Peter Onysko

Lest we forget
Flight Officer, 257 Squadron (R.A.F.), Royal Canadian Air Force

Peter Onysko | | | Service Personnel Information | Essay | | | | | | | | \Military Service Record | Grave Reference | Citations | | | | | | | | Archival Reference | Internet Sites | =

Service Personnel Information

  • Name: Peter Onysko
  • Service Regimental Number: R-152844
  • Rank: Flight Officer (Pilot)
  • Height/weight: 5'9; 168 lbs.
  • Colour of eyes: Green
  • Marital status: Married
  • Religion: Greek Orthodox
  • Address: 396 Bowman Avenue
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Irene Mary Onysko (Wife)
  • Date of enlistment: January 19, 1942
  • City and province of enlistment: Winnipeg, Manitoba


A hero is someone who possesses courageous and admirable traits; Flight Officer Peter Onysko is a man who embodies this definition completely. War is never good but the two world wars were an especially dark time for the modern world. These wars were dark, grim and resulted in many deaths, therefore most, if not all men and women who participated should be considered heroes by the future generations. It says a lot for a simple man (barely out of his teenage years) to enlist in the air force to protect his country. He did so valiantly until growing ill and succumbing to his illness (peritonitis) on October 27, 1944. He was buried in Brookwood Military cemetery and can still be found at the grave site 55. H. 1.

Peter Onysko was born on July 14th, 1922 to George and Mary Onysko of 396 Bowman Avenue (Winnipeg, Manitoba). Both of his parents were born in Galicia in the Ukraine and this influenced Mr. Onysko’s life. Growing up Mr. Onysko was fluent in both English and Ukrainian with an elementary level of French and his family’s religion was Greek Catholic. Over his academic life Mr. Onysko attended Polson School for grades 1-8 (1928-1935), East Kildonan Collegiate for grades 9-11 (1936-1939) and finally St. Paul’s College for grade 12 (1939-1940). He participated in many sports activities including: rugby, soccer, and swimming.

Prior to enlisting Mr. Onysko worked as a labourer (June-September 1940) and later as an inspector (October 1940 – June 1941) for the Dominion Bridge company. While working here he participated in marksmanship within the company and won gold, silver, and bronze awards for his shooting. Shortly after this Peter Onysko enlisted in the R.C.A.F. (January 19, 1942) with hopes of becoming a pilot. He was a 20 year old man who was 5’9, 168 pounds with green eyes, brown hair and no other distinctive features. At the time of his enlistment he possessed no relationship with any women (no wife, girlfriend, kids, etc.). Mr. Onysko had quite good references for his attestation papers which implied that he had a fair bit of respect and character. These references included John M. Turner who was a co-owner of the Sutherland Hotel and a member of parliament representing Springfield, Rev. J.S. Holland S.J. who was the rector of St. Paul’s College, J.H. Moir the principal of the East Kildonan Collegiate, and Thomas Caley who was the Police chief for East Kildonan.

Following his enlistment Mr. Onysko was placed into the 257 squadron of the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.). This was also known as the “Burma” Squadron and made its motto the Burmese phrase “Thay myay gyee shin shwe hti” which translates to “death or glory” (Royal Air Force). However before going overseas Mr. Onysko spent a lot of time in Canada (1942-1943) at posts in towns and cities such as: Brandon, Dauphin, Saskatoon, Virden, Winnipeg, and Halifax among others. The purpose of these homeland postings was to train Mr. Onysko and allow him to progress up the ranks from aircraftman 2nd class (AC2) to leading aircraftman (LAC) and finally to his goal of becoming pilot (Flight sergeant; F/Sgt.) on march 5th, 1943. Some of the planes that Mr. Onysko flew included the: Harvard/AT-6 and the Yale these were both training planes that he would’ve flown during his Canadian postings, this coupled with the short time spent overseas implies that he did not see very much if any action in the skies. The Harvard was a plane developed through the competition of companies to develop a superior basic trainer plane; its maximum weight was 5,750 lbs. and could travel at 156 knots, had a range of 740 miles and could go straight for 8 hours (Spitcrazy; Harvard). The Yale, similar to the Harvard was mainly used as a training plane in Canada and was essentially a plane assembled from the parts of other planes (Spitcrazy; Yale).

