Heritage centre honouring Polish bomber squadrons unveiled by 104-year-old former wireless operator

four images showing the opening of RAF Ingham

A new heritage Centre at RAF Ingham marks a significant milestone in commemorating the contributions of the Polish Air Force Bomber Squadrons during World War II.

The groundbreaking initiative, the first of its kind globally, pays homage to the gallant men and women who served alongside the RAF, embodying the spirit of camaraderie and sacrifice.

RAF Ingham (later known as RAF Cammeringham) served as a pivotal Royal Air Force station from 1942 and 1944, hosting RAF Bomber Command operations and subsequently serving as a training hub for both the RAF and Polish Air Force units until 1946.

The ceremony graced by esteemed dignitaries including The Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Toby Dennis; the Consul General from the Polish Consulate in Manchester, Michał Mazurek and the families of former crew members.

Among the honoured attendees was 104-year-old Mieczyslaw Frackiewicz (John Franklin), a former wireless operator with 304 Squadron, whose presence added a poignant touch to the event.

He attended the ceremony with his daughter and cut the ribbon to make the centre’s official opening. He said: 

“I would like to officially thank all those behind today’s event and the volunteers who have worked for this – I am so grateful for everything they have done.”

Behind this monumental endeavour lies the dedication of a team of volunteers, whose unwavering commitment over a span of 14 years transformed an old farm storage building, once the wartime Airmen’s Mess, into a beacon of remembrance and education.

Chairman of RAF Ingham Heritage Centre, Geoff Burton, said: 

"The official opening was an incredible success, with guests from Poland and descendants from around the UK being able to be present and to experience our wonderful exhibition. 

“You couldn't have asked for a more perfect day; the weather was great, and we managed to have the flypast by a Spitfire from BBMF. 

So many of descendants became very emotional on seeing photographs of their loved-ones or were simply enveloped in the atmosphere. So many met old friends or made new ones, and found that unbeknown to them, they had bonds and connections where their parents/grandparents had flown or worked together on the Polish Squadrons.”

Geoff added: 

“But praise and thanks must go to our incredible team of volunteers, who have worked tirelessly over many years, to make this project a reality.

“We have created this Centre to ensure the memories and sacrifices of these young men, many of whom gave their lives, to ensure we have the freedoms, we so take for granted these days."

The Heritage Centre stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the courage and resilience, ensuring the valiant deeds of the past resonate with future generations. As visitors step through its doors they embark on a journey through history, honouring the spirit of those who served with unwavering devotion.

The ceremony included speeches from invited guests, including the Lord Lieutenant, Polish Consulate in Manchester, Michał Mazurek. Wreaths were placed at the centre’s war memorial by guests including representatives of the Polish armed forces and members of the RAF.

Polish Consulate in Manchester, Michał Mazurek, congratulated those behind the heritage centre who had created a fitting tribute to the Police crews based at RAF Ingham.

He said: 

“When you compare the recognition of the fighter squadrons with that of the bomber squadrons, for various reasons the history of the bomber squadrons isn’t as well known. When you consider the huge losses, they suffered we are indebted to them. The heritage centre is very important and without the work of many volunteers behind this project we wouldn’t be here today.”

West Lindsey District Council is among a number of supporters of the project, and through its Community Grants Scheme has contributed a significant amount of funding, which has gone towards the installation of underfloor heating powered by air source heat pumps.

Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Trevor Young, who was among representatives of the authority at the event, said: 

“The work and dedication of those behind this extraordinary project has created a fitting tribute to the Polish bomber squadrons based here during the war. I am sure their memories and stories will continue to be told by the centre for many years to come.”

This weekend the centre formally opened to the public and the opening times and days are:

  • Thursdays, 10am to 3pm
  • Saturdays, 10am to 3pm
  • Sundays, 10am to 3pm

At the official opening, West Lindsey District Council also launched the refresh of its Aviation Guide. which provides a detailed history of the district’s connections to the first and second world wars. The guide also includes details of heritage centres open to the public, as well as memorials and former airfield sites.

To request a copy please email tourism.info@west-lindsey.gov.uk or call 01427 676666.

The Community Grant Scheme is funded by the UK Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund and Rural England Prosperity Fund.

For the latest news on West Lindsey District Council visit our council news pages

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