CAPTAIN FRANCKI'S REPORT

REPORT  ON  AIR  ATTACK  ON  COWES
by
The  COMMANDING  OFFICER
O.R.P.  “BLYSKAWICA. "During the night of 5-6th May, there was a heavy air raid on Cowes where O.R.P. BLYSKAWICA is under repair.
 
"The activity of the ship was as follows:-
 
"At 2255 when the A.A. guns on the island started firing, the A.A. alarm was
given on board at 2300.
"A few minutes later the first German planes appeared, dropping flares, followed
immediately by planes which dropped a large number of incendiary bombs on East
Cowes along about 1 klm of the river bank, starting huge fires in the dockyard.
High explosive bombs were dropped on West Cowes, which started three large fires
along the river.  One of the first bombs fell in the dockyard where the ship
lies, starting quite a large fire.
"At 2135 the ship was surrounded by fires which excellently illuminated the whole
dockyard and the two destroyers building there.  Owing to this I sent three men
with smoke-candles to the lee-side of the river where they lit them in turn
making a smoke-screen over the threatened area.   I think the effect of the
screen was considerable as it covered the ships and part of the dockyard almost
continually.
"At 2320 I sent my British Leading Signalman to the A.R.P. Headquarters, offering
to help them, and also suggested making a first-aid post for the slightly
injured on board.
"At 2325 I sent about 20 men to help fight fires in the dockyard. 
"At 2400 I sent another party of about 30 men to help fight fires in the Saunders
Roe aircraft factory.
"At 2420 the raids ceased, but the alert was kept up on board.
"At 0130 I sent 3 parties of about 11 men each to East Cowes to prevent the fire
from spreading from the dockyard tracery to the other buildings.   I sent these
men when communication with the two banks was possible, thanks to an English
motorboat.
"At 0230 some of the parties working in West Cowes returned.
"At 0320 the party from East Cowes returned.
"At 0325 at the request of the A.R.P. Headquarters, I sent the doctor with a
first-aid party to the first-aid post in West Cowes, leaving a sick-berth Petty
Officer on board.
"At 0415 a second violent raid came lasting until 0520.   Immediately it had
started I ordered the smoke screen to be kept up.
At 0445 I sent a party of 17 men who put out an oil fire in the dockyard.
"At 0615 – all clear – but the ship remained in readiness.
"At 0820 the doctor and first-aid party returned.
"The raids were made very quickly and from a fairly low ceiling.  The planes
often dive-bombed.
"The ship fired her 40 mm guns and heavy machine guns by sound, which was usually
possible when the planes dived before dropping their bombs, or by locating the
position of the plane with the help of the search-lights on the island.   Fire
was always spread both in direction and elevation.   The results appeared to
good me, as very often the planes turned violently, which we could plainly hear.
Once about 2400 we saw a plane in a very dense stream of machine gun bullets.
About 0500 in a 40 mm shell barrage, we saw a large explosion, much lighter in
colour than the exploding shells and from it fell large numbers of sparks.
The ship fired  2030  40 mm  shells and  10500 rounds of machine gun ammunition.
(13.2mm).
"The main armament was not used as the control tower had been out of action
during a previous raid and I considered that local control fire was ineffective
and dangerous for the town and nearby buildings."
 
(Signed)
Commander,  Polish Navy.
Copies to:-  Flag Officer In Charge, Southampton.
                     Captain (D),  Greenock.
AIR  ATTACK  ON  COWES  MAY  5/6th  1942.
From:  The  Captain  (D) , First Destroyer Flotilla.
Date:  9th May, 1942.                  No.T.3/1154

To:  The Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.
Enclosure to Portsmouth No.2626/9692/1/6 of 21.5.42.
From: The Commanding Officer, O.R.P.”BLYSKAWICA”
Date 9th May 1942.
To:- The Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. (Through Captain (D), First Destroyer
Flotilla).
 
The attached report from the Commanding Officer, O.R.P. Blyskawica is forwarded.
The Commanding Officer appears to have attacked vigorously, and in particular, I
consider that his 
action in using  “smoke candles” to make a smoke screen over the threatened
area, is worthy of note.
(Signed) Guy Hamilton.
Captain.
Commander Francki received a Recommendation for Decoration or Mention in
Despatches, with the following “Description of Services for which Officer or Man
Is recommended":

“For outstanding qualities of initiative and leadership during
the enemy air attack on Cowes on the night of 4th/5th May,1942.‘This officer’s
action in landing men to burn smoke floats ashore and the intensive barrage
which he directed personallywere largely instrumental in saving the destroyers
building at Messrs. Samuel White’s  Shipyard in East Cowes.‘After the raid
parties were landed from the BLYSKAWICA and did good service fire fighting at
the Chasseur base and in East Cowes.”

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