• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland


  • NEWS

  • 30 November 2017

    Franciszek Kornicki, Colonel of the Polish Air Force in Great Britain and the last Second World War Polish squadron commander, was laid to rest at Northwood Cemetery in London today together with his wife Patience Kornicka.


    Col Kornicki died on 16th November in Worthing at the age of 100, a month before his 101st birthday. Ten days later, his wife Patience Ceridwen Kornicka died at the age of 94.


    The funeral ceremony was attended by family and friends of Col Kornicki and Mrs Kornicka, military delegation from Poland, from the 23rd Tactical Air Base from Mińsk Mazowiecki and the 41st Air Base in Dęblin, as well as representatives of the Queen's Colour Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Polish military delegation was headed by Inspector General of the Polish Air Force Brig Gen Mirosław Jemielniak. Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in the United Kingdom Arkady Rzegocki, Consul Michał Mazurek and Acting Defence Attaché Lt Col Dorota Kawecka were also present.


    During the ceremony, a BAe-146 aeroplane of the 32 Squadron of the RAF flew over the cemetery to honour the late pilot.



    “A sad and proud day”


    The son of Col Kornicki, Richard, told the Polish media that for his family “it’s a sad and proud day”, when, after 69 years of marriage, his parents were laid to wrest in the same grave.


    He recalled his father’s speech in Warsaw a few years before, when he said that “Poland is a great thing, and it is the duty of each citizen to care for it, serve it, and, when needed, defend it”.


    “After 100 years, we can today say that throughout all of his life, and with the support of his wife, he served Poland loyally. We will not see a generation like this again,” said Richard.



    Station Commander at RAF Northolt Group Captain Michael Carver added that Col Kornicki “was part of an international exceptional group of heroic, gallant aviators, to whom the world owes a great debt.”



    Jarosław Szarek, Director of the Institute of National Rememberance (IPN), said that he brought with him a new edition of Col Kornicki’s memoir, which was published by IPN after his victory in the ‘People’s Spitfire Pilot’ poll, organised by The Telegraph and the RAF Museum.


    Mr Szarek said: “We wanted to hand the memoir to the Colonel. Unfortunately, we did not manage to, but we have come to deliver this book, so that the world could see generations like his in the future, and for that to happen we must get to know the events of that time.”


    “Exceptional generation”


    Ambassador Rzegocki said that it was an honour to know Col Kornicki personally.


    He said: “It’s an exceptional generation, which became an inspiration for Poles fighting in Poland during the war, an inspiration during the fight against communism and an inspiration for continuing the tradition of migration, and it is still a great inspiration for us today, both in the country and abroad.”



    Earlier in the day, a letter from Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Jan Dziedziczak was read out during a requiem mass in Worthing.


    Born on 18th December 1916 in Wereszyn, Poland, Kornicki graduated from the Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin and then joined the 162nd Fighter Escadrille of the Polish Air Force. After the Second World War began, he was evacuated to Romania, from where he sailed to Marseille.


    While in France, he underwent further training on combat machines, and in June 1940 he sailed to Great Britain, where he flew in the 303 Squadron and the 307 Polish Night Fighter Squadron. In 1943, he took over command of the 308 Squadron, becoming the youngest squadron commander in the Polish Air Force, and later became the commanding officer of the 317 Squadron.


    After the war, he served in the RAF until his retirement in 1972.


    Decorated on many occasions


    Col Kornicki received numerous honours from the President of Poland and the Ministry of Defence of Poland, including the Silver Cross of the Order of Virtuti Militari, Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta and Cross of Valour (three times), as well as the Golden Medal of Merit for National Defence.


    In September, Col Kornicki won the poll ‘People’s Spitfire Pilot’ organised by The Telegraph and the RAF Museum to select a representative Spitfire pilot for the RAF Museum’s exhibition celebrating 100 years of the Royal Air Force next year.


    A full-length cut-out image of Franciszek Kornicki will stand beside the iconic Spitfire Mk Vb (BL614), which was used by the RAF during the Second World War, including by the Polish Air Force pilots in Great Britain.



    Source of text: PAP


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