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eMedals-An Extremely Scarce Polish Navy MBE Gallantry Group to Andrzej Ożegowski

Item: EU12670

An Extremely Scarce Polish Navy MBE Gallantry Group to Andrzej Ożegowski


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An Extremely Scarce Polish Navy MBE Gallantry Group to Andrzej Ożegowski

MBE Recipient, Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander Andrzej Ożegowski, Polish Navy: Poland (Republic): Cross of Valor 1920 (bronze, 43.5 mm); Cross of Merit, 3rd Class with Swords, Type II (bronze, maker marked "SPINK LONDON" on the reverse, 41 mm x 60.5 mm inclusive of its swords suspension); Great Britain: Member of the Order of the British Empire (silver, unmarked, 48.5 mm x 60.5 mm); 1939-1945 Star; Atlantic Star, 1 Clasp - FRANCE AND GERMANY; Defence Medal; and War Medal 1939-1945. Unmounted, lightly soiled original ribbons, the Navy Medal for the War 1939-1945 having been lost to time but appears as one of the recipient's awards on his ribbon bar, intact enamels on the Cross of Merit, very light contact, extremely fine. Accompanied by an Eight-Ribbon Ribbon Bar (top row: Poland (Republic): Cross of Valor 1920, Cross of Merit, 3rd Class with Swords, Type II with crossed bronze swords; and Navy Medal for the War 1939-1945 with two silver clasps designating three awards; middle row: Great Britain: Member of the Order of the British Empire; 1939-1945 Star; Atlantic Star with silver rosette; bottom row: Great Britain: Defence Medal; and War Medal 1939-1945; the ribbon bars sewn in place to a 52 mm x 120 mm black cloth patch, also extremely fine).

Footnote: Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander Andrzej Ożegowski, Polish Navy served aboard ORP Burza, a Wicher-class destroyer of the Polish Navy, which saw action during the Second World War. The ORP Burza (Polish: "Storm") was ordered on April 2, 1926 from the French shipyard Chantiers Naval Francais, together with her sister ship ORP Wicher. She entered service in 1932, roughly four years after the initial deadline. On August 30, 1939, the Polish destroyers ORP Burza ("Storm"), Błyskawica ("Lightning") and Grom ("Thunder") were ordered to execute the Peking Plan, created in order to remove the Destroyer Division (Dywizjon Kontrtorpedowców) of the Polish Navy from the Baltic Sea operation theatre, an operation in which all three destroyers were evacuated to the United Kingdom in late August and early September 1939, prior to the outbreak of war. They were ordered to travel to British ports and assist the British Royal Navy in the event of a war with Nazi Germany. The Polish destroyers headed for the United Kingdom on August 29th and as they approached the United Kingdom on September 1st, they learned about the German invasion of Poland, soon meeting up with the British destroyers HMS Wanderer and HMS Wallace. The British ships led the Polish ships to Leith, port of Edinburgh, and at night the Polish destroyers arrived at nearby Rosyth. The ships served alongside the Royal Navy for the remainder of the war, and ORP Burza and ORP Błyskawica would survive the war. The Peking Plan generated controversy in Poland, but it proved to be a wise decision and successful, allowing the ships to avoid certain destruction or capture during the German invasion of Poland. All the other surface ships of the Polish Navy which remained in the Baltic were engaged and sunk or captured by the German forces, starting with the Battle of the Gdańsk Bay on September 1st. The fate of the remaining two largest ships is telling: the fourth Polish destroyer, ORP Wicher, and the heavy minelayer ORP Gryf, the largest ship of the Polish navy, were both sank by September 3rd, the third day of the war. ORP Burza assisted British forces off Norway in April 1940, and in the English Channel in May 1940. Beginning on February 22, 1943, ORP Burza joined Atlantic convoy ON 166, crossing through the Atlantic Gap (German: "Atlantikloch"). Her first duty was to sink a damaged Norwegian freighter by the use of a single torpedo, the first use of a torpedo by a Polish destroyer during the war. Two days later, on February 24th, ORP Burza attacked the German U-606, who had already sank three ships of this convoy. The heavily damaged U-boat surfaced and the American escort ship USS Campbell opened artillery fire against her and later tried to ram the U-boat. Unfortunately, USS Campbell lost a propeller and couldn't move. Both U-606 and the USS Campbell began sinking, the Germans sent SOS signals by light and the Americans by radio. ORP Burza took on board Germans from U-606, part of the American crew of USS Campbell, along with the crew of the Norwegian freighter, then left the convoy for St. John. Upon leaving St. John, ORP Burza returned to Atlantic convoy duty with ORP Garland, joining convoy HX 228, along with the H-class destroyer HMS Harvester, their destination: the United Kingdom. HMS Harvester had briefly been assigned to Force H in May 1941, but her anti-aircraft armament was deemed too weak and she was transferred to the Newfoundland Escort Force in June 1941 for escort duties in the North Atlantic. The ship was returned to the Western Approaches Command in October 1941 and was converted to an escort destroyer in early 1942. Meanwhile, ORP Burza had been refitted at Liverpool, between December 12, 1942 and February 11, 1943. Whilst defending Convoy HX 228 on March 3rd, convoy HX 228 was pursued by a wolfpack of U-boats. HMS Harvester forced U-444 to the surface and then rammed it. Her propeller was badly damaged from the ramming and she was unable to keep proper speed, yet she rescued five survivors after the submarine sank. The next day, the damaged HMS Harvester was torpedoed by U-432 and broke in half, sinking in an hour. Nine officers and 136 ratings were lost, but the French Flower-class corvette Aconit, which had been lent by the Royal Navy to the Force Navales Françaises Libres (Free French Naval Forces) and commanded by Lieutenant Levasseur, rammed and sank U-432 herself and then rescued HMS Harvester's few survivors. The Polish destroyers ORP Burza and ORP Garland made several depth charge attacks but without visual results. However, ORP Burza Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander Andrzej Ożegowski was especially gallant in his actions that day. He was put into a raft and sailed from ORP Burza to the Aconit, in choppy seas, in order to aid the wounded and sick that had been rescued from HMS Harvester. For his efforts that day, Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander Andrzej Ożegowski was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire, by Admiralty Fleet Order 3526, Honours and Awards 485/43 to the Polish Navy, dated August 5, 1943: "The King has been graciously pleased to approve the following Honorary Appointment for outstanding services to the survivors from H.M.S. Harvester when she was torpedoed in convoy on the night of 12th March. Member of the Order of the British Empire to Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander Andrzej Ozegowski, Polish Navy, O.R.P. Burza. This Appointment will not be gazetted." His citation reads: "For great courage and devotion in leaving the Polish destroyer Burza on a dark and stormy night in the Atlantic in March 1943 and paddling himself alone on a Carley Float to the French corvette Aconit to tend the wounded survivors of HMS Harvester." Ozegowski received his decoration from Admiral Andrew Cunningham, the First Sea Lord, at Admiralty House, on November 2, 1943. For his Second World War service, the British awarded him the 1939-1945 Star, the Atlantic Star with France and Germany clasp, the Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945. In addition, the Polish government in exile awarded him the Cross of Valor 1920, the Cross of Merit 3rd Class with Swords and the Navy Medal for the War 1939-1945 with two silver clasps designating three awards.

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