Oberdak, the Polish victim of Woeste Hoeve, remained forgotten for a long time

His name was unknown for a long time, Czesław Oberdak. After the mass execution at Woeste Hoeve in 1945 he was not identified. As an anonymous victim, he was buried first in Uchelen and then in Loenen until the journalist Richard Schuurman started looking after a letter from Czesław’s sister, Ludmilla Oberdak. Thanks to that search, this Polish airman was identified, his name is on the monument at Woeste Hoeve and his remains were buried in the family grave in Kraków in 2009. All this can be read in the book that Schuurman wrote ‘Spoor naar Woeste Hoeve’.

Oberdaks childhood dream ends at the Woeste Hoeve

Czesław Oberdak was born on July 20, 1921 in Kraków, Poland. There he grows up with his older sister, Ludmila, and a younger brother, Roman. His childhood dream is to become a pilot. In 1939 he started that dream at the Air Force School in Poznań. When the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, he, like so many other Polish soldiers, fled Poland. He follows the route via Romania, Yugoslavia and Italy. In France he joins the Polish Air Force formed there in Lyon. His stay there is temporary. Most Poles were evacuated to the United Kingdom when France fell in June 1940, including Czesław.

How he becomes a fighter pilot and how he ends up as an anonymous victim of the mass execution at Woeste Hoeve for a long time can be read on his page.

One night, two Lancasters shot down over the Netherlands

On the night of June 12 to 13, 1944, eight Lancasters from the Polish 300 Squadron departed from Faldingworth airbase on a mission to Gelsenkirchen. A total of 286 bombers departed for this mission. Seventeen did not return that night, including three from 300 Squadron. Two of the Lancasters were shot down over the Netherlands. Of the 14 crew members, only one survives the crash.

Bomb aimer Morski from the Lancaster BH – C is captured. Flight engineer Bladowski washed ashore at Wijdenes and is buried there and later transferred to Breda. The other crew members were recovered during the salvage of the aircraft in May 2003 and were buried in a shared grave in Breda.

From Lancaster BH – K, wireless operator Pacula is MIA. The other crew members were found during 1944. Flight engineer Szeliga is buried in Elburg. Three crew members, tail gunner Bardzo, pilot Różański and turret gunner Wróblewski, first found a grave in Urk but were later reburied in Amersfoort, where bomb aimer Bakun and navigator Hahn are also buried. The photo accompanying this post shows Różański’s crew in June 1944, shortly before they were killed.

About the 300 Squadron: “Ziemi Mazowieckiej”

On June 28, 1940, the British Air Ministry sent an order to the 6th Bomb Group to form the first Polish bomber squadron No. 300. This started with the single-engine Fairey Battle. Later in the war they switched first to the twin-engine Wellington and finally to the four-engine Lancaster.

300 Squadron flew 3,891 missions, including 684 combat missions, dropping 10,712 tons of bombs. 15 German aircraft were destroyed or damaged during the fighting, with 79 own losses. 371 pilots were killed and 87 were captured. The squadron was disbanded on January 2, 1947. Of the 371 victims, 44 are buried in the Netherlands.

Crest 300 Squadron
Crest 300 Squadron

An extensive history of the squadron can be found on the Bomber Command Museum of Canada website. It also contains a passage about both of these bombers:

“LL807 was brought down by flak at the Dutch coast, probably from Texel, while outbound, and crashed into the Ijsselmeer with no survivors from the crew of F/L Rozanski. DV286 was on its way home when it was intercepted by a night fighter, and also crashed into the Ijsselmeer, killing F/S Rembecki and all but one of his crew. The bomb-aimer, P/O Morski, managed to drop through the escape hatch underneath him, and parachute to safety, and he was rescued by two Dutch fishermen, before being handed over to the Germans.” (pag 180).

Photos of the aircraft and crew can be found on pages 178 and 179.

More information about both aircraft

The site tudiegroep Luchtoorlog 1939-1945 writes the following about the crash of DV286:

“Lancaster DV286 took off from RAF Faldingworth at 11:20 PM for a bombing raid on the Nordstern synthetic oil plant at Gelsenkirchen, Germany. On its way home, while crossing the Dutch coast, it crashed in fire after being intercepted by night fighter pilot Leutnant Gottfried Hanneck of 6./NJG 1, who had taken off from Deelen airfield in a Bf 110G-4. Pilot P/O. B.F. Morski was rescued by two Dutch fishermen and later transferred to a German naval ship. Flight Engineer Sgt. F.S. Bladowski washed up at Wijdenes. The aircraft was recovered in May 2003 and the crew members were subsequently buried in Breda on October 25, 2003.”

Bladowski was buried on June 17, 1944, in Wijdenes and was later transferred from Wijdenes to Breda, where he rests in an individual grave. The five crew members recovered in 2003 are laid to rest in a communal grave.

Upon further research on the internet, it appears that the Aircraft Recovery Group Foundation has been involved in the recovery of the victims. On their website, there is an account of the search and photos of the recovery.

Since 2007, there has been a monument at Zuiderdijk 41 in Wijdenes in memory of the crew of this Lancaster.


The PDF of Bomber Command Museum of Canada can also be consulted on our site if the above link no longer works (in the long term).

Several photos of the squadron and crews can be found on the IWM website. The photos in this article are from this source.

Below is a Wellington from the squadron that did return to base.

After 78 years a name on a headstone: PLT. E Morchonowicz

Lance Sergeant (Plutonowy in Polish) Edward Morchonowicz from 8th Company 3rd Battalion of Polish 1st Independent Parachute brigade Group. In a pre war Poland he was since 1935 an NCO in 24th Uhlans (cavalry) Regiment in a city of Kraśnik.

