06.09.1940 No. 601 Squadron Hurricane I P3382 P/O. Topolnicki
Date: 06th September 1940 (Friday)
Unit: No. 601 Squadron
Type: Hurricane I
Location: Staplehurst, Kent
Pilot: P/O. Juliusz Topolnicki 76722 PAF Age 30. Injured
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from Tangemere, Surrey at 08.52 hrs to patrol area over Staplehurst. Sighted 2 Me109 at 20,000 ft in close formation and broke away to attack from behind. Engaged the enemy from the stern and black smoke came from the Me109. During the attack P/O. Topolnicki was wounded by a splinter and could not observe the crash. After making sure his Hurricane was under control he observed the other Me109 below him and in front. He attacked from point blank range firing many short bursts.
Left: P/O. Juliusz Topolnicki - above 601 Squadron Hurricane
Another aircraft came from behind me and also attacked the Me109. The engine of P3382 started to splutter and P/O. Topolnicki could not keep up and then the Me109 started to climb and the pilot baled out. I turned to return to base but when over Sutton Valence I received what appeared to be a burst of machine gun in the engine and past the cockpit - looking up I noticed another enemy aircraft milling around high over my head. My Hurricane then went out of control and I was obliged to bale out. I landed on top of a tree but apart from my splinter wound I was unhurt. I was taken to Leeds Castle Hospital.
One of the German aircraft shot down was a Bf109 E-4 Werk No: 5044 from Stab./JG2 flown by Lt. Max Himmelheber who survived to become a PoW.
Pieces of this aircraft (one shown right
) are today exhibited at the Headcom Aviation Museum.
Intelligence Report states:
Combat took place over Redhill, Gatwick at 09.30 hrs. 11 Hurricanes of 601 Squadron were ordered to patrol over Hayfield at 15,000 ft. After some time about 50 Me 109's were seen at 20,000 ft in sections of 34 or 5 milling around apparently after been engaged by other fighters. No enemy bombers were seen in the area.
Our fighters climbed to attack and a series of dog fights followed. P/O. Topolnicki claims 2 Me 109's. His combat report with that of F/O. Humphrey who also baled out has not yet been obtained. Weather - very good. Fl/Lt. Rhodes-Moorhouse and F/O. Davis missing, P/O. Topolnicki and F/O. Gilbert slightly wounded.
Area of his eventual loss on the 21st September 1940
It was later discovered that Fl/Lt. Rhodes-Moorhouse DFC. (Son of a WW1 VC Airman) and F/O. Davis (American - aged 26) were both killed.
P/O. Juliusz Topolnicki was released from hospital shortly afterwards, sadly he was killed just two weeks later. On the 21st September 1940 in a flying accident at Exeter whilst flying Hurricane L1894.
These reports are taken from the original combat/Intelligence reports supplied by Peter Sikora.
Right: P/O. Topolnicki grave at Exeter.
P/O. Juliusz Topolnicki. Exeter Higher Cemetery. Sec. ZK. Grave 32. Born 7th March 1910, Poland. Next of Kin details not currently available.
Researched by Peter Sikora. (April 2009) With thanks to the following, 'Fighter Command Losses' - Norman Franks. Robert Gretzyngier, Woitek Matusiak, Wadldemar Wojcik and Josef Zielinski for Polish information that we may have used.