[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
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, Bute, Scotland.
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:
... . but a further letter from Major Wladyslaw Zaberowski, Bureau of Staff, Polish General Headquarters, gave a totally different impression:
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.
"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"
- 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 Sedburgh, Yorks (now in Cumbria).
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 Sedburgh School.
Buried Maidenhead Cemetery, Section D No 18KK
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