fly a 300 squadron Wellington aircraft. He also flew on Mitchells- American bombers. Most of his missions were completed in a 305 squadron Mosquito, also called a ’Wooden Wonder’.
Mr Bakalarski was awarded many medals for his bravery amongst which is the Virtuti Militari Cross- the highest bravery award in Poland of equal merit to The Victoria Cross in Britain.
After the end of WWII Bakalarski continued to fly for the RAF until he was discharged in 1949 with a glowing reference from his Commanding Officer describing him as a ‘Reliable airman of very good character and superior trade proficiency’.
The photographs of the project are depicting Franciszek Bakalarski’s flying career in Poland and later in Britain.
Anna Bolanowska, May 2011
The Golden Girls Published May 17, 2010