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COLGATE WAR MEMORIAL

World War 2 - Roll of Honour with detailed information
Compiled and copyright © John Harrison2006

Coolham is a somewhat unusual memorial. It is at the site of a former Advanced Landing Ground, a temporary airfield built to support the D Day landings in 1944 and only used for a few months. Construction began in August 1943 and was complete by the beginning on March 1944. 135 Wing arrived in April and was transferred to the airfield at Holmsley South in the New Forest on 22nd June. It was replaced by 135 Wing consisting of 222, 349 and 485 Squadrons, previously at Selsey Advanced Landing Ground near Chichester, on 30th June. The wing was only there for five days before being transferred to Funtington ALG, having suffered no casualties. No other squadrons operated from Coolham after that date, but the removal of equipment did not start until the autumn of 1945.

The memorial is near the Selsey Arms public house in Coolham. It consists of a brick wall with three inset black granite panels with all lettering in gilt. The centre panel contains the dedication in English and Polish underneath the badge of the Royal Air Force.

‘This memorial commemorates and honours
The airmen of many nations who fought valiantly
In defence of Britain while serving at
Coolham Advanced Landing Ground
during Operation Overlord in 1944 and
Those who made the ultimate sacrifice and
died far from their homeland will be
Remembered for Evermore’
-----------------------------------
No 133 & 135 Wings of No 84 Group Second Tactical Air Force
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
POLISH AIR FORCE
-----------------------------
306 Dywizion Mysliwski Torunski
315 Dywizion Mysliwski Deblinski
411 Eskadra Reperacyina
5090 Ruchoma Jednosika Lacnosci

ROYAL AIR FORCE
-------------------------------

129 Mysore 222 Natal 349 Belgium 485 New Zealand

Airfield Construction Squadrons
---------------------------------------------------
5003 5004 5018 5027 5206

RAF Regiment 2722 2829 Squadrons
--------------------------------------------------
RAF Maintenance Unit 49MU (Faygate)

Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends

COOLHAM AIRFIELD REMEMBERED 1944 – 1994

The left hand panel is in Polish and lists the Polish casualties with the inscription

‘Za Nasza I Wasza Wolnosc .’

The right hand panel is in English and lists the British casualties with the inscription

‘For Our And Your Freedom’.

The memorial was dedicated on 11th June 1994
during a special commemorative weekend

Acknowledgement is made to the book, ‘Coolham Airfield Remembered’ by Paul Hamlin and Ann Davies for information.

129 (Mysore) Squadron was reformed after First World War service on 26th January 1941. Initially flying Spitfires, it became part of the Second Tactical Air Force in June 1943 and converted to North American Mustang Mark III fighters in April 1944. After forming part of the Polish 133 Wing for D Day operations it was deployed to an airfield at Romney Marsh in Kent as part of anti V1 measures.

306 (Torunski) and 315 (Deblinski) Squadrons were formed after the defeat of Poland in 1939. 306 was formed at Church Fenton in August 1940 and 315 at Acklington in January 1941. Both Squadrons were initially equipped with Hawker Hurricanes and converted to Spitfires in July 1941. Both squadrons further re-equipped with North American Mustang III fighters in March 1944, becoming part of 133 Wing.

BRITISH CASUALTIES

CHARLES GORDON
NOEL STURT GREEN
ALLAN JOHN HANCOCK
DOUGLAS HAIG NELSON
STANLEY PAYNE
WILLIAM EDWARD RIGBY
WILLIAM TYRER

POLISH CASUALTIES

ROMAN MARIAN BRYGIDER
STANISLAW CALINSKI
BOLESLAW GECA
CZESLAW OBERDAK
KAZIMIERZ OSIELENIEC
HENRYK STEFANKIEWICZ
ADAM SWORNIOWSKI
WLADYSLAW JAN SZAJDA

RAF

GORDON

Charles

Sergeant 967357, 5018 Airfield Construction Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Born 11th December 1901. Son of Margaret Todd (formerly Gordon) and stepson of William Todd. Husband of Elizabeth McEwan Heeps Gordon of Stirling. Killed 15th February 1944. Buried in Section M, Grave 27 in Ballengeich Cemetery, Stirling. Hit by the propeller of Martin B26 Marauder 41-34913 'Flounder Gus' of the 454th Bomb Squadron while making an emergency landing while the airfield was under construction. The aircraft had been hit by flak over Cherbourg, losing an engine. The other engine failed just before landing and the aircraft broke in half as it slid along the ground, but the crew survived with only minor injuries. A section of the port wing broke off as the aircraft hit a tree and killed Charles Gordon. For reasons unknown, the CGWC lists him as serving with 454 (RAAF) Squadron.

