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05/12/1941 - Supermarine Spitfire P7749

Type Serial No Unit Station Duty Crew Passengers
Supermarine Spitfire II
"City of Bradford IV"
No 306 (Polish) Squadron Woodvale Training Flight 1 0

On the morning of the 5th December 1941 Sergeant Otton Pudrycki took off fully armed with his unit “A” Flight of No 306 Polish Squadron from Speke at 09:50 hours in his Spitfire IIa, No P7749, named “The City of Bradford IV” on a routine training exercise and target practice around the mouth of the River Ribble. Sergeant Pudrycki noted that the cloud cover was satisfactory at 2,000 feet.

 Sergeant Pudrycki

 Sergeant Pudrycki

However during the morning manoeuvres weather conditions worsened dramatically and the cloud descended to 200 feet, no one is certain what happened, a possible combination of instrument failure and low cloud, but Sergeant Pudrycki aircraft was spotted near to the ground. The aircraft crashed at the end of the playing field after being seen to roar over the roof tops of the school, between St Paul’s avenue and the driveway at King Edward VII School, Lytham at 10:13 hours. Brian Collins was seen hurling himself at full speed down the driveway only to be stopped in his tracks by the exploding ammunition. Mrs Weech the headmaster’s wife filled buckets of water but nothing could be done to save Sergeant Pudrycki.

Mr Norman Bernsen who saw the Spitfire crash as a 13 year old pupil of the school recalled, “As his plane roared over the sand dunes in the gloom he must have seen the school ahead of him and instinctively hurled his plane upward and over the roof, only to crash at the end of the playing field”.

“I saw the pane hit the edge of the field and burst into flames. It was fully armed and if it had hit the school it would have been the biggest disaster at any school ever in this country”.

“It is to this gallant pilots skill in the last seconds of his life that we owe so much, his instinctive reaction saved the lives of so many boys in the school that day”.

Sergeant Otton Pudrycki P782879 who was 30 years old and had been in the RAF for two years. He was born in 1911 and had served as a Non Commissioned Officer reservist in the 4th Polish Airforce Regiment based in the City of Torun, central Poland. He escaped from Poland before the onset of war and traveled to England via Romania were he joined the RAF in August 1939, In August 1941 he shot down a Bf109 near Bolougne. He is buried at Layton Cemetery, Blackpool. Sergeant Pudrycki had 2147 flying hours to his credit with 115 of these on Spitfires.

Sergeant Pudrycki's grave

  Sergeant Pudrycki's grave

It was considered that a contributing factor to the accident was, “Error of judgement of flight commander in flying into bad weather and not returning to base earlier. Controller should have obtained special weather report from Squires Gate before authorising flight but weather deterioration was rapid, taking place after airborne”. It was also noted that the aircraft crashed after losing formation in cloud carrying out a right hand climbing turn within a few hundred feet of the ground, stalled and crashed.

It was felt by a number of Polish Veterans that, as Sergeant Pudrycki was a flying instructor he would never have stalled a Spitfire as suggested by the RAF investigation. Especially by Mr Jan Martens who knew him well as Sergeant Pudrycki had been his flying instructor.  

Sergeant Pudrycki's memorial

Sergeant Pudrycki's memorial

A plaque with a carved Polish White Eagle along with a photograph of Sergeant Pudrycki was erected by the Old Lidunians’s Association (School Old Boys) in the Hawkins Library on the 6th December 1991, the dedication was attended by about 60 people, the plaque was unveiled by Mr Pad Ruman. D.F.M., Chairman of the White Eagle Club in Blackpool.

Position Name Rank Serial No Age Status
Pilot Otton Pudrycki Sergeant P782879 30 Killed

Speke Incidents