Splasher 6 Newsletter
The Uprising and the Anniversary
Splasher Six Volume 35, Winter 2004, No. 4
Cindy Goodman, Editor
Sixty years ago a group of people took a stand.
Desperate and defiant, the people held on and held out from August 1 to October 2, 1944 in an unprecedented uprising.
September 18, 1944 bombers appeared over head and dropped canisters of supplies. The men of the 100th who flew this mission vividly remember… The people on the ground do also, those that survived that is…
Part One: The Uprising
Jan Riddling, Cindy Goodman, and Ted Chodorowski
The Warsaw Uprising began at 5:00 p.m. on August 1, 1944, and lasted 63 days until October 2, 1944. Led by over 40,000 members of the Polish Home Army, the uprising resulted in nearly 200,000 of the city’s inhabitants being killed. The Arma Krajowa (AK) was the Polish Home Army. During the uprising, the AK suffered 18,000 killed or missing and 7,000 seriously wounded.
On the German side, reports put the dead and missing at 17,000, and wounded at 9,000.
After the final surrender, the remaining population of approximately 250,000 was evacuated and sent to forced labor camps or concentration camps. The city was systematically burned and dynamited. Over 85% of the city was destroyed.
Ted Chodorowski was fifteen years old when he ran ammunition and communication across the city of Warsaw by using the sewer system. Although too young to officially join the Home Army he did all he could to help and volunteered as a "Sewer Rat".
Working the sewers was filthy, dangerous work. At times certain sewage systems and passages were very dangerous because the Germans opened manholes and placed heavy machine guns over the openings; from time to time they would also toss grenades down into the sewer.
Though he was young, Chodorowski said he was not afraid to fight. By the time of the Uprising, Warsaw had been occupied for five years, and fear had become routine. Children risked their lives just going to school every day, he said, and would only ride streetcars if they could stand on the outside platform, which allowed a quick getaway if Germans opened fire.
Another "Sewer Rat" was Stanislaw Jankowski 'Agaton'. "Its horrible traveling through the sewers, it reeks of decay, its mucky, and a person is submerged up to the waist in the filthy grime. Dirty water is dripping in near total darkness, and we can’t talk because we are moving through the German held territory. We finally arrived at the open manhole. There was a narrow passage linking the sewer we were traveling through with the storm overflow channel. I remember crawling on all fours through this passage."
September 18, 1944 was the day the 100th Bomb Group loosed not a rain of bombs upon the besieged city, but a cargo of much needed supplies. An excerpt from the 100th Bomb Group Operational Narrative states that the "100 A, B, AND C GROUPS FORMED THE 13 "B" COMBAT WING. SUPPLY CONTAINERS WERE DROPPED FROM ALTITUDES BETWEEN 15,000 AND 17,000 FEET AT A PRE-DETERMINED POSITION IN REFERENCE TO WIND DIRECTION AND VELOCITY AND THE AREA WITHIN THE CITY THAT WAS OUR TARGET. THEY WERE DROPPED SOUTH OF THIS AREA AND THE CHUTES WERE SEEN TO BE FLOATING BACK TOWARD THE TARGET AREA. DROPPING WAS BY GROUPS AND THOUGH ALL GROUPS DROPPED IN APPROXIMATELY THE SAME AREA. THE CHUTES WERE SEEN TO SCATTER OVER A RATHER LARGE AREA, THOUGH IT WAS THE GENERAL IMPRESSION OF OBSERVING CREW MEMBERS THAT OUR PATTERN EXTENDED OVER MOST OF THE ASSIGNED AREA AND INTO THE RIVER."