GREEN

Noel Sturt

Flight Lieutenant 122119, 129 (Mysore) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Born 22nd December 1922 in Egham, Surrey. Son of William Ernest Green and his wife, Eva, of Worthing Killed in action 17th June 1944. Commemorated on Panel 202 of the Runnymede Memorial. He was flying Mustang FZ176 when hit by flak after dive bombing Marshalling yards at Mezidon and crashed. His family owned 'Green's' cakes.

HANCOCK

Allen John

Flight Lieutenant 120710, 129 (Mysore) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Born 26th Aril 1918 in Lahore, India. Son of John and Beatrice Asgil Hancock of Houghton, Huntingdonshire. Killed 22nd June 1944. Buried in Grave II G 7 in Bayeux War Cemetery, Normandy. Commissioned from Flight Sergeant 31st March 1944. Served with 213 Squadron in the Western Desert. Awarded DFC 28th July 1942 and bar 10th October 1944. Shot down 7 enemy aircraft. Aircraft hit by heavy flak during while strafing enemy positions south of Cherbourg and crashed.

NELSON

Douglas Haig

Pilot Officer 54296, 129 (Mysore) Squadron, Royal Air Force Born 20th September 1918 in Saskatchewan, Canada. Son of George and Mary Frances Nelson of New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. Killed 26th April 1944. Buried in Row B, Grave 32 in Poix-de-Picardie Churchyard in the Somme, France. Commissioned from Flight Sergeant in March and commission `backdated to 26th January 1944. Shot down by flak while attacking Beauvais airfield in Mustang FX949, he bailed out but did not survive

PAYNE

Stanley

Flying Officer 158325, 129 (Mysore) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Born in London 11th May1920. Son of Frederick and Marion Payne. Husband of Peggy Mary Payne of Wood Green, Middlesex. They had 1 daughter, Christine. He was known in the squadron as 'Skip'. Died 17th June 1944. Buried in Block U, Grave 398 in Hills Cemetery, Horsham. Killed in a take off accident at 18.03 hours in Mustang FB165. The aircraft, carrying two 500 lb bombs, lost power and hit a tree, crashed near the 'Old House' at Coolham. There was a small explosion from the engine, the aircraft caught fire and was completely destroyed.

RIGBY

William Edward

Pilot Officer 177660, 129 (Mysore) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Born 9th February 1923. Son of John Edward Rigby and his wife, Elsie, of Harwood, Lancashire. Killed 14th June 1944. Buried in St Hymer Churchyard, Calvados, France. He is the only CWGC burial here. Commissioned from Warrant Officer 18th May 1944. Went missing about 15 miles east of Caen on Ramrod 998, cause not known.

TYRER

William

Leading Aircraftman,1033207, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Born 12th March 1912 in Prescot, Lancashire. Motorcycle despatch rider attached to 411 (Polish) Repair and Salvage Unit, Coolham Died in a traffic accident in Chichester 12th May 1944. Buried in Section 6, R.C. Grave 565 in West Derby Cemetery, Liverpool.

POLISH AIRFORCE

BRYGIDER

Roman Marian

Pilot Officer P-2304, 315 Squadron. Born 6th August 1912 in Tarnopol, Poland. Killed in an accident in FX895 which broke up in the air on the 19th April. The tailplane came off during a test dive and he crashed near Coolham. He was one of a section of four simulating a strafing attack. Buried in Section H, Grave 406 in Northwood Cemetery, Ruislip, Middlesex. Also commemorated on the Polish War Memorial, RAF Northolt, Middlesex.

