Last Pole to fight in Battle of Britain dies
PR dla Zagranicy
Tomasz Sawicz, the last surviving Polish pilot who took part in the WW II Battle of Britain has died at the age of 97.
Sawicz died in a Canadian nursing home on Wednesday.
Sawicz, who was awarded honorary promotion to the rank of Brigadier General by the late President Lech Kaczynski in 2006, had lived in Canada since 1955.
He was one of 81 pilots to take part in the decisive Battle of Britain, which lasted from 10 July 1940 to 30 October of the same year.
One hundred and forty four Polish personnel took part in the clash, 29 of whom perished in action.
The Nazi air attack on the British Isles was eventually repelled by Allied pilots, with Polish participants playing a key role.
Poles shot down 170 Luftwaffe aircraft, damaging another 36. This accounted for about 12 percent of German losses.
Sawicz himself had also defended Poland during the Nazi invasion of September 1939. He then escaped to Romania, and then on to France. With the fall of France, he managed to fly to Algiers, from where he boarded a ship to England.
After the war, Sawicz chose not to return to Poland, where a communist government had been installed. He stayed in England for nine years, before settling in Canada.
His widow, Jadwiga, has indicated that the pilot's ashes will be brought back to Poland, where they will be interred at the Sawicz family tomb at Warsaw's Powazki Cemetery. (nh/pg