Grant Fuller was one of those airmen who remember the day well. In an excerpt from a letter written to honor the 60th Anniversary of the Warsaw Food Drop, Grant wrote the following: "We attempted the mission of September 15, 1944 but were recalled because of extreme weather over the North Sea. On September 18, 1994, the US 8th Air Force, 13th Bomb Wing (Heavy) with 100 B017’s (including 36 from the 100th Bomb Group) flew the North Sea route and reached Warsaw. This time the poor weather was at the drop site which was covered by an under cast. We circled for sometime trying to find an opening in the under cast. We finally dropped over the target at 13,500 feet. Because of the circling, our formation was not as close as desired so our drop was more scattered than desired. After the drop we flew to Mirgorod, Russia to land. The mission flight was 10 1/2 hours."
Teenaged Sewer Rat Ted Chodorowski was on the ground as the B-17s broke through the overcast. "Suddenly, the sky was covered with planes, over a 100 of them. The hundreds of parachutes started to drop. What a magnificent view! Help was finally coming!
Initially we thought that it was the Polish Parachute Brigade from England coming to the rescue. We soon realized that it was not men but canisters swaying from the parachutes. And lots of them! Arms and supplies were just as welcome. We were overjoyed! However, it was not for long. We realized that the strong wind started to carry the parachutes beyond our positions, into the enemy territory. AS more and more supplies drifted to the Germans, disappointment replaced joy. None the less, we were grateful for all the drops which our forces recovered, even though the represented only a small part of the total."
Art Juhlin recalled it this way in his wartime mission diary.
Mission #5 15 Sept. 1944, Warsaw, Poland. Purpose of mission was to drop supplies and arms to Polish partisans in Warsaw. Took off in very adverse weather, Shortly after leaving the English coast we hit the soup and couldn’t even see our wingman. Were recalled just before crossing the Danish coast. Really sweated out the trip back, as you couldn’t see a thing ands it was every man for himself. Had a little excitement on our landing. Brakes didn’t hold and so we ground looped at the end of the runway narrowly missing another plane and scattering ground personnel all over the place. No serious damage. If mission had come off as planned we would have continued on to Russia after dropping our chutes.
Mission #6 18 Sept. 1944 Shuttle Raid from England to Mirgorod, Russia. Purpose of mission was to drop food and arms to the beleaguered Poles in Warsaw. Flew the Northern sea enroute to target. Weather over target was very poor and we spent an hour circling in the target area looking for openings in the undercast and overcast. At this time, some of our groups were attacked by ME-109’s and several planes were lost. Finally went over target at 13, 500" and Jerry threw up everything he had at us. Between dodging flak, parachutes and other planes we had a rough time of it. Picked up a Russian Fighter escort at target and one of them put on quite an aerobatic show for us enroute to base. Crossed the Dnyfer River at Kiev and landed at Mirgorod, Russia. Time of flight was 10 ½ hours. Flew ship # 071 (Andy’s Dandy’s) and was #6 man in the lead squadron of the low group
For James H. Smith, waist gunner on the Walter Charles Crew flying the mission on "Yehudi", it was an experience to remember. "Our mission was to drop supplies to the Poles who are trying to take Warsaw. We went over the target at about 15,000 and believe me the flak was terrific. Some came close enough to hear which is a little too close for comfort. We landed with seven holes in our ship. One piece missed Decker (Bombardier Raymond A. Decker) only a few inches in the Plexiglas nose."
Julian Eugeniusz Kulski also remembers the day of the air drop. "Today was a hot Indian summer day. After the cold nights, the midday sun warmed my tired bones as I sat on the scorched grass. How much longer?
Then I heard a new sound-a strong burring noise high in the sky. It quickly grew closer and more intense. A large flotilla of bombers was approaching. Flying in perfect military formation, the silver planes shimmered brilliantly in the sun. Around this formation of over one hundred Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Air Force, fighter planes were hovering protectively.
Suddenly, little black silhouettes appeared below the planes-the long-awaited Parachute Brigade? The parachutes now opened and began to float down slowly. The antiaircraft batteries opened up their full firepower, but most of the white shell explosions were not reaching high enough.
I could now see that the black shapes were not parachute troops, but long-promised supplies for us. Others, realizing this too, began to jump up and down with joy, embracing each other, clapping and shouting "Bravo." We now knew that our struggle was not as lonely as it had seemed during the last six weeks that others would help in our hour of need."
