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15 October 2014
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Re- Polish Warship in Cowes I.O.W.

by dennis russell

Contributed by 
dennis russell
Location of story: 
Parkhurst I.O.W,
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
24 April 2005

Several people have wanted to get some details regarding the raid on Cowes on the night on the 4th/5th May 1942.
Let me tell you my story.
I was 15 years plus when war broke out in 1939. My father
, who incidentally was awarded a D.C.M. in the 1914/18 war.
was employed as a prison officer at Parkhurst Prison Although being too young for military service I was allowed to enter the A.F.S as a messenger boy and as time went by I graduated into a fully fledged Fire Fighter Part time of course because I still had my day job.
In those days the part timers had a post to report too when rhe air raid sirens were sounded. My post was at a place behind the Stag Inn at Parkhurst, and was manned by five or more part timers. Our Fire Engine consisted of an old Buick car and towed a trailer pump
On the night of the 4th/ 5th May Waves of aircraft flew in and attacked the area. The first wave dropped fire bombs but most were off target and set fire to Parkhurst forest
and thousands of them fell into marshy fields, failed to explode and looked like seagulls that had settled down for the night
The next wave dropped flares that lit up the target like day. We set off to cowes with our old buick, but were held up by an enormous crater, large enough to put a double dekker bus in. \a similar sized bomb had dropprd into Cowes cemetery, the result of which defies explanation. However after taking some rather desperate detours we did manage to make our way to Cowes Headquaters.
I and another chap were sent to J.S.Whites shipyard to replace a couple of casualties
and to try to contain fires in a paint shop there. The paint shop was on a jetty and tied up to the jetty was the Polish Destroyer Blyscaweca firing all guns at the bombers above.I believe that the quwstion has been asked about Polish crewmen staying here after the war. I know of only one but he marrued and then moved to Canada, but I have forgotten his name
But that was not the last I saw of Blyscawica
I eventually was called up, and at first was sent down the mines as a BEVIN Boy but was invalided out due to continuos nose bleeds. I then Joined the Navy, posted to a Tribal Class Destroyer H.M.S. Tartar. She led the 10th Destroyer Flotilla and Blyscawica was part of that Flotilla

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Poles on the Isle of Wight

Posted on: 25 April 2005 by LGuzenda

Thenk you for providing more information about that night. It's possible that the sailor you mention was named Frank. His nickname was "Skelsky", but I'm not sure of his real last name. He moved his wife and daughter to Canada when I was a kid.

I know of several other Poles who stayed. My Godfather Caszik (who later lived in Parkhurst) and his friend Bernard (who worked at Beale's store in East Cowes)were both friends of my father, Czeslaw Guzenda. We lived on Gort Road in East Cowes.

Unfortunately, they didn't often discuss that night, but they had lots of stories of places that the ship had visited, including Gibraltar, Narvik and North Africa, plus the convoys, of course.

My uncle was in the shipyard with the air raid services that night. He told me about a bomb that dropped very near. It bowled him over and knocked a colleague into the river.



Message 2 - Poles on the Isle of Wight

Posted on: 28 April 2005 by dennis russell

Hello Leon
Thank you for your comments.
When I first started work It was at the Saunders Roe Aircraft factory in East Cowes, and I used to cycle from Parkhurst to the old floating bridge near to J.S.Whites shipyard and cross over the river, to East Cowes to get to work.
Thank you once again for your comments

Dennis Russell

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Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Allied and Commonwealth Forces Category
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