Spitfire BL688

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Spitfire BL688

Polish Air Force pupil pilot Sergeant Zygmunt Bauerek died when his Spitfire Mk Vb crashed into farmland north of Bury in Lancashire on the morning of May 29th 1945. The accident happened just weeks after the end of the war in Europe.

It appears Sgt Bauerek knew he was in trouble and was trying to put the aircraft down, flying over the area a couple of times and looking through the mist and rain for a suitable field in which to land.

If he had engine problems, the situation rapidly deteriorated; according to at least two eye witness accounts reported in the Bury Times of 30th May 1945, flames were seen coming from the aircraft before it struck the ground.

A woman working in a dairy, a Miss Alice Walmersley, said “…the engine sounded faulty. I thought it must be in trouble.” She rushed out to see the Spitfire heading for the ground.

The first on the scene, a Mr David Davies of the nearby Cob House Farm said,
“I saw a flash and heard a bang as it crashed, and I dashed out immediately. Everything was over in a second or two. It had been raining heavily and the ground was boggy, and I lost my boot as I ran up the hill. I did not stop for it, but by the time I reached the plane it was obvious that nothing could be done for the pilot. He was still clutching the control column.”

He and others pulled Sgt Bauerek from the burning cockpit and used wet mud and clay to douse the flames consuming his clothes.

Zygmunt Bauerek was just 20 years old when he was killed. He is buried at the Polish Cemetary at Newark in Nottinghamshire.

75th anniversary visit, 29 May 2020

On the day Sgt Bauerek’s Spitfire crashed at Bury, two USAAF P-51Ds also came down on high ground in the area. They were part of a formation of 23 Mustangs (flying from Essex to Liverpool) which got lost in the vile weather. The upper one is near Oldham, the lower one near Glossop. Please click on either link for more detail.

USAAF P-51D Mustang 44-72181

USAAF P-51D Mustang 44-64084

39 comments on “Spitfire BL688
  1. nondesigner59 says:

    Fantastic image and a great tribute, and as ever, excellent background information. An instant fave.

  2. Ian D B says:

    Cheers Malcolm!

  3. Ray~Watson says:

    Brilliant work Ian, I agree with above – great tribute and as always very informative.

  4. PeaceLoveScoobie says:

    Great, surreal, image Ian. Sad that he was so young.

  5. andyholmfirth says:

    Stunning Image Ian with a poppy cross against that sky.Looks utterly sublime viewed in lightbox.

  6. SolarScot. says:

    a very fitting tribute Ian

  7. mick cooke says:

    brilliant photo ian great work once again,and a great tribute

  8. Richard Tierney says:

    Excellent Ian.. superb research as always….

    This is a MkVb in the markings of one of the Free Polish Squadrons ( Note the Polish Air Force Red/White Marking on the nose ) Serving with the RAF Think it is the same aircraft in your picture… JH-C

  9. pasujoba says:

    That is a truly tremendous shot Ian . the colour of the sky is so rich and perfect for the solemnity of the subject matter .
    The as always excellent reportage too.

  10. rob of rochdale says:

    Absolutely stunning Ian. The write up as ever is so touching and with Bury only being down the road, brings it all so much closer to home.

    I don’t fave many, this I did though!

  11. mickb6265 says:

    looking forward to seeig something like this,ian..your usual quality prevails,mate…

  12. bandman12 says:

    more interesting history, quite well compiled. we walk over history every day. mostly unaware of what we are coming close to. the shot itself is quite beautiful.

  13. Keartona says:

    The emotive red of the sky and the Poppy give this shot an added poignancy.

  14. Gizzardtreedude says:

    Incredible capture and a tribute to the fallen

  15. Benoit Foisy says:

    I never get enough of your work and sensibility. Awesome picture, Ian.

  16. cgullz says:

    what a tremendously sad tale; to survive being shot at through the war only to be lost to an accident, and a fiery one at that. wonderfully told story, beautiful imagery and considerable tenderness shown here with the return visit. you did the guy proud. thanks Ian.

  17. Tech Owl says:

    Another full detailed piece Ian – the shot is top notch. Great light and a superb backdrop

  18. stopherjones says:

    Really striking image. The blood red of the sky and the poppy really, and the quotes from the witnesses, really make this hit home. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/angwickham] Agree, great tribute

  19. hannes vosgerau | unknown711 says:

    Wonderful colours and composition! Love the sky!

  20. Through Collette's eyes says:

    Great great sky – beautiful shot Ian : )

  21. Stezzer says:

    It’s tragic. Like your shot a lot, the blood red sky adds to the atmosphere and tragedy.

    On a lighter note, I once took a perilous journey in a spitfire too… and somehow survived unharmed…

    Chocs Away Ginger

  22. amyrey says:

    Incredible photo Ian….. Really sad tale. Just 20… 🙁

  23. crusader752 says:

    Incredible image Ian and a heart-rending story too! Amy’s so right – 20!!!

  24. jerseyimage says:

    Well worth the return visit Ian, spot on, looks very good against that sunset.

  25. bazylek100 says:

    Sad story of this young pilot, and great tribute.

    ps. Spitfire in the third picture bears the emblem (blue condor in white cross) of the 317th "Wilno" Polish Fighter Squadron. It was originally the emblem of the 151st and 152nd Fighter Escadrilles, attached to the "Modlin" Army fighting in 1939 against the German invasion.

    Historia Polski / History of Poland

  26. Ian D B says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/29288836@N00] [http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerseyimage]
    Thanks guys! Yeah, 20. They were mostly just kids, very brave kids.


    Thanks for your comment and the additional info, very good to hear from you.

  27. bill_fawcett says:

    Wonderful photo Ian – very dramatic – and interesting narrative.

  28. nuttallrichard says:

    Whereabouts in the Bury area was this if I may ask?- My mother is from there and was around at the time too so she might remember it.

  29. Ian D B says:

    It is north of Bury, up past Walmersley. About 500m north of Walmersley Golf Club and west of Deeply Vale where there were free frestivals in the 70s.

    There were many air crashes in the area, she may recall some of the others. Notes on this map will take you to a photo of them.

    Air Crash Map, Peak District

  30. nuttallrichard says:

    Thanks a million!

  31. C J Paul (chris) says:

    man great work as always ian

  32. f3liney says:

    Stunning photo Ian and a fitting act of remembrance.

  33. sixty8panther says:

    One of the 3 highest scoring aces of the Battle of Britain
    was also the number one allied ace of the B.o.B.
    He was a sort of lone wolf & died when he crashed his
    Hurricane over UK soil. He was also a CzechoSlovakian
    which is why I remember him so well.


  34. jr55 (John Richardson) says:

    Down in London decorating Craig’s flat, his family up safe in Northumberland, we’re in a bar of the hotel, having a beer and looking at my contact’s pictures, Craig and I like this image and in particular, the thoughtful way that you present these images and Craig said to me, don’t forget to coment on the excellent lighting. Regards, John

  35. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Superb Colours.

  36. RTsan says:

    lovely shot!

  37. Dirk Bruin says:

    Amazing shot, Ian!

  38. Highy says:

    Superb image Ian, that sky is really poignant and you got the cross to stand up!
    Nicely done.

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