M.670 2nd Officer Antoni Henryk Gosiewski 
 flag poland b. 17 Jan 1900, Warsaw  30 Sep 1941 to 19 Dec 1941 

 ata antoni gosiewski ATA

 ata antoni gosiewski 2 ATA    

 

[Antoni Gosiewski lost nearly everything that mattered to him - his country, his wife, his two sons, his career and a large part of his reputation, in two brutal years of war.

Eventually, he only had one thing left to give]

 

Father: Feliks Gosiewski (dec'd), mother Biernacka Julyanna. One brother (Juljusz) and one sister Eugenia still in Poland with their mother.

Diploma of Engineering

prev. Engine Designer. Polish Air Force from 1923 Lt-Col (equiv. Wing Commander)

Lived in France from Sep 1939 - 26 June 1940; then Pilot Officer in RAF

prev. exp. 1,050 hrs on PZL.11, Anson

[[pzl 11

The PZL.11, having briefly been considered the most advanced fighter aircraft of its kind in the world during the early 30s, was outclassed by such fighters as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 at the onset of the war.]

Awarded the Polish Virtutu Military (Polish Cross), ZKZ, SKZ, and MZW medals.

 

Address in 1941: c/o Mrs M Allam, Academy House, Rothesay, Bute

[Officer Concentration Station Rothesay (Polish language: Stacja Zborna Oficerów Rothesay) was a military centre of Polish Armed Forces in the West. Created on August 14, 1940 (Order Nr. L.dz. 1977/I.tjn.40), as Officer Camp Nr. 23, it was located in Rothesay, ButeScotland.

Officers of the Polish Army, who were sent to the camp, were billeted in several local hotels, such as „Craigmor”, „Craignetham Private Hotel”, „Madras”, „Glenearu”, „Ardyn”, „Struan”, „Bute Arms”, „Esplanade”, „Grand Marine”, „Royal” and „Victoria”. With the permission of Commander-in-chief of Polish Army and British authorities, families of officers were allowed to join them. The relatives of the officers were treated as foreign subjects, and since the Isle of Bute was located in a protected zone, special permission was required to enter the town of Rothesay.

On August 28, 1940, all officers began compulsory English courses, and on September 10, the camp was renamed into Officer Camp Nr. 2 Rothesay. - Wikipedia]

 

His application to ATA, dated 9 Sep 1941, concludes: "I want to work for the war effort. I desire to be useful as a pilot, because I have the knowledge, the flying experience (over 1,000 hrs) and the certainty of my hand."

However, one of his 'referees' rather threw a spanner into the works:

 I can give you the following information:

 1.  (Gosiewski) has been dismissed from the [Air] Force as a result of a sentence of a Court Martial in Britain, which found him guilty of the charge of embezzlement committed in Poland.  

2. Up till the last year in Poland [he] was a pilot and has had good training, though his occupation did not allow him to fly the most modern types of aircraft. He is a good and able technician.

In my opinion Gosiewski should not be appointed for responsible duties permitting access to secret information; he could, however, be engaged in simple executive work.

 

... . but a further letter from Major Wladyslaw Zaberowski, Bureau of Staff, Polish General Headquarters, gave a totally different impression:

 

 Answering your question in matters of Lt-Col Antoni Gosiewski Grad. Eng. I declare as follows:

I did not know Lt-Col A Gosiewski until February of this year, when Authorities concerned ordered me to defend his case before the Polish Court Martial in London.

Lt-Col Gosiewski was accused of having appropriated for his private purposes, unlegally, various small amounts of monies (totalling less then £80), which were put at his disposal for the "Representation Fund" of the Polish School of Air Force Officers, which was under his command before outbreak of the war.

I pursued the legal proceedings in this matter with an utmost care, and considering all the facts shown thereby, I came to the conclusion, I am thoroughly convinced a right one, that Lt-Col Gosiewski could not and has not done things he was accused of. Therefore I wrote and signed a Memorandum opposing the verdict, and destined for the General who is responsible for approving such verdicts here. I have to mention that against verdicts of our Court Martials no appeal to a higher court is provided, during the war.

Officers under whose orders Lt-Col Gosiewski has been on duty told the court that their opinion is entirely in favour of his character and behaviour. Their opinion is shared by numerous other Polish Air Force officers, now in service in this country who have heard about the bad luck of Lt-Col Gosiewski in this case.

I have to stress that facts alleged to Lt-Col Gosiewski should have occurred before the war between 1937 and 1939, in Poland, but there nobody has put it forward against him. It was in this country that two of his subalterns accused him, in circumstances where any counter proofs by evidence of witnesses and by documents left behind in Poland has not been feasible.

The Court Martial has based the verdict on the evidence given by these two former subalterns, but giving a supplementary explanation of the verdict stated that, admitting the fact of an unlegal appropriation, this deed has not been committed under influence of mean motives, and therefore the verdict does not include the privation of the accused nor of his high Military Order, the "Virtuti Militari", nor of his Academie degree of M.A.

