The Airmen's Stories - P/O S Lapka
Stanislaw Lapka was born in Borzymy, Poland on 15th August 1915. He joined the Polish Air Force in 1936. He was instructing at the time of the German invasion and was evacuated to Romania. Making his way to France, he elected to carry on to England and was commissioned in the RAFVR on the 24th January at RAF Eastchurch.
He went to 15 EFTS Redhill in February, then to the Polish Training Unit at Hucknall in March.
The unit was redesignated 18 OTU on 15th June 1940.
Lapka arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge from 18 OTU on 23rd June. He and five pilots with him were the first Poles to join Fighter Command. After converting to Hurricanes he was posted to 302 Squadron at Leconfield on 16th July, joining it next day.
He went to Duxford with a 302 Squadron detachment on 13th September to operate with the Bader Big Wing. Lapka shared in the destruction of a Do17 on the 15th. In this action his Hurricane, V6569, was hit by return fire and set alight. He baled out and broke his leg on landing. He was admitted to Ely Hospital and discharged next day. He went on convalescence to the RAF Officers Hospital Torquay on 8th October.
Back with 302 Squadron, Lapka shared in destroying a Ju88 south of the Isle of Wight on 10th December 1940 and shared another Ju88 on 28th March 1941.
He was awarded the KW (gazetted 10th September 1941), became ‘B’ Flight Commander on 7th January 1942, received a Bar to the KW (gazetted 20th August 1942) and took command of 302 Squadron on 26th August 1942.
Lapka probably destroyed a Fw190 on 7th September.
He was posted away to a course for squadron COs on 14th January 1943, after which he was appointed as Liaison Officer at HQ 11 Group.
Lapka was awarded the VM (5th Class) (gazetted 29th May 1943). He returned to operations on 1st January 1944, when he took command of 306 Squadron at Llanbedr.
Lapka destroyed a Me109 and was reported ‘Missing’ on 7th June. His Mustang III FZ156 (UZ-M) was shot down by an enemy fighter. Lapka baled out and was able to evade capture and make his way to the Allied lines. When he eventually turned up safely, he did not return to the squadron but went to the Polish Air Force Depot on 26th August 1944.
He was posted to HQ ADGB on 20th October as Squadron Leader Tactics and Organisation. He went to a course at the Polish Air Force Staff College on 17th September 1945 and was released from the Polish Air Force in 1947 as a Squadron Leader.
Lapka settled in Ipswich and died there on 19th August 1978.