WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The ashes of Polish fighter ace Capt. Kazimierz Sporny, who is credited with downing at least five enemy planes in the World War II Battle of Britain, were brought from London to Poland and buried with military honors on Thursday.
The ceremony in Sporny's hometown, the western city of Poznan, was part of events honoring Poland's Air Force and marking the 10 year anniversary of its deployment of F-16 fighter jets, an element of the force's modernization.
Poland's conservative government attaches great importance to defense amid tense relations now with Moscow over Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine.
Six F-16 fighters flew over Poznan's Krzesiny air base as the wooden urn with Sporny's ashes arrived there, greeted by local authorities, regional Air Force commanders and World War II veteran pilots. Sporny's nephew, Zygmunt Sporny, was present.
A funeral service and burial took place with the Guard of Honor assist at the city's Milostow cemetery.
Sporny was born in Poznan in 1916 and trained in Poland to be an Air Force pilot. When Poland was carved up by Hitler's Germany and the Soviet Union at the start of the war in September 1939, he headed to France, and then to Britain.
As thousands of other Polish men, he joined the British forces to be able to fight against the Germans. From 1940-44, he was a pilot in the British Royal Air Force's Polish Fighter Squadrons 303 and 302. He flew on 93 fighter mission against Nazi Messerschmitt fighters, and on 164 other missions.
He was awarded Poland's Cross of Valor three times, as well as Poland's highest military distinction, the Virtuti Militari order, and Britain's Distinguished Flying Cross.
In 1946 he married Margaret McArthur, a British citizen, but soon was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He died in England in 1949 and was buried at London's Catholic St. Mary's cemetery.