Hallo, I’m Norm, one of the volunteers at the Comox Air Museum. One of my hobbies is as a Amateur Radio Operator (VE7IVB). My hobby allows me to talk to and meet new friends from all over the world even aircraft and ships at sea.
On Wednesdays our radio group meets at McDonalds in Parksville, Vancouver Island BC. In July of 2010, I had for many weeks observed a tall well dressed senior get in line to buy a coffee and muffin and then try to find somewhere to sit as the coffee shop is usually busy at that time. On this day I again observed him coming into coffee shop, line up, get his coffee and muffin except that day McDonalds was packed. As he left the counter I visually followed him around as he looked for a place to sit. Eventually he came into our section and as he walked by I reached out and touched his arm saying, “Please sit here with us”. We usually had a group of some 8 to 12 but that day we had an empty seat across from me. He thanked me, we shook hands and introduced ourselves and I detected a European accent. As we left that morning I explained that we were at McDonalds every Wednesday morning and that he could join us if he wished. This he did, joining us every Wednesday for the next two years.
Over the years I got to know more about this very interesting man. When we met, he had just had his 90th birthday. His name was Tedeusz (Ted) Socha. He was Polish and had joined the Polish Airforce in 1938 and had been involved in the war from 1938 till 1947. In 1940 his Squadron was sent to England and they were based at RAF Northolt, a fighter base near London where his group flew with the Royal Air Force. Ted flew many different aircraft including Spitfire and Hurricane.
Ted and I became firm friends and my wife and I would often had him visit for lunch, dinner and even Christmas Day. His wife and only daughter had already pre deceaced him. We spent a lot of time talking, looking at his photographs and reading through his two log books. Sometimes I would ask him a question about something and he would reply ” I cannot answer that as I have signed the Official Secrets Act”, even though it was 70 years past. Ted crashed twice, the second time with severe injuries putting him in hospital for several months.
This Polish gentleman passed away in November 2013. Ted was a great friend to me even though we only had 3 years together as friends. I was very proud to be asked by his only living relative a distant niece who lives in England to organize a Memorial Service for him. You can see some of his memories that are attached. I’ve included some photographs taken during his war years, and a video tribute to the Polish Air Force.