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RAAF aircrew who died during the Warsaw Rising


Ozi Dan 26 | 569
24 Apr 2013 #1
Hi all,

As we all know, The Warsaw Rising in 1944 failed. The AK were however given invaluable assistance by many heroic pilots of the Commonwealth (ie UK, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand) who flew their planes over Warsaw in its darkest hours and dropped supplies during the Warsaw airlift. Many never returned. It is estimated that one bomber crew was lost for every tonne of supplies dropped - an unsustainable rate of attrition. So far as I can divine, four Australian airmen of the RAAF perished. They were:

Fl/Sgt Alexander Bennett. Killed 5 August 1944.

W/O Murray Alexander Baxter. Killed 15 August 1944.

Sqd Leader John Philip Liversidge. Killed 17 August 1944.

Fl/Lt Hammett. Killed 17 August 1944 (with Sqd Leader Liversidge).

All are buried at the Rackowicki Cemetery, Krakow.

Tomorrow, 25 April, is ANZAC Day. It is one of the most hallowed days in the Australian calendar, and is a day when all Australians remember the sacrifices of our fallen during war. It is traditional to wear a poppy as a token of remembrance and to observe a minute's silence at 11am sharp (local time).

If anyone can help who is near the cemetery tomorrow, I would consider it a personal favour, and think it would give some comfort to the family of the above deceased, for perhaps someone from the forum to attend their graves and leave a poppy as a mark of respect for them, and to the meaning of ANZAC Day.

Dan

Well bugger me but I got the minute's silence wrong for 11am (which is Remembrance Day 11 November). On ANZAC Day the minute's silence is observed during our Dawn Services. I'll put my lapse down to brainfade from a night of trial prep.
Harry
24 Apr 2013 #2
So far as I can divine, four Australian airmen of the RAAF perished.

Can I ask what source you are using for that? The search engine at cwgc.org has no mention of Fl/Lt Hammett. However it does mention:

HARDING, ROBERT EDWARD Flight Sergeant 433103 30/08/1944 19 Royal Australian Air Force Australian Coll. grave 6. A. 15. POZNAN OLD GARRISON CEMETERY
POWERS, DAVID KINGSLEY Flight Sergeant 430051 30/08/1944 20 Royal Australian Air Force Australian Coll. grave 6. A. 15. POZNAN OLD GARRISON CEMETERY
See that date of death? Right in the middle of the Uprising.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,726
24 Apr 2013 #3
If anyone can help who is near the cemetery tomorrow, I would consider it a personal favour, and think it would give some comfort to the family of the above deceased, for perhaps someone from the forum to attend their graves and leave a poppy as a mark of respect for them, and to the meaning of ANZAC Day.

I'd have dropped one off if I was in Poznan this week, but alas I'm not.
Harry
24 Apr 2013 #4
This is a bit unfortunate: it seems that one of the RAAF men buried in Krakow was murdered after being taken prisoner by a German security man and a Polish railway policeman:

The murder of Sgt MJA Wyllie RAAF

This Australian airman was shot down and taken prisoner of war. He escaped from a camp at Tarnowitz and took a false identity "Mordechai Melzer".

In the early hours of 22 April 1943 he and another escaped POW (4428 J Terry) were captured on a railway line near Kressendorf/ Krakau by a German security man (Alfred Gebauer, born 15.03.1906 at Litzmannstadt) and a Polish railway policeman (Stanislaw Krakowski, born 8.07.1893 at Ostrowie-Baranowskie).

Within minutes of capture they admitted they were escaped POWs and Gebauer shot Wyllie, putting Terry in the custody of the Polish policeman when they reached a place to report.

forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=152006&start=0
OP Ozi Dan 26 | 569
26 Apr 2013 #5
Can I ask what source you are using for that?

A variety of sources by googling terms like RAAF, pilots, killed, warsaw, 1944 and so on. There wasn't much that popped up. I think Fl/Lt Hammett's mention was from an aviation forum I looked at, though I see he is not mentioned either in the Australian War Memorial website "Roll of Honour", so it could be a mistake that he was KIA - nevertheless, he was in Sqd Ldr Liversidge's crew, so you can follow the bouncing ball from there if you wish to delve further.

There is an excellent and extensive list of pilots KIA and so on during WW2 sorties (mainly covert operations/drops etc) on the Harrington Museum website. I would recommend this as it is in chronological fashion and sets out in great detail dates, circumstances, crew and so on. It is several hundred pages long (PDF).
Ktos 17 | 456
26 Apr 2013 #6
This is a bit unfortunate: it seems that one of the RAAF men buried in Krakow was murdered after being taken prisoner by a German security man and a Polish railway policeman:

Few corrections, the Polish railway policeman was a Polish Jew - Stanislaw Krakowski, yes , yes Harry a little education in history would help, not to mention that "Krakowski" is a very popular Polish surname among Jews. Most of the police at the time were Jewish and so were the ones in Krakow and Warsaw Ghetto. Jews were more terrified of Polish Jews than of Polish non-Jews because the former ones were known to be absolutely cruel wanting to appease Germans.
Harry
26 Apr 2013 #7
I think Fl/Lt Hammett's mention was from an aviation forum I looked at, though I see he is not mentioned either in the Australian War Memorial website "Roll of Honour", so it could be a mistake that he was KIA - nevertheless, he was in Sqd Ldr Liversidge's crew, so you can follow the bouncing ball from there if you wish to delve further.

It seems that Fl/Lt Hammett was wounded when the plane was shot down but survived and then evaded capture, linked up with the local AK and was with them when the Russians finally turned up.

"Squadron Leader Liversidge, a flight commander of No.178, was also killed on the 16-17 August,1944, when the Liberator he was navigating was shot down by an enemy fighter near Cracow while returning from the crew's second delivery flight. from this aircraft F/Lt. Hammet*, although wounded by bullets in the arms,legs and left side, safely parachuted and hid with a partisan group until the area was occupied by Russian forces." End quote.

*fn. F-Lt A.H.Hammet, DFM, 400754; 178 Sdn RAF. Chemist apprentice; of Red Cliffs, Vic; b. Melbourne, 24 Jul 1921.

rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?33 27-KG933-Liberator-178-Sqdn-16-08-44

There is a poster in that thread who claims that the mission was actually to Piotrkow, but a) I tend to believe Commonwealth War Graves records over a self-proclaimed expert and b) that poster in another thread wrote about the "so called Ghetto [Uprising] and claimed that the Ghetto Uprising "actually was not an uprising", i.e. is not a source which has much credibility.
isthatu2 4 | 2,708
27 Apr 2013 #8
Well, technically it wasnt an Uprising,more of a last ditch unexpected and valiant defence of the Ghetto,so maybe dont discount someone on your semantic disagreement with them :)

PS, who on earth was telling a Gentile Aussie to take on the alias "Mordechai Melzer" for an easy life in the General Government in 1943? He must have been really unpopular with his camp mates if thats the advice he got from them....


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