Kazimierz Augustyn Josef Bursztyn
Polish pilot dead for France
Kazimierz Bursztyn was born on January Ist, 1910 at Myslenice near Cracovia in Poland. In the years 1936-1937, he worked as a flying instructor at the Higher Flying School in Grudziadz and later in Ulez. In September, during the war between Poland and Germany and then USSR, he fought within the Deblin fighter aircraft group. On September 19th, 1939, he was captured by the Soviet army but he managed to escape two days later.
One can assume that after his escape, his aim was to reach France in order to serve in the French Air force. Therefore, he arrived in France via Romania probably in late 1939. After doing a course in Montpellier or its area during which he was trained to fly Morane Saulnier 406 fighter aircraft, he became the leader of a patrol or a formation within III/1 fighter group.
He spent some time in hospital and in May 1940 he joined his squadron in III/1 fighter group based in Plessis-Belleville. After a mission in the moming of May 25th during which no enemy aircraft was encountered, III/1 fighter group resumed their mission in the afternoon. Its purpose was to escort and protect a reconnaissance aircraft "Potez 63" which was to conduct a reconnaissance aerial mission over an area ranging from Arras to l'Ilse Adam via Condé-Valenciennes-St Quentin-Noyon (about 180km). The "Potez" reconnaissance aircraft was protected by a formation comprising two patrols of 3 Morane Saulnier M.S. 406. (High-flying and low-flying patrols)
Kazimierz Bursztyn was the leader of the high-flying patrol, his fighter identification number was 1047. It was about 15:10 when the patrol was attacked over Bapaume by a formation of Messerschmitt Me 109 and 110, (It was reported that a section of about 6 or 10 enemy fighter aircraft was involved). During the fights, adjutant Gagnaire shot down 3 enemy aircraft but Polish pilot Kazimierz Bursztyn was mortally wounded and his aircraft corkscrewed earthwards smoking and crashed blazing in the Moyenneville sector in a place called "La plaine d'Ayette".
Pilot "Kazimierz Bursztyn" of 3/1 fighter group died into his aircraft, he was 30. His half-burnt body was found among the fragments of his aircraft and his identity badge bore no number but one word : "Mathilde". He was fîrst buried in the village graveyard of Moyenneville. In February 1984, the War Graves Commission was consulted in order to be allowed to replace thé words "Polish national" by the proper title he deserved : Polish fighter pilot. In 1951, he was exhumed from the village graveyard of Moyenneville and buried in the national cemetery of "La Targette" at Neuville St Vaast (Pas de Calais) in the 39/45 military precinct where he rests forever. (Grave number 8401).
Kazimierz Bursztyn is credited with 2 victories for shooting down 2 German aircraft including a He-111 bomber on May 12th, 1940.
One will notice that III/1 fighter group was created on December 15th, 1939. Pilot Kazimierz Bursztyn's Ms 406 fighter aircraft bore the emblem showing a "bespectacled fox". During the 1940 battle, this fighter group was credited with 29 victories including 25 confirmed. The group was dissolved on August 12th,1940.
Sources and acknowledgement :
Mr Grzegorz Zaïeski, Polish embassy
SHAA archives : Additional archives destined to Colonel Heurtaux.
- Official history of III/lgroup written by Colonel Salesse. (SHAA Ibib GB31)
- III/l Fighter group archives-SHAA G7791- GL. Sylvestre de Sacy.
Special thanks to M. Parsy for translation