President Andrzej Duda in London on Tuesday posthumously promoted Colonel Pilot Franciszek Kornicki to the rank of brigadier general. John Franklin (Mieczyslaw Frackiewicz) was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant and awarded the Siberian Exiles Cross.
Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak also presented Franklin with the Gold Medal of Merit for National Defence.
Brigadier General Franciszek Kornicki was commander of the 308 Squadron RAF and the youngest Polish commander of an air division. For his WWII achievements he was awarded high state distinctions. He died in 2017 at the age of 100.
John Franklin, aged 100, was deported together with his family by the Soviets to Siberia, where in 1941 he joined the Polish Anders Army formed under an agreement signed by general Wladyslaw Sikorski and Ivan Mayski, the Soviet ambassador to the United Kingdom. In 1943 he was sent to Britain, where he joined the 304 Squadron RAF as a radar operator.
The president bestowed the Knight's Cross of the Polonia Restituta Order of the Republic of Poland upon Jan Stangreciuk (Jan Black), aged 97, a pilot serving as a gunner with the 300 Squadron RAF during WWII.
Presenting the promotions and distinctions, President Duda thanked them all for their heroism and said that their entire military service showed how the Polish people were always fighting for a free and independent homeland, that they never forget it, and that they were ready to shed blood for the freedom of others.
The president also said that Poland had been admitted to NATO as a country which gives a guarantee that its soldiers will always be ready „to fight for our freedom and yours, ” and that they will never hesitate to go and defend others.