Sergeant Franciszek Józef Prętkiewicz (P/784733) served in the Polish Air Force and the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Born on 9th July 1914, he was the son of Józef Prętkiewicz and Gertruda Prętkiewicz of Niszczewice, Inowrocław, Poland.
At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Sergeant Prętkiewicz served in the Polish Air Force. With the ‘Lwowski’ III Fighter Squadron, 6th Air Regiment, he claimed 1 solo victory and 1 shared victory in the September 1939 Campaign.
By 23rd September 1940, Prętkiewicz had reached the United Kingdom and received a posting to R.A.F. 307 (City of Lwów) Squadron. From there, he transferred to the School of Army Cooperation at R.A.F. Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.
Service in Northern Ireland
On 11th October 1940, he arrived in Northern Ireland, posted to R.A.F. 245 Squadron at R.A.F. Aldergrove, Co. Antrim. He made a total of 4 operational sorties with the Squadron before his untimely death on 30th November 1940 aged 26 years old.
His final flight was a training exercise on Hawker Hurricane R4079. Having taken off from R.A.F. Aldergrove, Co. Antrim, the Hurricane’s engine failed. Prętkiewicz baled out of the stricken fighter plane only for his parachute to become entangled on the tail. This caused the plane to spin out of control and come down on high ground near Cushendall, Co. Antrim.
For Your Freedom And Ours produced the following video showing the crash site in April 2020.
On 1st December 1984, over 40 years after the crash, a team of volunteers from the Ulster Aviation Society recovered the Merlin engine of Hawker Hurricane R4079 from the crash site. Lynx Helicopter XZ666 of Army Air Corps No. 655 Squadron assisted in the recovery mission. The engine is now part of the collection at the Ulster Aviation Society based at the former Long Kesh Airfield, Lisburn, Co. Down.
Franciszek Józef Prętkiewicz’s grave is in Plot 4, West Side, Grave 19 of Glenavy Roman Catholic Churchyard, Glenavy, Co. Antrim.