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Winslow M Sobanski


Sobanski was born on 29 July 1919 while his mother was visiting her sister on holiday from Poland. shortly after Mike was born he and his mother returned to Poland, where Mike received his education.
He was a university student when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. He attempted to join the Polish Air Force, but was told there was no time for training. He then became an infantryman and headed towards the front on a troop train. The train was bombed, and Mike was pinned in the wreckage suffering broken ribs. He was extricated and put on another train for transport to a hospital. He lay in a filthy boxcar for five days, and then waited for a further two days for treatment at an old monastery which was converted into a hospital. Finally they put a cast on him, but the Germans were advancing and Mike and others tried to escape but were captured and moved to a hospital in an old Russian fort.
Mike, believed to be immobile, was left unguarded. At night he left the hospital, waded through its moat, and hitch-hiked and walked 200 miles to Warsaw, where he found his home in ruins and the city occupied by the Nazis. He found his father, now suffering from total depression because of his country's defeat.
By means of his American citizenship Mike obtained a visa and was permitted to leave. He eventually made his way to the European coast and took a berth as a seaman aboard an Italian ship. The ship made its way to the U.S., and when it docked in Baltimore, Mike jumped ship and made his way to New York City, where he looked up his relatives. They introduced him to a family friend who was a recruiter for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). He arranged for Mike to join and be accepted in the RCAF as a pilot trainee.
He soon washed out of the programme because of his inability to speak English. He was later reinstated while continuing to learn English. He finally earned his wings in October 1941. He boarded a ship on 3 November and headed for Scotland. He was trained as a fighter pilot in Miles Masters and Hurricanes. He then joined No. 416 Squadron, RCAF. Mike got to fly Spitfires on convoy patrol, which he found very boring. On 22 September 1942 he was discharged from the RAF and posted to No. 133 Eagle Squadron as a Second Lieutenant, and on the 29th he was transferred to the 4th fighter Group, 334th Squadron.
Mike found the 4th to be what he wanted. He had the desired opportunity to fight and kill Germans. He had a particular driving hatred because of what they had done to him, to his home, and to his Poland.
In addition to Mike's zeal for destruction of the Nazis he found time to keep a diary, written in Polish, and a log book with very comprehensive records and notes, and was able to maintain a fair amount of social life. Both Polish and English women found him to be attractive and desirable. He also did many precise drawings and cartoons of various facets of his training. He was very proud of the Polish soldiers he met in England and enjoyed their company. They tried to get him to join a Polish squadron, but he thought of himself as an American and expected to go there to live after the war.
Unfortunately he never got to return to the States, having been shot down and killed on D-Day. He was leading a section of four Mustangs strafing a truck convoy near Rouen when they were attacked by over fifteen Me-109s and Fw-190s. All four of his section were shot down and killed.
Mike was credited with destroying six enemy aircraft, and had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with an Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
Although he was American by birth, he is considered to be a Polish hero for his contributions to the war effrt in the service of Poland and in the service of the United States. His American citizenship allowed him the honour, which he would have desired, of being buried in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium.



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    Military | Staff Sergeant

  • James Goodson

    Military | Major | Pilot | 4th Fighter Group
    Major Goodson was a U.S. citizen born in New York City on 21 March 1921 of British parents. He was raised in Toronto, Canada, by his mother following his father's death. In 1939, upon graduation from high school, he had no money but a desire to meet...

  • Edward Steppe

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Escorting back to base his section leader [Sobanski] in P-51B 'Turnip Termite' 43-6957, set upon by superior number of enemy aircraft and shot down. KIA. 6-Jun-44. MACR 5604.

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Units served with

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force

    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 334th Fighter Squadron

    334th Fighter Squadron

    The 334th Fighter Squadron was the successor to No. 71 Eagle squadron of the Royal Air Force when the 4th Fighter Group was activated on 12 September 1942. They were based at Debden Field, Essex. The "Fighting Eagles" as they were called, flew...

  • 336th Fighter Squadron

    336th Fighter Squadron

    The 336th Fighter Squadron was constituted by the War Department on 22 august 1942, and was activated at Bushey Hall, England, on 12 September. It had been designated as No. 133 (Eagle) Squadron, and was made up of American volunteers to the Royal Air...