...There exists the possiblility of applying for a revision of this legal proceeding, when new proofs and new witnesses will be available. This will be done, and I am sure that after our return to Poland this verdict will be cancelled.

After having examined this matter in the Polish Military Intelligence Branch I may state that also their opinion is entirely in favour of Lt-Col Gosiewski.

 

So the ATA gave him a 15-minute flight test in a Tiger Moth, which was satisfactory; "An experienced pilot, heavy on controls but suitable for Class 2 at once."

 ---------------------------------------------------------

On his application form, he gave his next of kin as: "(wife) Umerska Jadwiga [Lis], with the Polish Committee in Lisbon",

and said they had "2 children"

 

Sadly, by the time he started with the ATA three weeks later, his wife Jadwiga (b. 30 May 1908) and their two sons Krzystof (age 6) and Michal, age 10, had died when the ship in which they were travelling was torpedoed.

300px Avoceta steam liner SS Avoceta

"Avoceta left Liverpool on 19 August 1941 and safely reached Gibraltar on 4 September. From there, she made her usual round trip to Lisbon and back. In Lisbon she embarked dozens of refugees from German-occupied Europe: UK subjects who had escaped the fall of France and had been denied leave to remain by the authorities in neutral Spain and Portugal. Most were women and children, some of them of French or Spanish origin, several following their husbands to the UK.

Avoceta was one of 25 merchant ships that formed Convoy HG 73, which left Gibraltar on 17 September bound for Liverpool.

On the night of 25–26 September U-203 fired a spread of four torpedoes from their port side. One hit Avoceta close to her engine room. Admiral Creighton was on Avoceta's bridge, and later recalled that when hit "she staggered like a stumbling horse".

 Avoceta sank by the stern, and her bows quickly rose to such an angle that her lifeboats could not be lowered.

123 people from Avoceta were lost. The dead included 43 crew, nine Navy staff, four DEMS gunners and 67 civilian passengers, including 32 women and 20 children, four of which were under one year old." SS Avoceta - Wikipedia

 


Postings: Training Pool

"An ex Polish Air Force Officer. A most likeable personality, very keen and anxious to produce results ... will require help with his English"

2 accidents

- 12 Dec 1941, his Tiger Moth T7610 was caught by a gust of wind after landing and tipped onto its nose, breaking the propeller


d. 19 Dec 1941 (Died in ATA Service) in Master W8479 which flew into Arrant Haw hill, 2.5 m N of Sedbergh, Yorks.

The ferry originally started 17 Dec from Reading (Phillips & Powis factory) to 46 MU Lossiemouth, although he stayed at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire on the 17th and 18th Dec due to bad weather. 

The wreck was discovered by a shepherd on the 24 Dec, completely smashed and burnt. The weather had been misty all week. There were no witnesses.

"Insufficient evidence to establish cause but it appears that he persisted too far into bad weather"

It was his 3rd ferry flight, having previously flown 37hrs 10min in training on Magister, Battle, Harvard, Hurricane and Oxford.

The body was temporarily moved to the Games Pavilion at Sedbergh School.

Buried Maidenhead Cemetery, Section D No 18KK

 Antoni Gosiewski Gravestone 2014       

With thanks to John Webster

"If anything Gosiewski displayed an over anxiety to produce results ... as a result of his keenness he was on one occasion grounded because of his desire to take off in too bad weather conditions."

His cousin asked for his effects to be sent to him or Dr Vedrevczak, because "they are very valuable to me as concerning the family name, and also to his friends. Because even after his death we want the name of this valuable man and officer to be without any shadows."

He left a will, in Polish, naming two executors; one an officer serving in the RAF (Flt-Lt (Dr.) Marvan Vedrzevczak), and the Polish Legation in London. The will could not be proved during the war, so his £2,000 insurance (and £9 19 5d balance of salary) was invested in 1949/51 war bonds and passed on to his executors in 1947.

See also the photos of the crash site at  https://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk


PostScript:

In November 2021 I wrote to the Clerk of the Parish Council in Sedbergh (now in Cumbria):

"I am researching the ferry pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in WW2, and recently discovered the personnel file of a Polish pilot, Antoni Gosiewski, who crashed near Sedbergh just before Christmas 1941.  His story is a tragic one and he has no known memorial, just his grave in Maidenhead.  

Several ATA casualties do have memorial plaques near where they died, though, and I wondered if it would be possible for you to consider erecting one near his crash site."
 
Funded by the Parish Council and the Royal British Legion, the plaque was finally unveiled in September 2023:
 
  click to enlarge
via Janey Hassam
 
"Following several months of work, support and assistance gathering relevant information - I am delighted to confirm that the panel is now
in place in memory of Antoni and his family. It has been very well received, with many not aware of Antoni's full story - including the tragic loss of his wife and children earlier in the same year.  I am advised that there is still a small bare patch on Arant Haw where the plane crashed- and I am told that someone leaves a
remembrance cross there each year. Others have told me they often walk to the site, and reflect, when visiting the area."
 

  


 Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):

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