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I am searching for information on Janina Musnicka Lewandowska. As I understand it, she was an aviatrix who was called up in the mobilisation of Polish forces in 1939. She held the rank of second lieutenant and was a pilot in the Polish air force. She was shot down and eventually became a prisoner of the Soviets. Her corpse was later found by the German authorities at Katyn in 1943.
From what I can piece together she sounds like a fascinating person. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find much information on her and what I have found is somewhat contradictory. I think she was born in approximately 1910. Her father was General Dowbor Musnicki. She was an excellent pilot and a parachute enthusiast. She was the first European woman to jump above the 5 km mark. She was also noted to be a great singer, earning the name the "Poznan Nightingale." She married a Lieutenant Colonel in 1938 or 1939.
With regard to her being shot down, I have read that her aircraft was brought down by the Soviet artillery fire. I have also read that it was brought down by the Germans and that the Germans later transferred her as a prisoner to the Soviets.
Can someone please provide more information regarding Janina Lewandowska's background, military service, and fate? Are there any photographs available? Was she a fighter pilot or flying reconnaissance missions? What kind of aircraft did she fly? Were there other women pilots in the Polish air force?
Any information is appreciated.
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You will note that Lewandowska (1908-1940) was not shot down. Her unit was evacuated by train and she was taken prisoner by the Soviets on 22 September 1939. She was imprisoned in the PoW Camp for Polish Officers in Kozelsk. Although her name was initially missing from the German "Katyn list" of exhumed bodies, her skull was eventually identified and she was buried in her family plot in Lusowo on 4 November 2005.
For more details, please refer to Janina Lewandowska on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, on Google, if you can read Polish. There is a controversy as to whether she was a military or civilian pilot and whether her rank--Second Lieutenant--was real. According to my sources, she was trained as military radiotelegrapher on so-called Juza printers in 1937 and was then given her rank, but others claim that she was merely a civilian pilot, called up after WWII broke out. She was taken prisoner by the Soviets with the remnant of her unit, III Air Force Regiment, as they were proceeding eastward, as I already mentioned above.
Kazimiera J. Cottam, PhD
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cottamkj wrote:According to my sources, she was trained as military radiotelegrapher on so-called Juza printers in 1937 and was then given her rank, but others claim that she was merely a civilian pilot, called up after WWII broke out.
Sorry to bring this up, but this remark caught my attention. It might be interesting to some that contemporary Polish noun Juz was simply a Polonised version of the English surname of Hughes, and especially so in the context of David E. Hughes and his invention. Hence "rozmowa juzowa" (often referred to in contemporary sources) meant literally "a chat using the Hughes' telegraph". This is the "juz printer" you're referring to
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