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ID confirms honour for war hero

PUBLISHED: 16:25 31 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:29 03 March 2010

NEW information confirming that a Polish pilot, who lies buried in an unmarked grave in Ipswich cemetery, was a Battle of Britain war veteran has come forward, paving the way for a fitting tribute to be made in his honour.

NEW information confirming that a Polish pilot, who lies buried in an unmarked grave in Ipswich cemetery, was a Battle of Britain war veteran has come forward, paving the way for a fitting tribute to be made in his honour.

Chairman of the Suffolk Aircrew Association, Ralph Rutherford, has received copies of operational records and squadron details confirming that Jan Rogowski, who lived in Ipswich for many years before his death, took part in the historic campaign over the skies of Britain and was decorated many times for his bravery.

The remarkable story of Ipswich's forgotten war hero was reported in The Evening Star in September last year and provoked a huge response from readers.

Suffolk medal collector David Empson had unravelled the moving details of Mr Rogowski's story after coming into possession of a collection of his personal items. However, as moves were made to honour the hero The Foundation of Polish Airmen Association contacted Mr Rutherford with details of two Polish pilots, both called Jan Rogowski and doubt was cast of whether the pilot buried in Ipswich actually fought in the Battle of Britain.

"Now we finally have it as far as I'm concerned," said Mr Rutherford. "The questions we need to ask now are when can we have the ceremony and when can we have a head stone put up."

Mr Rogowski first reached British soil amid the wail of air-raid sirens and near-daily attacks by the German Luftwaffe. He had already seen his homeland defeated, then France, Belgium and Holland fall under the might of the invading forces.

Determined to fight on the 22-year-old pilot joined the battle over the skies of Britain. Records show he shot down two Messerschmit 109s and was awarded, among others, the Cross of Valour plus two bars, the Polish Virtuti Militari, which is the equivalent of the Victory Cross.

As the war came to an end Mr Rogowski along with many other Polish, Czechoslovak and other airmen and soldiers chose to stay in the country for which he had fought.

He came to Ipswich in the 1960s and lived quietly, working at Ransomes for many years, spending his evenings in The Falcon pub and rarely speaking about his heroic and war-torn past. He died on August 7, 1997 and is buried in Ipswich cemetery on Colchester Road in the Roman catholic section.

It is hoped that the RAF at Marham will conduct a Tornado flypast with four or possibly a squadron of planes at the proposed tribute ceremony, which should happen sometime before this winter.

The military attaché at the Polish embassy have indicated their willingness to come and the RAF at Coltishall has also offered to honour the hero with a volley of shots.

It is also believed that a Polish Wing Commander and a representative from the Air Ministry will be in attendance.

The Battle of Britain Society based in Norfolk has offered to have a special head stone made.

WEBLINKS

www.battleofbritain.net

www.the-battle-of-britain.co.uk

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