The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. A Beda
Antoni Beda was born in Lodz, Poland on 20th May 1912 and after graduating joined the Polish Air Force. After training he was posted to the 4th Fighter Regiment but by the time of the German attack in September 1939 he was an instructor at the Academy at Deblin.
Like many Polish airmen he escaped through Romania and made his way to France, enlisting in the Armee de l'Air.
He was assigned in early 1940 to the training school at Montpelier to convert to the MS406 and was then posted to GCI/2 at Xaffevillers, SE of Nancy.
On 10th May he claimed a probable He111, on the 11th shared two probable Ju88's and on 5th June he shared a Hs126.
The unit retreated before the German onslaught and Beda was released on 21st June, he made his way to St. Jean de Luz and took ship for Liverpool. He was sent for assessment to 3 School of Technical Training at Blackpool and posted from there to 302 Squadron at Leconfield on 20th August 1940. He converted to Hurricanes at 5 OTU Aston Down from 2nd to 26th September and then returned to 302.
Beda was awarded the KW and Bar (gazetted 1st February 1941) and posted to 87 Squadron at Colerne on 27th September 1941.
On the night of 26th/27th October 1941 Beda was detailed for a night exercise formating with a Turbinlite Havoc and another Hurricane piloted by Sgt. P Gallus, another Polish pilot in 87 Squadron.
However once airborne and in position the bright light carried by the Havoc failed to come on, the aircraft may have taken off with the protective cover still in place. In complete darkness Gallus and Beda collided. Both men were able to bale out and came down near East Knoyle, south of Warminster.
Beda's next posting was to 307 Squadron at Exeter on 22nd April 1942, he was commissioned the following June and awarded the Croix de Guerre (Fr) (gazetted 7th July 1943).
He took an instructors course at 3 FIS and returned to 307 on 15th September 1943.
Rested from operations, Beda took up a staff job at HQ 216 Group and went on to fly transport aircraft with 301 Squadron on 28th April 1945. He was released from the Air Force in December 1946.
He emigrated to the USA but was killed in a car accident in Canada in 1960.