I did not ever realize that by the end of the year 2018 I will have to face a challenge that happens maybe even once in a decade for a kind of writer that I can express myself to be. And as it is a story that is about someone related to me. It is a challenge for me to find right distance to write about it.
As usual before some holidays or other times when my imagination wanders around the past I decided this year to travel to Stężyca before Christmas 2018 to visit a grave of my cousins who were pilots – Władysław Miłosz and his son who died tragically – Mieczysław, called Józio (Józef was his second name but his father called him Józio).
My mother showed me that grave more than 10 years ago when with my uncle Henryk we were traveling around Ryki to small villages with small old cemeteries where grandparents of my mother like Feliks and Łucja Kamińscy have graves so to Korytnica and to Brzeziny, and finally to Stężyca too. It was the first time I was told something interesting about those relatives.
My interest in aviation develops naturally and for more than 10 years period my knowledge about these topics including topics about the past, the history, especially of Polish Air Forces and generally knowledge about how it is to be a pilot, what professions are involved in this industry, what subjects are taught within aviation university programs, what are subjects of interests of people who operate on the ground, who support, provide the supply and manage air operations compared to pilots, navigators etc. themselves. I realized more than 15 years ago that on flight simulators of many kinds to learn intuitively flight mechanics, how to perform specific maneuvers comes to me naturally. I realized that the speed of decision making and emotional responses I have during simulated flights are adequate to those tasks. I was once bought by my ex-girlfriend a flight on simulator of Cessna in Bemowo and I landed a plane looking only on the horizon line through “windows” (screens in fact) and not even making use of gauges that I knew what information indicate as I was for a long time much interested in aviation issues but did not need those information at all to land using more intuitive powers of what clues seen through the window tell me about the altitude, horizontal and vertical speed, angles of attack, possibilities of stalls, distance to the landing strip. My another passion was also to analyze air crashes. I saw two of them by myself. But before that I often watched when moved to Warsaw and lived there for about 10 years. At the beginning of my living in Warsaw around the year 2004 I liked to watch Mayday (pol. Katastrofa w przestworzach) TV series on National Geographic Channel. And hard to say if interest in crashes was first or my interest in air shows and especially military aviation I was always passionate about. I started to play intense Mig-29 simulator about the year 2006 and I learned fast to perform many air operations like basic maneuvers like take-off and landing, turns according to scheduled turn-points on the HUD, advanced maneuvers like loops, tight turns and combat maneuvers (like Cobra maneuver). I learned to fire-off missiles of many kind. My favorite one on Mig-29 aircraft is R-77 Adder (a bit improved R-73 Archer missile with supported targeting on the HUD from the point of view of that game – what I discovered). And I find something exciting when I fire missiles from Mig-29 aircraft. I am not sure if I am really a fan of a typical dog-fight. I am not fan of it! Rather it is something strange to me. That feeling of tight rivalry. Rather the real possibilities of this aircraft I really admire for technical thought that stand behind it. It is something exciting. That it was invented, designed, financed, managed as a project, constructed, it is working and it is real, and it enables to effectively work according to its purpose. Where you have to set targets manually or where aircraft of the enemy are displayed using provided system on the HUD and you need just to identify them, choose them and select them by identification symbols that you can see on the green HUD display, select between them, they are often named, identified automatically and then just attach to them right missile that is eg. navigated by infrared systems and just after you fire the missile you can forget about it. It is colloquially called “fire and forget missile”. Often mission completes on its own after you just select target and fire the missile. Simply, that’s it. I also learned to bomb targets on the ground but it is probably most difficult task for pilots however specialized systems support to select target and keep the track of it with little ¨ symbol, adjust speed of the aircraft and provide all necessary navigation to precisely bomb place under specified coordinates or just identified from the map or sketch of terrain from navigational instruments also displayed on the HUD. I first learned this way also what is ILS that supports landing. I realize all problems and advantages of wing and tail rudders, breaks, elevators, flaps and all axes of movement of military aircraft and its thrust controlled by a throttle is something obvious for me for a long time. It was even time after air crashes of real military aircraft I scrolled discussion forums for weeks. I was often reading official manuals to specific military aircraft that were possible to find in the Internet. And as I never studied aviation itself I became much knowledgeable about aviation on my own. But it is not to be taught from “first hand” of experts. But studies and classes is also not a good opportunity for those who lack some passion from home or just somewhere. Usually studies it is time of intensified focus when you have to report to experts your knowledge. When you need to pass exams to speak yourself as a knowledgeable person. And if you start your adventure with eg. aviation or aviation engineering only when you start to study engineering it is often really too late to start. This is why many people fail during selection process or within first semester. Some realize it is too difficult. Others lack of basic attitude like focus, motivation, devotion, passion and will not pass the very first exams. I never decided to study particularly this. But if I decided I would not have enough time to develop myself to be who I am today. So this is always a trade-off. We spend time on one thing and have to resign from different opportunities same time as this is just life.