Waclaw Zagorski was in his billet when he heard the bombers overhead. "Everyone went mad. They jumped up and down waving, hugging one another...."
Part Two: The Anniversary By Bill Bates
The day dawned bright and sunny on that morning of September 16th, 2004. Due to a twelve billion dollar project, the city of Chicago, Illinois was transformed into one of the most beautiful in the United States. The setting was perfect for the 60th anniversary program held at the Chicago Cultural Center.
The festivities began with an early evening reception with included refreshments. Those attending were restricted to those individuals who would be involved in the program later on and was by invitation only. In attendance were many members of the Polish Home Army from Warsaw and the Chicago area, as well as event committee members, and Art Juhlin, Thomas Barrett and Bill Bates represented the 100th Bomb Group. During the reception Bill Bates presented a copy of his diary representing his 23rd mission with the 100th to Harry Lepinske of the event committee and Ted Chodorowski, Vice President of the Polish Home Army veterans association.
The diary page covered the 100th’s participation in dropping parachute supplies to the Polish Army and citizens surrounded by the German Army. This mission was flown on September 18, 1944 and was ordered by a directive from President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill and specified that as many supply containers as possible be dropped to the Polish Patriots. Their orders resulted in 400 pound containers with food, medical supplies and ammunition with each fortress capable of carrying twelve containers. Unfortunately, the height from which the containers were dropped resulted in a fair percentage of them falling into German hands. However, we later learned the Polish patriots were very grateful for our efforts.
The reception then adjourned to the third floor of the Chicago Cultural Building for the commemorative program.
Approximately 400 people had gathered for this event since it was open to the public by reservation only.
During the program Art Juhlin delivered remarks representing the veterans participating in the supply mission to Warsaw on September 18, 1944. Art presented the following letter from Grant A. Fuller, Executive Vice President of the 100th Bomb Group Foundation:
POLISH HOME ARMY:
The members of the 100th Bomb Group Foundation with great respect wish you well of the 60th anniversary of your courageous Warsaw Uprising of August/September 1944. We thank you and are proud that you invited the 100th Bomb Group to participate in the commemoration.
Your invitation was extended to recognize our efforts to air-drop by parachute arms and supplies to the beleaguered Home Army in 1944. We attempted the mission of September 15, 1944 but were recalled because of extreme weather over the North Sea. On September 18, 1944 the US 8th Air Force,13th Bomb Wing (Heavy) with 100 B-17’s (including 36 from the 100th Bomb Group) flew the North Sea route and reached Warsaw. This time the poor weather was at the drop site which was covered by an undercast. We circled for sometime trying to find and opening in the undercast. We finally dropped over the target at 13,500 feet. Because of the circling our formation was not as close as desired so our drop was more scattered that desired. After the drop we flew to Migorod, Russia to land. The mission flight was 10 ½ hours.
We young airmen at the time knew by radio and newspaper of the inspired Polish battle and were eager for the mission when we learned at the flight briefing of the mission plan. After the mission there was a good feeling of helping and later a strong disappointment when the Poles were finally overwhelmed by enemy number and equipment. As the war continued and ended we returned to living our lives the action of the mission faded and was tucked away in our memory.
The mission was brought back to us in a wonderful way in 1984-1985 when the Polish Home Army sought out participants in the mission and awarded each of us The Polish Home Army Cross. Time and history told us of the many details of the 1944 Uprising and increased our pride for having been a part of the mission and a small part of the Uprising.
And now 60 years after the battle you again extend your appreciation and history continues to reveal more information as to your heroic efforts. We are proud to be your friends and congratulate you on this celebration.
Sincere regards, Grant A. Fuller, Exec. Vice Pres.
The reading of the letter was followed by remarks from W. Ted Chodorowski, the National Vice President of the Polish Home Army Veterans Association.
