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We, the Harrod family, have long been aware of this epic flight undertaken by our father/husband/grandfather, which could have contributed to his tragically shortened life and untimely death, and the awards he earned in its execution.  We also knew Polish partisans had perished playing their part, so some other lives had been affected other than ours. Ted Harrod, however, seldom spoke of it during his life and it is only recently that we have come to appreciate the significance of his efforts and, indeed, of the whole operation, by being exposed to the other end of the action in Poland.

The family interest was piqued again as a result of Jonathan Harrod undertaking his first ever business trip to Warsaw on 24 April 2007 to attempt to start a relationship with the Polish Airport Authority, which owns all Polish airports including Warsaw. 


At the first meeting he met the translator, Ewa Kubarska and, at the end of this meeting, told the group that the last time a Harrod from our family landed in Poland was in a beetroot field in 1944 to evacuate the Polish Chief of Staff, for which he was awarded the Virtuti Militari.  Afterwards, Ewa came up and asked more about it and, in short, this cemented the relationship with Ewa around Operation Wildhorn and inspired in Jonathan the thought that we could at least see the place where this all happened and at best start the long and arduous journey to find people who might have remembered that night and might just have known something about that Dakota landing in the field on 15 April 1944.


Communication via e-mail continued and Ewa’s husband’s cousin (Jacek Ryba) from Lublin became involved and expressed great interest.  Further communication ensued between Jonathan and Jacek, through his son Wojtek as Jacek could speak no English.  It transpired that Jacek and Wojtek had actually driven out to Matczyn and found out there were both a monument and a remembrance plaque at the local church.  They had also been talking to a Lublin TV journalist, Adam Sikorski, who had created a ‘Wildhorn’ documentary some fifteen years previously, and also to an aircraft historian Tadeusz (Ted) Chwalczyk, who was in the process of writing a book about the events.  Jacek had made contact with the local priest in Matczyn, who, a few days later, coincidentally met with Zdzislaw Bednarczyk, a Lieutenant in AK who had been present on the night of Wildhorn 1.

Thus the circle was completed and we were now in a position as a family to make a meaningful trip to the site of Operation Wildhorn, which we duly undertook in July 2007.


On Saturday 28 July 2007, Patricia, Helen, Jonathan and Stephen Harrod flew to Warsaw and were met by Ewa and Jerzy Kubarscy, whom we then followed by car to Lublin.  We checked in to the Grand Hotel and enjoyed a brief chat and refreshment before they took us on to a local restaurant to meet the rest of the group, consisting of:



Wojciech (Wojtek) Ryba (26) a recently qualified software engineer working in the telecoms industry;




Jacek Ryba ,Wojtek’s father - lives in Lublin.  Jacek took most of the photographs of the events the following day;




Adam Sikorski the TV journalist from TV Lublin, who gave us the DVD of his TV programme about MOST 1 made 15 years ago;



Tadeusz (Ted) Chwalczyk, aviation historian and author, who is researching and writing the book he intends calling Midnight Bridges (Nocne Mosty), about the Wildhorn Operations;




Zdzislaw Bednarczyk, code named ‘Ant’, AK Lieutenant.  He had turned 16 on April 4, 1944 and was sworn in to the AK only to be summoned to action the night of the 15 /16 April.  He was given a gun (presumably) and told to guard the perimeter of the airfield closest to the northwest corner on the main road through the village.  He also held one of the coloured flares identifying the end of the runway, preventing the aircraft from landing in the ditch running alongside the road.  ‘Ant’ is the local head of the International Union of Soldiers of the Polish Home Army. 


After an evening of great exchanges of information we arranged to meet the following day at the memorial in Matczyn, which we duly did only to find Zdzislaw Bednarczyk (‘Ant’) in full military uniform and accompanied by Stanislaw Zydek (81), another AK member who had been involved in Wildhorn 1.  Zydek had been abducted by the Germans in 1941 at the age of 15 and had promptly escaped from his captors in Germany and walked back to Poland where he joined AK.


The monument stands on the northern side of the road, about 5 metres off and in front of the house of the farmer who owns the field on which the monument stands.  ‘Ant’ was the inspiration behind the monument, which he built himself, using a 3.5 ton granite boulder. 

The field opposite the monument was owned by Wladyslaw Pietras who, together with three brothers of the Pazdzior family and a 17 year old, Marian Madej who was visiting his girlfriend, was shot by the Germans the following day in retribution.  His daughter-in-law still lives in the farmhouse and was introduced to the party during our visit when we presented her with a photo of Ted signed by us all.


This field had been identified as suitable for aircraft to use in 1939 by the PAF who used it briefly, before the German invasion when they escaped to England with their aircraft intact.  The field fell into disrepair and was used again by the farmers for crops.  During the occupation half was sown to clover and half to beetroot, with the clover used as it was believed to make it firmer for landing, should it be required again in the future.  The field is large, rectangular and undulating.  It rises from the road in the north as one heads south and east and, as a result, it is hard to see what is happening on the airfield from the road, which was obviously a good thing.

The barn that was there has apparently disappeared though we found everyone a bit hazy on this point.  The field used to belong to ‘Ant’s’ Godmother and his family home at the time was only 300m off the field in the little row of houses to the northeast of the field.



After selection of this field, AK spent months in preparation.  All the stones were collected from the field and the story they told the unsuspecting villagers (who were NOT let into the real secret) was that the Germans had told them to clear the field of stones.  So they were clearing away merrily since February!  They were also aware at AK of the requirements of the surface for landing a Dakota as detailed specifications had been provided from England (e.g: no more than 2 inches of snow).   Being in mid April there were many frosty mornings and there was the hope that the field would be hard and good.   Sadly the frosty surface cracked and collapsed with the weight of the Dakota and hence the enormous difficulty Ted Harrod had when taking off.

The AK troops had paced out and marked with sticks where the lanterns should be positioned the day before to enable them to find the spots easier at night with no light.



Once we had established the approximate location of the landing strip we took the opportunity to scatter some of Ted Harrod’s ashes in what we believed to be the spot at which he had landed in 1944 – The return to Matczyn was complete!





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The Wildhorn Diaries

April 2008

NOTES FROM TRIP TO POLAND 18-21 APRIL 2008, commemorating Wildhorn/Most 1 on 15-16 April, 1944.

 Harrod family – Mother, Jonathan & Jean, Stephen & Cathy, Rick & Helen

 Stayed at Grand Hotel Lublinianka in Lublin.

Throughout our stay we were treated like royalty; very humbling.

 Local people:

  • Ewa & Jerzy Kubarski.  Both translated on different occasions.  Jerzy travelled in our 9-seater Renault from Warsaw to Lublin.  Ewa arrived on Saturday.  Both worked very hard translating continuously and accompanying us everywhere.

Ul. Sybirakow 33

05-500 Julianow

Gmina Piaseczno      (which is near Warsaw)

  • Wojtek Ryba arranged our itinerary and also translated continuously.

Mlodej Polski 32/26

20-863 Lublin

  • Jacek & Justyna Rybi (Wojtek’s parents) were great hosts – had wonderful tea with them, gave us each bottles of home-made honey liqueur, plus the best locally produced mead.  So generous.  Jacek was ‘official’ photographer throughout the visit and gave us each before we left a CD of photos plus CD of the TV broadcast. 
  • ‘Ant’ (Zdzisław Bednarczyk) and wife (name?) arranged the local event with
  • Prof. Stanisław Wołoszyn, emeritus prof. of Vet. Science, univ. Lublin and regional commandant of AK in Zarzad region. 

Prof. dr hab. Stanisław Wołoszyn

Ul. Sozinskiego 8/23

20-040 Lublin               tel. 081 533 8194

  •  President of Lublin City Council: Piotr Dreher
    • Address?
  • Deputy Mayor of Lublin: Paweł Fijałkowski

Plac Wladysława Lokiełka 1

20-950 Lublin


The AK – Had 30,000 members during the war locally in Lublin district, one 12th of the size of Poland.  Nationally there are now approx 30,000 veterans still alive in Poland, 1300 in Lublin district, av. age 82.  Only 11 in Matczyn.


 Friday 18th – dinner with Wojtek as his guests, Jacek and Jerzy also.  Super restaurant with delicious food.  How generous and kind. 

Saturday 19th – visit to Majdanek Concentration and Extermination Camp in Lublin.  (See below for impressions).  Afternoon to Museum of Socialism – the period from 1945 to 1990 when Poland was a part of USSR.  Unlike other countries, the Soviets didn’t try to take land into communal ownership, nor did it dismantle or destroy the Church.  The museum had many more-than-lifesize busts of Stalin, Lenin, Polish communist leaders, peasants, and mothers rewarded with a medal for producing lots of children for socialism.  The museum was in the grounds of a beautiful stately home with amazing formal gardens.  Partly restored.  When Communism ended in 1990 Jerzy said it was like a miracle to have freedom for the first time since 1939.

At dinner we were surprised to be hosted by the City of Lublin, with a welcome by the Deputy Mayor and President of the City Council.  Present during the meal was the AK Professor.  Again, a lovely meal, feeling deeply honoured to be there.  Presentation of flowers to mother, and gifts (mead, Lublin book in pictures, a cup and plate).

Sunday 20th  The Memorial of Wildhorn 1/Most 1.  11 am Mass in Matczyn village church attended by 19 subdivisions of the Lublin district AK – all 80+ year olds, carrying their standards proudly, in uniform wearing medals and each local commandant wearing a newly struck white cross with red and white ribbon.  The Polish government is soon to present a ‘gold cross’ medal to all AK veterans. 

The church was filled to capacity, with us in reserved seats at the front as guests of honour.  Very humbling.  Military band with trumpets accompanied a lady singing most beautifully in place of a choir.  The mass was dedicated to the memory of the Dakota crew and the five villagers killed in reprisal the following day.  Outside were more villagers listening to the broadcast of the mass, and the guard of honour, 30 young soldiers with AK47s with fixed bayonets, who, with the band, led the procession half a mile or so down the road to the landing strip and site of the ‘obelisk’ or monument.  There we were met by two guards flanking the monument and a crowd of 200 or so villagers and AK members, local dignitaries and the local TV who interviewed Jonathan and Helen.  We were ushered into the enclosures either side of the monument, along with the professor who presided over the proceedings.  He spoke about Most and the events that night. Both anthems, British and Polish, were played, followed by a 30-gun triple salvo salute – quite deafening and so moving; and then wreaths were laid – about 10 including one from us – all in red and white, including ours, thankfully although we felt it was too small and must bring a larger one in June.  Jonathan spoke straight from the heart expressing our happiness at being with them and the privilege it was to be there; about Dad’s ashes on the landing field; about the June flight of the Dakota.  We were then led up to the village hall, actually the part-time fire service hall, where the army provided pea soup – a delicious concoction full of spicy sausage, potato and of course peas.  As we were all perished it was most welcome!  The whole day was very emotional and moving to realise how much it meant to the people to have us there with them.  Dad’s trip was the first and I think only tangible proof of Allied support to them locally during the entire war, to a country cruelly on its own against the tyranny of Hitler.

After a rest at the hotel, we hosted dinner for Ant and his wife, and Wojtek and his parents and talked about the forthcoming June flypast.

Some more information about Wildhorn and the AK

Polish Motto:  God, Honour and Fatherland

On 15-4-44 after Dad took off they prayed for a safe landing in Brindisi and were so relieved to hear on the radio of his safe return.

Ant has no knowledge of a previous RAF visit to the monument, although we had been told of it last year.

Ant and the partisans that night knew nothing of the operation, save what they did and saw (which wasn’t much in the dead of night).  It was only since the release of Polish war information after 1990 and then after our visit last year that they learned what it was all about.  AK and PLAF have had no contact about Wildhorn, in spite of Fl Lt Korpowski, the co-pilot, being a Polish flying officer.

The Polish military salute is 2 fingers, not the full hand as in England.

The people of Matczyn were very pleased that the chosen landing strip was in their village, chosen as it was the only field long enough in the district. 

