Skip to comments.Polish Battle of Britain Fighter Ace Dies
Posted on 11/12/2004 1:53:46 PM PST by Lukasz
General Stanislaw Skalski, Polands top fighter ace from the Second World War and a participant in the Battle of Britain, died today in a Warsaw military hospital, a military spokesman said. He was 89.
Serving in the Polish air force, Skalski shot down a German reconnaissance plane on September 1, 1939, the day Nazi Germany started the war by invading Poland. Some historians credit him with the first aerial victory against the Germans, although another pilot also scored one at around the same time.
Poland was soon overwhelmed, and Skalski fled for Britain and joined the Royal Air Forces No 501 Squadron. He shot down six German planes in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, Germanys unsuccessful attempt to destroy the RAF.
Skalski suffered serious burns and had to parachute to safety when his Hurricane fighter was shot down on September 5, 1940, but he returned to the air six weeks later.
He subsequently commanded the Polish Fighting Team, which earned the nickname the Skalski Circus flying over Britain, Malta and Tunisia. In Tunisia, Skalski and his fellow Poles shot down 25 Nazi planes while losing only three of their own. Skalski ended the war with 24 downed enemy planes to his credit.
He was the ace of Polands Air Force, a hero of the Battle of Britain, military spokesman Major Maciej Wozniak said.
Skalski was born on October 27, 1915, in the village of Kodyma, Poland, and graduated from Polish pilot training school in 1938.
After the war, Skalski returned to Poland, where he was jailed and sentenced to death by the communist authorities on allegations he was a Western spy. He spent eight years on death row, before being cleared and released in 1956.
He earned Polands highest military honour for bravery, the Virtuti Militari.
Beginning in the 1980s he tried with little success to enter politics, joining several left-wing parties.
I like how they got their nicknames. There was one guy in Fly for your life they called "Green to black", which is how he described ditching in the channel and immediately turning submarine.
At first, the British would not let the experienced Poles, Czecks and others fly. It was only when they were running out of pilots that they let the other nationalities into the air.
Yes everything is perfectly written in the book mentioned above.
God bless our friends, the Poles.
Unlike our other European 'allies', they get It.
Now he flies with the angels and his hand "touches the face of God".
I'll take one Pole over ten Frenchmen at my side any day.
One of my most treasured pieces of memorablilia is a Sosabowski Brigade emblem, given to me by a Polish veteran who couldn't believe an American had even heard of his beloved General.
AS a reward for their fighting against the Nazis and flying for the allies the Polish fighters had to witness their country being abandonned to the Ruskies
Ironically WWII started when Britain/France went to war against Germany because she invaded POland ( course the Ruskies invaded from the other side )
Ain't many of these guys around, now one less. Be a nice gesture for our embassy to send a few Marines, and others, to the funeral, if they would.
Of the Battle of Brittan, Winston Churchill said,
"Never have so few done so much for so many".
Skalski was one of the few.
(Hope I got that quote right)
"jailed and sentenced to death by the communist authorities on allegations he was a Western spy"
Could happen anywhere, si?
These days, he would be prevented from learning to fly by the TSA.
Yes we're slowly losing them.
My uncle was in 487th bomb group. He was a gunner/togglier. They flew 33 missions including Battle of the Bulge and Dunkirk. The entire crew is still living and they now meet yearly. There is a book written about them titled 2 Ladies and 9 Gentlemen From Hell.
Interesting, Paul Tibbets, commander of the ENOLA GAY, the aircraft (and the unit) that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, also was born in 1915 and won his wings in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1938. Tibbets was the squadron commander of the 8th Army Air Force unit, the first U.S. unit, to bomb a target over Nazi occupied Europe in August 1942 ... a bombing raid on Rouen, France. Paul W. Tibbets, went on to become a general in the U.S. Air Force, retired, is still alive and resides in Columbus, OH.
3 cheers for the Greatest Generation!
I reserved it online, and can pick it up tomorrow. Thanks!