Polish War Memorial Service: The 75th Anniversary service of the crash of the Wellington bomber into a tree at Doctors Farm, Darwell Hill, Netherfield on the night of 28/29th May 1941 took place on Saturday 28 May 2016. This was a very special day, not only because of the anniversary but it was also a thanksgiving for the life of Squadron Leader Stanislaw Jozefiak who sadly died on 12 December 2015, having survived the crash, who spent many years searching for the site in order to build a memorial to the memory of his fellow crewmen who died there. All these men were in their early 20s at the time and were returning from a raid over France when the Wellington was hit by flak and an engine was lost. The plane began to lose height and the pilot gave the order to bale out and two of the crew did so.
Sadly one was drowned in the channel, one was picked up but never flew again and Stan was stuck in the turret. He managed to eject himself and broke a leg very badly. He landed in a tree near Heathfield and was nearly shot owing to his accent! He spent many months in hospital and then continued to fly, becoming an expert with Spitfires, flying over 230 missions, was shot down twice and at the end of the war flying dangerous missions for the CIA, taking spies and propaganda from a secret airfield in Greece until the time when the double agents Burgess and MacLean were exposed.
Stan was advised not to return to England but wished to settle here with Margaret, his Scottish wife whom he had met while based at ‘Kinloss’. Derby was their choice and Stan opened a furniture and carpet store in Chaddesden which is still running successfully, now managed by his son. Having found the crash site Stan, then 81 built a large monument bringing special bricks from Derby on every trip he made, staying locally and spending days working alone with a bit of help from the late Mr David Martin, then living in Doctors Cottage with his late wife, Evelyn.
David’s brother had found the plane and debris and it had been decided to keep the area intact and preserved. A Polish Eagle adorned the monument, a cross on the top and a brass plaque, inscribed with the names of the airmen was provided by Rolls-Royce who made the engines for the Wellington and most other aircraft at that time. Stan was well known in Derby and invited to many special ceremonies and occasions at Rolls-Royce and on Remembrance Day as a VIP. Highly decorated with the Polish equivalent of the Victoria Cross and the Cross of Valour 4 times, Stan was regularly flown to Poland and in 1992 was a personal guest of the President Lec Walesa in a VIP trip to celebrate 200 years of the Virtuti Militari.
Marek Wierzbicki, Chairman of the Polish Club of History Enthusiasts ‘White Eagle’ had spent many weeks at the site building a monument to Stan, singlehanded, making extra standing spaces, clearing the site and designing an amazing brass plaque with Stan’s head in uniform and with the Polish emblems in colour to be fixed to the top. This had been made in Poland. Father Terence Wilson ably conducted the service, assisted by his cleric, as he has done for many years, opening it in Polish and reading, appropriately, from ‘The Beatitudes’.
Members of Battle, Hastings and Pett branches of the Royal British Legion branches attended and our Standard Bearer was Mr Don Fellowes. Commanding Officer Kirk Collison and Air Cadets of 88 Battle Squadron attended. Our special guest, Mr Len Manwaring, WWII pilot gave the Address and his very interesting speech related to his exploits and similarities to those of Stan, being fellow pilots in War. The Last Post was played followed by two minutes silence and then the laying of wreaths. Official Polish delegates were: Mr Zygmunt Tylunas- veteran WWII from 1st Armoured Division Gen. Maczek, Mr Wiktor Moszcynski from Friends of Polish Veterans Association from London, Polish South Coast Charity Trust – Eliza and Rafal Gitel, Lidia Gitel, Janina Josko. Polish Club of History Enthusiasts ’White Eagle’ – Beata Sobota and Jo Warren and Polish guests from Brighton, Eastbourne, East Grinstead and Nuneaton. The National Anthem and the Polish Anthem were sung, Father Wilson gave special thanks to Marek Wierzbicki, Len Manwaring, Mrs Elizabeth Manwaring, Alan Marchant and Mrs Sheila Standen for their help and assistance and to Mrs Juliette Vane for organising the ceremony and who had the honour of unveiling the new plaque. Sadly Mrs Magaret Jozefiak, Stan’s widow, had been unable to attend the service but it is hoped that she will be able to visit at a later date for a private viewing of the plaque dedicated to her husband. Grateful thanks to Mr Richard Martin, who had been very co-operative and helpful in supplying electricity for all the necessary work at the site and to Wendy for providing the rubber mats which were invaluable as the ground was somewhat muddy and slippery following previous rainfalls!
As we stood in this tiny corner of England in warm sunshine with the birds singing in the trees, a plane circled calmly overhead and reminded us that on this peaceful afternoon 75 years ago a war was being waged with bombers taking to the skies in anger and many young men such as those we had been remembering, would not return. Father Wilson then gave the final blessing.
Some 40 people attended this very special ceremony and it was a pleasure to see familiar and new faces including Mr Harry Baker, who had heard the bomber crash! He lives about a mile from Doctors Farm and at the time was only about 10 years old. He went to see what had happened, managed to retrieve a small piece of the plane which is still in his possession and many years later met Stan, who was looking for the site and called into Harry’s shop in Catsfield! He was then able to take Stan to the site and show him the exact place. 25 people then enjoyed afternoon tea and chat in Netherfeield Church. JV
Netherfield Celebrations: We are almost there. The party is on. It is the Queen’s official 90th birthday on Sunday 12 June . The place to be is Darvel Down.
So oil those muscles for the “tug-of-war”. Get in training for jumping up and down on the “bouncy castle”, and bring a cushion while you sit and watch the “children’s entertainer”. Please remember they need help with giving and preparing food to make the day really special. If you can assist in making paper animals for the adults and helping the kids pour their beer that would be fantastic.
Mountfield Village Hall Cinema: Just a small reminder that the latest blockbuster to hit the screen in Mountfield will be the acclaimed 2014 film “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumerbatch and Kiera Knightley. It is being shown on Saturday June 18th.T
Reflections on our Garden: The warm weather at the start of the week makes those regular, slightly mundane jobs in the garden, so much more pleasurable. Dead-heading, grass cutting and weeding become almost a special joy to perform. Well almost. Mind you, with a bald patch on top of my head, the need for a hat, when you are kneeling on the edge of a bed, pulling out the last remnants of “forget-me-nots”, is now ever more urgent.
The “Montana” has finally shed its last pink profusion and the “Wisteria” its pale blue jewels. But hey, the iris are poking their heads above the parapet and beginning to dazzle the eyes with their version of the “Rolling Stones” logo, I wonder if that is where Mick got his inspiration. The wild garlic is now going over and setting seed to claim more of the garden next year. So lovely when a carpet of white covers the wild part of our plot, but can be such a “thug”
My good lady has concentrated on the vegetable patch this past week. Sowing out the carrots, beetroot, 500 types of lettuce (well it seems like that number) and the odd courgette or two.
Our ash and oak are in full regalia and our yews have tipped their extremities with a whiter shade of green. With work that could be the title of a pop song methinks.
It is also a time to trim the hedges now that the young of the robins, blackbyrds and other assorted feathered visitors have finished rearing their first brood. Can you wish for anything more.......
More next week
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