I scrolled many discussion groups and websites about those pilots around the Christmas time. I confirmed a bit of what I have known earlier. But also I found now more details about crash of Mieczysław. I talked with my uncle via mobile phone for a long time what helped me to know many more details. For example you will not find on Wikipedia but before air crash in September 1963 Mieczysław was a test pilot of prototype of the aircraft in former Yugoslavia. And he had also an accident. He fell down with that plane and was for a long time in the hospital with many bones broken. But he recovered. And unfortunately died during test flight of MD-12 aircraft. He was a test pilot of USSR first Mig fighter jets called in Poland differently as Lim series. He was also a test pilot of Polish military aircraft like TS-11 Iskra. And civil planes like Gawron and Wilga. Wilga was a plane that lifted me with my instructor and a glider in Jelenia Góra in summer 2015. A very light airplane with performances to operate in mountains area or very forested terrain as needs a short strip to take off and land. Canadians use many Wilga planes and even modified its initial idea of engine etc. to change its parameters a bit. And it is a plane now popular in more than 20 countries ATW. But it was not a popular profession. A high risk profession. But my uncle was whole life worked with high voltage just reported me lately the specifics of that time. He was also many times persecuted by stupid communists. He once even found in Instytut Lotnictwa Cywilnego a book about my cousin Mieczysław Miłosz as high rank technical staff wrote a monograph about him particularly. So was so young but with so many experiences and measurable performances, results and achievements in Polish aviation history that deserved a monograph! But you will also not find in on Wikipedia! And finally Mieczysław called by his father Józio as my uncle told me before Silvester when I called him, died tragically as a captain and whole crew – 5 people incl. him died as they were testing G-s, extremes of this plane in stalls and something to wings or rudders happened. There were 3 prototypes of this aircraft. Only one Polish airplane – 4 engine, only one type of this kind of Polish technical idea 2 years took investigators to figure out reasons of that crash. And they even destroyed one of 3 prototypes during investigation and one now is exhibited in Kraków in museum of more military aviation kind.
And when I was scrolling forums, discussion groups and websites about aviation where some clues about my cousins from my mother side were written, sometimes in a form of brief comments I found an entry in a form of a comment of Sam Hayes who claimed that is a granddaughter of Władysław. I thought that it was a mistake. Because I would know about it if he really was related to someone abroad as that region of Poland where that part of my family lived was relatively poor. The second world war was really tough experience and what’s worse communism also deprived people of many opportunities that it was a shock for me to discover that maybe a completely secretly story reveals to me this time. So I talked with my mother and my uncle and they only confirmed that Władysław was in service of Royal Air Force in Great Britain during the second world war. But I never assumed that I will find someone by the end of the year 2018 who will have to tell me so much about my cousin and from so different perspective. So far we exchanged with Samantha numerous emails that now it is impossible to use them even as a form of support for the story because are simply too long and share too many emotions and surprises to write about it on my blog as is not for such things specifically. It is not in a good taste for me to refer to people in present times and just report present stories to earn some popularity. Or I write about the past that is definitely past or just comment rude behavior of other people who try to interfere with my life due to lack of respect. And these are 2 reasons you will see me writing about people in general on my blog. Because these are not relationships. Some are stories from the past that I find educating, inspiring, important for identity shaping and to support arguments about the history of my country too. I have many stories from my relatives, cousins and ancestors from the past to write about their successes, bravery, wisdom etc. And other reason why I write on my blog about other people is to comment on some flaws, mistakes, arguments, conflicts that people spread now due to lack of values, respect, higher purpose in life, due to deceptive and aggressive nature and I feel necessary to comment on their behavior as a warning that we live among aggression all the time. That there is no such a thing like times of war and times peace. Every time it is potentially a risk of spread of conflict, hatred, disguise etc. And there are people really good in it. And some deserve to be exposed, warned and corrected for wrong ambitions and motives against other people.
