South West Wales

World War Two pilot's relatives meet family of rescuer

Family members of Wladyslaw Kiedrzynski and Bertie Griffiths onboard a boat
Image caption Family members of Wladyslaw Kiedrzynski and Bertie Griffiths visited the site of the plane crash

Relatives of a Polish World War Two pilot and the Welsh farmer who saved him from the sea have met for the first time.

In 1941, Sgt Wladyslaw Kiedrzynski's Hurricane caught fire - forcing him to bail out off Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire.

The fighter pilot was pulled from the waters by local farmer Bertie Griffiths and went on to make a full recovery.

Almost 80 years on, their families were tracked down by historian Steve Jones.

The men's families came face-to-face on Thursday morning - swapping stories and photographs.

For more than two decades, Mr Jones had unsuccessfully tried to track down Sgt Kiedrzynski

Then last year, while in a book shop in Haverfordwest, a memoir about Ramsey Island caught his attention.

Author Melba Griffiths wrote the book based on the diaries her late husband Elfed meticulously kept during his childhood on the island.

To Mr Jones's surprise, the book told how Mr Griffiths' father once pulled a pilot from the sea.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Sgt Wladyslaw Kiedrzynski was a member of 316 Polish Squadron based at RAF Pembrey in Carmarthenshire

He approached Mrs Griffiths, pooled all the information they had and, following further searches, discovered new information on a Polish Air Force website.

Sgt Wladyslaw Kiedrzynski had changed his name to Richard Anderson and died in 1995 on Jersey.

Mr Jones wrote an article for the Jersey Post appealing for information and Sgt Kiedrzynski's daughter Laura Ahier responded.

"After 20 years it was like a eureka moment," said Mr Jones.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption A Hurricane - similar to the one Sgt Kiedrzynski was flying when the engine caught fire

Mrs Griffiths said her husband would have been "absolutely delighted", adding: "It's a happy-sad occasion for me because my husband's no longer with me. His memories of growing up on the island were very strong.

"His father was a very brave man, a very courageous man and things might have been very different for the pilot if he hadn't responded so quickly and gone in to the water."

Mr Jones hopes the occasion will mean people learn something new about history in their area: "[During World War Two] stories like this played out all over Wales - farmers pulling pilots out of water.

"They never got any recognition because it was war time. If it happened now they'd get a medal or something."

Image copyright Steven Jones
Image caption A party of relatives and Mr Jones will take a boat trip to the scene of the crash

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