Claim Rommel

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Nov 9, 2005
On July 17, 1944, the 308 "City of Krakow" Polish Fighter Squadron patrolled over the northern France. The Western front seemed quite. The 308 was sent for a routine patrol, just to stay in shape.
Near Livarot, some 45 kilometers southeast of Caen, few motor vehicles were spotted, moving in the east direction. F/O Stanski with his wingman dove down to have a closer look. Flying on a deck, they concluded that two soldiers-full tracks escorting very chic limousine, indicated a traveling German VIP. The pilots strafed the column in few passes and climbing, returned to the squadron's formation.
Upon the return to the base, a British intelligence officer debriefed both pilots. The next day, the same officer sent for F/O Stanski to inform him:
- Claim Rommel!
- Are you sure?
- Yes I'm sure. Last night the Radio Berlin announced Feldmarshall Rommel - the Desert Fox -
killed in northern France, during strafing attack of British aircarft.
- How can you be sure it was our work?
- Yesterday, only the 308 sortied for France, and only you were strafing vehicles.

As it became known later, Feldmarshall Rommel survived the attack, but was seriously wounded.
In his book "Classic Warplanes - Supermarine Spitfire" (Salamander Books Limited - 1991) , Mike Spick wrote: "A significant contribution to the Allies war effort was an attack of Spitfires IXs near Livarot on July 17, 1944, on the car carrying Feldmarshall Rommel, during which, he was seriously wounded what removed him from active command."
(retranslation from polish)
An interesting question is why the Radio Berlin announced false information on Rommel's death. Was the Abwehr's disinformation to blame? Impossible. Three days later in Wolfschantze near Ketrzyn, an unsuccessful attempt on Hitler's life took place. It is known that Rommel sympathized with the members of the putsch. Some time later, during the visit by mysterious guests, Rommel committed suicide. This obscure event has many versions.
On 17 July that year, F/O Waclaw Stanski became twenty-four, and coincidently gave himself a memorable birthday present.
Waclaw Stanski was born on July 17, 1920, in Bezenczuk in Soviet Russia, as a son of force-laborer in Siberia, Jozef Stanski, who was sent there for refusing to join the Czar's Army. His roots were in Podlasie, eastern Poland. After the October's Revolution, Jozef was freed, and to reach Poland he had work for many days to afford one or two hundred kilometers by train. After crossing Ural Mountains, he found a temporary employment near Ufa, at a watermelon plantation. He fell in love with the youngest of the owner's daughters, married her and returned to newly independent Poland. He returned home not only with his wife, but also with his two sons and mother-in-law. Six other daughters of Szevieliev, stayed in USSR with the father. Szevielievs never met theirs mother, sister and wife again.
Upon his return to Poland, Jozef Stanski settled in Siedlce and worked for PKP, Polish national railroad. Waclaw, and his older brother Wiktor, grew up in Siedlce. As a teenager, Waclaw was very keen with sports. He played football (soccer) and competed in athletics. In 1936 he finished parachute course and a year later, glider course in Warsaw Aeroclub. He planned to graduate from the Szkola Lotnicza in Deblin (Military Aviation Academy). He failed one class, what postponed his High Scholl graduation by one year. In 1939 he entered the officer cadets course in Swidnik, where he trained on RWD-8.
During the Polish campaign he evacuated to Romania, then through Bulgaria and Liban he reached fighting? France (see left). During combat flying in England, Waclaw Stanski scored 2 and 1 shared, enemy aircraft destroyed (Focke Wulf FW190). Flying with 131 Polish Fighter Wing (302, 308 and 317 squadrons), Waclaw Stanski logged in record breaking number of dive bombing sorties. It is mentioned in Tadeusz Schiele's memoirs: "Blisko nieba" ("Near the Sky"). Schiele, Stanski's closed friend, was highlander, pilot, writer and mountaineer.
Once asked whether he was ever really scaired, he replied:
- Yes, very much so! When they shot me down over the front lines somewhere in France or Belgium. I forced landed with undercarriage up on a wood clearance at no-man's land, between Wermacht and Canadian divisions. Both sides fought for me like crazy. I lay under my Spitfire frozen with fear. Luckily for me the Canadians were better fighters.

After returning to Poland in 1947, it became apparent that, it was tough to live through war but to live through the "peace" was far more difficult. The "eastern climate" brought the real hardship.


Story by Jacek Stanski
:D Hi Adler!
Are you from Ansbach, yes? I've got some friends from Durrwangen, south of Ansbach!
Best regards from Cracow... :D

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