From brave war pilot to deli owner

W. Nowak in his delicatessen shop at 6, Hardy Street, Worksop
W. Nowak in his delicatessen shop at 6, Hardy Street, Worksop

A Polish pilot who flew with the RAF during the Scond World War has had his life story written by his daughter.

Squadron Leader Wladyslaw Jan Nowak was nearly killed when he was shot out of the sky over the English Channel in 1941.

He was later decorated with the Polish Cross of Valour and the Wound and Honourable Injury Badge.

After the war he ran a delicatessen shop on Hardy Street, Worksop, where he experienced racism and snobbery.

His daughter Krysia Michna-Nowak, 65, 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.”

In the book Krysia recalls the deep hurt her father felt when they first moved to Worksop in 1954.

She writes: “Daddy was always very elegant and he had the most courteous and beautiful manners as most Polish men do.”

“I remember in the early days when Daddy would doff his hat to an English lady customer, often the lady customer would ignore him and cross over to the other side of the road.”

Krysia was five years old when they moved to Worksop from Lincoln.

She went to St Mary’s Primary School and years later, after gaining a degree, she later returned to teach there.

Her father’s diaries were writtin in emerald green ink, in miniscule writing.

They start in November 1939 and include messages to his first wife Danusia, who was raped and executed by the Gestapo.

Krysia discovered her father had been married before on a visit to Poland when she found wedding photos.

“I n the wedding photograph Daddy was with another lady and not with my mother.”

“When he came back he explained that the other lady was Danusia. He explained that was why my second name was Danusia, in memory of his first wife.”

Wladyslaw went to Romaniafrom Poland, and then travelled by ship to France and then Britain.

Krysia, who now lives in Bygrave, Herts, said a musum in Wadowice, wehre her father gew up, has some of his personal memorabilia, donated by his daughters.

In his diaries Wladyslaw describes shooting down a German plane over London on 11th May 1941.

“I attacked it again, this time from the bottom upwards and fired the last burst, spending all my rounds and the enemy aircraft started to burn on the port engine side.”

Krysia said she is hoping to arrange to put a bench in Worksop in her father’s memory.