Leon Filary’s life story reads like a Hollywood script for a Raiders of the Lost Ark sequel. At the outbreak of WWII, Leon was serving in the Polish Air Force. When the German war machine overran Poland Leon, with many of his brave compatriots, vowed to fight on. After escaping from the Germans, he embarked on an 11 month journey, mainly on foot, through Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Italy and France. After arriving in the UK in August 1940, he joined the RAF and after training as an engine fitter was posted to No 306 ‘Torunski’ Fighter Squadron in March 1941 which had been formed from the core of the 3rd Poznan and 4th Torun Polish Air Regiments. Leon went on to serve in Italy and finally with No 63 Photo Reconnaissance Unit at Middle Wallop and Thorney Island before joining industry in 1948.
After arriving at the Museum in a Rolls-Royce Phantom, Leon toured the exhibits before receiving a huge surprise. Due to an administrative oversight, he had not received his wartime medals before leaving the RAF. Thanks to great detective work and determination, his son and daughter managed to have the medals sent to them while keeping it from their father. The family asked if they could be presented to him at the Museum. The resulting presentation, made by the Museum’s Director, Dudley Hooley, was very emotional for Leon and for the many family, friends and visitors who witnessed the ceremony.
Happy Birthday Leon, a true hero who deserves our thanks and gratitude.
(Biographical information courtesy Pieter Bergman)