Polskie Siły Powietrzne w II wojnie światowej
Longin Wiński

Longin Wiński

Longin Marian Wiński (Longin Marion Winski) was born September 10th, 1921 in Detroit, Michigan. His parents were Benedykt and Aleksandra nee Usewicz, Polish immigrants. His father came from the village of Sokółki in Mazovia, Poland. His mother was from the village of Pogiry (in Lithuania). Longin was the fourth of five children: Sidney Zygmund, Hyacinth Ben, Wanda, and Frank, the youngest. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

At the turn of 1941, he enlisted as a volunteer in the Polish Armed Forces, reporting to the Polish Army Recruitment Center in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. He underwent initial training at Camp Tadeusz Kościuszko at Owen Sound. He was given the rank of starszy szeregowiec (private 1st class) and accepted into the Polish Air Force, with service number 709537.

While still in Canada, he began pilot training. His theoretical course took place between March 16th and May 10th, 1942 at No. 3 Initial Training Wing at Victoriaville, Quebec. Then, from May 11th to July 5th, 1942, he attended a practical training course at No. 31 Elementary Flying Training School at De Winton, Alberta. From July 6th to November 22nd, 1942, he completed No. 32 Service Flying Training School at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Here he flew Harvard single-engine training aircraft. Having qualified as a pilot, he was sent to Britain for combat training and then a posting to an operational unit.

After arriving in the British Isles, from November 23rd, 1942 to February 8th, 1943, he was posted to No. 7 Personnel Reception Centre at Harrogate. Then, like other Polish pilots trained in Canada, he was posted to No. 5 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at Ternhill for training and additional flight experience, where he served from February 9th to March 21st, 1943. Then, on March 23rd, 1943 he joined No. 2 Air Gunners School at Dalcross, where to gain flight experience, he flew air gunners on training flights. From there, on May 25th, 1943, he was sent to a Spitfire fighter course at the Polish Fighter School, operating at No. 58 Operational Training Unit RAF at Grangemouth.

On August 11th, 1943, Wiński was posted to No. 317 'Wilno' Squadron. At the time the unit was resting at Perranporth, equipped with Spitfire Vs, performing auxiliary tasks and training inexperienced pilots coming from training. In August 1943, No. 317 Sqn moved to Fairlop near London, and in September 1943 to Northolt, where the Squadron joined the 1st Polish Wing, which was the main tactical unit of the Polish fighter force. At the turn of 1943, the 1st Wing was reorganized so that it was able to operate in field conditions in connection with the planned invasion of Europe. In the Allied structure, it was also given a new numberplate: No. 131 Wing. On a daily basis, it was busy conducting flights over the continent, mainly covering USAAF bombers over the English Channel during the departure and return from bombing missions. In the first half of 1944, the Squadron was based at airfields in England: Deanland, Chailey, Appledram and Ford, which was a practical exercise before transferring to the continent. In June 1944, No. 131 Wing, including No. 317 Squadron with Wiński, participated in the invasion of Normandy and the opening of a new front in Europe.

The Allied landings in France drew substantial German forces to the shore of the English Channel, which offered the first real prospect in a long time of fighting the enemy in the air. On June 20th, 1944, No. 317 Squadron, led by No. 131 Wing Leader, W/Cdr Julian Kowalski, at approximately 16:00 engaged several German Fw 190 fighters from Jagdgeschwader 2 between Bayeux and Saint-Lô. Wiński attacked one of them over Airel and, according to his report, hit it in the fuselage and saw black smoke, but he did not see the moment of the crash of the German fighter, which headed towards the Allied-held Cardonville airfield (coded A-3). After the fight, Wiński rejoined his squadron and, as ordered, flew over the front line to intercept more German aircraft. There, his Spitfire was damaged by anti-aircraft fire, which in turn forced him to land at Cardonville. There, airmen from the 368th Fighter Group USAAF told him about a dogfight they had seen and a downed plane, identifying Wiński as the victor in that combat. After returning to base, Wiński submitted a report, claiming the Fw 190 as probably destroyed, with a request to verify the American accounts and possibly upgrade the victory category to confirmed destroyed. After obtaining a report from an American intelligence officer, Wiński's victory was credited as destroyed. The remaining pilots were credited with one confirmed kill (F/Sgt Tadeusz Wojciechowski) and two probables (W/Cdr Julian Kowalski and F/Lt Henryk Knapik).

