Winslow Micheal Sobanski


Object Number - UPL 13591 - Major Winslow M. Sobanski.

Sobanski was born on 29-Jul-19 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 desired the 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 three Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.
Although he was American by birth, he is considered to be a Polish hero for his contributions to the war effort 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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Units served with


  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 336th Fighter Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 336th Fighter Squadron No 133 'Eagle' Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-885241
  • Highest Rank: Major
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 334th Fighter Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-697594
  • Highest Rank: Second Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Fighter Pilot


  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Nicknames: Red Dog Mike II
  • Unit: 2nd Air Depot Group 4th Fighter Group 334th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Nicknames: Mike IV
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 334th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-47 Thunderbolt
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 334th Fighter Squadron
  • Aircraft Type: P-51 Mustang
  • Nicknames: The Deacon
  • Unit: 4th Fighter Group 334th Fighter Squadron


Line up of P-47 Thunderbolts of the 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, at Duxford air base. September 1944. Printed caption on reverse of print: '55432 AC - War Birds Home To Rest - Republic P-47 Thunderbolts lined up on an 8th Air Force field in England after a daylight sweep over Germany. Crews have finished inspections and refueling.'
  • Site type: Airfield
  • Known as: "Duckpond"


Event Location Date Description


New York, NY, USA 29 July 1919


Debden 29 September 1942 - 6 June 1944 Transferred to 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Assigned to 334FS.


Évreux, France 6 June 1944 Killed In Action in P-51 43-6898 "Deacon".


Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial Re-Interred Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial Liege, Belgium.


Date5 May 2022 09:14:27
ChangesChanges to biography and place associations
Date4 May 2022 19:08:57
ChangesChanges to middlename

Updated Middle Name per info in the Fields of Honor Database.

Date17 Nov 2021 10:20:18
ChangesChanges to biography, events and unit associations
Date15 Jul 2018 09:32:32
ChangesChanges 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".

Date17 May 2016 23:15:13
ContributorWD-C Mustang
ChangesChanges to media associations

Associated media already in DB

Date21 Mar 2016 20:45:24
ChangesChanges to nickname, biography, awards and events
Date26 Feb 2016 20:25:52
ChangesChanges to unit associations and place associations

Eagle squadron re-alignment.

Date3 Sep 2015 12:15:51
ContributorLucy May
ChangesChanges 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

Date17 Apr 2015 20:20:46
ChangesChanges to middlename

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

Date7 Mar 2015 15:35:14
ChangesChanges to middlename, highest rank, biography, events, unit associations and place associations

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

Date27 Sep 2014 18:28:59
ChangesAAM 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

Winslow Micheal Sobanski: Gallery (16 items)