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German MG 15 aerial machine gun, pilot's cap and some debris of a German Heinkel He-111 downed by Aleksander Gabszewicz on 1 September 1939

Aleksander Klemens Gabszewicz (6 December 1911 – 10 October 1983) was a Polish fighter pilot and a World War II fighter ace, with a score of 9½ confirmed and 2 probable kills.

Biography[]

Born in Szawle, then in Russian Empire, in 1931 he joined the Polish Army. Initially serving as an infantry NCO, in 1938 he graduated from the Dęblin-based Eagles' School and was attached to the air wing of the Border Defence Corps. Just before World War II he was a tactical officer of the IV/1 Fighter Group. After the outbreak of the Polish September Campaign on 1 September 1939, around 9 AM, he scored his first kill, a Heinkel He 111 of 5.(K)/LG 1 unit over Ciechanów. According to some authors, it was the first kill of a German plane in World War II.[1] Downed the same day, he made it to France where he became the CO of the 5th key of Groupe de Chasse III/10 covering Besançon. There, while piloting a Bloch 151, he downed a Dornier Do 17.[2] After the capitulation he made it to the United Kingdom, where he served in the ranks of No. 607 Squadron RAF and No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron. In December 1940 he was posted as a flight commander in No. 316 Polish Fighter Squadron. He became Commanding officer in November 1941. He was posted to 11 Group HQ in June 1942, and then as an instructor to 58 OTU until June 1943. He was then made Wing Commander/Flying of 2nd Polish Wing and finally the 1st Polish Wing. He was also attached to the 56th USAAF Fighter Group in December 1943, and then to the Command of 131 Wing RAF in February 1944, leading the wing during the invasion of Normandy. He then became C.O. of RAF Coltishall in February 1945. He ended the war in the rank of generał brygady and remained in exile in the UK. He died in Malvern in 1983. His ashes were brought to Poland in 1992 and dispersed over Warsaw and Dęblin.

Decorations[]

DistinguishedFlyingCrossUKRibbon.jpg Distinguished Flying Cross
Dso-ribbon.png Distinguished Service Order (with Bar)
Ruban de la croix de guerre 1939-1945.PNG Croix de Guerre (France)
POL Virtuti Militari Złoty BAR.svg Virtuti Militari (Golden Cross)
Virtuti Militari Ribbon.png Virtuti Militari (Silver Cross)
POL Polonia Restituta Komandorski ZG BAR.svg Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta
POL Krzyż Walecznych (1940) 4r BAR.PNG Cross of Valour, four times

References[]

  1. Marius Emerling: Pierwszy zestrzał w kampanii wrześniowej 1939 r. - Mit ppor.pil. Władysława Gnysia in: Lotnictwo Wojskowe Nr.5/2002 (in Polish)
  2. Aces High, Shores & Williams 1999, page 272

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