Flying Officer Palej

Flying Officer Palej

Last weekend we had a lovely visit from the family of Flying Officer Palej, whose Spitfire wreckage is currently on display in the foyer of The Atkinson.

Palej’s children, Jagusia and her brother Zbig, met with Nick Wotherspoon of the Lancashire Aircraft Investigation Team who excavated the Spitfire. They brought along some of their fathers’ items including his ID card and medals.

It was a lovely afternoon talking to the family and learning more about this amazing pilot.

The wreckage of Spitfire BL58N5 that crashed in February 1942 is on display in The Atkinson’s foyer until Saturday 4 March 2023.

On the morning of Friday the 13th February 1942 , BL585 was being flown by Flying Officer Boleslaw Paley P-0347 (Palej – correct Polish spelling), of No 308 Squadron based at RAF Woodvale near Southport. F/O Paley was conducting mock dog-fighting exercises with Sergeant Majchrzyk, when it seems Paley bailed out of his aircraft!

At the subsequent inquiry, he later admitted that there was no failure in the aircraft, but that he blacked out and only came to when he found himself no longer at the controls of his aircraft, but falling through the air with his parachute unopened. It seems that fortunately for Paley, that in his unconscious state, his training took over and he successfully bailed out, the rush of cold air then bringing him round.

Below a young local aircraft spotter had been watching the Spitfires and was surprised to see a parachute blossoming in the sky as one of the aircraft dived towards the ground. Later he made his way to the crash site and even managed to ascertain the aircraft’s serial number, which he added to his meticulous records in a small notebook – a hobby that could have landed him in serious trouble in wartime!

Meanwhile Paley had landed safely in the yard of a colliery at Golborne, where upon his arrival he was nearly set upon by the miners coming off shift, because his Polish accent he was at first mistaken for a German!

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Posted on 28 February 2023 under Exhibition, General news

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