Archiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2008-01 > 1200830788

From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] BARSTOSIK: Jozef Czeslaw Barstok
Date: Sun, 20 Jan 2008 12:06:28 -0000

Rear-Admiral Joe Bartosik
Last Updated: 2:27am GMT 17/01/2008

Rear-Admiral Joe Bartosik, who died on January 14 aged 90, was the only Pole
to reach Flag rank in the Royal Navy, earning a reputation in the process as
a latter-day Captain Bligh.

Bartosik was a watchkeeper in the Polish sail training schooner Iskra and
was visiting Casablanca when he heard of Hitler's invasion of his home
country. Leaving the ship in Morocco, he and most of the crew considered
joining the French navy in France, but decided instead to join the Free
Polish forces at Plymouth.

As second gunnery officer in the 35-knot destroyer Blyskawica, he was
credited with shooting down two Luftwaffe aircraft during the Norwegian
campaign. In May and June 1940 he took part in Operation Dynamo, the
successful evacuation of the beaches at Dunkirk. Later Blyskawica, one of
the few ships that could keep up with the liner, escorted the Queen Mary.

In 1941 Bartosik became gunnery officer of the British-built but
Polish-manned destroyer Garland, seeing action in the Mediterranean and
Atlantic as well as in the raid on Spitsbergen. He then held a Polish staff
appointment before returning to Blyskawica for Operation Neptune, the Allied
landings in Normandy, when he bombarded targets on Sword beach.

After a further spell of staff duties, Bartosik became gunnery officer of
the elderly Polish cruiser Conrad, named for the author Joseph Conrad when
the British deemed that all other Polish names risked offending the

Conrad spent the early months of 1945 under repair, then was stationed at
Wilhelmshaven to garrison the Polish 1st Armoured Division.

Bartosik helped to carry Red Cross supplies to Norway and Denmark before
Conrad was returned to the Royal Navy in September 1946. He was awarded a
Virtuti Militari, a Cross of Valour and a British DSC.

Jzef Czeslaw Bartosik was born at Cracow in undistinguished circumstances
on July 20 1917 and entered the Polish officer cadet school housed in an old
monastery at Torun on the Vistula, graduating as top student.

Towards the end of 1945 Bartosik wrote a treatise about the Free Polish navy
returning home, but, realising that the Soviet shadow was falling over his
homeland, decided to remain in Britain.

In 1948 he was one of just three Polish officers, out of several hundred who
volunteered, to be accepted for transfer into the Royal Navy, though this
involved dropping from a wartime rank of lieutenant-commander to acting
lieutenant. Rejecting contact with his fellow Poles he rose steadily,
serving as an Admiralty desk officer from 1952 to 1953 and commanding the
destroyer Comus before being appointed deputy director of plans at the
Admiralty. He was then sent to sea again as captain, 5th Frigate Squadron,
commanding Scarborough.

Bartosik was reckoned an "outstanding" officer with a single-minded devotion
to duty. But after the war this instinct increased to the point where he
lost all sense of proportion.

He was a fastidious dresser, a handsome and dashing figure who had great
personal magnetism - if you were not serving under him.

To his superiors he was reliable and effective: once, when a Nationalist
warship tried to stop the British merchantman Helikon entering Foochow on
the Chinese mainland, Bartosik fired warning shots, then took Comus
alongside them and stared down her captain "eyeball to eyeball".

To his seniors' wives he was charm personified, kissing their hands and
speaking in his softly accented English, but tales of his ruthlessness to
officers under his command were legendary. His juniors described how his
bullying made their lives a misery. All his ships seemed devoid of kindness
and mutual respect, and each one was unhappier than its predecessor.

After commanding the Royal Naval Air Station, Culdrose, he was given the
guided missile destroyer London. Then, after an unexpected reorganisation of
the service, he was promoted to Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Operations);
this meant that he served one tour as a rear-admiral and was appointed CB.

In retirement he worked for a container shipping company before settling in
Gloucestershire, where he took up picture-framing. He wrote The Faithful
Ship (1947), published in London (in Polish), about his service in Garland.

Joe Bartosik married, firstly, Pam Bowman, in 1943. They divorced in 1969
and in the same year he married, secondly, Jeannine Patricia Scott (ne

He is survived by a daughter and two sons by the first marriage; a third son
predeceased him.

This thread: