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Eugeniusz Orchel

Admitted to:

Bromsgrove Emergency Medical Services

Date of Injury:

30/11/1942

D.O.B/Age when admitted:

November 1913

Cause of Incident:

His Wellington bomber (Z1414) crashed into high tension wires in dense fog at the end of a difficult training flight. He was thrown clear of the wreck. His body was found later that evening and taken to the mortuary of a nearby cottage hospital. It was there that a Polish Air Force colleague, navigator Aleksander Bielecki, came to pay his last respects and noticed that Orchel was still alive.

Transferred to QVH:

1942

Injuries:

Depressed skull fracture, spinal damage and crushed right hand

No. of Operations at East Grinstead:

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IDENTITY CARD

This is to certify that the patient mentioned below and whose description is stated hereon is the authorised holder of this Identity card.


Forename:

Eugeniusz Adam

Surname:

Orchel

Service No:

P-2019

Nationality:

Polish


Awards/Honours:

Polish Cross with Valour, Croix de Guerre with silver star

Patient Unit:

No.18 Operational Training Unit

Profession:

Navigator

Patient Rank:

F/O

Death:

January 1983

Age at Death:

69

Dr Rank:

Dr Unit:

Notes:

Orchel was born in Tymbak, Southern Poland, and studied law for two years at the University of Lwow before completing his National Service in the Polish Army.

In 1937, Orchel resumed his studies at Lwow, changing to medicine. Two years later, he was called up to serve in the army, ending his hopes of becoming a doctor. Following the ceasefire, Orchel escaped Poland and made it to France, joining a Polish regiment to fight alongside the French. After France fell, he was captured and interred in Switzerland. In May 1941, alongside another Polish Army Comrade, Orchel escaped into unoccupied Southern France, before crossing the Pyrenees and Spain to reach Lisbon, Portugal. From there they sailed to Great Britain.

In December 1941 he transferred from the Polish Army to the Air Force and joined the RAF, training as a navigator. In November 1942, his plane crashed and he was left with multiple injuries.

After receiving care for his fractured skull in Bromsgrove Emergency Medical Services, he developed gangrene in his right hand, which required the removal of three fingers.

While receiving treatment at QVH for his hand, McIndoe discovered his medical studies and strongly encouraged Orchel to return to education. With McIndoe's support, Orchel graduated from the Polish School of Medicine in Edinburgh in 1947.

He was granted British citizenship and worked as a family doctor in Middlesborough. He and his wife Rozalia, whom he had met whilst studying in Edinburgh raised four sons.

Orchel retired in 1978 due to poor health and sadly passed away just over four years later.

Glossary:

F/O = Flight Officer

Further Reading:

References:

'Dr. E.A. Orchel, MB, CHB', The Guinea Pig, July 1998, p. 3.
Jacek Orchel, personal communication, May/June 2020