On our first visit last year we had wondered if there would be resentment or even hatred towards us from the villagers because of Dad’s operation causing the 5 deaths next day.  They explained that Poles believe all who die in the cause of the war die for a higher ideal so held no bitter feelings towards us.  It was obvious that in fact Dad was regarded as a hero, and Jon and Steve, because of their height, also as heroes!  (Just wait till they meet Matt, Ed and Chris one day!)

Before the war, no peasants owned land.  The operation was planned in the home of the landowner (the large house opposite the church, now a home for disabled children) who owned the field.  His wife was Ant’s godmother.  This family left the village when the Soviets arrived.  The monument is on land now belonging to the grandson of one of the men killed after the operation, who lives nearby.  He offered his land in 1990, as the current owner of the landing field did not want a monument on his land.

The only AK partisans still alive who were there on the landing field are Ant and Stanisław Zydek, plus one other AK member who was unidentified to us but can be seen in the pictures in the fire service hall at lunch.  Three local partisans died in the last 5 months leaving only 11 members in Podola district of Lublin (which includes Matczyn).  No one knows who was the local chief of the AK in 1944 because of the secrecy surrounding the organisation and its small cell structure. 

We were all, including the Poles, amazed at the series of coincidences surrounding the coming together of our visit.  After Jonathan last year on his initial business trip had told Ewa about Wildhorn she spoke to her cousin, Jacek, in Lublin.  He contacted the priest of Matczyn who asked at Mass on 4 separate occasions for anyone who had been there in 1944.  Eventually Ant’s son was chatting to the priest and told him his father had been there.  And the rest is now history…


After the end of WWII and Soviet ‘liberation’ many came into the open from the years of secrecy, but were put into prison camps; 21,000 from Lublin sent to Siberia, a few survived.  15,000 Polish Army officers were killed.  The movement quickly went underground again.  Accordingly, none of them were awarded Virtuti Militari.  In 1948 they were still being sent to Siberia.  It wasn’t until 1958 and a change of government, 5 years after Stalin’s death, that survivors were released. 

Ant has a medal for bravery and injury incurred saving the life of a comrade who was injured while blowing up a train full of Nazis.  In August 1944 all were ready to go to Warsaw to help in the Warsaw uprising, but a despatch rider came in time to stop them as the NKWD (Russians) would either kill them or send them to Siberia.

After the War Ant’s brother escaped from the Russian invasion in Ukraine.  He was given no help, no food, no water, no shelter, not even information that the Russians were advancing towards him.  This was indicative of the way the whole of AK was treated by the Ukrainians.

In May 1944 an informant told the Nazis about an AK partisan pilot in the village of Matczyn.  They searched for him.  He hid in a cellar with his cat.  The Nazis opened the cellar and the cat attacked their dog, which saved his life as they closed the cellar again.  Not finding him, 33 locals were executed in retribution.  On another occasion a woman was arrested, tortured, her home torched, she was put in prison in the castle in Lublin – but she would not betray the AK.  They are an amazingly patriotic and honourable people.


FACTS:  Built October 1941, ‘liberated’ July 1944 by Russians. 78,000 killed during that time.  270 ha – the second largest in Europe, with 4 sub camps, but thankfully it was never fully constructed.  (Auschwitz killed 1.1 million, Buchenwald 800,000).  On 3rd November 1943 18,400 Jews were shot on one day alone.

  • 23,000 shoes in metal cages in one of the store barracks
  • Clothing was taken from prisoners and sold
  • An autopsy done on each corpse after being shot or gassed before incineration to remove valuables – gold teeth, etc.
  • In the washroom of the gas chamber hair was cut off – only the men’s for some reason – and sold for making into fabric and other things
  • Meticulous record keeping of the Germans.  Lists of prisoners, dates of birth and death, death certificates, belongings taken from prisoners. 
  • Urns containing ashes were sold to relatives.
  • A gallows in each compound or field as a daily warning
  • Twin rows of high voltage electrified barbed wire and observation towers surrounded each field
  • Slept on three-tier bunks with only a straw-filled palliasse and thin blanket.
  • Food: breakfast was ½ ltr herb tea; lunch a bowl of thin soup; supper was potatoes
  • The gas chamber was marked outside as ‘Bath & Disinfection’ – given to calm the prisoners down before being packed into the gas chamber so tight that the bodies were still standing upright after dying.
  • Gas was initially CO which took 40 minutes to kill; later Zyklon B took only 10 minutes. 
  • Crematorium – The furnaces could destroy 1000 corpses a day.  52 nations were imprisoned there (including all the national groups of greater Russia).
  • Wagons were also used as funeral pyres – we saw their twisted chassis’s.
  • Execution trenches were dug especially for the slaughter of 18400 Jews on one day, shot, naked, 5 at a time – in order to reach a target number of Jews killed by that date.
  • Mausoleum erected (I think after 1990) housing a gigantic pile of the ashes of those murdered in the camp.  The inscription reads: Let our fate be your warning’.


July 2008





Operation Wildhorn 1 Commemorative Flight and Celebrations


Schedule of events for 4-7 June 2008


Wednesday 4 June

Combes depart Luton to Warsaw


Combes arrive Warsaw to stay with Kubarski


Harrods leave Gatwick Airport and fly to Warsaw


Harrods arrive Warsaw and collect Hire Car


Harrods drive to Lublin and Grand Hotel Lublinianka (GHL)

Combes/Patricia Harrod overnight in Warsaw

16h00 – 19h30

Dinner with Wojtek and discuss details for Matczyn and catering for reception with GHL staff

20h30 - 2300


Thursday 5 June

Recce field and topography for final plan of fly past


Combes & Patricia Harrod arrive GHL


Afternoon for last minute emergencies

12h30 – 16h30

Meet Al Pinner at Radawiec and transport to Hotel Campanile

(NB. Security to be provided for Spitfire overnight)

12h30 – 13h30

RAF arrive Hotel Campanile

14h30 – 15h00

RAF meet Harrod Party and Lublin Friends for tea

15h45 – 16h30

Depart for Matczyn in PLAF transport for RAF and own transport for locals / Harrod party


Drive past Monument and stop at Church to meet priest and AK Veterans and other Matczyn dignitaries.  Lighting of candles for 5 executed villagers killed in reprisals by Germans on 16 April 1944


Arrival at site, parking and deployment to field with flags


Fly past x 3 by BBMF Dakota


Relocate to monument


Wreath laying, presentation of 267 Squadron plaques, speeches, etc.


General discussions, history lessons, etc. and meeting more of the locals (AK, schools, etc.)


Take farewell of locals and depart to Lublin


Drinks and buffet dinner for evening party (see below) at GHL


Post dinner drinks and cash bar

22h30 – late


Friday 6 June

Static display with Spitfire at Radawiec

13h00 – 15h00

Harrods/Combes depart to Warsaw


Spitfire Vistula flypast

18h30 TBC

Farewell drink with RAF

20h30 – 22h30 TBC


Saturday 7 June

Harrod party departs Warsaw to UK/Nice

Various times



Anticipated attendees at the field and monument:


Harrod and Combe families:

Patricia Harrod

Stephen and Catherine Harrod

Alexandra Harrod

Jonathan and Jean Harrod

Jessica Harrod

Matthew Harrod + Dawn Latham-Mahoney

Edward Harrod

Helen and Richard Combe

Patricia Dowling

Stephen Combe


Rybi family:

Jacek & Justyna Rybi

Wojtek & Krzysztof Rybi

Jerzy & Ewa Kubarski


RAF representatives:

Squadron Leader Al Pinner

Squadron Leader Howard Leader + 5 others


AK Representatives:

Prof. Stanisław Wołoszyn

Zdzisław Bednarczyk

Mrs Teodora Bednarczyk

Czesław Bednarczyk

Stanisław Zydek

Tadeusz Chwalczyk


Lublin City representatives:

Dr Adam Wasilewski - Mayor

Paweł Fijałkowski – Deputy Mayor

Piotr Dreher – Chairman of City Council

Voivod of Lublin Region


PLAF representatives:

Colonel Tomasz Krzyzak

General Tadeusz Gora


British Embassy representatives:

Lt Col Andrew Nowak – Defence Attaché

Mrs Sarah Nowak

Michael Parsons - Support to the Attaché

Witek Opertowski - Driver



Abigail Uden – BBC Oxford

Emma Ruminski – BBC Oxford

Adam Gruszecki - Radawiec




Anticipated attendees at evening celebrations

Harrod and Combe families:

Patricia Harrod

Stephen and Catherine Harrod

Alexandra Harrod

Jonathan and Jean Harrod

Jessica Harrod

Matthew Harrod

Dawn Latham-Mahoney

Edward Harrod

Helen and Richard Combe

Patricia Dowling & Stephen Combe


Rybi family:

Jacek & Justyna Rybi

Wojtek & Krzysztof Rybi

Jerzy & Ewa Kubarski


RAF representatives:

Sqn Ldr Al Pinner

Sqn Ldr Howard Leader

Sqn Ldr Marcus Lee

Flt Lt Miles Davey

Flt Lt Owen Harcombe

C/T Keith Brenchley

Cpl Dennis Clegg

Cpl Andrew Bale

J/T Leigh Poiner

SAC Mark Barlow

SAC Scott Baldwin

SAC Adam Hulston

SAC Mark  Dixon


AK Representatives:

Prof. Stanisław Wołoszyn

Zdzisław Bednarczyk

Mrs Teodora Bednarczyk

Czesław Bednarczyk

Tadeusz Chwalczyk


Lublin City representatives:

Dr Adam Wasilewski - Mayor

Paweł Fijałkowski – Deputy Mayor

Piotr Dreher – Chairman of City Council

Voivod Lublin - TBC


PLAF representatives:

Colonel Tamasz Krzyzak

General ?? – B of B


British Embassy representatives:

Lt Co Andrew Nowak – Defence Attaché

Mrs Sarah Nowak

Michael Parsons - Support to the Attaché

Witek Opertowski - Driver



Abigail Uden – BBC Oxford

Emma Ruminski – BBC Oxford

Adam Gruszecki - Radawiec





4 tables x 7 plus 3 tables x 8 = 52

Unanswered questions and actions required


What to be done?

By whom?

By when?

Approval of theme, itinerary and flyer/invitation from RAF BBMF

S/L Pinner / Stephen Harrod



Approval of invitation from AK and Lublin Mayor

Wojtek Ryba


Permission from field owner to access field



Confirm access to field from Fire Service Hall car park and permission to use car park



Availability of Dęblin airfield:

NOT – Dakota will land at Minsk



Confirm booking at Campanile Hotel for 14 RAF personnel



Print invitations and flyers



Details of other AK’s, Matczyn priest and schools to be invited to field event



Invitations to Prof. Stanisław Wołoszyn, Zdzisław Bednarczyk and son, Mrs Bednarczyk, Stanisław Zydek, other AK’s, plus arrange transport



Invitation to Lublin Mayor and City Council CEO (Wasilewski, Dreher and Fijałkowski)

Prof Wołoszyn via WR


Invitation to Embassy for Ambassador and Military attaché



Lublin TV to be advised

Prof W and WR


267 Squadron plaques for AK/Mayor


23 May

Flags and flagpoles for airfield

(Helen has Union flag (90cm x 143cm)


23 May

RAF Roundel wreath

SH/Helen Combe


Reception/dinner plans at GHL

Jean Harrod

30 May

Confirm security for Spitfire at Radawiec 13h00 5.6.8 – 15h00 6.6.8





Map Reference Co-Ordinates for the fly past:

            51°12’5” N

            22°19’30” E




April 2010


Hero boys road trip due to Iceland volcano eruption and grounding of all flights


JEH Notes from Matczyn and Wildhorn/Most Commemoration service Sunday 18 April 2010

To all of you who couldn’t make it to Poland this year, here are some immediate thoughts as I sit here waiting for 19h00 when Wojtek and his fiancée Kasia join us at the Lublinianka Hotel lounge for drinks before we head out to a small dinner.  Steve has written his notes and, not being a coffee virgin, has nodded off to get some well-earned rest for our trip tomorrow. I am levitating around after drinking the glorious coffee mud (the spoon stood up in it with an inch of silt in the bottom of the cup!).  This feeling must either last another 30 hours more or go in the next 4 or tomorrow’s trip will be a challenge too far!


