The Airmen's Stories - P/O W E Karwowski
Wlodzimierz Eugeniusz Karwowski was born on 13th September 1912 at Kielce, Poland. He enlisted in the Polish Air Force in 1934 and was commissioned as a pilot in 1937. He was immediately in action when the Germans invaded on 1st September 1939. When Poland surrendered after the Russians invaded, Karwowski was in Romania taking delivery of an aircraft. With fellow pilots, he escaped to France on foot.
He joined l'Armee de l'Air and was serving with Groupe de Chasse II/6 in May 1940. On the 13th he was shot down in a Morane 406 but was unhurt and later that day he shared in destroying a He111 of 3/KG54. After the French collapse Karwowski made his way south and boarded a ship for England, arriving in early July. He was posted to 302 Squadron at Leconfield later in the month. He first flew in a Hurricane on 28th July and the squadron became operational on 19th August.
(Above image courtesy of the Sikorski Institute)
He claimed a Ju88 destroyed on 16th September. Karwowski was awarded the KW (gazetted 23rd December 1940) and Bar (gazetted 1st February 1941). He was appointed 'A' Flight Commander in January 1942, went to a course at CGS, Sutton Bridge in April and in mid-June was posted to 58 OTU Balado Bridge as an instructor. He had carried out 197 operational sorties with 302. On 12th December 1942 Karwowski joined 316 Squadron at Hutton Cranswick as 'B' Flight Commander. He was posted as CO to 306 Squadron at Northolt on 4th March 1943 and was awarded a second Bar to the KW (gazetted 7th July 1943).
He flew 51 'Ramrods' with 306. Karwowski left the squadron on 1st January 1944 and was posted to Northolt. He went to HQ 12 Group at Hucknall on 27th April and moved to 84 GSU, Aston Down on 17th June 1944. He was posted to CGS, Catfoss on 18th July 1945, for a Gunnery Leaders' Course.
Karwowski flew only five times in 1946 and twice in 1947. He was released from the Polish Air Force on 23rd December 1947 as a Squadron Leader. He held the Croix de Guerre (French). He married a WAAF officer in March 1944 and they emigrated to New Zealand in 1948 and Karwowski took up farming. He died on 29th May 1978.
His son, Stefan (born 4th June 1945) was a brilliant stunt pilot and served in the RAF and RNZAF. He crashed in his Pitts Special at Wanaka, New Zealand on 25th April 1974 and died two days later of his injuries.