First Kills

The Illustrated Biography of Fighter Pilot Władysław Gnyś

Stefan Gnyś

Written by his son Stefan and drawing from his logbooks, this highly illustrated biography of Władek Gnyś, the first Allied pilot to score aerial kills in WWII, is the most in-depth account of the Polish hero's life.
Date Published :
January 2018
Publisher :
Illustration :
highly illustrated
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612005560
Pages : 304
Dimensions : 10 X 7 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Polish pilot Władysław (Władek) Gnyś was credited with shooting down the first two German aircraft of World War II on September 1, 1939. On this day, as Gnyś' squadron took off near Kraków to intercept the German invaders, German Stuka pilot Frank Neubert attacked, killing the captain. Władek, who barely survived himself, evaded the pursuing Stukas and went on to make the first Allied kills, while Neubert was credited with the first aerial kill of the war.

An experienced fighter pilot, Gnyś fought in the Battle of Poland with the Polish Air Force, the Battle of France with the French Air Force and the Battle of Britain and beyond with the Royal Air Force. During the latter part of Operation Overlord of June 1944, Władek was shot down over France and crash landed. Wounded, he was taken prisoner but then escaped, his life spared by the enemy on more than one occasion.

Fifty years after the invasion of Poland, in the summer of 1989, Gnyś and Neubert met and shook hands, making news around the world. They reconciled their differences and remained friends until their deaths. This event symbolized the prevailing friendly coexistence between Poland and Germany.

Written by his son Stefan and drawing from his logbooks, this highly illustrated biography of Władek Gnyś is the most in-depth account of the Polish hero’s life. It tells Władek's story from his childhood in rural Poland, through his time flying in three Allied air forces during World War II, to his reconciliation with Neubert and his commemoration as a national war hero in Poland.

About The Author

Stefan Gnyś is the son of pilot Władek Gnyś and has spent many years tracing his father's war through the archives of the air forces he served with. He was an award-winning teacher, and is a singer-songwiter. Stefan lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Author’s Note
Illustrator’s Note
Abbreviations & Glossary

1 Rural Poland and the Old Mill
2 Joining the Polish Air Force
3 September 1939: Blitzkrieg
4 On the Run: Romania to the French Air Force
5 The Battle of France
6 The Battle of Britain
7 November 1940–June 1944
8 Shot Down Over France
9 Canada
10 Return to Poland
11 Reconciliation
12 A Hero’s Welcome
13 End of an Era

Addendum: Dedicatory


“It is a compelling story of an extraordinary gentleman, all the more interesting as it's clearly written by those who loved him.”

- Army Rumour Service

“Of his bravery and skill, there is no doubt, and as with all of the people from that era, their story needs to be told...An excellent read for all, recommended.”

- Scale Military Modeller International

“I found this one highly fascinating… Wladyslaw Gnys might not be remembered today outside of the community he came from, but his son has done an admirable job telling the story of his father’s life”

- Seattle Book Review

"Some among us pass through perilous times, beat the odds and live to tell about it, this is the remarkable story of one of those few.”

- Classic Wing

“…exhaustively-researched and dramatically-narrated… Stefan has written grippingly and tenderly, the story fortified by astounding detail and documentation, photos and wonderful illustrations by John Bindon.”

- The Hamilton Spectator

“The incredible stories in First Kills are too numerous to recall in one short article. Remarkably detailed, it features almost 150 photographs and has been illustrated by renowned artist John D. Bindon… It is a tribute to Władysław Gnyś, the decorated ace pilot, but also to the charming and humble man himself.”

- Hamilton Magazine

"This book is a must have for anyone interested in WWII aviation, and the exploits of the brave and tenacious Polish pilots."

- ModelingMadness.Com

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