In front of his Spitfire V WX-F with Polish checker at RAF Heston. KARTA / Casemate Publishers /

By Rebecca Drew

THE INCREDIBLE life story of the first Allied pilot to score aerial kills against the Germans in WW2 has been revealed in a new biography written by the Polish war hero’s son.

Front Cover. Casemate Publishers /


Fascinating pictures show Polish fighter pilot, Władysław (Władek) Gnyś, who was credited with shooting down the first two German aircraft of WW2, before joining the Polish Air Force, doing his military training at the tender age of 21 and doing his first ever parachute jump at flying school. Other shots show Gnyś’ English wife, Barbara Simmons and with his young family in April 1950.

Gnyś shot down the first two German aircraft on September 1, 1939, on the same day his squadron took off to intercept German invaders near Krakow and were attacked by German Stuka pilot, Frank Nuebert who killed the captain but Gnyś went on to make the first Allied kills.

Gen Sikorski shaking hands with Lt Bursztyn. S-Lt Chalupa is saluting while S-Lt Gyns raises his arm in salute, ready for the handshake. PISM / Casemate Publishers /


The story has been told in the book, First Kills: The Illustrated Biography of Fighter Pilot Władysław Gnyś by his son, Stefan W. C. Gnyś. It is published by Casemate Publishers.

“As a Polish fighter pilot, he flew and fought for Poland, France and Britain. He participated in the Battle for France and the Battle of Britain with the Royal Air Force,” said Stefan.

“During the latter part of the Normandy invasion, Władek was shot down over France, wounded, taken prisoner and then escaped.

“Ironically his life was spared by the enemy on more than one occasion. He carried a bullet in his liver for fifty-six years, from 1944 to 2000 when he passed away.

Wladek’s first parachute jump at flying school, Grudziadz, 1933. Stefan W. C. Gnyś / Casemate Publishers /


“Fifty years after the invasion of Poland in 1939, he was reunited with German Stuka pilot Frank Neubert who attacked Władek’s squadron, killing his captain as they were taking off to intercept the invaders who had just bombed Krakow.

“The two former enemies shook hands in the summer of 1989, reconciled their differences and became friends until their deaths.”
The book follows Gnyś’ life from his childhood in rural Poland, through to flying for three Allied forces and his reconciliation with Neubert and commemoration as a national war hero.

“The question arises as to why our father was historically unique, because there were many other Polish fighter pilots who saw more action and had more victories than he did,” added Stefan.

Polish Fighter Squadron, RAF Leconfield, September 4, 1940 in front of the Hawker Hurricane. Gnys (back row, second left). PISM / Casemate Publishers /


“The obvious answer is that he was credited with shooting down the first two German aircraft of the war and half a century later making peace with the Stuka pilot who killed his captain and almost himself.

“This is special indeed but he also fought in three campaigns and survived. Having a charismatic personality also added a little to his persona.”

Published by Casemate Publishers, First Kills: The Illustrated Biography of Fighter Pilot Władysław Gnyś by Stefan W. C. Gnyś is now available to pre-order on Amazon ahead of its release on December 8, 2017 for £25.

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