Thank you, Captain Juhlin for conveying to us greetings and best wishes of the 100th bomb Group expressed in the letter of Grant Fuller, Exec. VP. and a co-pilot on the mission. A very warm thank you to all airmen of the US 8th Air Force, 13th Combat Wing, 100th Bomb Group who took part in the supply mission to Warsaw on September 18th 1944. Thank you for your courage and determination.
I would like to share with you and your colleagues how we felt on the ground in Warsaw when your B-17’s broke through the overcast. Suddenly, the sky was covered with planes, over a 100 of them. Then hundreds of parachutes started to drop. What a magnificent view! Help was finally coming!
Initially we thought that it was the Polish Parachute Brigade from England coming to the rescue. We soon realized that it was not men but canisters swaying from the parachutes. And lots of them! So be it! Arms and supplies were just as welcome. We were overjoyed! However, it was not for long. We realized that the strong wind started to carry the parachutes beyond our positions, into the enemy territory. As more and more supplies drifted to the Germans, disappointment replaced joy. None the less, we were grateful for all the drops which our forces recovered, even though they represented only a small part of the total. And we are grateful today.
By the way, none of us on the ground were aware of the difficulties you had encountered on your mission, e.g. having to turn back on September 15th, or having to circle for an hour over Warsaw because of the overcast and having to fight off German fighters. To us it looked like a well organized operation.
To honor your mission and to express our thanks and high esteem for all its participants, the veterans of the Polish Home Army have dedicated a special monument in the Memorial Park at the Wright-Patterson Air Base in Dayton, Ohio. I hope that when you’re in Dayton, you will take the time to see it.
Thank you again for helping us 60 years ago; please convey our thanks to your colleagues from the 100 Bomb Group.
Warsaw Uprising -- Timeline of Important Dates:
August 23, 1939 - Signing of the non-aggression pact between German and USSR. A secret protocol partitions Poland between them.
September 1, 1939 - WW II begins with the German invasion of Poland.
September 3, 1939 - Britain and France declare war on Germany.
September 17, 1939 - USSR invades Poland.
September 28, 1939 - Warsaw Surrenders to Germany.
September 30,1939 - The Polish government in exile in formed in Paris with General Wladyslaw Sikorski as Prime Minister and the Commander-in-chief of its armed forces.
April 3, 1940 - The first group of 4,500 Polish officers captured as POW’s in 1939 are taken to the Katyn forest and executed by the NKVD. Two more groups are executed later that year at Charkov and Miednoje making a total of 14,700. In addition, some 10,000 police officers and Polish government personnel imprisoned by the NKVD earlier were executed in the same period.
February 10, 1940 - First of four mass deportation by USSR of Poles to Siberia. Particularly harsh because of extremely cold winter. The total deported Polish citizens will reach almost 1 million.
November 2,1940 - Over 400,000 Jews are walled inside the Warsaw Ghetto.
June 22,1941 - Germany invades USSR in Operation Barbarossa.
April 19, 1943 - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Some 1,200 poorly armed Jewish fighters face 2,100 German SS troops with heavy weapons (Martin Gilbert-"The Holocaust"). It lasted 27 days. The German commander Jurgen Stroop estimated 56,000 Jews captured or killed. German losses 86 SS killed and 480 wounded (Israel Gutman "Ghetto-The Jews of Warsaw")
June 6, 1944 - Allies invade Europe on D-Day.
Mid-July, 1944 - Soviet troops reach the outskirts of Warsaw and the Vistula River south of Warsaw.
August 1, 1944 - Warsaw Uprising begins, led by over 40,000 members of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa or AK). It lasted 63 days. Nearly 200,000 of the city's inhabitants were killed. After the final surrender, the remaining population of approximately 250,000 was evacuated and sent to forced labor camps or concentration camps . The city was systematically burned and dynamited. Over 85% of the city was destroyed.
July-December, 1944 - Soviet NKVD arrested some 36,000 AK soldiers who earlier supported the Red Army in the battles against the Germans East of the river Vistula.
January 17, 1945 - The Red Army finally enters Warsaw to almost no resistance.