Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire flypast over Marbury (2) (1)

The son of a true war hero was special guest during the Marbury Merry Days Spitfire Flypast, writes Jonathan White.

John Wojda’s father Zbigniew ‘Adam’ Wojda was a Polish Spitfire pilot and instructor during the Second World War.

Zbigniew graduated as a fighter pilot in Poland in 1939. He was forced to escape Poland when it was invaded by Germany, then he navigated overland and by ship to reach England.

For son John, who now lives in Whitchurch, the Marbury Merry Days country fair was an emotional one when on Sunday there was a spectacular flypast by Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire Mk XVI TE311.

John said: “I was delighted to be invited to this well-organised and attended event.

“It fantastic to see and hear the Spitfire, although it made me feel weepy.

“I would like to thank Carol and Richard Sheard of the Marbury Merry Days committee for inviting me and to the public for supporting this event.”

Zbigniew ‘Adam’ Wojda in a Spitfire (1)
Zbigniew ‘Adam’ Wojda in a Spitfire

When his father Zbigniew arrived in England he was sent to an Operational Training Unit to be prepared to fly the iconic Spitfire aircraft.

After his successful conversion training – with “Above Average” recorded in his logbook – Zbigniew was assigned to No. 303 Squadron RAF, a Polish squadron based in Northolt, and was a Spitfire pilot from 1941 to 1943.

Zbigniew also co-designed the Polish Air Force in exile standard.

On 12th April 1942 Zbigniew and his wingman Bienkowski were both attacked by Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter aircraft.

Despite substantial damage, including a lost engine, Zbigniew managed to skilfully pancake-land his Spitfire in the English Channel, where he was rescued after 30 minutes, then taken to hospital in England.

Zbigniew later learned that he would have plummeted to his death if he had bailed out, as his parachute was shredded from the attack.

After three months in hospital, Zbigniew returned to the Squadron and resumed active operations until late 1943, when he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant to become an instructor and trained other pilots in twin-engine aircraft.

While an instructor Zbigniew developed Tuberculosis (TB), which brought him to different hospitals including a Polish hospital in Penley in Wales.

He was then invalided out to Iscoyd, also in Wales and near to Whitchurch.

Zbigniew settled in Whitchurch after the war and became a watchmaker and repairer.

He established Dodington’s Jewellers which he named after his first shop on a street in Whitchurch called Dodington.

Dodington’s Jewellers remains in Whitchurch to this day, located at 28 High Street.

Zbigniew passed away, aged 90, in 2009 and is buried at St Alkmunds Church in Whitchurch.

(Spitfire image by Jonathan White, others courtesy of John Wojda)

John Wojda at Dodington's Jewellers in Whitchurch (1)
John Wojda at Dodington’s Jewellers in Whitchurch

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