Ashes of Polish Battle of Britain fighter pilot return home for burial
The ashes of Polish fighter ace Captain Kazimierz Sporny, who is credited with downing at least five enemy planes in the Battle of Britain during the Second World War, have been taken from London to Poland and buried with military honours.
The ceremony in Capt Sporny's home town, the western city of Poznan, was part of events honouring Poland's Air Force and marking the 10-year anniversary of its deployment of F-16 fighter jets, an element of the force's modernisation.
Poland's conservative government attaches great importance to defence amid tense relations with Moscow over Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine.
Six F-16 fighters flew over Poznan's Krzesiny air base as the wooden urn with Capt Sporny's ashes arrived, greeted by local authorities, regional Air Force commanders and Second World War veteran pilots. Capt Sporny's nephew, Zygmunt Sporny, was present.
A funeral service and burial took place with a Guard of Honour at the city's Milostow cemetery.
Capt Sporny was born in Poznan in 1916 and trained in Poland to be an Air Force pilot. When Poland was carved up by Hitler's Germany and the Soviet Union at the start of the war in September 1939, he headed to France, and then to Britain.
Along with thousands of other Polish men, he joined the British forces to be able to fight against the Germans. From 1940-44, he was a pilot in the Royal Air Force's Polish Fighter Squadrons 303 and 302. He flew on 93 mission against Nazi Messerschmitt fighters, and on 164 other missions.
He was awarded Poland's Cross of Valour three times, as well as the country's highest military distinction, the Virtuti Militari order, and Britain's Distinguished Flying Cross.
In 1946 he married Margaret McArthur, a British citizen, but soon was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He died in England in 1949 and was buried at London's Catholic St Mary's Cemetery.