Pilot Officer Witold Jozef Glowacki, flying for the Royal Air Force, was shot down in September 1940.
The above photo shows a rather dazed looking Polish pilot, next to his wrecked aircraft. This was Pilot Officer Witold Jozef Glowacki, who had in fact been born in Berlin in 1913.
After the First World War had ended, his family moved to Poland where they continued to live until the outbreak of the war. Glowacki spoke fluent German, as well as Polish and so was treated with animosity by some British pilots who met him.
He was posted to 605 Squadron, which is where he experienced the action prior to these photographs being taken. On 24th September 1940, Glowacki and another pilot, Pilot Officer Muirhead, took off on a patrol when they spotted a Dornier. Attacking the aircraft, it soon crashed into sea.
However, shortly after this, Glowacki and Muirhead were soon caught by German BF109s, which Muirhead managed to shake off, returning to base. Unfortunately, Glowacki’s Hurricane had been severely damaged, and consequently crash landed in France, just outside Alemeuse.
The photographs show the aftermath of the crash, Glowacki, still wearing his shirt and tie, was quite clearly dazed, but alive. He was subsequently taken prisoner, but unfortunately passed away later in the day.
There are many theories as to why Glowacki, although he appeared confused but otherwise fine, died later on in the same day.
These include that as he was a German speaker, and had lived in Germany for the early part of his childhood, that he was executed by the SS for being a traitor, and fighting for the British.
Another theory is that he was given an injection against the possibility of tetanus, but had an allergic reaction to it, leading to his death.
A more recent interpretation is that Glowacki was in shock and eventually succumbed to the trauma that he had experienced. However, we will never know the truth surrounding his death.
Pilot Officer Witold Jozef Glowacki is buried in Guines Cemetery, Pas De Calais. He was posthumously awarded one of Poland’s highest military honours, Virtuti Militari Fifth Class in 1941.
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