  • No. 133 'Eagle' Squadron

    No. 133 'Eagle' Squadron

    'On 1 August 1941, No. 133 reformed at Coltishall as the third 'Eagle' Squadron manned by American personnel. Equipped with Hurricanes it became operational at the end of September. The next month the Squadron moved to Northern Ireland, returning to...


  • 42-7924

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    P-47D-1-RE 42-7984 was assigned to the 4FG/334FS at Debden, UK. On 3-Nov-43 the aircraft, piloted by F/O Frank D. Gallion, had been relocated to Halesworth, UK as a more forward base for despatch on this mission to escort B-17 bombers attacking at...

  • 43-6898 'The Deacon'

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. One-time personal aircraft of Capt Howard "Deacon" Hively. A/C Lost, shot down in melee with fifteen plus enemy aircraft 6-Jun-44 Evreux, France, pilot Major Winslow M "Mike" Sobanski KIA. MACR 5603.

  • 43-7002 The "Mighty MITE"

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Lost 9 May 44 - Lt Robert S Sherman POW. MACR 4684. ...

  • 43-7158

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 334FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. One time aircraft of Major Winslow Sobanski. While attacking a group of Bf109’s with some P-38’s, A/C was mistaken for an Bf109 and damaged in combat by a P-38. With glycol emitting from his engine, pilot Capt...

  • 43-67890

    P-51 Mustang

  • 41-6183 'Red Dog' 'Mike II'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF, transferred to 23DRS, 2ADG, 9AF USAAF. ...

  • AB988

    Supermarine Spitfire AB988 Mk Vb, Built at Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory. ...

  • BL383

    Supermarine Spitfire BL383 Mk Vb CBAF M45 ...

  • 42-75120 'Mike IV'

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Assigned to 334FS, 5FG, 8AF USAAF.

Associated Place

  • Biggin Hill

    Military site : airfield
    An RAF Station with US lodger units. USAAF Spitfires and P-38s were attached to RAF No 11 Group stations in mid-1942 for training; also used for special operations by British and US forces.

  • Debden

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Debden, construction of which began in 1935, is perhaps most famous as a Battle of Britain fighter airfield, partly responsible for the defence of London in 1940. In 1942 it was also home to three RAF 'Eagle Squadrons’ of volunteer American pilots...

  • Duxford

    Military site : airfield
    RAF Duxford, now a museum and still a working airfield, was operated by the USAAF from 1943 to 1945. The base was briefly the home of the 350th Fighter Group in late 1942, but it was not until April 1943 that it became a fully American station when the...


Event Location Date
Born New York, NY, USA 29 July 1919
Died Évreux, France 6 June 1944

Killed In Action in A/C Ser No.
43-6898 "Deacon".

Buried 1945


Date Contributor Update
15 July 2018 09:32:32 Pyker Changes to biography

Changed biography to remove "already destroyed by the Luftwaffe" as this was (successful) Nazi propaganda to try and camouflage their losses. Changed to correct version "but was told there was no time for training" as per account in "1000 Destroyed" by Grover C Hall Jr - the 4th FG public relations officer; as found in the chapter titled "The Blakesleewaffe".

Date Contributor Update
17 May 2016 23:15:13 WD-C Mustang Changes to media associations

Associated media already in DB

Date Contributor Update
21 March 2016 20:45:24 Al_Skiff Changes to nickname, biography, awards and events

Date Contributor Update
26 February 2016 20:25:52 Al_Skiff Changes to unit associations and place associations

Eagle squadron re-alignment.

Date Contributor Update
03 September 2015 12:15:51 Lucy May Changes to middlename, nickname, events, person associations and unit associations

Added information from other duplicate entries for this airman.
Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, NY
MACR 5603 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Date Contributor Update
17 April 2015 20:20:46 apollo11 Changes to middlename

Personal research & 4th Fighter Group 'Debden Eagles' by Chris Bucholz.

Date Contributor Update
07 March 2015 15:35:14 apollo11 Changes to middlename, highest rank, biography, events, unit associations and place associations

Personal research & 'Eighty-One Aces of the 4th Fighter Group' by Frank Speer.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:28:59 AAM AAM ingest

ABMC, MACR 5603 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list