Flying Officer Ludwik Paszkiewicz

Ludwik Witold Paszkiewicz was born on 28 October 1907, in Wola Gałęzowska, a village situated in eastern Poland. He joined the Polish Air Force in the early 1930s upon graduating from the Technical Universities of Warsaw and Lvov. In 1937, Paskiewicz was given an officer's commission and made a lieutenant. Later that year, he married Maria Piwnicka, who later went on to fight in the Warsaw Uprising (a revolt by Polish citizens against the Nazi occupation), and survived the Second World War.

With war on the horizon, Paszkiewicz, as commander of his unit, was tasked with travelling to France to purchase military aircraft for the Polish Air Force. Paszkiewicz was in France as war broke out on 3 September 1939, and volunteered himself to the Polish air units fighting in France. Upon the fall of France, Paszkiewicz fled to the United Kingdom via the English Channel. When he arrived in the United Kingdom, he was moved to Blackpool and then sent to the newly formed No. 303 (Kościuszko) Squadron at RAF Northolt. No.303 was formed from an agreement between the Polish Government in Exile and the United Kingdon and was mostly populated by Polish pilots who had found their way to the UK to continue the fight against Nazi Germany.  

On 30 August 1940, during a training flight, Paszkiewicz broke away from his squadron and shot down an enemy Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighter. He was officially reprimanded by his superior officer, Squadron Leader Ronald Kellett, but then swiftly congratulated. This incident was made famous in the "Repeat Please" scene during the 1969 Battle of Britain film. He had scored No. 303's first official kill of the war and the squadron was declared operational the following day.  

Paskiewicz wrote the following account about the incident:  

"After a while we noticed ahead a number of aircraft carrying various evaluations. I reported it to the CO, Sqn Ldr Kellett by the radio and he did not seem to reply. I opened up the throttle and went in the direction of the enemy. Then I noticed at my own altitude, a bomber with twin rudders probably a Dornier, turning in my direction. I aimed at the fuselage and opened fire from about 200 yds, later transferring it to the port engine, which I set on fire. The Dornier dived and then hit the ground without pulling out of the dive and burst into flames. I have been firing at an enemy aircraft for the first time in my life." 

A doctors' note written in Polish passing Paszkiewicz as 'able'. Photo credit: The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum - London
Squadron Leader Johnny Kent, 'A' Flight Commander of No. 303 Sqaudron, also described the incident in his book One of the Few: 

"The sight of these enemy machines was too much for Flying Officer Paskewicz of 'B' Flight and he broke formation and show down a Dornier 17, following it right down to the ground to ensure it crashed."

Paszkiewicz flew many sorties throughout the Battle of Britain and became an ace, eventually shooting down 6 enemy aircraft in the month of September 1940. Tragically, on 27 September 1940, he was shot down and killed over a farm in Borough Green, Kent. He is buried in Northwood Cemetery in Hillingdon and remembered on the Polish Air Force Memorial near RAF Northolt. He was posthumously awarded the Virtuti Militari (VM), Poland's highest military decoration, the Cross of Valour (KW) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).  

The fragments of his aircraft, Hurricane L1696 were recently found at the crash location. They are now a part of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee collection, which is on long-term loan to the Battle of Britain Bunker.  

In 2018, The Shoreham Aircraft Museum in Kent, unveiled a memorial stone to Paszkiewicz at Crowhurst Farm, near Sevenoaks, Kent, close to the location of his crash. A congregation of around 100 gathered to pay their respects to Paszkiewicz.  

A list of Paszkiewicz's confimed victories, clearly identifying him as an 'ace'. Photo credit: The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum - London
Fragments of Paszkiewicz's Hurricane L1696, which was shot down on the morning of the 27 September 1940. They are now part of the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee collection, which is on long-term loan to the Battle of Britain Bunker.

Page last updated: 27 Sep 2021