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Ashes of Polish Battle of Britain hero return home

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 29.11.2011 15:56
Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak greeted the urn containing the ashes of General Tadeusz Sawicz, who was the last surviving Polish pilot from the WW II Battle of Britain, at Warsaw airport, Tuesday.

Minister Siemoniak with widow Jadwiga; photo - PAP/Andrzej Hrechorowicz

Among those present at Warsaw’s Okęcie Airport were the general’s wife Jadwiga Sawicz and Commander of the Polish Airforce General Lech Majewski.

Minister Siemoniak said that General Sawicz’s heroism, his commitment and service to the homeland can serve as a model for all Poles, particularly Polish pilots.

“General, welcome in Poland, we shall always remember what you have done for the Republic of Poland,” he said.

Talking to reporters, the General’s widow described her husband as a strong personality, a man who was always faithful to the values that he professed.

“The myth of the Battle of Britain was very strong in our family,” she said.

A requiem mass for Tadeusz Sawicz is to be celebrated tomorrow at the Field Cathedral of Polish Army, after which a funeral ceremony will be held at the Powazki Military Cemetery. It will be attended by a representative of the British Embassy in Warsaw.

Tadeusz Sawicz died in Toronto on 19 October at the age of 97.

At the start of World War II, he fought in Poland’s air defense against the invading German forces. After the collapse of Warsaw’s defense on 17 September 1939, he joined Polish pilots fighting in France and subsequently moved to Britain.

In the summer of 1940, General Sikorski, who headed Poland’s Government-in- exile in London, signed an agreement with the British Government to form a Polish Air Force in Britain.

After training on Hurricane fighter aircraft, Sawicz was incorporated into RAF Polish Squadron 303 and later to Squadrons 316 and 315. He was among the 145 Polish pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain, 31 of which died in action.

He served with the air force until 1947, and ten years later moved to Canada, where he worked in aviation.

His honours include the Virtuti Military - Poland’s highest military order – and the Distinguished Flying Cross from Britain, the United States and the Netherlands. (mk/pg)

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