He is a pilot, so, no wonder, that he was fascinated with the history of the most famous Polish air garrison – 303. His fascination resulted in collecting historical souvenirs, and the next step was his willingness to share his hobby with others
Tomasz Kajkowski, a pilot and a lover of topics connected with aviation, in Napoleon town – 40 km from Częstochowa – organized the Museum 303 named sub-colonel pilot Jan Zumbach. The museum is going to be available in April this year, and its solemn opening ceremony is planned on 1 September 2018. The museum has got a status of an institution of culture, given in August 2017 by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
RAF together with Luftwaffe
When we were creating a collection, we came across various exhibits – not only the aviation ones – from the times of the Second World War, so we sometimes decided to spread the profile of the exposition and strengthen its educational character – said Jan Nagiel, a director of the Museum 303.
- At present we have over 200 mannequins in military uniforms from the Second World War till the modern times, documents from the times of the Second World War, a lot of personal things belonging to Polish pilots, among the others, Virtuti Militari Crosses with ID cards and other distinctions, maps and equipment which pilots had used during their military service in the RAF. Some exposition is devoted to their opponents – pilots of Luftwaffe.
In terms of dimensions, the biggest attraction of the museum is an outdoor modern aviation exposition, which presents planes: Mirage 1, MiG-233MF, MiG-21 SMT, TS11 Iskra and a helicopter Mi-2. Their attractiveness also results from the fact that one can touch them and enter them. – The planes presented in many museums are not accessible for visitors, therefore we also decided to do it differently in our museum – says the director of the Museum 303.
The memorials are often passed over by pilots’ families. – Two years ago an inhabitant of Dąbrowa Górnicza, who passed over a suitcase of souvenirs to us, which he had got from his uncle – a pilot from the squadron 303, including his GCSE certificate and a student’s marks book. Exhibits in the museum are carefully described – we inform whom they belonged to – says the director Nagiel.
A brave patron
The museum is named after the sub-colonel pilot Jan Zumbach, who in 1938 graduated from the School of Aviation Cadets in Dęblin. In 1940 he went to England and was allocated to the Polish Squadron 303, stationing on the Northolt airport. He was fighting in the fight for England and was one of the commanders in the famous unit. He was awarded with the Silver Order Virtuti Militari, twice awarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross and four times awarded with the Cross of the Brave.
- We received agreement from his wife and son, living abroad, in order to place the surname of the sub-colonel Zumbach in the name of the museum. We are in touch with them, they approve of our initiative. Last year Hubert Zumbach visited our museum, we also went with them to the grave of his father on the Warsaw graveyard.
On a movie set and on Cumuluses
The museum is cooperating also with the makers of the film ‘Squadron 303’, which is the first Polish film devoted to the history of the legendary unit, made both in Polish and English language. The role of the patron of the museum – Jan Zumbach is played in the film by Maciej Zakościelny. Form the movie set a model which ‘played’ the role of a building of aviation barracks – the so-called dispersal on the airport in Northolt, was brought to the museum, as well as the replica of the Hurricane airplane, a fighter plane by which Polish pilots were flying. – The collection is going to develop, and the main exhibition hall will be too small soon, so we are going to organize theme rooms a floor below – says the director Nagiel. – They will present life on barracks, there will be exhibits which equipped the buildings, like a wardrobe from the times of the Second World War, a bathroom basin with complete fittings, everything which was used by the army every day. If somebody has got souvenirs of this kind, which he would like to protect from destruction, we will admit them to our museum willingly. They will be utilized in our museum and exhibited in a suitable way.
The history of Polish aviation, especially the Squadron 303, is worth popularizing, so the aviation museums: Museum of Polish Aviation in Cracow, Museum of Air Forces in Deblin and Museum 303 in Napoleon cooperate with one another.- We willingly lend our exhibits, either to a movie or to bigger and smaller exhibitions – emphasizes Jan Nagiel.
-We were presenting our museum last year on Air Show in Radom, in Oświęcim during a historic session ‘Music in occupied Poland 1939-1945’, and we are going to be in Warsaw on this year’s Cumuluses, that is, awarding rewards in the plebiscite for the best sport pilots. We want to use every occasion to remind excellent cards of Polish aviation, especially this year – when it is its 100th anniversary. We invite everybody to the Museum 303 in Napoleon, but also to a wonderful historic reconstructive performance which will take place in our commune, that is, in Opatów, on Saturday 8 September this year.
Translation: Aneta Amrozik
„Niedziela” 6/2018 (11 II 2018)