Ø  We are all ‘Hero Boys’.  Not just Steve and me but all of Ted Harrods descendants and greater family.  You will see why as I progress.....


Ø  We are dearly loved by this small community of AK veterans / survivors and their families and all the Matczyn / Lublin residents and officials who have got to know about us or meet us since our now 5 visits since July 2007!


Ø  Today’s commemorations were overshadowed by two events (1) the volcano eruption in Iceland that has frozen air travel in Europe for 10 days and (2) the tragic air crash of last Saturday when the Polish President and 100 of his trusted lieutenants and his friends ploughed into the ground after hitting trees at a failed landing in Russia.


Ø  The outcome of the volcano fallout was the 22 hour and 1,900 km car dash Steve and I made to be here in time for the service this morning at 11h00.  What we felt was elation at doing a mad and romantic thing to honour Dad/Ted, completely spontaneously and completely without regard to health and safety.  It was a question of the heart leading the mind


Ø  What we did not realise was the impact this gesture made on all the community here, who had resigned themselves to the fact there would be none of Pilota Harroda’s immediate family here.   What they could not believe was the commitment we’d shown to make happen the pledge we’d made last year to be there.  As Steve said in public, not even volcano eruptions would keep us away! 


Ø  On this point, for those of you who don’t know, Prince Charles wimped out of coming to the President’s state funeral today in Krakow because he could not get there by ‘plane!  I’m sorry.  He of unlimited funds; a helicopter pilot, and owner of numerous fast cars; who could hire any vehicle at any cost says he could not make it!!  Well we did in a 13 year old 1400 cc car, and our bonds at the grassroots level flourishes as a direct result while at a national level Poland has been let down.  Let me not digress!


Ø  Now we sit waiting to leave again at 03h30 tomorrow morning for another 22 hour dash home (where is my Jag on the German Autobahns?).  We will be reminding ourselves of the ‘Priceless’ tag of this gesture and venture - remember the MasterCard ads?) .....Cost of petrol for trip...€400; cost of wear and tear on vehicle .....€250; Cost of wreath €50.....value of seeing our friends’ faces and hearing their heartfelt applause for us being there ....Priceless!  We wish you could all have been here just for that, and thank you to Mum / GM and R&H for your financial contributions towards the costs of this trip.


Ø  I was touched by the number of people who asked after GM (Pilota Harroda’s wife).  She beyond all of us has made the largest impact to this community.  The fact that she was the wife of this man that is as someone else said to us “A hero of Poland and England”.....  It was in the context of....... ‘My father (who was there in the beetroot field with Ant that night in 1944) is MY hero, but your father is a hero of Poland....and England!


Ø  The fact we have all built the bridge again (since July 2007) between these people and us means so much to them.  They assume (and some insist) that this is an annual event.  Long may it be possible!


Ø  The priest (who is doing his doctorate in Quantum Mechanics!) spoke to us at length and asked especially to be remembered to our family


Ø  Ant invited us to the AK lunch after at a nearby Tavern 4km away in another town (the coffee mud).  Here after a hearty farmers’ soup and a massive helping of fried chicken and vegetables, we were again thanked for our efforts and again the point was made of the bond between them all and our family.


The Professor who is one of the AK ‘leaders’ and now 90 was there in fighting spirit as was Ant and Stanisław, his friend who walked back from Germany in 1944 after escaping prison camp.  We were hugged and kissed 3 times by everyone and I have beard rash again though it is for the first time in 12 months!


Ø  Tadeusz is writing his book (still) and wishes us all well


Ø  The lady who owns the field where the monument sits came out and smiled graciously at all the proceedings


Ø  We were told the BBMF Dakota flying around in June 2008 had been seen and commented on by ‘everyone’ in the area and it had bonded them together in some way


Ø  The soloist with the angel’s voice is still there leading the singing at the church service.  The singing was as always sublime


Ø  90 minutes of listening to Polish during the Service with ‘Pilota Harroda’ being mentioned twice were the only words I recognised except for ‘Presidente’, allowed me time to reflect.  I saw our family stretching back to as far as I know and going forward to Peanut (Jess’s unborn baby), Jess and Rob, and Ted somewhere in that all:  Ted’s role in succeeding in the Wildhorn mission, us making the connection again so many years later in 2007 and what might come next.  Would Peanut ever sit in this church?  Why would he have an interest to be here?  Who would have told him? Why would it be relevant to him and why would he ultimately decide to invest his time effort and money to make it happen again and play his role however it might be in the 2025 version of Most or Bridge.


Ø  I felt Dad / Ted there in that church today for the first time.  I knew the only reason I was there today was to represent him.  In truth he should have been there.  He wanted to be there.  He was there.  After all he would have been 93.  All the veterans are between 83 and 95 plus.  He was one of the older ones at 28 in 1944.  Some were only 17!  If he was alive they would have wanted to meet him and become his friend.  Second prize was meeting his wife and third prize would have been meeting his Brother, Bob.  Fourth prize was meeting his ‘strong’ sons again.  I was honoured and humbled to be there today with Steve and fulfil that representation as well as we could.


Ø  Most and Wildhorn is not about Ted, or me, or us.  It is about all of us respecting and honouring those who gave their lives and effort to make this world a better place for us and future generations.  The world has many events to commemorate this.  The Cenotaph in London at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month comes to mind and happens every year.  The Queen representing the people of Great Britain leads us all in honouring them.  We are all lucky to have this moment, but we, the greater Harrod family, are luckier than most because we have our own ‘cenotaph’ in Matczyn (smaller and less well known!) with our own flesh and blood being honoured in particular for their sacrifice and courage. 


Ø  I decided then that 15 April and being in Matczyn becomes a non-negotiable for me not honouring it in some way.   Our own 11th of the 11th.....  Our own moment to pause and play our part in cementing respect, honour, trust, friendship and loyalty into our lives.  We have started something which we should not stop; cannot stop; must not stop.......  Though I will stop here or almost here!!


Those of you who have read this far, please copy me an acknowledgement of making it this far!  I fully understand those of you who don’t have time for e-mails of this length or content.  But even if you have scanned this far without reading the fine print, just reply to me and acknowledge that 15 April and the first Sunday thereafter, will be remembered by you and yours in some way from now on in.  In my eyes, it would make your Grandfather /Ted’s premature death at 51 worthwhile if I felt his shortened life had enabled a worthy and lasting link between us all that was ours to keep and cherish as I know only we can.




Phrases to be used:


We are very sad for the tragic death of your president and his wife but we are happy to return to Poland.

Jest nam bardzo pshikro z powodu tragieznej smierci vashago prezydenta y yego dzone, ale jesteśmy szczęśliwi z wrociliczme do Polski.


It is good to see you again. 

Dobrze zobaczyć cieu snovush. 


You are looking well. 

Dobrze vi glondascz. 


Thank you for being with us today.

Dziękuje ze byliscie dziś z name.


See you again next year.

Do zobaczenia nastempno rok.


Thank you



April 2011

No notes made!




We are very pleased to be back in Poland and this time we bring the youngest grandson of Pilota Harroda to meet you all.


Bardzo sie cieszymy ze moglismy powrocic do Polski.  Tym razem

przyjechal z nami najmlodszy z wnukow Pilota Harroda zeby poznac was wszystkich.


The other members of the family are sad not to be here but send their best wishes and greetings to all.


Niestety reszta rodziny niemogla byc tu dzis z nami , ale przesylaja wam  najlepsze zyczenia.


It is very special to us that you all continue to remember our father’s visit here in 1944.  We hope to continue coming back every year to see you and remember him also.


Jest to dla nas bardzo wazne, ze wszyscy pamietacie wizyte mojego ojca w roku 1944. Mamy nadzieje, ze bedziemy widywac sie przez nastapne  lata i pamiec o mojim ojcu niezaginie.


We must specially thank the Ryba and Kubarski families for all they have done to bring us together over the past five years.  Thanks also to Professor Wołoszyn and Zdzisław Bednarczyk for all their work in making this possible.


Chcielibysmy szczegolnie podziekowac za wszystko co zrobili w ciagu ostatnich pieciu lat rodziny Ryba I Kubarskich. Rownierz chcielismy podziekowac Prof. Woloszyn i Zdzislawowi Bednarczyk za cala ich pomoc w zorganizowaniu calej uroczystosci.


We look forward to seeing you again next year and thank you all for coming today.


Dziekujemy  wszystkim za przybycie tutaj w dzisiejszym dniu i do zobaczenia w przyszlym roku.


April 2012

 Highlights of 5th Operation Wildhorn Trip to Matczyn 20 April 2012


1.     As always, the car ride from Warsaw’s Chopin Airport to Lublin, the 5 of us (Jonathan, Steve, Cathy, Mum, Edward) + Dakota Model in 9 berth people carrier!

2.     The Grand Hotel Lublinianka graciously accepts us yet again with endless charm

3.     On our trip to the monument Friday morning, the trees on the LHS adjacent to the beetroot field continue to awe us, and then we see the crowd on the RHS of the road gathered at the monument, flags flying and uniforms proudly worn by the AK veterans

4.     A trumpeter adds an evocative ‘sound backdrop’ to the wreath laying as Ed and I position what must be the largest wreath ever made.  We touch the (new) granite commemorative plaque

5.     The leader of the Lublin AK humbles us by presenting Patricia with the AK medal, as well as her membership to the AK

6.     We move to mass at church where we notice only 12 AK veterans, 5 less than last year.  Is it just that this is a Friday and not Sunday, or have some of these warriors fought their last fight?

7.     The Junior School hosts us for lunch.  The children (10 years old) put on a play about Operation Most, the script written by their history teacher.  The ‘Grandfather’ explains to his two grandchildren about the photos in a box they have just found in the attic.  All the stories about that night in 1944 come out.....

8.     Steve presents the School Director (Head mistress), with a magnificent cast metal model of a 267 Squadron Dakota.  All the little children of 5 and 6 gasp in admiration.  You can just feel how well this school is run by the highly competent and charismatic lady and its happiness envelopes us as we lunch with the AK veterans and local dignitaries

9.     Ant (Zdzisław Bednarczk, the 18 year old guard in 1944 who built the monument in 1992) and his friend Stanisław Zydek (who walked back from Germany as an 18 year old) just before Wildhorn, are both unbelievably strong and well for 84 year-olds and look exactly the same

10.  The oldest AK veteran of 94 takes his veteran’s cross off his lapel and insists on pinning it on my lapel, though the task for his shaking hands is not made any easier by his watery eyes and it takes a minute to complete the investiture.  As we hug, both he and I know we are saying goodbye and our tears run freely and meet and mix on our cheeks

11.  We are made patently aware of the homage the community pays towards Patricia, wife of Pilota Harroda.  They say she looks and acts like the Queen of England, and for a moment she is their Queen

12.  We meet Ewa and Jerzy, Kasia and Wojtek for dinner on Friday night at the Kardamon Restaurant opposite the Hotel – amazing food

13.  The 3 Harrod boys do their best to remember the Hero boys as the night wears old and dawn is only a few hours away when the Whisky bottle is reverently corked with just enough for tomorrow night’s homage

14.  Saturday is a day of rest and we are entertained by the sight of 500 bikers celebrating the start of their summer season

15.  The magic of last night’s dinner at Wojtek’s parents’ apartment still glows inside us all, especially as we almost didn’t get to see them this trip.  It is incredible how much communication takes place between 10 people when only 2 of the 5 Poles speak English.

16.  The words of Wojtek’s father Jacek to us on one of his 8 toasts (with wódka shots, naturally).. ....”The happiness is exploding inside me......”

17.  All 8 of the reply toasts from us (as one does, with wódka. We were doing it for England I say)

18.  Justyna, Wojtek’s mother, explaining to us (or not!) about what it’s like having her husband at home now he’s retired

19.  The total warmth which fills the room and the invitation from everyone we met to return next year.......


April 2013

Solo trip by SAH    


Saturday 20.4.13 11:00

Arrived Warsaw and picked up car - Renault Clio, quite cute. Usual slightly alarming drive to Lublin but without incident. Arrived Lublin about 14:30 and contacted Wojtek but he is busy with baby until 20:00 as it is his turn to bath Janek! Lublinianka is like coming home, but weird on my own for the first time. Weather is cold and overcast with slight drizzle. Did not bring coat or umbrella so hold thumbs for tomorrow!


