Jadwiga Piłsudska

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Jadwiga Piłsudska
Born(1920-02-28)28 February 1920
Died16 November 2014(2014-11-16) (aged 94)
Warsaw, Poland
Other namesJadwiga Jaraczewska
EducationWanda Szachtmajer Female High School
Alma materNewnham College, Cambridge
Polish University Abroad
EmployerOffice of Urban Planning (London County Council)
SpouseAndrzej Jaraczewski
ChildrenKrzysztof Józef Jaraczeski
Joanna Maria Onyszkiewicz
Parent(s)Józef Piłsudski (father)
Aleksandra Szczerbińska (mother)
RelativesBronisław Piłsudski (Uncle)
Wanda Piłsudska (sister)
Military career
Allegiance Poland
 United Kingdom
Service/branch Polish Air Forces
RAF: Air Transport Auxiliary
Years of service1942-1944
Rank Second Officer (Flying Officer)
Unit1st Ferry Pool, White Waltham
AwardsCommander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta Bronze Cross of Merit with Swords Air Force Medal National Places of Remembrance Guardian's Gold Medal
Air Transport Auxiliary Veteran's Badge Cadre Company March Participant's Badge

Jadwiga Piłsudska-Jaraczewska (Polish: [jadˈviɡa piwˈsutska jaraˈt͡ʂɛfska]; 28 February 1920 – 16 November 2014) was a Polish pilot who served in the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War. She was one of two daughters of Józef Piłsudski.

Life and career[edit]

Learning to fly, aged 17
Marshal Piłsudski with daughter

Piłsudska was born on 28 February 1920 in Warsaw, the younger daughter of Marshal Józef Piłsudski, Poland's Chief of State (1918–22) and dictator (1926–1935), by the woman who would later become his second wife, Aleksandra Piłsudska (née Aleksandra Szczerbińska).[1]

In 1937 Piłsudska began flying gliders and obtained a pilot's licence. In 1939 she graduated from secondary school and decided to study aircraft engineering at the Warsaw Polytechnic.[1]

In September 1939, Poland was invaded by Germany, initiating the Second World War, and her family realized that under the circumstances it would be prudent to leave the country immediately. Piłsudska fled with her mother and elder sister, Wanda, to Lithuania and eventually arrived in the United Kingdom. She resumed her studies, in 1940, matriculating at Newnham College, Cambridge University in architecture.[1]

Later she acquired her aircraft pilot's license, and in July 1942, she joined the Air Transport Auxiliary. With the rank of second officer[2] (flying officer) she flew unarmed military aircraft in the skies of wartime Britain[1] and was, with Anna Leska and the Lithuanian-Pole Barbara Wojtulanis, one of several Polish women who served as wartime ferry pilots in Britain.[3]

She took leave of absence to become a student at the Polish School of Architecture, at the Polish University Abroad (housed in Liverpool University), from 1944 to 1946, and then on the Liverpool Town Planning Course from 1946 to 1948.[4]

In 1944, she married Polish Navy Lieutenant Andrzej Jaraczewski. She had two children: a son, Christopher Joseph (in Polish Krzysztof Józef) and daughter, Jane Mary (in Polish Joanna Maria), who later married Polish politician Janusz Onyszkiewicz.

She worked as an architect for London City Council from 1948, before she and her husband set up their own furniture design business.

Due to the communist takeover in Poland, she remained in England after the war as a political émigré. Never accepting British citizenship, she used a Nansen passport, valid for all countries in the world, except Poland.[5]

In 1977, she and her husband took part in the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II on board the MGB S-3 during the Thames River Pageant.

In 1990, with the collapse of the communist government, she returned to Poland and lived in Warsaw.[1]

She died on 16 November 2014, in Warsaw at the age of 94.[6]


Piłsudski coat of arms

She has been honoured with a Bronze Cross of Merit with Swords and the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Jadwiga Pilsudska-Jaraczewska - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  2. ^ T. J. Krzystek, Personel Polskich Sił Powietrznych w Wielkiej Brytanii w latach 1940-1947 łącznie z Pomocniczą Lotniczą Służbą Kobiet (PLSK-WAFF), Agencja Lotnicza ALTAIR - Krajowa Rada Lotnicza, Warszawa 2007
  3. ^ "Stefania Wojtulanis-Karpińska - królowa przestworzy - Historia - polskieradio.pl". polskieradio24.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  4. ^ Newnham College Register, vol II. Newnham College. p. 213.
  5. ^ A. Romanowski, Piękne wczoraj, "Apokryf", No 13 (in Tygodnik Powszechny, No 45/1998)
  6. ^ "Nie żyje Jadwiga Piłsudska-Jaraczewska. Miała 94 lata". Onet Wiadomości (in Polish). 16 November 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2016.