The Airmen's Stories - F/O F Gruszka
Franciszek Gruszka was born on 21st January 1910, one of three sons of a wealthy farmer which meant they could all access higher education.
He commenced military service in 1931, transferred to the Air Force and graduated from the Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin on 15th August 1934. He was commissioned as a pilot instructor in III/6 squadron based near Lwow (now Lviv).
After the German in vasion in September 1939 he claimed a He111 destroyed but then passed through Romania, Yugoslavia, and Italy to Paris, arriving on 7th October 1939.
He chose to travel on to England rather than enlist in the French Air Force and was commissioned in the RAFVR on 20th February 1940.
He joined 65 Squadron at Hornchurch on 7th August 1940.
On 18th August 1940 he took off in Spitfire R6713 to intercept a German bomber formation. He was seen dog-fighting over Canterbury and Manston and chasing a German fighter.
He was never seen again and declared Missing. He was commemorated on the Polish War Memorial at Northolt.
In the spring of 1975 the wreck of his Spitfire was found in marshy ground at Stodmarsh near Canterbury.
His uniform and personal items had been preserved by the conditions, in particular a gold fountain pen engraved with the names of his fellow pilots, this was accepted as positive identification and he was buried with full military honours at Northwood, Middlesex on 17th July 1975.