World War Two Hurricane Excavated From Beachy Head

The daughter and granddaughter of a World War Two Polish pilot have helped to excavate his plane near Brighton in England.

Kaziemierz Wünsche crash landed near Beachy Head on the south coast of England during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. He was flying a Hurricane fighter and was shot down by a German Messerschmitt.

Kaziemierz survived the crash, and 75 years on his daughter and granddaughter have become part of the archaeology team brought in to excavate the wreckage of the plane which has lain untouched on the Beachy Head hills.

Kazimierz was a member of Royal Air Force 303 Squadron, which was legendary for its Polish pilots. Kazimierz took to the air from RAF Northolt on 9th September 1940 as almost 100 German bombers made their way over the English coast.

When Kazimierz’s plane was shot, he managed to evacuate and parachuted to the ground. However he suffered severe burns and leg injuries. He was taken a year out of service to recover and returned to join the RAF in 1941.

His plane plunged straight into the hills at Beachy Head which was farmland and is now owned by the National Trust.

Joanna Gasiorowska, Kazimierz’s granddaughter said that she was very emotional when she was able to touch the very plane that her grandfather had flown and almost died in 75 years earlier.

Kazimierz’s daughter and Joanna’s mother, Grazyna Gasiorowska, went back to Poland with her family when the war ended and she was just a baby, The Guardian reports.

Joanna Gasiorowska is now a sports journalist with al-Jazeera and never really knew her grandfather since she was only a few months old when he died in 1980. His role as a pilot during the war has stood the test of time and has become a central part of the family’s history.

The crash site of Kazimierz’s plane was discovered by an archaeologist in 1975 but it was never fully recovered. Now on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain a plan was created to excavate the Hurricane.

The propeller hub was excavated intact and is planned to be displayed at the Polish museum at RAF Northolt. By 1945 around 20,000 Polish men were serving in the RAF and were part of approximately 16 squadrons.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE