The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. P P Gallus
Pawel Piotr Gallus was born at Szczawnica, Poland on 28th April 1920. He joined the Polish Air Force in 1936 and qualified as a fighter pilot at Krosno in 1939. He was posted to No.1 Air Regiment at Warsaw and joined its Fighter Squadron 112.
He escaped through Romania after the German invasion and reached France on 30th December 1939.
Gallus joined l'Armee de l'Air and served in a defence flight operating MB152's over Chateauroux airfield and the Bloch factory. The flight was led by another Polish pilot, Zdzislaw Henneberg.
When France fell, Gallus made his way to England, arriving on 23rd June 1940. He was posted to 302 (City of Poznan) Polish Fighter Squadron.
He was sent on a short pilot's refresher programme and joined 303 Squadron at Northolt at its formation on 2nd August.
On the 12th, on possibly his first flight in a Hurricane, he landed P3890 without lowering the undercarriage, it was later repaired. He was sent to 5 OTU Aston Down for advanced training and went from there to 3 Squadron at Turnhouse on 27th September 1940.
He was posted to 316 Squadron at Pembrey on 27th March 1941, staying with it until 22nd October when he went to 87 Squadron at Colerne for night-flying training.
Gallus was attached to 317 Squadron at Exeter on 15th March 1942, moving on 5th April to 316 Squadron at Heston. He was awarded the KW (gazetted 3rd September 1942).
Now flying Spitfires, Gallus claimed a Fw190 probably destroyed on 21st January 1943. On 25th March 1943 led a section of aircraft in an operational sortie against St. Omer. During this sortie he acted as decoy to two Fw190s which enabled another section to destroy the two attackers. On another occasion he attacked enemy transport near Falaise.
Gallus received a Bar to the KW (gazetted 25th June 1943) and claimed a Me109 destroyed on 6th July.
On 26th August Gallus was rested from operations, suffering from frostbite, and became an air traffic controller in the Operations Room at 306 Squadron.
He joined 302 Squadron at Deanland on 14th April 1944, going from there to his last posting with 309 Squadron on 23rd August 1945.
Gallus completed two tours of operations on Spitfires with 302 and 316 Squadrons and by 1947 had completed 1618 flying hours, mainly on fighter aircraft including the Mustang, Spitfire, Hurricane, Tiger Moth, Harvard, Henley, Fairey Battle, Auster, Magister, Martinet and Master.
Gallus was awarded the DFC (gazetted 26th May 1945), the VM (5th Class)(gazetted 1st June 1945) and also the Virituti Militari cross of valour and bar (No. 10765) Krzyz Walecznych and two bars, the Lotniczy Air Force Medal and three bars.
Apart from the DFC his British decorations were the 1939-45 Star, the Aircrew Europe Star and Clasp, the Defence medal and War medal plus a Caterpillar Club badge for an emergency bale out.
He was released as a Warrant Officer in 1948 (above) and worked an engineer until his retirement in 1983. He married Maria Gazda in 1951 (below) and they had two children. He lived in Northampton until his death on 19th April 2011.
Photographs and additional research courtesy of Helen Anderson (daughter).