VIDEO: On the night of May 4-5, 1942, the crew of ORP Błyskawica repelled a Luftwaffe attack on Cowes, a town on Britain’s Isle of Wight that lies off the south coast of England. To mark the 80th anniversary, the Polish warship ORP Wodnik will arrive in the port of Cowes on Thursday morning.
A 16-strong team uncovered over half a ton of the wreckage buried in specially dug pits. The engine was missing and despite finding an airman’s boot no bodies of the crew were found.
Considered by many to be the very first bombing campaign of WWII, the town was razed to the ground with 75 percent of its buildings destroyed.
Omitted from the maps for the full duration of the Cold War, this tiny town (current population: 4,500), was at the very heart of the Soviet Union’s military presence in Poland. For decades, no-one knew it existed and that sense of secrecy lingers to this day.
Principally comprised of aerial images taken by Luftwaffe reconnaissance planes throughout the duration of the occupation, the digital undertaking has been described as the largest collection of aerial photographs ever amassed of wartime Warsaw.
Holding Poland’s highest military decoration, the Gold Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari, the Błyskawica has been described as being “a precious national relic”, not to mention a symbol of Polish heroism.
The new documentary produced by Marcin Borchardt reconstructs Halik’s remarkable and unique life story over half a decade using archival materials, including hitherto unpublished films shot by Halik from his multitude of journeys around the globe.
Retired manager Adam Jędruszek came across the documents for the Wicher and Burza destroyers, which were an important part of Poland’s naval capability, while clearing out his uncle’s apartment.
Trapped in the port in Tallinn, the pride of the Polish underwater fleet made an audacious escape under fire, followed by a miraculous journey without navigational aids to Britain in waters infested with German vessels intent on sinking it.
WARNING! GRAPHIC CONTENT: Kazimiera Mika was pictured by American photographer Julien Bryan kneeling beside the body of her dead sister just moments after they had been machine-gunned by German aircraft.