The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. B Malinowski
Bronislaw Malinowski was born on 12th February 1912 in Lviv, Poland.
In 1929 he joined 6 Aviation Regiment in Lviv and was sent the following year to the flying school at Bydgoszcz with further training at Grudziadz . He then he served as a fighter pilot in the 3rd Aviation Regiment in Poznan. In 1934 he was posted as an instructor to the Aviation Academy at Deblin and was still there in September 1939.
He flew with the scratch detatchment of instructors defending Deblin in obsolete PZL P7 aircraft before escaping via Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece to France.
Malinowski was posted to a ferry unit on 13th May 1940 but with the deteriorating situation he flew on 23rd June from Marseilles to Casablanca in a twin-engine LeO 451. He then went by ship via Gibraltar to England, arriving on 13th July 1940. He was sent to the Polish Wing at 3 School of Technical Training Blackpool, to await a posting.
Malinowski was posted to 307 Squadron at Kirton-in-Lindsey on 10th September. The squadron was intended to be the first Polish night-fighter squadron but training ceased when the pilots were posted away to fill gaps at day-fighter squadrons.
Malinowski went to No. 1 School of Army Co-operation Old Sarum for the 8th Polish Pilots Course from 9th to 16th October 1940 for testing and grading. He then went to 5 OTU Aston Down, converted to Hurricanes and joined 43 Squadron at Usworth on 25th October 1940.
On the 31st he was flying with Green section of 43 Squadron which was vectored to investigate an X-raid over the sea. His engine started misfiring but he was able to reach land and make a forced landing near Havelow Farm at Chirnside, west of Berwick.
In early December he was posted to 501 Squadron at Kenley. On 11th April 1941 he joined 302 Squadron at Westhampnett. Malinowski probably destroyed a Me109 on 30th December 1941.
He was awarded the KW (gazetted 20th February 1942) and with his tour completed he went to 58 OTU Grangemouth on 6th May as an instructor. He married Jackie Leckie, from London.
Malinowski returned to 302 Squadron, then at Heston, on 10th November 1942. He went to West Kirby on 13th February 1943 to prepare for overseas service and on 13th March he arrived in the Middle East in a C-47 with other Polish pilots to form the Polish Fighting Team, otherwise known as Skalski’s Circus.
They were attached to 145 Squadron and operated in the Western Desert from 17th March to 12th May and destroyed 30 enemy aircraft. Malinowski destroyed a Me109 on 7th April.
Back in the UK, he rejoined 302 Squadron on 22nd July 1943. Over France on 8th September he destroyed two Me109's but his Spitfire V AA928 was shot down with Malinowski receiving leg injuries.
He evaded capture and with assistance from the local resistance he was hidden in the morgue of the hospital at Ypres where he underwent surgery for his wounds. The resistance passed him to Spain and on 13th December 1943 he returned to Britain and 302 Squadron.
He was awarded two Bars to the KW (gazetted 20th December 1943).
On 25th March 1944 Malinowski went to No. 1 ADU Croydon, returning to 302 Squadron, then at Chailey, on 29th June. He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 25th September 1944), the VM (5th Class) (gazetted 25th September 1944) and a third Bar to the KW (gazetted 30th December 1944) and the C de G (Fr).
He joined 133 Wing on the Continent on 18th March 1945. He was commissioned from Warrant Officer in June 1945 and was released from the Polish Air Force in January 1947 as a Flight Lieutenant.
Postwar Malinowski opened an engineering workshop in Laud Street, Croydon. Prior to retirement he was appointed to the security section at the Foreign Office and was informed that this was a uniformed role. Accordingly he presented himself in his RAF uniform with medal ribbons and wings prominent. It was agreed that he could continue his duties in a civilian suit.
He died on 1st May 1982 in London and was buried local to his home in Thornton Heath. His medals were donated to the RAF Church of St. Clement Danes.
Additional research courtesy of Derek Leckie (brother-in-law).