Antoni Ostowicz was born on 22nd May 1911 in Rozdzalow, south of Chelm on Poland’s eastern border.
After compulsory army service he entered the Aviation Cadet School and graduated on 15th August 1934 as a Second Lieutenant/Observer. This was followed in 1935/36 by training at the Aviation Officers Training Center.
He completed the Higher Pilot Course with a specialization as a fighter pilot. From 1936 to 1937 he flew as a pilot in one of the squadrons of the 2nd Air Regiment. In March 1939 he returned to the Aviation Cadet School as an instructor.
His service in the September campaign and subsequent passage to England are currently undocumented but he probably made his way vis Romania and France, arriving in England in late 1939.
He was commissioned in the RAFVR in January 1940 at RAF Eastchurch. He was at the Polish Training Unit at Hucknall in March 1940. The unit was redesignated 18 OTU on 15th June 1940.
#OTD in 1940, Antoni Ostowicz became the 1st 🇵🇱 pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft in #BattleofBritain. Follow #BoBPoles80 as we mark #BattleofBritain80 & PL role in it w/ a fact about #BoBPoles, their lives, feats & legacy each day until 31.10, 80 years after the battle's end pic.twitter.com/YCHE2eJ7PK
— Polish Embassy UK 🇵🇱 (@PolishEmbassyUK) July 19, 2020
Ostowicz went from there to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 23rd June. He converted to Hurricanes and joined 145 Squadron at Tangmere on 16th July 1940.
He shared in the destruction of a He111 on the 19th, the first success credited to a Polish fighter pilot flying with the RAF.
He probably destroyed a Do17 on 31st July and destroyed a Me109 and damaged another on 8th August.
He was shot down in combat with enemy fighters on 11th August 1940 in Hurricane V7294 which was thought at the time to have crashed on the Isle of Wight.
Ostowicz was reported ‘Missing’ aged 29. He was the first Polish loss of the Battle.
Another 145 Squadron pilot, F/O GR Branch was shot down into the sea off Swanage at about the same time. His body was washed up at Quiberville, France and is buried there. The churchyard also holds an unknown airmen (below) and it is possible that it could be Ostowicz.
He was awarded the KW and Bar (gazetted 1st February 1941) and is remembered on the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt.
Zdjęcia: bbm.org.uk, Sikorski Institute, Twitter @PolishEmbassyUK