It was during the Second World War that the leader of the Polish Armed Forces in exile, General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, used an RAF DC-3 for personal air transportation. The free Polish military were then based in the United Kingdom during the Nazi occupation of their homeland. During that time, the aircraft carried normal RAF markings, with the addition of the Polish Air Force insignia of red and white squares behind the cockpit. After the war, the DC-3 ended up in commercial use in Canada. Later, it was salvaged for parts.
What was left of the aircraft, which still sported faded Transair livery, eventually found a home with Winnipeg’s Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. While there, researchers discovered its military history and in 2002 transferred the aircraft to the RCAF’s 17 Wing for preservation.
“It had been sitting out in a field for many years,” Gord Crossley, a heritage volunteer with 17 Wing, told CTV News. “One of the [tasks] we had to do along with a contractor, was to clean out the years and years of rats nests and mouse nests and so on.”
Volunteers with 17 Wing’s ‘Ghost Squadron’ spent hours and hours restoring the aircraft. “We were working outdoors, so we always had to have good weather. Quite often we’d go and set up the paint and the wind would blow our spray paint away,” said Crossley.
The plane will now be donated to the Polish government, who will arrange final restoration and placement in a museum.
“It is significant, both personally and historically, for the Polish nation,” said Andrzej Ruta, president of the Polish Combatants Association of Canada.
As for General Sosnkowski, he too relocated to Canada after the war, where he died at the age of 83 on October 11, 1969, in Arundel, Quebec.