80 years ago, on 26 September, His Majesty King George VI met with the Polish pilots from the 303 Polish Squadron at RAF Northolt.
The King assisted by AVM Sir Keith Park (commanding No. 11 Group RAF) signed a commemorative book of 303 Squadron. Jan Kowalski was on duty that afternoon and recalled the scene:”We lined up in front of dispersal and, when the King arrived, our CO, Squadron Leader Kellet introduced us individually. The King shook hands with those present.”Shortly after the visit the pilots take off alarmed. The Polish pilots took off to engage in the battle during which delivered 13 confirmed shootings.At the picture:King George VI shakes hands with P/O Mirosław “Ox” Ferić on his visit to RAF Northolt on 26 September 1940. When the pilots of No. 303 Squadron were scrambled near the end of the inspection to counter an attack on Southampton, the seven He 111s, two Do 17s, and four Bf 109s claimed during the afternoon were attributed to the presence of their royal visitor earlier that day. On the latter’s request, the results of the fight were relayed to Buckingham Palace.RAF Fighter Command chief, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, was in no doubt as to the importance of the Polish contribution: “Had it not been for the magnificent work of the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of battle would have been the same”.