Wojtek arrives at 20:20 looking slightly frazzled but still the same as ever. Big hugs and hellos then a long catch up over a glass of wine. All is set for tomorrow which he says will be a small affair at the monument, no church service, followed by a few speeches in Bełźyce with mayor and crew. No church service, so should be done by 14:00 then we will chill for the afternoon and I will go to their flat for supper in the early evening. All good. Late solo supper then off to bed.


Sunday 21.4.13 10:15

A beautiful sunny day, thank heavens! Wojtek arrives promptly to fetch me and off we set for Matczyn. I mention on the way how every visit is so different and we never know what to expect but it always works out so well. Get to the monument where we find all the usual suspects and much surprise all round to see me as I had not been expected. Zdzisław (Ant) and Stanisław are same as ever and Ant still has the smiliest eyes!


There are major roadworks commencing throughout Matczyn and surrounds and many trees by the roadside have been removed. The monument may need to be moved to accommodate the road widening and there is talk of putting it near the church. My view is that it is their monument so they must do what they must but it would be better if it could be close to the field so maybe could just be moved back from the road a bit. We shall see!


Professor is not there and enquiries reveal he has had a small stroke and is in hospital in Lodz. Another guy acts as MC and the ceremony gets underway. Wreaths laid by various bods and a small contingent of Parachute Regiment dudes plus a trio of guys in WWII outfits are also there. I lay the family wreath, provided by Kasia, and make a short speech which Wojtek translates. MC guy thinks he is Pilota Harroda's grandson, ie MY son!!!


Mayor of Bełźyce is there and strange dude from Lublin Council (tall guy with very low and slow voice?) and Mayor says please to join them for church service at Bełźyce church followed by "a cultural event" so off we go!


Well, "small affair at the monument, no church service" turns out to be huge event in massive church where black Madonna painting is housed, with old AK chaplain, Leon Pietron, who did a year at Oxford and is thrilled to meet me and practise his English. We are given coffee and cake in the priest's house and then head in to church which is packed to overflowing! Krazy Kristina spots me and hustles me to the front row. MC guy is sitting next to Mayor so she chucks him out and puts me there!! Service starts and I am mentioned upfront by local priest (!) with odd inputs from a group of people in WWII kit (all will be revealed later!). Leon Pietron gives a sermon and suddenly starts ranting and raving about something! Turns out later he was having a total rage attack against a gay MP and a transvestite MP who he thinks are trying to destroy the family unit and ruin Poland!


Anyway, I spend the time in a slight trance as always and sit when I should be kneeling but otherwise survive. End of service comes after a loooooong hour and deputy mayor asks if I will join Mayor in laying a wreath at an AK plaque in the church. All fine. Then he says we should join them for a "reconstruction" event on the town square??? Off we set walking with the Mayor, his wife and the Chief of Police who is a SCARY looking lady named Dolores something! We walk a couple of blocks and come round a corner to find literally the whole of Bełźyce lining the streets around the square, with a pair of old WWII motorbikes with sidecars and sandbags and barbed wire emplacements and a row of benches set up in front of all this. So I end up sitting next to Dolores and the Mayor in the front row of all this!


It transpires that this is to be a re-enactment of a WWII event when a group of AK partisans stormed the local militia HQ to destroy all the records of who was in AK. This was 1945 after the Russians had moved in and were going through the records shooting all the AK guys!! The group was led by a chap named Zapora, who is a kind of Che Guevara figure. I have a video of the re-enactment which I will circulate. Quite a show by all the people in the WWII outfits! Lots of shooting and grenades thrown and all quite wild!


So, at the end of all this, Mayor then says please join him for some soup from an army field kitchen at the cultural centre in Bełźyce and a short presentation. This is now about 14:00 and we are just going with the flow, as you do.  Off we trot with the Mayor, Dolores et al and arrive at the Cultural Centre where sure enough we are served a bowl of AK soup and a slice of bread (you were lucky, in MY day......)


And then.......


I happen to say to Wojtek, let us go inside and see what is going on in the Centre. Firstly we are met by a display of photos and memorabilia relating to Zapora. Ant is with us and suddenly a woman appears at his side - this is his daughter Theresa who has been dying to meet us and knows me from the photos Ant has shown her. Much jollity all round, then someone says we should go down the passage to the hall. There we find about 200 people in an auditorium with screen, mikes and a major sound system all set up. We find seats in the middle rows and wonder what the heck is going on.


So. Then a soldier chap gets up on stage and starts talking and I hear my name and Edwarda Harroda's and next thing you know, Krazy Kristina a few rows ahead of me is indicating that I must stand up! The place breaks out into loud applause and I smile and nod to everyone! Then soldier boys goes on to list a whole host of dignitaries who are present, ending up with the Mayor, who seems to be very popular. Still have no idea what is going on! Music blares out and we are subject to a photo collage of the life and times of Zapora, then soldier boy introduces a historian who is going to tell us all about Zapora, which he does, for forty minutes, in Polish, without a pause, with no notes (!) and I am now in a coma!!! This is followed by a video of the whole Zapora story and just when we think we can duck out, as it is now 16:00, a bunch of the cutest kids come on stage and start singing the Zapora story, followed by some teenagers, singing the Zapora story, followed by an encore where they all do it together, followed by a prize giving for the best drawing of the Zapora story, starting at pre school and going up to high school!!


So at 17:30 we finally make our fond farewells to all and sundry, with promises to see them all next year, and we take our leave of the fair city of Bełźyce! Yowzer!


Back to Lublin, collect pressies for Wojtek, Kasia and Janek and head to Wojtek's flat, somewhat behind schedule! Janek is the CUTEST baby (after Sam and Sophia and all the Harrod/Combe children of course!) but he is a bit niggly as he is teething and totally freaks out when I come over and touch him and give him a kiss. I have such a way with children! Anyhow, we then tackle the largest spread of food in Christendom, as always (I had forgotten what they do) and have a lovely evening chatting and talking of next year, and they send love and hugs and kisses to everyone everywhere!


I am now back in the hotel putting this missive together and about to head for bed (12:30!) to prepare for a slightly alarming drive back to Warsaw tomorrow.


Like I said, the great thing about Wildhorn is you never know what is going to happen!


Words for Wildhorn 2013


Jestem stoyshlewa ze wrochiwem do Polski!

It is so good to see all of you again after another year. I am sad to say that I am here alone on this occasion. Due to the confusion over the dates and the road closure, unfortunately the rest of the family had other commitments and so I am here as the sole representative of the family of Pilota Harroda. My mother Patricia, my wife Cathy, my brother Jonathan and my sister Helen all send their love and best wishes to you all, and their regrets at not being here this year, as do their spouses and children.

We are all hoping to join you next year when we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Wildhorn and I hope it will be a grand occasion. I am afraid we will not be able to have the Dakota flying over again, but we may be able to mark the event another way. Perhaps we can introduce you to one of Edward Harrod’s great grandchildren and make sure the tradition continues to another generation.  We shall see what we can do.

Thanks to you all for continuing to celebrate the event from 1944. We look forward to seeing you all again next year.  Chinkwe. See you nastempno roku.

April 2014



70th Anniversary, attended by Jonathan and Jean, Tamsyn, Matt, Laura, Ed, Jess and Rob, Sam, Sophia; Steve and Cathy, Rick and Helen, Patricia


This year, the 150th Anniversary of Bełźyce, it was decided on a combine event in May instead of 15th April.


Thoughts from Steve & Cathy, Rick, Helen, and GMO (Patricia) (in one car)


  1. Highlight: the new motorway and other new stretches of road; lowlight: where were all the mushroom pickers? (we saw only 2)
  2. Being presented with the framed paintings at the school on Saturday.
  3. Saturday – assembling in the square, 300 of all ages, on the hike;
  4. The hike – seeing the farmyard where the AK met to plan and convene the landing, and from where we think all those involved left to go to the landing field at the appointed time; the memorial stone and plaque to the five who were killed in retribution the following day, on the spot where they fell (new information this year); Jonathan’s interview in which he mentioned the children of Matczyn and Belsen (instead of Bełźyce); Tamsyn’s interview; the mud and rain and then the sun.
  5. The school children’s story of Wildhorn, in prose, poetry and pictures. Some real talent. Inspired us to think of creating a lasting legacy to the school, perhaps for scholarships, for music (real talent shown), or for football.
  6. Time at the monument: the roadway in front which Marcin (deputy Mayor, speaks English) had arranged to be levelled last minute– we saw the digger in the morning and by afternoon it was done; the children and GMO (4 generations) at the monument; the lovely flowers prepared by Kasia; floral tributes from Marcin and AK. Special having Rob and Laura with us for the first time, along with Sam and Sophia.
  7. Lowlight - We were unprepared re gifts for Marcin, and also for Wojtek, Kasia and Janek.
  8. The main highlight for Mum was reconnecting with the Ryba and Kubarski families, especially Kasia and Janek.
  9. Lowlight – not being able to reconnect with Ant, Stanisław Zydek or the professor.
  10. The welcome from Agnieska at the Grand Hotel, the service – as always attentive, kind, patient and so professional. Lowlight – every year we drink them dry of Sauvignon and they don’t get the message!
  11. The meal on Friday in the Kardamon restaurant across the road from the Grand Hotel – delicious food, size of portions (see Tam’s photo on FB of Mum’s face showing disbelief when served half a duck on a mountain of vegetables!); the incredible service, the demonstration of making beef tartare and how delicious it was. Ewa’s birthday cake for Mum – the lightest baked cheesecake ever!
  12. Lowlight – finding the Lublin Marathon starting just outside the hotel as we were to leave on Sunday; highlight – keeping up with Wojtek as he found an alternative route out of town and getting back on the Matczyn road in front of the runners.
  13. The Lublin Military band, first playing in the church instead of the organ during the mass (huge church in Bełźyce, several hundred people, plus the local AK, young AK, children in uniform as well); then precision marching in the stadium. High standard of performance.
  14. Steve’s speech in Polish on Sunday and the invaluable phonetic translation, Ewa’s patience and understanding schooling him the night before.
  15. Lowlight – on asking Ewa about the speed limits so we wouldn’t get caught and her answer that she had no idea! (except that in built up areas it is 50km/hr)
  16. Amazing how our father’s heroism and courage has provided a focal point for the current adult generation to build a local historical event into the school curriculum and into civic life to keep alive not only his heroism but that of all the local AK.
  17. The little girl singing her marching solo as part of the AK children’s singing group ‘Wiolinki’ band – such confidence, a real performer, and so sweet.
  18. Richard birdwatching – storks sitting on deep nests on top of electricity pylons in Matczyn.
  19. Being presented with the AK medal in Bełźyce
  20. Steve’s organisation, including hiring and transporting the RAF uniforms and arranging the sound of the Dakota landing, on the request of the Mayor for the re-enactment.
  21. Steve suddenly being asked to present the prizes for the artistic competition on Sunday.
  22. Seeing Pilota Harroda in the re-enactment in the stadium; the battle which had taken place a few days before, after Gen Tatar had arrived on 15th March in readiness for departure, where 32 AK were slaughtered by the Germans – so realistic and heart-rending, especially the end when the Germans came and summarily shot anything that moved to ensure no survivors. The brutality of war. Cathy’s explanation to Sam of the battle: ‘fireworks’, people lying down resting on the grass.
  23. Meeting the commander of the re-enactment from whom we learned this. Every year a little more is learned; Jonathan or Steve told him about the Warsaw Concerto as code for the start of the operation.
  24. Meeting Bogdan Rowiński PhD, president of the Unseen & Silent Foundation, founded by him and his wife to educate and inform the new generations of the role played by exiled AK who were parachuted back into Poland from England to fight.  “Behind each parachutist was a pilot” – people like Dad, who had done exactly that in Yugoslavia as part of Sqdn 267 work before actually going on Op Wildhorn.
  25. Bogdan told of the V-2 info going back with Dad. I have looked up on the internet the known/reported facts about the V-2: the only recorded unexploded V-2 in Poland was retrieved by the AK in May 1944 (ie after WH1) and taken apart and documented, and subsequently all this info and parts sent to London via Wildhorn 3 on 25 July 1944 with Ft Lt Culliford. So I think this firmly quashes any idea that Dad took any info back to London on the design of the V-2. The V-1 only started bombing London on June 13, 1944 and the first V-2 was on September 7, 1944. Operation Wildhorn/ Akcja Most was an ‘air-bridge’ between Poland and London.
  26. Sam and Sophia – what stars and what amazing behaviour – and how warmly they were received by the Poles, particularly Sophia at the school, being handed from one person to another with not a murmur and a lovely smile
  27. The ‘Wiolinki’ (Willie Wonka) band
  28. The meal on Sunday in the Fire Station – the goulash soup was superb – and what a spread of cold foods as well. (Yes, the Poles do make goulash as well as the Hungarians.)
  29. Meeting the Under Secretary of State for (?) & Infrastructure – it was his fault that the roads were so disruptive!!