From his files it would appear as though Peter Onysko participated very little in overseas aerial combat with the 257 squadron despite being a part of them. However, despite this, the 257 squadron of the R.A.F. was quite active. They were converted to a fighter squadron on May 17, 1940 and were based in south-east Britain during the Battle of Britain. In March of that same year the 257 squadron began doing sweeps of France and in September 1942 257 squadron began making low level patrols to intercept enemy bombing raids. On top of this the squadron took part in escort operations and in July 1943, began offensive operations in Europe. By January 1944 the squadron was going on fire-bombing missions. espite having a lower amount of combat experience in the air force than others it would still be wrong to not consider Mr. Onysko a hero. While overseas he did do some pretty important things for his own life. On May 14, 1944 in London, England Peter Onysko married Ms. Irene Harty of 112 Bermondsey St., London, SE1, England. Unfortunately this marriage did not last and Mrs. Onysko was widowed on October 27, 1944 when her husband died of natural causes in a Halton hospital (a.k.a. Princess Mary’s hospital) (Royal Air Force). Peter Onysko was diagnosed with Peritonitis (Ileus Pelvic Abscess) and eventually succumbed to his illness on Oct. 27, 1944. Peritonitis is the inflammation of the peritoneum which is the tissue lining the abdomen and covering most abdominal organs. Some typical symptoms include: fever and chills, fluid in the abdomen, very little stool or gas, excessive fatigue, less urine, and nausea and vomiting. (PubMed Health).

Overall, Peter Onysko was a hero, although he may not have taken down the most planes or participated in the most battles; he served his country well and gave his life in pursuit of its defence. Peter left behind his mother Mary Onysko, his father Peter Onysko and his wife Irene Onysko (formerly Harty). He will be remembered for his dedication to this country and his willingness to serve.
Rest In Peace

Princess Mary's Hospital at Halton
St. Paul's College
The Harvard
Patch for the 257 Squadron
Peter's Home (396 Bowman Avenue)
The Yale

\Military Service Record

  • Age (at death): 22
  • Force: Air Force
  • Unit: 257 Squadron (R.A.F.)
  • Service Number: R-152844
  • Honours and Awards: Rifle shooting: bronze, silver and gold honours (prior to war)
  • Photograph: Yes
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Irene Mary Onysko (Wife)
  • Date of Death: October 27, 1944
  • Country of Burial: United Kingdom
  • Cemetery: Brookwood Military Cemetary
  • Grave Reference: 55. H. 1.
  • Location: Surrey
  • Book of Remembrance: Second World War (1944), pg. 408
Book of Remembrance

Grave Reference

  • Name of Cemetery: Brookwood Military Cemetary
  • Grave Reference: 55. H. 1.


A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. “Peritonitis.” PubMed Health. A.D.A.M. Inc., 2012. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌pubmedhealth/‌PMH0002311/>. Used for information on Peritonitis

Google Maps, comp. “396 Bowman Avenue.” Google. Google, 2012. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌maps?ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tab=wl>. Picture of Peter Onysko’s childhood home

“Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba College /‌ St. Paul’s College (Ellice Avenue, Winnipeg).” The Manitoba Historical Society. Manitoba Historical Society, 2012. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌docs/‌sites/‌manitobacollege.shtml>. Used for a picture of St. Paul’s college

Royal Air Force. “RAF Halton - Princess Mary’s Hospital.” Royal Air Force. UK Crown, 2012. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌rafhalton/‌aboutus/‌princessmaryshospital.cfm>. Used for a picture and very little information

- - -. “RAF - 257 Squadron.” Royal Air Force. UK Crown, 2012. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌history/‌257squadron.cfm>. Used for info on the 257 squadron and picture

Russwurm, Lance. “Harvard Aircraft History.” Spitfire Emporium. The Spitfire Emporium, 2010. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌harvardhist.htm >. Used for picture/‌info of harvard plane

- - -. “The Yale.” Spitfire Emporium. The Spitfire Emporium, 2010. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌yale.htm>. Picture and info for the Yale plane

Commonwealth War Graves Commision, comp. “Casualty Details.” Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Commonwealth War Graves Commission, n.d. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌search-for-war-dead/‌casualty/‌2667988/‌ONYSKO,%20PETER>. Used for info and picture

Veteran Affairs Canada. “The Books of Remembrance: The Second World War - 1944.” Veteran Affairs Canada . Veteran Affairs Canada, 2011. Web. 17 May 2012. <‌eng/‌collections/‌books/‌bww2/‌page1944>. Book of remembrance picture

Archival Reference

Internet Sites


example from LAC