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The Airmen's Stories - P/O A R Zatonski


Alexander Roman Zatonski was born in Philadelphia on 1st November 1915, the son of Joseph Zatonski and Martha Zatonski (nee Starzeski).

His parents were Polish immigrants who later settled in Canada in 1926 and took Canadian citizenship.

He attended the Central School in Brantford, before going on to Brantford Collegiate Institute where he was an outstanding athlete.

After Poland was invaded he travelled to England intending to join the Polish armed forces. Unable to travel further, he enlisted in the RAF rather than return to Canada.



Zatonski began his initial training on 25th September 1939 before moving on to 2 FTS Brize Norton for No. 46 Course which ran from 25th March to 11th July 1940.

With his training completed, he joined 79 Squadron at Acklington on 13th July 1940. He took part in operations including that on 15th August when Luftflotte 5 made its ill-fated sortie against northeast England.

The squadron moved south to Biggin Hill later in the month and on the 28th Zatonski was shot down in combat over Hythe in Hurricane P2718.

He baled out and was treated for burns at Hythe Small Arms School. After recovering at the RAF Hospital Torquay Zatonski rejoined 79 Squadron on 4th December 1940.


(L to R): P/O W Lapkowski, P/O AR Zatonski ( a glove covering his burned hand), F/O RA McGowan, F/O HG Hardman.

Possibly taken at Torquay while all were convalescing.


He married Constance Mary Bunce on 21st May 1941 in Torquay, Devon.

On 23rd October 1941 he sailed from Glasgow in HMS Victorious for the Middle East with 238 Squadron.

In the morning of 6th December 1941 he did not return from an engagement with Me109s and Mc202s over the Cyrenaican border. He was reported 'Missing' but is known to have been buried by an Army padre.

His grave was never found and he is remembered on the Alamein Memorial.






He never met his son, John Alexander. The City of Brantford registered Zatonski Avenue on 29th March 2001.

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