Addition from Helen correcting some info on the V2 Rockets story

To change the point re Bogdan (see below) so there’s no chance Dad could have taken papers on it as some of the family may believe (I did)…

•20 May 1944 – V2 rocket lands in marshes at Sarnaki on river Bug.  The 22nd Infantry Regiment of the AK collected the rocket in carts, having held it in the marshes, to avoid detection and removal by the Germans, before hiding it in a barn at Holowczyce-Kolonia, where a team of engineers dismantled and catalogued all 25,000 of its parts.

•July 1944 – V2 rocket parts delivered to London after successful operation ‘Wildhorn III’ completed.

I found this on www.polandinexile.com . In view of Bogdan’s reference to the son of one of the parachutists, I thought you’d be interested to see the names of the only two passengers on board into Poland.

On 15th / 16th April 1944 while Special Duties Squadron 1568 and No.148 Squadron were busy on Riposte missions to Poland, a Dakota FD919 of No. 267 Squadron took off on Wildhorn I. Fitted with eight additional fuel tanks the Dakota was piloted by F/Lt. E.J. Harrod (RAF 267 Squadron) and navigated by F/Lt. Boleslaw Korpowski (PAF No.1568 Flight) and took off for Belzyce (code name Bak) 22 miles from south-west of Lublin (Cynk, 1998; Garlinski, 1969). On board were two couriers: Captain Narcyz Lopianowski (codename "Sarna" after his favourite horse) and Lieutenant Tadeusz Kostuch plus dispatches. They were also ordered to pick up five passengers mainly from the government delegatura that included the AK Deputy Chief of Staff, General Stanisław Tatar. The ‘manifest’ for the return flight included Lt. Colonel Ryszard Dorotycz-Malewicz, Lt. Andrzej Pomian (Information and Propaganda Bureau), Zygmunt Berezowski (Nationalist Party) and Stanisław Oltarzewski.



Original inputs from Jonathan, Jeanie, Tamsyn, Matt, Laura and Ed’s car

1. Seeing how the community is involved, especially the school children. Didn’t realise how important it was to the local community - not just a show for Pilota Harroda's family! They would have the ceremony and activities without us
2. Watching Sophia laying her flowers, and Sam kissing his flowers before he laid them on the memorial

1. The local politicians making the effort to educate the younger generation
2. Spending more than one evening with all the family; actually quite rare and only ever done at Xmas
3. The walk - seeing the local area and the beetroot field, doing something active in Polski

4. Sam learning about Poland.

5. GMO's birthday dinner

1. The driving force in the community, the mayor and deputy mayor and their wives very dynamic people           
2. The local community making their own history now, with patriotic songs                                                          

3. Painting of the black Madonna, the patron saint of AK.
4. The food on the Sunday - it was like wedding food!
5. Eddy's good ideas (get a canvas print printed of the Dakota that Grandpa painted and send it to the school) 

1. The assembly was the most moving
2. The entertainment at the ceremonial day, especially the little girl

1. The re-enactment

2. Every time I come to Lublin I want come back more and more 
3. We learnt more about the mission and the events running up to it.  Interesting things from individuals.
1. That the mission lasted 30 days on both sides, not just dad flying 30days until it happened. It was also 30 days for the partisans and General Tatar waiting.                          

2. All the school children are involved and being taught the history                
3. Best time was at the school with the children

Original Inputs from Rob and Jess’s Car

Rob’s Input

1) Seeing Wojtek again. 

2) The march from Bełźyce to Matczyn? 

3) kids’ projects on Operation Wildhorn

4) re-enactment of the night 

5) the importance it has in the community


It was amazing to see the effect that that one night has had on the whole community. I did not know that Wildhorn was now part of the local school’s history curriculum. The Harrod name is part of a country’s history and will be known of and taught for generations to come. 


Another thing that struck me was the welcome by the old AK soldiers. How they welcomed Jonathan, GMO & Steve as fellow comrades whom they had not seen for years. 


A very moving weekend that I felt extremely privileged to be a part of. Especially the march, the remembrance stops, the visit to the fields and braai in the forest.  I am so happy that I was able to share the experience with Tam, Jonathan, Rick and the all the others from the local community. 


I am sure it is comforting for GMO, Helen, Steve and Jonathan to know that Ted will continue to be honoured and remembered by the Matczyn & Bełźyce communities 


Jess’s input


The school performance

Realising it was nearly a month long mission on both sides

Realising what an important mission this was to the AK and Poland's military history.



Jeanie’s input


The new road - what an improvement. Hopefully the driving will also improve 

The lush green countryside and so many lovely trees. Poland looked happier than previously.

Signs of development in all areas - more construction in progress and fewer abandoned projects

Performance at the school and presentations of artwork - and artwork displays.

Martina the babysitter

Sam calling Lublin ‘Lovelin’

Wonderful staff at the Grand Hotel Lublinianka

Ewa & Jurek and Jacek & Justyna all looked amazing. I swear they’ve got younger.

GMO’s birthday dinner.

Band music in church and at the re-enactment. Loved the programme - A Team, Star Wars and Michael Jackson!

Rousing songs in church that Polish people were not allowed to sing during communism.

Man dressed as clump of grass referring to me as Sam’s mama, God double-bless the lad! Admittedly, he was looking at me through a very narrow visor of heavy netting, draped with ‘grass’, but anyway…

Meeting dynamic Polish women (hotel staff, school, mayors’ wives) in a country where feminism was no doubt kept under heavy wraps pre a democratic Poland.

Biggest highlight for me & Jonathan, and nothing to do with Most / Wildhorn / Poland was spending time with all our children, inc Rob and Laura, and grandchildren, all together. Oh, hang on - it’s everything to do with Most / Wildhorn / Poland because if Ted Harrod had crashed on take-off that night in April 1944, then Helen, Jonathan and Stephen would not exist…go figure.



Old AK members fading away

Did not see Ant

When Sam and I went to investigate the ‘exhibits’ outside the marquee, we found 2 special services soldiers in brand new, heavy duty combat gear (Highlight in the lowlight: and a man dressed in camo as a clump of grass who Sam LOVED). Clearly, Poland is freshening up for possible conflict on eastern borders. 



Sam’s comments:

Bad dream on Sunday night after the re-enactment. Wails at midnight “Nonna! Doddo! People are lying down and there’s a big fire!”


Sophia’s highlights:

Inspection of Polish weeds in light rain on road outside stadium

Warm bath, cuddles, bottle and bed after a long, hard day’s trucking


Sophia’s lowlights:

Spoilsport Nonna not letting me pick up Polish cigarette butts

Being awoken from my afternoon nap by gunfire.



Further inputs from Matt

Hey Dad.

Just want to thank you for such an amazing weekend. As far as family holiday/weekends go this one was definitely one of the best. It had all the classically lovely ingredients for an amazing time away, but these are the things for me that really made all the difference.


1: The entire community. Seeing how much time and effort that was put into the whole weekend was so absolutely incredible that it is hard to specify which was my favourite part. The re-enactment was amazing! I had no idea about the skirmish that happened a couple of weeks before and how it was interlinked with the operation. I didn't even know that Ted was having to take off in preparation for a month before he got the green light. It must have been a tough few weeks. Also the entire efforts and contributions of the school. That, was by far, the most emotional, uplifting and inspiring part of the entire weekend. And so wonderfully completed by the final solo of the youngest singer at their performance at the event on Sunday. 

The church service, and church itself, was beautiful and it felt very special to be welcomed as the guests of honour. I know it meant a lot to Laura too, and sitting right up at the front with the (most of the) whole family gave me a real sense of family and community. Especially since Laura and I are planning a catholic wedding.

Which brings me to my second point.


2: Having Laura there with us. I am so happy she was able to see and learn everything new that I and we all did over the weekend. It meant so much to her being mentioned in Steve's awesome speech. But especially when you said in the interview you did on the hike where you said you were there with 15 of your family. That included her, and it meant a lot more to her than you could imagine. (Note: Laura and Matt later broke off their engagement.)


3: Celebrating Grandmother's 88th birthday. It's always wonderful seeing GMO and having a laugh and a chat with her. What a woman! She has definitely kept Ted’s hero legacy alive in her children too, and always seems to have such insightful, informative, almost wise, and sometimes very funny opinions of everything. It's a privilege spending time with her. Also seeing that steak tartare being prepped (and actually trying a serious amount of it for the first time because of that) in that awesome restaurant with all the other fantastic food and lovely Hennessy XO. 


There were many, many more amazing and special moments in those very few days which is why it makes it one of the best weekends I have EVER HAD! 

I hope to be a part of this epic tradition and keep this memorial event attended by Harrods for generations to come. It's exciting to think what the future has in store for it! 


P.S.  Laura wanted me to add that she has always wanted to go to Poland and has been one of her dreams since she was very small. Walking around old town together with Ed at night in the pissing rain and up to the castle/museum while we were pretending to be ancient extremely wealthy land owners discussing the problems on our estate and whatnot. There is so much history and culture in that town which seems to be quite little. We had a lot of fun seeing some of it and are keen to learn more about it in the future. 


April 2015


Notes on the Polish trip to Matczyn 17 – 19 April 2015


with Jeanie and Jonathan Harrod, Steve and Cathy Harrod, Patricia Harrod,  Judith Strotz (Harrod), Jennifer Strotz and (then)  boyfriend Robert Murden – the last three from the USA


1.       Meet Robert and Cathy at Warsaw Airport 11h30 Friday 17 April. Robert is on a sabbatical at his grandmother’s home town in Kassel, Germany.   He'd flown in earlier from Frankfurt. 

2.       Cathy was in Warsaw already supporting her loyal Polish client at Procter and Gamble.  We drive to Lublin getting lost only once thanks to diversion and faulty sat nav.

3.       Unscheduled pit stop by Yankee Contingent (we all went!).

4.       Polish driving skills (NOT) open 3 pairs of American eyes to new ways of dying.

5.       Road improving each year and last 20 km now all motorway which is great but get lost again because of new entrance to city

6.       Lublinianka Hotel welcomes us again with open arms.  Beautiful. And on seeing us again the gracious and charming receptionist puts on a brave face and radios for wine resupply

7.       Muster at 3pm for late lunch and drinks. Supply of Pinot Grigio finished. Cape Sauvignon a worthy substitute

8.       USA contingent goes shopping to Old Town and Oxford Harrods hit the shopping centre for a handbag for Auntie.

9.       Wojtek,   Kasia and Janek join at suicide hour for a drink and to plan next day. Janek displaying all the most appealing traits and others of a two and a half year old at 6pm

10.    Wojtek blows our minds saying he wants to emigrate for his family's future as he believes war caused by Russian aggression is a real and present medium term threat. He says long term Poland won't offer his son the best opportunities compared to the UK and America.

11.    Dinner in the Hotel for convenience.  Food amazing.  Service oh so slow.  Tanzanian military contingent stretching Hotel's limited capacity. Judith’s early night request thwarted

12.    Rob gets christened a bunch of names to avoid potential confusion with Toberto Pike.  Robski adopted as favourite name.