Pre war and the September campaign of 1939

In 1938 he took part in seizing Zaolzie, from Czechs, which was occupied since 1920. In 1939 with his regiment he took part in battles against the Sovjets in [HK1] Jordanów-Kasina Wielka, Zegartowice, Leszczyna, Pcim, Głogów-Rzeszów-Łańcut, Radymno, Jaworów, Grzybowice and defence of Lwów. On 20th of September 1939 he crossed the border and was interned in Hungary.

On new years eve of 1940 he arrived in France and became a soldier of 1st Squadron of 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade. His unit didn’t take part in the French Campaign of April/may 1940. On 26th of June he arrived in England, becoming a soldier of 24th Uhlans Regiment (armoured).

Entering the brigade

In the beginning of 1942 he applied to the Parachute Brigade. As he was a very good instructor and soldier, his superiors refused him. He applied once again. They refuse him again. So he start to drink and behave like the worst one. For that he was demoted to the rank of Corporal and moved to 10th Dragons Battalion. Finally at the end of 1942 his superiors allow him to move to the parachute brigade.

Morchonowicz qualified as a paratrooper, para badge no 2669. Within one and a half year he regained his rank of Lance Sergeant, receiving very good opinions from his new superiors. His friends from the Para Brigade remembered him as a very cheerful and open person. His only disadvantage was that he stuttered while speaking. This disadvantage disappears when he sings and he sings often and plays the accordion.

Once, he disliked a newcomer in his platoon. Other soldiers ask him „Why do you scold him?” He replied, „Because he mocked me”. They told him „He didn’t mock you, he also stutter”. From this on they became friends.

The proud Wachmistrz

He was also remembered as a proud cavalry man. He tries to dress like a cavalryman, wearing despatch rider trousers and boots instead of battledress trousers and ammo boots. The soldiers he knew from his cavalry unit in Poland always said, „You’re not a rifleman, you’re parachute uhlan.” About himself „I’m not Sergeant, I’m parachute Wachmistrz (Sergeant in Polish cavalry, from German Wachtmeister)”.

In Driel and Oosterbeek

He was dropped in Driel on 21st of September from Dakota chalk number 75. On the night of 22nd/23rd of September with his 8th Company he crossed the Rhine in three dinghies, two 2-persons and one 4-persons, „borrowed” at the airfield from Americans. 36 of them crossed  the river that night.

On the morning of the 23rd they took positions by the pond on a crossroad of Benedendorpsweg and Kneppelhoutweg. After morning shelling he was found dead, receiving splinter wounds. He was the first victim from soldiers who crossed the Rhine. He was buried by his comrades 70 meters behind positions, as was stated in his battle burial report. Although he was identified by British authorities in 1945, until 2022 he had no known grave.


According to research based on Polish and British military and CWGC documents he was buried as an unknown Polish soldier in the grave 18.A.1 in Oosterbeek War Cemetery. Posthumously he was awarded the Cross of Valor.

The tombstone on grave 18.A.1 was changed from ‘unknown Polish soldier’ in de summer of 2022 to the one with his name and details.


On Friday September the 15th 2023 a rededication ceremony was held.

Text, portret and photo fieldgrave via Mateusz Mroz. His research resulted in the rededication of the grave at the ‘Airborne cemetery’ in Oosterbeek. Pictures rededication via Stichting Driel-Polen.

All Saints’ Day: Candles at Polish Wargrave

On November 1st – All Saints’ Day – Poles visit cemeteries to place a candle at graves of their loved ones. In the Netherlands, this often means that on this day, lights are also lit at the graves of Poles who fought for our freedom.

With this message pictures taken at the war cemetery in Oosterbeek where all Polish graves had one or more lights. It remains an impressive sight.

Access Polish Graves in Oosterbeek improved

The Poles who died in September 1944 have been buried on the Oosterbeek War Cemetery. The Poles who were first buried in Driel near the church or in their field graves were also buried here in 1947. They lie at the back in a row left and right of the entrance. They are somewhat in the back and are often missed the moment you walk onto the cemetery.

The manager of the cemetery has now adjusted this. It is now possible to turn left and right immediately after the entrance and the space behind the two small buildings there is now more open. This makes the graves stand out more. Also, the grass field there now has a hard surface. This is because this spot under the trees was often wet, as can be seen from the green deposits on the graves themselves.

Below are two more photos and a short film impression that we made on this sunny day.

Video impression of the graves. More Poles are buried among the other graves, mostly on the south side of the field.

We are ‘live’ – September 16, Poles in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen

Our site ‘Polish War Graves’ is a fact. On the date that in 1944 the first Polish liberators of the Polish Armoured Division of general Maczek died in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, we publish our spin off from Polen in Beeld. We are still working hard ‘behind the scenes’ to make the site even better.

On September the 16th in 1944 the Polish troops crossed the Dutch border. One of the first to get killed was Jan Gąsiorowski. He died at Fort Ferdinand and was buried in the Kuwait Civil Cemetery. His grave can still be found there today.

© Polish Wargraves

The same day the division lost Bronisław Bucholz, two days short of his 20th birthday. His grave is found in Zuiddorpe.

© Polish Wargraves

Of the more than 500 Poles who found their last resting place in the Netherlands, the names of more than 150 have been included on this website and this number will grow. Currently you can those of the
1st Polish Armoured Division who died in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and of the parachutebrigade who died during operation Market Garden.

Blogs on this website

This website centers around the victims and their graves so most stories will be published on their own, individual page.

We use this blog for other stories related to the Polish contribution in and above the Netherlands to the defeat against Nazi Germany and the liberate of the Netherlands.

On Polen in Beeld you can find many stories (in Dutch) that we published before this site saw the light of day. Those blogs are tagged with #Bevrijding, Tweede Wereldoorlog, #Driel44 and #Breda44.