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Polish Air ForceZenon Stefan Teofil Bartkowiak
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The official statement made by Zenon
on the loss of Podobinski

About 14:30 hrs during return flight from Toome to base has been lost F/O. Podobinski. Most probably he crashed on the rocks or sunk in sea. Here is the report of Sgt. Bartkowiak who flew with F/O. Podobinski as No. 2:

"On 14.12.43 at approx. 14:10 hrs I took off as No. 2 with F/O. Podobinski from RAF Toome. The cloud ceiling was at 800 – 1000 ft. visibility about 1 mile. After rising above the clouds I heard F/O. Podobinski asking Operations as "Picco 20" if they received him. Operations answered they received him with a strength 3 but with disturbances. Next F/O. Podobinski asked me using his own name if I received him. I received on strength 5 and I noticed that there was something wrong with my transmitter because when I tried to answer him I didn't hear my own voice. After checking up the transmitter connection on the Oxygen Mask I noticed that it was not correct position. After adjusting it to the correct position I answered "Picco 20 I am receiving you with strength 5, Picco 37 speaking – out" Then I heard Ops. asking me if I received them, I answered "Yes". I didn't speak to Operations for 10 mins., because they told me "Roger Out".

After about 12 mins. I asked Ops:, keeping all the time a course of 120 degrees "What is our position" Operations answered that we were 5 miles East of base. After a short while they told me to move forward and try to make F/O. Podobinski agree to give the Leadership of the formation to me. Consequently I mowed forward and tried to attract his attention by lateral movements of my a/c, then with gesture by hand I tried to make him understand that my wireless was alright and that I wanted to lead. F/O. Podobinski answered with refusal gesture and turned his a/c slightly to port making me understand that I should return to No. 2 position.

F/O. Podobinski tried three times to get down through clouds but climbed again. At the moment when Operations told me once again to try to make leader understand that I should take over the leadership, F/O. Podobinski started again to go down through the clouds.

When we were in clouds I heard Operations saying something but I could not understand as I was concentrating so that I should not lose my leaders. When at the height of approx. 600 feet in a deep turn to the left and about 20 yards from my leader I locked down to see where we were and I noticed hilly ground. A few seconds later I noticed that we were flying straight into a fairly high mountain. I opened the throttle and climbed fast but during this operation I lost my leader. I asked Operations to give me the course and they directed me on a course of 300 degrees and I flew on this course about 10 mins. Next they gave me the order to lover through the clouds and when I was at approx. 1000 feet I asked once again for the "fix" and I received a course 280 degrees. After 2 minutes I arrived over base and landed. The weather was misty, clouds 7/10, at 1000 – 1500 feet."

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