Poland's last known Battle of Britain vet honored

AP News
Posted: Nov 29, 2011 8:29 AM
Poland's last known Battle of Britain vet honored

The remains of a former Polish air force officer believed to be the country's last surviving pilot from the Battle of Britain were flown home from Canada on Tuesday for a state burial.

Brig. Gen. Tadeusz Sawicz died last month in Toronto at the age of 97. His ashes arrived at Warsaw military airport, and he will be buried on Wednesday at the military Powazki cemetery.

Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, army troops, and soldiers from Britain's RAF Regiment carrying the British flag attended the arrival.

Sawicz's wife, Jadwiga, also arrived from Canada for the burial.

At the start of World War II in 1939, Sawicz fought in Poland's air defense against the invading German Nazis.

Following the collapse of Warsaw's defenses that year, he joined Polish pilots fighting in France. When Paris surrendered soon afterward, he joined tens of thousands of Polish airmen, soldiers and sailors who traveled to Britain to make up its largest foreign military force.

Sawicz served in the Polish Air Force in Britain from the 1940 Battle of Britain until 1947, and is credited with shooting down three German aircraft. He has been awarded Poland's highest military order and British, U.S. and Dutch medals.

During the Battle of Britain, German bombers pounded Britain's ports, airfields and cities in a bid to destroy its defenses in preparation for either invasion or surrender.