But this time I have something to write about Władysław who I hardly suspected of such an interesting career. To what I knew from my mother and my uncle. He had a wife, might be a pilot, had a son who was born before the second world war. And unfortunately he was a son of my grandfather’s Jan sister who was cruel to my grandfather when he was an orphaned 10 years younger than his sister child and was allowed to look after cows getting a piece of bread in return for that “service”. But some day my grandfather found job in a great factory owned by a Jew in Łódź, he learned to be a carpenter in that factory. Came to Ryki, built a tenement house and a workshop. His first tenement house was bombed during second world war. And after war he built another tenement house making his living from being a craftsman and having some interest on rent. Like Jews. He learned this from Jews. My family was never making their living on social benefits or other pathology known from communism times and now many people have problem with this and dissatisfied Stefan Wilmont even killed a popular politician last time because never worked, no one taught him to work and was getting money from his mother. And this is exactly a pathology. And pathology is caused by communists. But now is supported by Prawo i Sprawiedliwość that tries to eliminate inequalities giving free money, giving free advantage to lazy people who never struggled to be productive and to support the society with their own work and efforts. Prawo i Sprawiedliwość demoralized people the most in modern Polish history what will never be forgotten by Polish intelligence. Because proved to be equal to communists who they initially tried to prove that fought with. I think that rather the problem is that Jarosław Kaczyński or Anotni Macierewicz never worked in their lives. I think this is the problem. If they worked even for a day instead of “politicking” they would be different people. And now their voters are also people who never worked. And this is the vicious cycle of ignorance that dominated intellectual atmosphere in Poland.
So life of my grandfather was not easy. And probably due to this lives of generations after his sister Józefa was rarely a subject of discussions in my own family.
But as I realized it is worth to write about. And I need to say another important thing about life in Poland in 30s. To become a pilot in Poland in 30s was not easy. Poland was always a bit not developed country, agricultural and concerned about military. Traditionally. But to become a pilot then a family had to own some money. My uncle Henryk once listened when traveled via bus or train in Poland a story that father of one young man who wanted to finish school in Berlin decided in 30s in XX century to find a job in Germany as a welded in big metal containers. No one in Germany wanted to do this job. And father of such a man to help him to fulfil such a dream found a job as a such worker and one day almost died from fumes during welding inside such a big metal tank. And family of Władysław in 30s. That family of the surname Miłosz was relatively poor. But somehow Władysław learned to be a pilot before war and it is something to admire. He was married in Poland and had a young son that time in 30s. And the history from 40s was not known to anyone in Poland. He just came from the Great Britain in 1947 with his wife and two bicycles and as a pilot in Royal Air Force in the West he feared to be arrested. And his first job was in the factory of Eternit (fibre cement) in Lublin. My family was rarely visited by Władysław till his really advanced age around ordinary person’s retirement when he was employed in agricultural cooperative in Ryki called GS (pol. Gminna Spółdzielnia). Only websites confirmed briefly that he was a RAF pilot. My uncle remembered him as deaf on one ear what confirmed his trade as planes were very loud that time, especially Spitfires. When he was coming to my grandfather’s workshop in Ryki hardly heard anything being told to him but he was relatively young man then what according to my uncle confirms that he could lose his hearing ability during his service in British aviation. But that period was completely not known to my own family like my mother or uncle Henryk. Almost till the end of the year 2018 when I tried to feel that gap in this story and find out how it really was with that service.
And surprisingly helped me with this Sam (Samantha Hayes), British woman of age 54 who proved me undoubtedly to be my relative. So with Samantha we have same ancestors Feliks and Łucja who came to Ryki area from Kiernozia near Łódź. Łucja was from Broszkowie family.
On my own I found what surprised me that a whole vessel where he was traveling on after torpedo attack in 1943 was at danger of sinking and many people were effectively evacuated and a few died.