13.    Patricia reminded of misspent youth with evening revelry. Hotel runs out of Cape Sauvignon but by now have re supplies of Pinot Grigio. Patricia retires to bed.  It's been a long day.

14.    Hero boys and girls have very early morning discussions about Wildhorn and other things.  Macallan single malt plays its usual pivotal role.

15.    Meet for strong breakfast as usual.  Jenn and Judith wear Ted Harrod's medals and become the Tanzanian Colonel's new best friends. Photographs are taken which perhaps might compromise her next State Department promotion!

16.    Leave for Matczyn with Wojtek leading with an amazing basket of flowers in the back of his car.

17.    Arrive at monument. 50 people plus await us. New road finished. Now country road is super highway with cycle track and drain.  Sadly, old trees have been felled to make way for all of this, but have at least been replaced by new saplings.

18.    Ant (who erected the monument in 1989 and was one of the youngsters protecting the field that night), Eva (the interpreter I first met at a meeting with the Polish Airport Company in 2007), Jurek her husband, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, Ant’s son, daughter, and granddaughter and Krazy Kristina. 

19.    The Monument has been moved back from the new road by 10 feet. It looks naked and exposed, but as new trees grow, and new flowerpots weather, it’ll mellow into the landscape again.

20.    Sadly, we hear the Professor has died and Zydek of the walking back from Germany fame in 1944 as a 15 year old escaped prisoner is sick. Many AK faces missing.  Other new ones.

21.    With lack of Professor, Ant declines offer to be MC so Mayor steps in. Recently won another 4-year term of office so he's relaxed and expansive. s

22.    Jonathan replies with special mention of our guests from America and the fact Bob and Joan, Judith's parents, celebrated with Ted Harrod (his brother) at Claridge’s in London after his Virtuti Militari Investiture later in April 1944

23.    Floral tributes laid including the magnificent basket of flowers prepared by Kasia,  Wojtek's wife.

24.    The mass held at the Matczyn church afterwards is small with around 45 people including the new parish priest who doesn't speak English but is friendly.  It's Saturday so no choir but still very evocative as the Polish and Latin (?) chants are sung

25.    Eva and Jurek had asked permission for mention of Steve Combe’s tragic death and he is prayed for repeatedly as Ted Harrod Grandson Pilota Stephana Comba.

26.    From the church to the school. It is back towards the monument. Here 80-100 pupils, teachers and parents await us and they launch off immediately with a series of songs poems and sketches commemorating Operation Wildhorn/Most

27.    The children read us poems in English for the first time.  They do it beautifully; their labours on the diction and pronunciation richly rewarding to the English audience.  They bring tears to our eyes. 

28.    The head mistress formally welcomes us back and thanks the children. Her voice cracks and she fights back the tears. Her pride - in a school facing a difficult future given the depopulation of the area - is plain to see.

29.    Steve replies and Wojtek translates.  He presents the school with a large sewn RAF flag, roundel and all.  Pupils standing in front of the audience, unfold it and display it to all, but upside down. Many giggles when they finally interpret Steve’s hand signals, and get it right way up.

30.  A retired colonel of a nearby chapter of the AK presents the school with 4 books.  It turns out he's 97 but has the handshake of a 40 year old.

31.  We have some formal photos of the group taken and many of the locals crowd in wanting to be part. We notice the walls of the hall are adorned with art inspired by Wildhorn, done by the children. There is a prize giving to the best artists with prizes handed out by Steve and the mayor

32.  We break for lunch/tea and find a table groaning with the most delicious squares of multi coloured cake of all types.  We do justice to the feast and waddle out after fond farewells to friends old and new and a brief tour of the school where we are shown proudly the various Dakotas we have given over the years together with other memorabilia in a display case upstairs.

33.  Jonathan and Steve discuss with deputy mayor, Marcin, ways we could help the school financially and he suggests contributing to a school trip to England. This needs to be followed up.  Maybe Steve Dowling and or Jess (possible twinning of schools?) and Steve Harrod (possible link via Oxfordshire County Council). 

34.  We have no idea who we might see again and who of us will be back in the future

35.  It’s time for a last stop at the monument and a trip onto the field opposite to show exactly where the Dakota landed that night and to see the height of the trees that so nearly changed the course of this family’s future.  Imagine no Ted Harrod!  No us!

36.  We arrive back at the Hotel and make a strategic mistake by sitting down for a late snack lunch forgetting the dinner that awaits us.  Still blissfully unaware of the challenges ahead as we tuck into some more Polish potato cakes, and the like quaffed down by the now replenished stocks of Cape Sauvignon.

37.  Sadly Ewa and Jurek must take their two charming grandsons back to Warsaw so leave at 17h00

38.  There is another foraging party mustered by the American contingency who bravely head out again to the Old Town.

39.  Wojtek joins us at 19h30 and we move across to the Kardamon Restaurant opposite the hotel to start the dinner of a lifetime.  Apparently what might have happened was Wojtek sent Steve the menu in advance and Steve replied it looked fine.

40.  He thought we could select individual items on the night but instead we got the whole kaboodle! Cold starters, hot starters, including the largest (thankfully cooked) oysters we’ve ever seen –the shells were the size of side plates and an inch thick!!, a surprise addition of steak tartare thrown in for the hell of it, soup, main course of fish or meat and pudding!  The food was stupendous but could have fed 30 normal people and we were 9 eating bravely for the honour of our respective countries!

41.  We roll out of Kardamon at midnight to face an early morning start at 07h30 to get back to Warsaw in time for the noon flight back to Heathrow.

42.  And so, yet again, another 48 hours of amazing experiences ends. 

Jonathan at the monument

It is always a pleasure to visit Matczyn and to see all the old faces again and say hello to new ones.


Each time we are here is so special to us and also so different.  Today, we are grateful that Ted Harrod’s wife, our Mother, Patricia Harrod is able to be here again with us and we are so pleased as well to have with us two family members from America, Judith and Jennifer, the niece and grand-niece of Pilota Harroda, as well as Robert Murden, Jennifer’s boyfriend. As you know, Judith’s father, Bob, who was Ted Harrod’s younger brother, passed away last year and it is very special that his daughter and grand-daughter can join us today.


At the same time we are saddened that our sister Helen and her husband Richard could not be with us as planned, as they remain in New Zealand mourning the passing of their son Stephen, a helicopter pilot who was tragically killed in a crash there in February.  Some of you may remember he joined us all for the RAF Dakota flypast in June 2008. 


We thank everyone for being here to celebrate the life of Ted Harrod again and we of course look forward to seeing you all again next year, which will be the centenary of Pilota Harroda’s birth!


See you next year


Steve at the school


Djien dobry! Jestem szczysliwy ze wrocilem do Polski.


This is our 10th visit to Poland and Matczyn since 2007 to commemorate the brave Poles and Royal Air Force flyers who either gave or risked their lives to make successful the AK’s Operation Most or as the RAF called it Operation Wildhorn. It was our fathers and grandfathers who stood up against the Nazi occupation and fought so bravely for their and our freedom, which we all now enjoy.


In years to come, it will be up to you to tell the stories of their sacrifice to your children and grandchildren so that future generations will look at the monument in Matczyn, and the various pictures, stories and model planes that you have in this school, and will understand what they mean and what it took to achieve their freedom. We hope you will keep the story alive for the future.


We are deeply honoured that our father Ted Harrod was the pilot on that night of 15 April 1944. It was he and his crew that landed their Douglas DC3 Dakota right here in the beetroot field in Matczyn to drop off two secret agents but more importantly to pick up General Stanisław Tatar Deputy Chief-of-Staff, AK and to take him and other government officials to London for discussions of national importance between Poland, the United Kingdom and the USA.


As a reminder of this event and to strengthen the ties between this Matczyn community and the RAF, we present to you this official flag of the Royal Air Force which flies proudly at all their bases around the world.


Thank you for being here today and we look forward to our visit next year.


April 2016


Here is the combined memory of our time in Poland for Wildhorn 2016


Attended by Mother (Patricia), Jonathan, Jean, Stephen, Cathy, Helen, Rick.


1.       Easier trip out of Warsaw than remembered – was it the time of day?

2.     Nice car but steering wheel on wrong side!

3.     Good trip down with noticeable improvements in infrastructure

4.     Wonderfully warm welcome at Lublinianka by all-new staff under new management now Agnieska has left.


5.     Hotel as grand as ever and in our favourite room (S&C), but food quality has changed – same menu (10 years on!) but maybe different chef?


6.     Restaurants: Magia (in the old town) and Kardamon (across the road) both delicious meals, with steak tartare and oysters in evidence, followed by the most delicious gooey chocolate brownie at Kardamon. A promise that our photo will join the rogues’ gallery by next year.


7.     Day on our own on Saturday as plans changed by the Mayor after our flights were booked. All agreed that it’s better to have monument, church and school on the same day, ie Sunday. Rick and Helen used the opportunity to walk to the old town to see Lublin Castle, variously used since its original build in the 6thC. Completely extended and largely rebuilt in 19thC and mostly it seems used as a prison, firstly by the Nazis in WWII and then by the Russians 1944-54. Massacres and executions together with vicious torture meant it was not a very happy place. Latterly it has become the Lublin Museum.


8.     R&H also visited Holy Trinity Chapel, in part of the Castle, completely covered with Russo-Byzantine 13thC murals. A world Heritage site. Incredible.


9.     Day 2 and the Chenin Blanc is finished!


10.  Wojtek, Kasia and Janek in good form, as are Ewa and Jurek


11.  Great to see Ant who is looking as bright-eyed as ever


12.  Zydek unwell but “this is life” says Ant


13.  Bugler at monument


14.  Kasia’s floral tribute amazes all! A Dakota made of white chrysanthemums and silver leaves, complete with RAF Roundels on the wings. What will she dream up next year we wonder!


15.  Loooooong Mass at church, including christening


16.  Little boy, perfectly attired in grey tailored jacket, grey jeans and shoes, who walked up to the baby in the church, completely un-selfconsciously, so delightful. Choirboy fainting.


17.  The poems of the children especially the English one about ‘WAR’

18.  The slide show / video they’d prepared about ‘Our Heroes’ starting with Pilota Ted Harrod and that great photo of him taken in Cairo in 1943 wearing his peaked cap. Photobook of same presented to Patricia. All of us in tears. Jonathan spoke for all of us. Need to get copy of video.


19.  Viewing of video from Steve’s talk on Wildhorn to Brockhampton School (Bromyard; Trish and Steve, Izzy and Danny have all been there) with simultaneous translation by Ewa, and Izzy and Danny’s reading of their poem on Wildhorn, with subtitles. Great filming and editing by Nick Belcher.


20.  The huge effort the teachers put in around the music and choir, the poems, the video and the lunch


21.  The fact that now our 10 trips to Poland over 9 years have themselves become part of the history of Matczyn and Wildhorn/Most.  This IS the Bridge


22.  Eating for England at lunch afterwards; joined by imposter photographer in blue shirt, whom no-one knew, but he enjoyed his lunch


23.  Janek’s antics around the lounge at the Lublinianka so happy and innocent and so different to his shyness last year


24.  That our presence there has touched the hearts of people like Jerzy(Jurek).  He spoke this time of Steve and I throwing Dad’s ashes in 2008 as ‘Ted Harrod returned to Matczyn’.  He took that picture and said it was the most moving moment of his life and a memory to treasure.


25.  The dwindling number of AK veterans, all well over 85 and down from 25 to about 10


26.  Their sincere desire to see us again next year


27.  Horizontal buckets of rain at 5pm Sunday, came out of nowhere, three minutes later followed by lovely rainbow.


28.  Sauvignon Blanc also finished – fall back on Pinot Grigio……


29.  Two storks seen on return trip to Warsaw – but no mushroom pickers.


30.  All of us concerned that any school twinning with them from England won’t match their patriotism, passion and desire burning in them; that we in Western Europe take too much for granted our freedom from fear and tyranny; our ability to move around freely and by and large express ourselves however we wish


31.  How humbling it is that what we’ve done, initially for selfish reasons, has made such an impact on this local community


32.  That as always Lublin, Matczyn, Wojtek, Marcin, we, the hotel, AK, Ant, the teachers, all contributed to the seamless flow of another unique and memorable event.  But where is it heading?