CALINSKI

Stanislaw

Flying Officer P-2198, 315 Squadron Born 9th January 1922 in Tarnopol, Poland. Killed by flak on 20th May 1944 when dive bombing targets at Verberie, about 40 miles north of Paris in FB179, code letters PK-C. Buried in Plot 2, Row 2, Grave 346 in Creil Communal Cemetery, France. Also commemorated on the Polish War Memorial, RAF Northolt, Middlesex.

GECA

Boleslaw

Flight Lieutenant P-1797, 306 Squadron Born 23rd December 1917, Lubin, Poland Killed 7th June 1944when Mustang FZ169, code letters UZ-S, was caught by the explosion of its own bombs when attacking German transport in the Montfort area, south of Le Havre. Initially buried in Grave 1 in Blangy Le Chateau Cemetery in the Calvados area of France, now in Grave II AA 1 in Grainville-Langannerie Polish War Cemetery near Falaise. Also commemorated on the Polish War Memorial, RAF Northolt, Middlesex

OBERDAK

Czeslaw

Flying Officer P-2224, 306 Squadron Born 20th July 1921, Krakow, Poland While acting as escort to B-17 Flying Fortresses on 30th May 1944, his Mustang was hit by flak over Germany but was able to keep going for several hundred miles and he crash landed at Dalmsholte, near Zwolle, Holland. After being sheltered by the Resistance for some months he was arrested on 24th December and is understood to have been executed on 8th March 1945. He is buried in Loechen Military Cemetery near Apeldoorn, Netherlands. Also commemorated on the Polish War Memorial, RAF Northolt, Middlesex. On 10th December 2009 the body of 306 Sqn pilot Czeslaw Oberdak was reburied in Krakow, Poland. A DNA match was made (2008) with his sister Ludmilla who has never stopped looking for her lost brother. He was indeed one of 117 people shot by the Germans in March 1945.

OSIELENIEC

Kazimierz

Flight Sergeant P-780907, 306 Squadron Born 31st July 1918, Lubin, Poland Killed in Mustang FB100, code letters UZ-P on 21st April 1944. During training at Coolham, he undershot the landing ground, hit a tree stump with his right wheel which then damaged the right flap. He made another approach but the damaged flap forced the aircraft onto its back and it crashed. Buried in Section H, Grave 422 in Northwood Cemetery, Ruislip, Middlesex. Also commemorated on the Polish War Memorial, RAF Northolt, Middlesex.

STEFANKIEWICZ

Henryk

Flight Lieutenant, P-0564, 315 Squadron Born 16th July 1918, Warsaw, Poland. On June 22nd In Mustang FB398, Code letters PK-A he took part in a strafing attack on German armoured vehicles south of Cherbourg. The flak was heavy and hit his aircraft causing it to crash into the channel. He is commemorated on the Polish War Memorial, RAF Northolt, Middlesex.

SWORNIOWSKI

Adam

Flight Lieutenant P-1739, 315 Squadron Born 19th February 1918, Krakow, Poland. On 10th June 1944, during Ramrod 986, an armed recce in the area south of Caen in Mustang FX960, code letters PK-A, the aircraft was hit by flak. He successfully jettisoned his bombs and either baled out or crash landed safely (there are two conflicting accounts)and was then shot by German troops while running towards the cover of some trees. He is buried in Grave V E 9 in Grainville-Langannerie Polish War Cemetery near Falaise. He shot down a FW 190 on 7th June.

SZAJDA

Wladyslaw Jan

Flying Officer P-1740, 306 Squadron Born 31st October 1919, Tarnopol, Poland On 4th April 1944 he was ferrying one of the new Mustangs, FX881, from RAF Aston Down to Coolham. On taking off from Aston Down the engine failed and the aircraft crashed with full fuel tanks The pilot was trapped by his feet and could not be freed. His drop tanks had broken off, but had caught fire. This fire eventually reached the crashed aircraft which then burned with the pilot trapped inside. Buried in Section H, Grave 357 in Northwood Cemetery, Ruislip, Middlesex. Also commemorated on the Polish War Memorial, RAF Northolt, Middlesex.

Last updated 9 January, 2010

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