The only identified Focke-Wulf that crashed near Cardonville airfield was Fw 190A-8/R6 (W.Nr. 730957) "Blue 5" of 4./JG 2 which made a forced landing 3 km northwest of Isigny. The pilot, Uffz. Heinz Kartelmeier, was taken prisoner. It can be assumed that this wreck was treated as proof of the victories of both Wiński and Wojciechowski. The latter saw his victim make a forced landing and captured it on gun-camera film. This does not mean, however, that Wiński could not have scored a victory, as 4./JG 2 also lost two other aircraft. However, it is not known whether these planes were lost in combat with Polish fighters. This also applies to the other two aircraft of I./JG 2 lost in the area. These losses cannot be unambiguously matched to victories of Allied pilots, although, of course, losses from anti-aircraft defense and accidents cannot be ruled out.

Wiński's further service was uneventful. In the summer of 1944, he moved to the continent and was operated from airfields in France (Plumetot, Fresnoy-Folny and Lille-Vendeville) and Belgium (Antwerp-Deurne and Sint-Denijs-Westrem). During this period, he flew primarily strafing and bombing ground attack missions. On July 27th, 1944, he was promoted to the RAF rank of Warrant Officer, and on September 1st, 1944 to the Polish rank of plutonowy (lance sergeant), and in these ranks he ended his service with the Polish Air Force. He applied for transfer to the US forces and on October 11th, 1944, he was posted to the Polish Air Force Depot at Blackpool, and then discharged from the Polish Air Force. The exact reasons for his departure from the Polish Air Force are not known, however it can be assumed that the conditions of service as well as the uncertain post-war situation could have influenced Wiński. In the United States Army Air Force, Wiński was offered decent pay and officer's commission. He was one of the last volunteers from the United States who transferred from the Polish Air Force to the USAAF.

During his service with the Polish Air Force, he was awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour) and bar, and the Polowy Znak Pilota (Operational Pilot Badge; No. 1571). After the end of the war, on September 1st, 1945, he was promoted to the rank of sierżant (Sergeant) in the Polish Air Force. He had flown 97 combat and 6 operational sorties with the Polish Air Force.

On November 1st, 1944, Wiński officially joined the USAAF as a Second Lieutenant, with service number O-2009043, and then on November 18th, 1944, he was posted to the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group USAAF stationed at Little Walden. Lt. Michał Murayda (Michael Murayda) from Akron, Ohio, who had served with No. 302 “Poznań” Squadron of the Polish Air Force, was transferred with him. Two more Poles served with the 61st Fighter Squadron USAAF at that time: Cpt. Bolesław Gładych and Lt. Witold Łanowski, making the largest group of pilots of the Polish Air Force in the USAAF.

Unfortunately, Wiński's posting took place at a time when this unit was being re-equipment with a new version of the Thunderbolt, the P-47M, which caused numerous technical problems. This significantly limited the activity of the unit, unable to despatch the full number of aircraft for combat missions in which it participated. Wiński did not encounter the enemy in the air again, but was credited with two planes destroyed on the ground: a Heinkel 115 at Rechlin airfield on April 10th, 1945, and a Junkers 88 at Eggebeck airfield on April 13th, 1945. During both flights, the 56th Fighter Group USAAF destroyed a record number of enemy aircraft on the ground.

Wiński probably remained with the 61st Fighter Squadron USAAF until it was disbanded on October 18th, 1945 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, a week after arriving in New York by sea. Wiński was probably granted a leave, and then went back to Europe, serving with the 85th Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group USAAF, at Hörsching near Linz in 1946. The unit flew the Thunderbolt fighters well-known to him and was part of the American occupation forces in Austria. Unfortunately, the record book of the unit from the period of Wiński's service has not survived and it is impossible to determine the date of his posting to the 85th Fighter Squadron USAAF.

On May 24th, 1946, a practice flight was scheduled for Lt. Johnny O. Crowell, Lt. Robert E. Coad and Lt. Longin Wiński. The pilots practiced formation flying. At approx. 13:52, 2 miles north of Wels, approx. 6 miles south-west of the Hörsching airfield, Wiński's P-47D-30RE X11 (44-20867) dived into the ground. After an investigation, it was found that the accident was due to a dynamic stall (separation of airflow from the wing surface as a result of a sharp maneuver) in inverted flight at an altitude not sufficient for the recovery of the aircraft. At the same time, it was noted that the primary cause of the crash could not be determined.

Lieutenant Longin Wiński was buried at Rosedale Memorial Park Cemetery at Tallmadge Township, Michigan, USA. He was 24 at the time of his death.

20.06.1944 Spitfire LF.IX, JH-T (ML198) 317 Squadron Fw 190    

Franciszek Grabowski, Wojciech Zmyślony