33.  Next year is 600th birthday of Bełźyce.  Marcin will provide details of festivities and we should try and fit in with these.



April 2017



Steve, Rick and Helen, Trish and Steve, Izzy and Danny Dowling


Friday 7 April 2017

Ibis Hotel, Luton – my cupboard/room cost more than Room 106 at Lublinianka!


Saturday 8 April 2017


1.     Wizz Air – why, just why? Front row seat with legroom for £15 – didn’t even blink!

2.     Lublin Airport – surprisingly good and very convenient, though less exciting drive to Lublin and no mushroom pickers to wave at.

3.     Steve D, Trish, Izzy, Danny and luggage in a Fiat 500!

4.     Grand Hotel Lublinianka – grand as ever, though staff are new – and no more Agnieska! Room 106 gorgeous as usual.

5.     Wojtek, Kasia, Janek and Adam (so cute!) come to say hi. Danny and Janek hit it off and play with Janek’s London Taxi all over the hotel lobby. Janek asks Wojtek what car Steve D is driving. Fiat 500 – Janek bursts out laughing…

6.     Ewa and Jurek arrive in the evening as do Tomasz and Mateusz (Ewa and Jurek’s son-in-law and grandson respectively).

7.     Off to Kardamon to find three pictures of us on the wall – Ewa pleads innocent!

8.     Best meal so far with not too much food. Very nice fillet steak. Kanonkop Kadette 2014 at £20 – had 2 plus 2 very nice Marlborough SB at same price from the “top” wine list – bargain.

Sunday 9 April 2017


1.     10h30 to monument. Ant still trucking after all these years! Monument is bare of foliage but Marcin assures me it is all being re-landscaped and will be ready for next year. Short session here with words from Helen including message from Mother Queen. Flowers laid by the usual people. Izzy laid for the family. No Krazy Kristina. No Zydek. Professor, he dead!

2.     Off to church. 2nd priest, ex missionary, includes some English to help us, but about 0.01% so not much use! Pilota Harroda mentioned 3 or 4 times, seemingly at random. Special Palm Sunday service includes 20 (TWENTY!) minute reading of Matthew’s Passion – standing all the while. Palm procession round the church – must be 200 people – standing room only and overflow outside. Looooongest service ever!

3.     Off to school. Speeches. Marcin hands me special award for Mother Queen – think it is like Freedom of the City – bestowed by City Council in recognition of all she has done to foster relationships and commemorate Wildhorn – cool! Ewa translates impromptu speech from me. Kids present us with portraits of Heroes of Wildhorn, the theme for the competition. Mayor and I hand out prizes as always. Dark haired girl with piercing blue eyes does best sketch of Harroda and wins a prize. All kids have wet fish handshakes, except her – dry and firm! Singing from kids and enactment of AK planning session (I think!) - see videos in Dropbox. Old Colonel (100 this year) gives me his War Veteran lapel pin! Also makes speech about how our family have a piece of us in Matczyn (Dad’s ashes) but then rambles a bit about not enough army involvement in the commemorations – not like it used to be!

4.     Lunch at school – very good food actually! Steve D talks to English teacher about on-going pen-pal link for the kids to his school.

5.     Back to hotel for walk/siesta. Evening drinks at Dowling’s apartment (they didn’t stay at Lublinianka) – wipe out Steve D’s blackberry vodka! Back to hotel for supper then early night.

Monday 10 April 2017

1.     Up at 03h15 and off to airport for 06h00 flight. Wizz Air. Again, why??? Luton OMG!


2.     That’s it for another year. Here’s to the next……..


April 2018


Stephen on his own


1.     Up at 04h00 to get to Heathrow and arrived Warsaw 11h00 on Friday 20 April 2018

2.     Met by Ewa and Jurek who had flown in from Zurich at 09h00 and waited for me!

3.     Had lunch with them at Marriott Courtyard next to airport then collected car and headed south

4.     About two thirds of the Warsaw-Lublin highway is now under construction, clearly with millions of EU Euros pumped in

5.     Gravel and sand piles the size of small mine dumps next to the road with huge earthmovers up and down

6.     Slow traffic most of the way but not a bad run – 3 hours

7.     Arrived Grand Hotel Lublinianka about 17h00 – same grand place as ever – room 106 with the balcony!

8.     Wojtek, Kasia, Janek and Adam came for drinks at 6 then we went for a walk on the new pedestrianised plaza out of the hotel to the right

9.     Multiple coloured fountains and play areas for the kids – beautiful sunny and warm evening – great fun all round

10.  Lone early supper at the hotel – potato pancakes and mushroom sauce – yum!

11.  Early to bed ready for tomorrow’s celebrations at 15h00

12.  Off to Matczyn at 14h30 – new road so the old one just ends all of a sudden and we had to back track and get on the new highway.

Usual mob at the monument – Ant with sparkly eyes, Krazy Kristina at the front to smother me in kisses!

14.  Very brief ceremony with short prayer from the padre and a few words from me then off to the school

15.  Normal thing at the school – poems and songs in Polish – little re-enactment of Ted talking to the team and introducing Curly Korpowski – then they break me by the whole mob singing Heal the World, in English, with half a dozen marching round with Polish and UK flags, and right at the end the cutest little blond thing walks to the front with a daffodil, stands two feet in front of me, and
repeats the final lines: Heal the world we live in, save it for our children – that’s it, I’m finished!

16.  Blowing my nose and wiping my face, trying to say how much it means to me – presented Ryzaard with GMO’s book and gave two jigsaws of Wildhorn photos to the school

17.  Lunch (4pm) at the school with the team – spiced sausage and cabbage, and salads, and cold meat, and other things, and apple strudel!

18.  Ant confirms that Zydek shuffled off very suddenly two years ago! Sad……

19.  Back to the hotel after dropping Ant off – he will be 90 on 30 April – told him to make sure he is there next year

20.  Marcin and Ryzaard have grand plans for the 75th celebrations next year and will advise details. They have an election in September, so we may never see them again….

21.  Quiet evening in the old town on my own, cupla drinks and watching a fire juggler

22.  Back at the hotel now and off to Warsaw at 09h00 tomorrow

23.  Easy drive to Warsaw – still idiots on the road overtaking in the middle of the MAJOR roadworks

24.  Met Jurek at airport and had lunch with Kubarski at their house

25.  Relaxing afternoon in the garden – lovely sunny day – Maria came with her two kids for the last hour then Jurek took me to the airport

26.  In the lounge now en route to Dusseldorf/Cologne for paper conference for next three days

27.  Everyone sends love to everyone and expects a big Harrod turnout for 75th celebration next year!


April 2019


Stephen, Ally, Jonathan, Matt, Ed, Rick and Helen, John and Kathleen Dwyer, Patricia Harris, John and Leanne McCartney


Notes from Ed, Matt and Jonathan from Wildhorn weekend 14-15 April 2019


1.       Wojtek remains the tonic and Polish glue of this event


2.       Seeing Ant so upright at 90 (?) and committed to commemorating that time


3.       The Sunday evening after the commemoration which at one point became who could tell the funniest joke.  I think Scoopulas the Greek by Steve H but there were many contenders  


4.       Meeting the two different Australian contingents and seeing the events through their eyes for the first time


5.       Recognising that there are others and not just us with their own views and memorabilia about Wildhorn, especially looking over the documentation of Jack Wells brought by his s-in-L John


6.       Jack’s ashes being scattered on the landing field so that he and Ted Harrod will always be part of this little piece of land which epitomized their war and remains the focal point of our own family memories of WWII


7.       The two snippets of English included in the Church service especially for us (for the first time I’ve been involved)


8.       Meeting Wojtek’s and Kasia’s little boys


9.       The entertainment put on by the four teachers and the wonderful children from the school


10.    The fact they have decided to re-name the school after the heroes of Operation Wildhorn/Most


11.    Hearing about Ant’s latest medal from the new Polish President to honour those of AK that were imprisoned and tortured after the war and in his case twice, the last time being in the notorious Lublin Castle prison for 133 days.


12.    Meeting Joanna, Ewa and Jurek’s daughter and her amazing contribution to the day(s)


13.    The Mayoral lunch and how they lay out a spread for us all


14.    The dwindling numbers if original AK members from those years (not necessarily at the Operation).  There used to be around 20 now I’m guessing 2-3


15.    The rainbow around the sun Matt saw when I was reading my speech from behind the rock and mentioning GMO’s recent death.


16.    Our ‘corner’ of the Lublinianka Hotel Lounge which becomes our focal point for gathering when not in our rooms or out and about



In no particular order, random thoughts from H&R:


1.       As always, but more so this time, the weekend exceeded expectations

2.       Grateful for the on-screen translations of the school presentation this year, and for Joanna’s great work as interpreter.

3.       Police cars providing protection and the warm welcome by the group assembled at the monument (or Obelisk, as Wojtek calls it)

4.       Scenic route from Warsaw to Lublin due to extensive road works – no mushroom pickers, but 2 storks on their nest atop a lamp post

5.       Great weather – sunny but cold wind

6.       The obvious economic development and improved standard of living, noticeable since we have been visiting over the last 12 years, reflects the average +5% GDP growth. Impressive

7.       Strip farming continues, but impressive stone and top fruit plantations along this different route

8.       Lovely meeting Kasia, Janek and Adam with Wojtek on Saturday evening – we look forward to when Adam is old enough for Kasia to be able to join us for more than a brief hotel visit

9.       The school does a good job at electing/appointing beautiful headmistresses! (Apparently they only stay in post for 5 years)

10.    A 90 pupil : 22 staff ratio indicates the value Poland places on educating their young

11.    A whole new dimension to our ‘bridge’ link with Poland has now been added by the visit of John and Kathleen Dwyer and Patricia Harris (two of Jack Wells’, Australian Wildhorn navigator’s three daughters), and John and Leanne McCartney, friends of Rick and Helen.

12.    What an incredibly generous and thoughtful gift to the school from the Wells family of the framed original navigator’s log of Operation Wildhorn/Most.

13.    The name change on 10 October 2019 of the school to ‘Primary School of the Heroes of Operation Wildhorn’ secures Wildhorn’s place in (local) history, so people like Ant now know that their involvement that night in 1944 will not die with them. His face beamed more than usual, perhaps because of this?

14.    Joanna explained the renaming of the school as a symbol of the recent change in the national psyche by a nation which is now able to process, evaluate and recognise those people and events which form part of their WWII and Soviet occupation history

15.    Perhaps they’ve always been present in the past, but Joanna’s translation of the list of invited dignitaries alerted us to the presence of relatives of the five (Heroes also) who were killed the following day by the Germans. I think we managed to meet all of them, and they also will be connected to the school by the name change, along with the AK who were there that night.

16.    The Fire Station venue was more spacious than the school and worked better. A great lunch provided by the Mayor, duly thanked by Jonathan. Joanna talked of the food reminding her of “the smells of safety and security” from her childhood.

17.    Joanna had driven 16 hours from Switzerland to be with us. Ewa was diagnosed with endometrial cancer May 2018 and had undergone radiotherapy. She appears to be cured but is still very weak.

18.    Love the Lublinianka, just the same, and the same warm welcome

19.    Church: it was Palm Sunday again so we all processed with the congregation around the church. It was significant and emotional hearing on at least 3 occasions Pilota Harroda and Patricia mentioned together, I think for prayers, condolences, just 4 weeks after Mum had died.

20.    The spring blossom everywhere was stunning

21.    Richard and Helen went to the Lublin Plaza and were amazed, if not horrified, by the amount of Easter ‘tat’ for sale, ranging from 30 cm tall ‘silver’ porcelain rabbits to rabbit cushions, Easter egg wreaths to hang on your door, the list went on – half a shop full. Joanna talked of the rampant consumerism which took over the nation gradually after the austerity of the Communist era, but suggested the pendulum had begun to swing back of late. Let’s hope so!

22.    On the plane back to London Helen sat next to someone who told her about the Polish Hearth Club (http://www.ogniskopolskie.org.uk/about.aspx ), which he thought would be interested to know about Wildhorn. It’s a social club for Polish emigres in Princes Gate, South Kensington, set up by both governments in 1939. They have speakers from time to time. Anyone interested to offer their services?


