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Brave pilot's grave is finally marked

PUBLISHED: 13:44 13 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010

HE WAS a brave fighter pilot, who fought for the freedom of his native Poland as well as in the Battle of Britain but for five years Jan Rogowski's grave has been unmarked.

HE WAS a brave fighter pilot, who fought for the freedom of his native Poland as well as in the Battle of Britain but for five years Jan Rogowski's grave has been unmarked.

But yesterday, scores of people including friends and dignitaries surrounded his grave at a touching service to pay tribute to the man who earned his country's version of the Victoria Cross. A new headstone now stands at the grave.

His heroic story came to light when Capel St. Mary researcher, David Empson unearthed paperwork, photos and medals salvaged from the Second World War.

Mr Rogowski had survived being shot down over Beckenham, shooting down enemy planes over Kent and combating Nazi doodlebugs as part of the 306 Polish Squadron during his career as a fighter pilot, but appeared to shun any public recognition of his achievements.

But in yesterday's afternoon sunlight the silence at the Lawn's Cemetery was broken by the roar of a Jaguar fighter plane performing a fly past as a mark of respect as people remembered his bravery.

Mr Rogowski was said to be an intensely private man who lived in a flat in Queen's Street, Ipswich above a bakery next door to The Falcon pub after moving here from Chelmsford.

But despite his privacy those who knew Mr Rogowski, who died aged 79, in 1997 at a Stowmarket nursing home, said he would have been extremely proud of the service.

When he was young Joe Biela knew the fighter pilot and was at the service representing Mr Rogowski's family.

He said: "He was a very, very honourable gentleman.

"He would have felt honoured about today and it is nice to know that he is being remembered."

Representatives from the Royal British Legion and RAF Honington attended the service and the mournful Last Post was played.

Several wreaths were laid at the grave next to a photo of Mr Rogowski as a young man and a cushion with his medals laid on it.

Mr Empson said: "It is marvellous to see the culmination of this and to see so many people come and remember him."

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