EN951, S/Ldr Jan Zumbach, CO of No. 303 (Polish) Squadron, RAF Kirton in Lindsey,
Lincolnshire, Great Britain, September 1942
Jan Zumbach, a grandson of a Swiss emigrant, Swiss citizen himself, served with No. 111 Fighter Squadron of the Polish Air Force from 1938.
After Poland was defeated he fought in the ranks of the French GCD I/55. On August 2, 1940 he joined No. 303 (Polish) Squadron where, during
the Battle of Britain, he scored eight kills. On May 17, 1942 he was given command of No. 303 (Polish) Squadron. From the end of September
till December 1942 he flew Spitfire EN951, the former personal mount of Don Blakeslee from the USAAF 336th FS, 4th FG. The aircraft sported
Zumbach’s personal insignia in the form of Donald the Duck nose art, known in several versions from several Zumbach’s Spitfires. During the
war, in which end he was shot down and briefly imprisoned, Jan Zumbach’s total score was thirteen confirmed kills and five probables. His life
after the war is no less colorful than during the wartime. He engaged in the international arm dealing, often illegal, and fought as a mercenary
in Africa, in the service of the insurgent forces in Katanga and later Biafra. He died under unclear circumstances in Paris on January 3, 1986.
EN824, F/Lt John Yarra, No. 453 Squadron RAAF, RAF Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britain, December 1942
Nicknamed „Slim“ Yarra was one of the most successful pilots defending the island of Malta during the hot summer of 1942. During the tough
battles for Malta he scored 12 kills. In September 1942 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant and assigned to the Australian No. 453 Squadron,
part of the Hornchurch Wing, flying the offensive raids over France. F/Lt Yarra’s fateful date came on December 10, 1942 when during the attack
on shipping at the Holland coast, his Spitfire EN824 was hit by AA fire and crashed into the sea. The pilot tried to bale out of the damaged
aircraft but was hit by the tail surfaces damaging his parachute which did not fully deploy and pilot’s body hit the sea surface falling from 300
meters. His brother Robert Ernest, fighter pilot as well, was also shot down by the AA fire and killed on April 14, 1944 while attacking the V-1
missiles launching pads at Ligescourt (operation Ramrod 735). The tragedy of war is fully exposed in the case Yarra brothers.
INFO Eduard - November 2021