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Polish War Memorial

This was the site where a Wellington Bomber crash landed in September 1943 on a training flight. All the crew were killed in the crash.

The memorial is located 100 yards beyond the Hamblethorpe Swing Bridge Number 183 which is by Craven Forge, Low Bradley, BD20 9HF on the main A629 Keithley – Skipton Road. The is a stone memorial by the bridge which we pass on the way to Kildwick. At the time this area was known as “Winfred’s Cafe.”

The Wellington Bomber number HZ251 had taken off from RAF Skipton on Swale at noon 23rd September 1943 for a training mission, crashing later on the banks of the canal. The aircraft was based at Silloth near Carlisle and poor weather over the Pennine hills had seen it land at Skipton on Swale airfield the previous day.

The Skipton on Swale station logs mention it landing there because of the weather and also because it had a problem with the wireless equipment.

The crash was due to a major wing spar failure. Eyewitnesses watched in horror as the port wing and engine fell away, resulting in the tragedy.

Two local men, Peter Whitaker and Jim Hartley, who researched this accident, located relatives of some of the crew members, one of whom being the widow of Flt. Lt. Jozef Wolnik, a bride of only three weeks.



It was here on 22nd April 2007 that this lady, as Mrs Josephine Stebbing MBE, unveiled this Memorial to those gallant young airmen of World War II.

 The crew:

Flt Lt Jozef WOLNIK age 31 Navigator instructor
Flt Sgt Franciszek CIASTON age 27 pilot
Flt Sgt Wladyslaw OSTROWSKI age 27
Sgt Boleslaw Josef SWIECA age 28
Sgt Boleslaw RYCHEL age 21
Sgt Jan CZYZEWSKI age 23
Sgt Abram KAWENOCKI age 22

The events surrounding this landing are slightly confusing. An AIB report detailing why Wellington HZ251 would crash on 23rd September 1943 states that HZ251 had also landed at Skipton on Swale on account of poor weather the previous day. The Skipton on Swale orb or record book is very specific in identifying just one Wellington as being just HE426 (HZ251 is not mentioned).

The AIB report states that during the morning of 23rd September 1943 the crew who would fly Wellington HZ251 back to Silloth checked on the weather and with this being acceptable for flying took off from Skipton on Swale in Wellington HZ251 to fly back to Silloth. The Skipton on Swale orb states exactly the same but gives the personnel as being the crew of Wellington HE426.

Wellington HZ251 was built to contract 92439/40 by Vickers Armstrong at Blackpool. It was received by 18 M.U. on 22nd February 1943 and was taken on charge by 6 (C)O.T.U. as new on 19th March 1943. Cat.E2/FA damage on 23rd September 1943 near Skipton saw the aircraft written off.

The Vickers web site shows that of over 10,00 Wellington bombers built there were only 18 of this model built.

Spirit of Endeavour