Zygmunt Witymir Bieńkowski

Zygmunt Witymir Bieńkowski (2 May 1913 Kolbiel – 15 August 1979) was a Polish pilot and a writer of many articles and poems. His 303 squadron diary is held in the Polish Museum and Sikorski Institute in London.

Zygmunt Witymir Bieńkowski was the son of Leopold Bieńkowski (1883–1942) and Zofia Braun (1891–1943). His father was a Polish Member of Parliament from 1922 to 1928. Both his parents died in Soviet Gulag camps.[1]

Trained as a pilot at Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin, he did not fight in Poland in 1939, but was evacuated westwards, escaped to Romania, then to France and on 27 June 1940 arrived in England. During the Battle of Britain, he served with 55 OTU in Aston Down. In May 1941, he joined No. 245 Squadron. In July 1941, he was transferred to No. 303 Squadron, based at Northolt. On 6 November 1941, Bieńkowski claimed a Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter shot down. On 12 April 1942, his aircraft was shot up by a Focke-Wulf Fw 190, and he had to force land with collapsed landing gear near the English coast.[2]

He served from 1 December 1942 until 4 July 1943 as Squadron Leader of No. 303 Squadron. During July 1943, No. 303 Squadron were stationed at RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey, where the newly arrived US Army Air Corps 94th Fighter Squadron had just been assigned. He befriended some of the American pilots, who gave him the affectionate nickname "Bing Crosby", a play on his family name.

From January 1945 to 24 February 1945, he commanded 302. On 24 February, his Spitfire Mk. XVI (TB341, "WX-B") was shot down by flak over Germany near Wesel and he was taken prisoner.

Released by American forces, by the end of the war he was a wing commander. During the war, he flew 74 sorties, claiming one Bf 109 destroyed and a Fw 190 damaged.

He died on 15 August 1979 in London aged 66. He was buried in Gunnersbury Cemetery in West London.

His brother Jan Bieńkowski, was also a pilot; he was shot down over Cherbourg in 1944.

Military awards

Virtuti Militari Ribbon.png Virtuti Militari, Silver Cross
POL Krzyż Walecznych (1940) 3r BAR.PNG Krzyż Walecznych (Cross of Valour), 3 times

Vliegerkruis (Airman's Cross) (Netherlands)[3]


  1. ^ "Airforce". Airforce.wheelart.pl. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  2. ^ Biography at the Polish Air Force website (in Polish)
  3. ^ "Nederlandse onderscheidingen aan Poolse militairen voor de Tweede Wereldoorlog". Onderscheidingen.nl. Retrieved 20 July 2010.

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