October 2019  School renaming ceremony



Steve, Rick and Helen


1.     The roads continue to improve. Now only a 50 km stretch south of Warsaw still to be completed before hitting the S17 all the way to Lublin. Means the journey is now just over 2 ½ hours instead of 3 ½. Due for completion Dec 19 – roll on for April 2020!


2.     Green Motion car hire came up best on rentalcars.com – but having experienced the inconvenience of not finding their office, the car, etc, etc at the airport have decided to stick to mainstream car hire companies in future.


3.     Our first autumn visit. Mushroom pickers replaced by pumpkin sellers; storks have fled nests to return to warmer climes.


4.     The usual warm welcome at the Grand Hotel, enhanced this time by Prosecco in ice bucket and fruit plate in each room! Sadly we were only able to avail ourselves of one bottle, last night before going out as guests of Ewa and Jurek to ‘16 Tables’ in Old Town – a lovely restaurant with set menu. Great food, 4 course meal (too much!); a picture of Cedarberg Estate, the owner having eaten there recently who supplies them wine.


5.     Met with Wojtek, Kasia and boys at 6pm. Janek now 7 has such a mischievous smile and Adam nearly 3 so cute, still with baby cheeks. Lovely boys. Kasia not working having back strain after 2 C-sections, but under physio and hoping for full recovery. Wojtek employment changed, as company now owned by Americans who have changed accounting procedures, so he’s now paid monthly in arrears instead of weekly. However, he’s not been paid for more than 2 months. Not a happy situation, so he’s changing to a German-run company in the new year.


6.     Jonathan sent a link to FT article on the Sunday elections. The Law & Justice Party and Civic Coalition are on R and L respectively, though Wojtek puts them and all the others on the Left – all are Socialist scumbags giving away his taxes. He said Ewa and Jurek would have different views, which they did, seeing L&J party (currently in power) vaguely right of centre supporting family values, but still socialist in policies, chasing the populist vote by having introduced a 500 pln per child per month subsidy (from which Wojtek and Kasia benefit).


7.     10 October 6.30 breakfast – strong but so early we had to wait for the bacon and egg for 10 minutes. Arrived at school at 7.45 for 1 hour wait to march to the church (5 mins walk). Steve was asked please to be part of the standard bearer party; it will be fun, they said. So he agreed, not knowing he’d have to stand for an hour in the church then a further hour or more on the stage in the marquee at the school.


8.     The (rather long) sermon in the church we were told later was all about honouring the national and school values of God, honour and fatherland. During the service the standard was blessed by the priest with holy water.


9.     At the school we were given distinguished guest seats – comfortable chairs instead of wooden benches. Much appreciated. Highlights:


a.     The stage backdrop was blue with an outpouring of red and white doves from the Polish flag across the sky, and a quote from A. Oppman: what one generation has lived through is etched into the hearts and minds of the next


b.     The playing of God Save the Queen with orchestral arrangement. Steve was standing on the stage facing everyone, next to the banner. He mouthed the words, as did we, then we were floored by a second verse which I’d never in my life heard before, and then a third! But it was so moving he and I found it difficult not to give in to emotion.


c.      New music teacher, male, is a brilliant pianist and very enthusiastic, getting the best from the children


d.     MC lady excellent


e.     Not the usual show – focus on 100 year history in which Wildhorn/Most was a part but not the focus as is usual in April. We felt very much part of it and privileged to be there.


f.       A Japanese shadow show told the story of the school in WW2


g.     Ant at 92 still smiling and upright, but we think he’s the last survivor. His 2nd wife recently died of cancer. He now lives near to the school where he goes daily for a cooked meal.


h.     General from Polish Air Force University (for future officers) at Dęblin and other dignitaries, Mayor and deputy of Beƚzyce


i.       So impressed with conception, planning and standard of production of the whole event. New head and all staff were very impressive


j.       The new standard is beautifully made and must have cost a fortune. All embroidered on pale gold heavy satin. The masterpiece is the embroidered Dakota, which looks like a painting. Unbelievable skill. (Unfortunately an error had been made whereby the names of Noel Willcock and Jack Wills had been combined into Jack Willcock; but it was sent back for corrective embroidery the following day). The reverse is red 1919-2019, with the words God, honour and fatherland (Polish motto) and the symbol of the Home Army, P and anchor


k.      Union Jack and Australian and Polish flags all on display


l.       Very formal handover procedure of the renaming of the school, followed by the handing over of the new standard by standard bearers – from Home Army to School Director

(head), to head boy and girl, to pupils, who then pledged allegiance to the new standard


m.   Tapping – all those, including us, who had donated towards the cost of the new banner, have their names engraved on small brass badges attached to the pole holding the banner. Symbolically each of us was called up in turn to tap on a badge with a small brass hammer to acknowledge each name


n.     Slide show of history in 2 languages


o.     Food! What a spread – all supplied by parents and staff


p.     Steve spoke for all the family, starting in Polish, for which he was clapped. Helen followed – not in Polish – reading a message from the Wills family in Adelaide. Steve then presented the framed Virtuti Militari citation which was very well received.



Presented to Matczyn School by the families of

pilot Edward Harrod and the crew of Dakota FD919

to commemorate the renaming of the school

in honour of The Heroes of Operation Wildhorn

10th October 2019


q.     Krazy Krystina still going strong; also the owner of the field and her daughter


r.      A small lad in suit and bow tie and fancy camera came to the front to take photos. The director was so kind to him – let him sit in her front row seat and took a photo of him sitting in a VIP seat next to the mayor of Beƚzyce


s.      The small blonde lass (7 o r8) who brought Steve to tears two years ago signing Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the world’ is still as cute and animated as ever


t.      Steve given another AK lapel badge; all of us given new school badges and a ‘monograph’ book marking the event, mostly in Polish but English biographies of Ted and Jack.

10.  Overall the weather was kind, though not without some heavy downpours whilst in the marquee.


11.  Steve coming every year is significant and much appreciated by all


12.  All of us were exhausted when we returned to the hotel, especially Steve who’d stood for another hour before handing over the banner to the school. So we crashed and gathered later in room 106 for prosecco, followed by aforementioned dinner with Jurek and Ewa.


13.  Spanish Chardonnay Quinta de Aves with a picture of one bird turned out not to be 5 birds, but 5th bird, signifying 5th generation of Aves family as wine producers!


14.  Just by the way, Tesco is pulling out of Poland altogether


15.  Yet another successful and well received visit to this great place and people. It’s really satisfying to see how much our efforts are appreciated and it makes the cost and hassle all worthwhile!



Words for school renaming ceremony


Our association with this school goes back 12 years since we first came to Matczyn to see the monument erected by Zdzisław Bednarczyk on behalf of the Armia Krajowa. From the first moment we met the people involved, we were amazed at the welcome we received and the honour which they had bestowed on our father and the rest of the crew of the Akcja Most flight.


We had been concerned that our reception here might be difficult due to the loss of life amongst the local people following Akcja Most, but we were overwhelmed by the warmth and friendship extended to us by you all.


Since then we have been privileged to be able to join every commemoration of Akcja Most, now held every year, and it was a tremendous thrill for us to be able to arrange the fly past by the RAF Dakota in 2008 to relive the operation.


Our mother, Pilota Harroda’s wife sadly passed away earlier this year, otherwise she would be with us today, but we know she and our father are with us in spirit as we celebrate the heroes of Operation Wildhorn. She was always deeply touched by the affection shown to her on her visits to Poland and treasured the friendships that have grown over the years, as do we.


When we heard that this school was to be renamed in honour of the heroes of Akcja Most, we were humbled to think that one flight by the crew of the Dakota in 1944 had such a lasting impact on this community.


There are many heroes of that eventful night, not just the crew of the aircraft, but all the AK volunteers who made it possible, the local residents whose lives were taken in retaliation, the owners of the field used for the landing who then made the land available for the placement of the monument, as well as all those who have remembered and commemorated the occasion ever since.


In a time when our children and grandchildren are growing up in an uncertain world, it is with great respect that we acknowledge the efforts made by this school to ensure that these youngsters do not forget the mistakes we and earlier generations have made. We must continue this education programme to ensure that we never allow such inhumane activities to flourish again. In terms of honouring the heroes with a lasting memorial, we can think of nothing more fitting than for the pupils and parents to be reminded daily by the name of their school.


We wish you well in this endeavour and assure you of our continued support in the years to come.


At a time when many of my countrymen are trying to tear down the bridges between the UK and Europe, we continue to strive to maintain our bridge with you


See you next year! Thank you



Message from the Wells Family


Honoured guest, ladies, gentlemen, and students, firstly we would like to express our gratitude for your hospitality when we were your guests in April for the 75th anniversary of Operation Wildhorn, we were overwhelmed with your warmth and kindness and went home with beautiful memories. We regret that we are unable to make the journey from Australia again but we are with you in spirit and offer our best wishes to you on this very special occasion. Jack Wells was a quiet man and would have felt humble to be honoured in this way, he felt that he was only doing the job he was trained to do on Operation Wildhorn and while it was his navigational skill that led the aircraft to Matczyn it was the exceptional flying skill of Ted Harrod with the assistance of Flt Lt Korpowski in getting the Dakota airborne that was the pivotal point of the operation. As Jack would say, he wanted to be the best navigator he could be as that would ensure that he would be chosen to crew with the best pilot and thereby have the best chance of survival, not thinking that the best crew also was assigned the most dangerous operations!


It was always Jack's belief that the true heroes of Operation Wildhorn were the members of the Polish Home Army, they were the ones risking their lives in the days and weeks of preparation leading up to the operation and were left to suffer the repercussions and retribution afterwards.


He was awarded the Polish Home Army Cross by the Polish Government in 1994 and was presented with it at a ceremony hosted by the Adelaide (Australia) branch of the Polish Ex Servicemen’s Association and he maintained a fond connection with the expatriate members of the Adelaide Polish community from then until his death in 2009.


It was a source of great pride for him to wear the same medal that was worn by the heroes of the AK and he would have been so happy to see these true patriots along with their allied airmen comrades in arms honoured today and to have efforts of everyone involved in Operation Wildhorn immortalised in the naming of your fine school in their honour. 


We wish you every success for today and into the future, with our love, gratitude and respect - Patricia, Kathleen, and Margaret, the daughters of P/O John Anthony (Jack) Wells.


Subsequent email from John Dwyer:


From your notes and the school's Facebook page, it appears to have been a very solemn and emotional day, all of the combatants remembered would have felt so honoured and to have Ant present to represent them was just the proverbial icing on the cake.


Re the photos you requested, Wojtek emailed me early in June with a request from the school for a short biography, I sent it to him with the two photos included and he forwarded them to the school. One is the typical pre-embarkation studio shot that almost every serviceman left behind for his loved ones. You can see by the chevrons and insignia that he has the rank of Flight Sergeant Observer at that time. (These photos have been included in the Photobook.)


The second photo has a really interesting story. I have had an interest in aviation art for a long time and would haunt the few specialist galleries that existed in Adelaide in the days before the internet sent them out of business. About twenty-five years ago I was looking through a bargain bin of prints in a North Adelaide gallery, taken from official photos from the Australian Military Museum in Canberra when I stumbled upon this one. In disbelief and doubting my opinions, I took the reference numbers from the photo credits and referred them to the Museum's Archive section who confirmed that it was indeed Jack. I went back to the gallery and had the photo enlarged and framed and we presented it to him the following Christmas. It was a huge surprise for him and it took pride of place in their home until he died. He said that an RAAF Liaison Officer turned up one day with photographer when he was first "freelancing" with 267 Squadron, they were putting together a photographic record of Australians attached to RAF Squadrons and he just happened to be around at the time so he was one of the chosen. The chances of that photo being in that gallery on that day and having me find it and recognise it are infinitesimal; there must have been stronger powers at work.


Message from John and Leanne McCartney, Australia

We send our congratulations and best wishes on to the school and to the local community. We have the utmost admiration for them and what they are doing to keep the memory of all of those brave people who served to achieve their country’s freedom.