The town’s Polish community paid tribute to decorated fighter pilot and former Worksop businessman Squadron Leader Wladyslaw Jan Nowak as part of the Wings Over Worksop event.
The event marked the 75th anniversary of Sqn Ldr Nowak becoming the first Polish pilot to destroy a German plane and recognise his contribution, along with that of thousands of other Poles during the Second World War.
As part of the official events of the day, a memorial bench was unveiled in the Memorial Gardens, opposite The Priory Church.
This was followed by the unveiling of a Blue Plaque which is located on the front of Sqn Ldr Nowak’s former delicatessen on Hardy Street, now the Bassetlaw MIND offices,
As well as being attended by members of the Polish community, dignitaries in attendance included the Consul General of Poland, chairman of Bassetlaw District Council, Councillor Gwynneth Jones and Colour Parties from the Royal Air Force, Mercian Regiment and Veterans organisations.
Stephen Brown, head of corporate services and armed forces liaison officer at Bassetlaw District Council, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to commemorate Sqn Ldr Nowak’s war effort and recognise his work in the local community with refugees after the Second World War.”
Chairman of Bassetlaw District Council, Coun Gwynneth Jones said: “On behalf of Bassetlaw, I am very grateful to the Armed Forces Community Covenant Fund for supporting this event and funding these activities.
Having trained as a pilot and going on to become an officer and instructor at the Pilot School in Grudziadz, near Deblin, Sqn Ldr Nowak was forced to escape Poland in 1939 through Romania, Syria, Beirut and France to UK where he eventually served with 306 Squadron of the Polish Air Force in Great Britain.
On the night of May 11, 1941 Sqn Ldr Nowak was part of a combat flight over London and was confirmed as the first Polish fighter pilot to have down a German aircraft at night and was later awarded the Cross of Valour.
Following the end of the war, Sqn Ldr Nowak first settled with his family in Lincoln and later moved to Worksop and ran a delicatessen shop on Hardy Street.
His daughter, Krysia Michna-Nowak, wrote the book about her father after having his diaries translated by a family friend in Poland..
Krysia said: “We lived above the shop in Hardy Street in the early 50s and we had lots of Polish customers who were in the air force.
“Lots of Polish men came to the shop because they were homesick, they didn’t have their families with them and were displaced.
“I remember my mother inviting them in and feeding them in our dining room.”
nwgu 14-5-16 ga wladysl(10): Jan Nowak’s daughter Krysia is here seated on the bench after unveiling it.
NWGU-20-05-16 jan nowak: Mr Nowak in his shop on Hardy Street
Members of the Polish community, civic dignitries and RAF personell gather at the unveiling of the bench in memory of ex fighter pilot Wladyslaw Jan Nowak in Worksop.