What happened to the Polish pilots?

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João Yazalde

Apr 25, 2022
A former English pilot said in a documentary that there were Poles in the RAF, but he said no more about them. I know that the Soviet Union sent many Polish soldiers who helped the allies to concentration camps, I find it hard to believe that Russia "forgave" these pilots because obviously they fought against the Russian invasion of Poland. My question is, did they suffer the same fate as the Poles sent to concentration camps?
I found this
After the Battle of Britain the Polish Air Force continued to serve alongside the RAF until the last day of the war.

In 1945 the total of Polish airmen on British soil amounted to over 8,000. The 1,903 personnel killed are today commemorated on the Polish War Memorial at RAF Northolt.

As a result of protestations of injustice by some British MPs, the Polish pilots did receive a last minute invitation to the British victory Parade in June 1946. They unanimously snubbed it in solidarity with all the other accomplished Polish servicemen, who had not been invited.

After the war, some of the Polish airmen settled in Britain and in many cases continued their service in the RAF. Some relocated to other parts of the British Commonwealth, the US, Canada or South America. Others decided to return to Poland, by then under the Soviet control. Reports coming back from Poland were grim so the British government assumed the responsibility for Polish ex-servicemen although the U.K. public opinion was still influenced by the wartime propaganda which had been highly supportive/admiring of Stalin.

The first step was the founding of the Polish Resettlement Corps (PRC) in May 1946. Former army and air force camps were utilised as temporary accommodation for the Polish troops and their families. Language courses were provided.

Although the Labour government actively encouraged the exodus of Poles from Britain (as the Poles were overwhelmingly anti-communist), in March 1947 the Polish Resettlement Act was passed in Parliament. The Act, Britain's first mass immigration law, assured provision of employment, pensions, health care and educational services "for the military forces to certain Polish forces".

Polish Resettlement Act 1947

In 1948 the Home Secretary announced that applications for British citizenship would be accepted from Polish ex-servicemen.

Already during the war Polish academic departments were set up at several British universities to enable Polish students to complete their interrupted studies: Liverpool - veterinary science in Polish, Oxford - a Polish faculty of law, and Edinburgh - a Polish Medical Faculty.

In 1949 "PUNO" (Polski Uniwersytet na Obczyznie) – The Polish University Abroad was set up, offering humanities subjects in Polish.

The Federation of Poles in Great Britain (ZPWB) was set up to promote the interests of Poles in Great Britain via Polish clubs, cultural centres, and adult and youth organisations.

In other words, there were plenty of provisions and opportunities for the Poles in the U.K., including the Polish pilots.

Of the Polish pilots who stayed in Britain, some married English partners, as the relations between the two nationalities were generally very friendly.

Richard Cobb CBE, a British historian and essayist, and professor at the University of Oxford, relates how one Polish pilot came down in a south London back garden and fell at the feet of a girl, whom he married two months later.

Polish Pilots and the Battle of Britain

Many others married Polish partners. The Polish ex-military personnel remaining in the U.K. in 1949 numbered 150,000, so there were plenty of opportunities to meet someone.

Marshal Piłsudski's daughter, Jadwiga, who had a passion for flying from her early teens onwards, relocated to Britain in 1939 at the age of 19. While studying architecture at Cambridge university she kept applying to join the Air Transport Auxiliary. Finally in 1942 she was accepted with the rank of Second Officer and successfully transported over 200 Spitfires, as well as completing many other transport missions.

In 1944 she married an officer in the Polish Navy, Lieutenant Andrzej Jaraczewski. The same year she enrolled in the Polish School of Architecture at Liverpool University. In 1946 she graduated with an engineering degree in architecture.

After the war she opened a furniture and lighting business together with her husband and was involved with the Polish community abroad. She never applied for British citizenship. She used a Nansen passport (stateless person's passport), valid for all countries in the world, except Poland.

After the collapse of the Communist government in 1990, she returned to Poland and lived in Warsaw.

Of some better known Polish pilots who had served with the RAF Franciszek Kornicki was voted the winner of an RAF Museum poll to decide 'The People's Spitfire Pilot' (at the age of 101, in 2017). Happy to sit in his old plane again!


Mr Kornicki decided to remain in Britain after the war and joined the RAF, serving as an officer for more than 20 years.

In 1948, he married Patience Williams and the couple have two sons: Peter, now a professor of Japanese at Cambridge University and Richard, a former civil servant and chairman of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee who was appointed CBE in 2000 for service to the Home Office. After retiring Mr Kornicki was an active member of the Polish community in Britain.

Franciszek Kornicki - Wikipedia

Another well known pilot, Tadeusz Sawicz, remained working for the Air Force in the U.K. until 1957, when he emigrated to Canada to work in the airline industry.

Tadeusz Sawicz - Wikipedia

Sergeant Antoni Głowacki remained in the RAF after the war. Doing the OK sign in the photo:
Thank you. I didn't think he would have handed them over to Stalin after what they did.
You see, I write in Spanish and the spell checker or google translator changes the conjugation of the words, so I didn't mean "he" (el) but "they" (ellos). I mean the English government, I did not read that they deported or returned the pilots back to Poland, but "took responsibility for the former Polish military" did I misunderstand?
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I had a customer once who was a Polish pilot. We had a great conversation. He got to Britain too late for BoB but flew in the RAF later, scoring three kills. He escaped Poland (after flying and fighting there in 1939) via the Balkans, thence to a ship. He said a lot of them did that.
I do hope this story is correct but I remember reading of an Polish pilot who stayed in the RAF after the war. They were demonstrating a life fire exercise to some Russian senior officers, when he missed the target by some margin and scared the hell out of the Russian observers.

No one could prove that this highly experienced officer had done it deliberately but he was sent for some additional training.
I was in the RAF from 1964 until 1970, mostly on Coastal Command Avro Shackletons, there were still plenty of Polish pilots and ground crew still serving in the RAF. we had the oldest Flight Lieutenant in the RAF on our squadron, he was a former Lancaster pilot I believe, and I remember having two Polish Chief Techs in Aden in 1967.
Sadly, many who returned to Poland after the war were arrested and shot.
It was complicated, it took some time to realise what was going on, only a matter of months before all sides had been shaking hands in comradely fashion.

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