But only RAF identification numbers were to be found and some just remarks to other stories and nothing more about his service. I was even not sure if he worked in fact as an instructor in aviation engaged in training of pilots in Dęblin but I found one day an information that he was in fact in deep communism period. And Samantha also confirmed this fact as she collected really many details about her grandfather. Impressively many.
Samantha proved me showing photos and revealing many details about her relationship to her grandfather who was my cousin. And her mother Jean Malkin is a daughter of Władysław who was secretly meeting with Uny White – British worker at Firbeck airport who was mother of Jean Malkin. She worked at the hall. It is surprising because according to my mother and my uncle Polish wife of Władysław was with him there in Great Britain during that war. But according to Samantha his Polish wife was in Poland for a whole war period. And his Polish son.
Today there are not too many proofs of the activity of that airbase but I was sent a few photos of what is there today and it looks like not existing today ex airport in Podlodów.
Samantha has sent me so many photos that had after her grandmother that it is hard to argue with her story. There must be not only seed of truth but if they struggled so much to contact their family in Poland and prove they are related they simply must be.
And what is sad as well as Władysław whole his life was hiding that had a daughter in England. The grandmother of Samantha also was waiting long enough to let this story be told officially to family there in England. As Sam said they were waiting till some people die in order not to annoy them. And asked about why Władysław never wanted to contact her mother, so his daughter I tried to explain communist, massive arresting of high rank military who served especially in the West, difficulties in finding job. Władysław could not find for a long time after he came in 1947. And it could break him. After so demanding service in RAF what proves this document that I was sent by Sam he had to employ in Eternit factory in Lublin! But do you know what is funny? Till today it is the same with job in Poland. Once you are marginalized, mocked, pushed beyond social margin – you will always have problems like people had problems with communists before 1989. And in 1947 Poland was much worse! But this document shows something impressive to me about Władysław and many thanks for sending me so many things you have to prove your connections and a very interesting history of your grandfather I can know better through what you could share with me. This is what has been sent to his grandson who was a son of Mieczysław who died tragically. And copy of this got Sam from family in Stężyca. It was time that Władysław lived in house at Swatowska 4 street in Ryki and that another tenement house further belonged to my grandfather. Władysław in 50s or 60s moved to Stężyca where he lived in a wooden house at Wisła river.
And this document confirms that he was coming from the Middle East. Then the vessel was attacked by torpedo and they evacuated. This document confirms also how much he was through before came to Poland in 1947. He had also a daughter in England and feared for his whole life – till death in 1984 to admit that has a daughter in a non-communist country!
My mother remembers him from 80s when he came to our house in Ryki asking for a favor or something with local authorities. As my parents were actively working and my father had many social functions for his whole life – first in Olsztyn, after that in Ryki, Lublin, Żyrzyn, so could help him maybe somehow. And he worked in GS till his death probably. But no one knew that one day in 2018 we will discover his family from the Great Britain from his service in RAF during the second world war.
Samantha told me that cousin of Władysław of the same surname was a very famous photographer in RAF corps. What confirms album issued lately. And one good friend from military stayed in England and owned a pub after war. What a different story compared to Władysław.
And that friend of her grandfather talked with Jean Malkin a daughter only once. And after that never wanted to talk again.
But these photos kept by Uny White for whole her life, after that by Jean Malkin mother of Samantha are now owned by Samantha who writes her name Sam. And so many of them are a proof that Władysław was for all of them someone.
Similar propeller is a part of the first grave of those family. Especially graves of both pilots. Now a new grave a bit covers that old part but propeller is a very visible element of their grave still. Good that symbols can summarize sometimes lives of people who had a passion.
Władysław with his daughter Jean Malkin
Władysław with British woman Uny White – a worker from Firbeck airbase. They met in Firbeck, were secretly meeting and had a daughter.
Władysław on a photo with family of Uny. On this photo is also a cousin of Władysław – Gabriel Miłosz. All thse photos were secretly owned by those British women as a memory of my cousin.
Another photo of Władysław that was only in a collection of photos of Uny White. And this is a proof for relationship and today for Samantha to be my cousin. This is why it is so important to keep memories, evidence for what happened.