Farewell to veteran RAF pilot

Florian Kurczewski in his boxing days
Florian Kurczewski in his boxing days
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A Blackpool Second World War veteran has died at the grand old age of 100.

Great-grandad Florian Kurczewski fled occupied Poland in 1939 and found his safe haven in Blackpool, where he joined the British war effort as an RAF pilot.

Florian Kurczewski, age 100

Florian Kurczewski, age 100

He died peacefully last Thursday at Glenroyd Care Home on Whitegate Drive surrounded by his family a month after celebrating his 100th birthday. He leaves behind his daughters Christine Kurczewska, 73, and Janina Fierakowska, 72.

Christine said: “He was all right at first but then I think his body just gave up.

“We were very lucky to have a father like him.”

Florian landed in Blackpool in 1940 and from there served as an RAF guard in Taunton, Somerset, before being transferred to Bramcote in Warwickshire to train bomber command air gunners.

A keen sportsman, Florian joined the Alien Boxing Championship Club at Blackpool Tower, where he went up against 180 other fighters from Poland, Canada and other countries throughout the 1940s. During this time he won six championships, and was appointed official PE instructor for his RAF squadron.

Janina said: “Even as he aged he still had the reflexes of a boxer, and I had to warn my children and grandchildren not to fool around with him!”

Christine said: “He didn’t look very old and he didn’t act his age. We didn’t think of him as old. Up until the last week he was lively and walking about.

“He had a wonderful 100th birthday and we got some lovely pictures. He was alert and eating chocolate cake and enjoying chatting with people.

“His care-givers were absolutely fantastic. They were unbelievably kind and treated him with respect and dignity until the end.

“It was such a peaceful death, surrounded by a lot of very caring people.”

Glenroyd Care Home director Ann Beswick said: “Florian was a lovely man and very kind. He liked to get involved and have chats especially with the Polish ladies at the home. We’re so sad to lose him but he had been ill for quite a while. He went to sleep slowly.”