Turowicz – A Saga of Dedicated Service

Among the many episodes after World War II, the one that deserves attention is that of a group of Polish officers and men, who had taken refuge in Britain after the invasion of their homeland by the ‘Germany. Most volunteered for the armed forces; a considerable number joined the Royal Air Force (RAF). They fought valiantly, but by the end of the war nearly a hundred of them were in danger as they could neither return to their homeland which was now under Soviet influence, nor were they welcome in the Great. -Brittany. Britain had welcomed Polish pilots, engineers and airmen with open arms when they moved to Britain at the start of World War II because the Royal Air Force needed crews to continue the war. The Battle of Britain was won with the help of Polish crews, but they were no longer welcome in the UK.

While considering various options, the nascent Pakistan offered them three-year contracts with a high salary. Forty-five Polish officers and men joined the Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) as it was then called. “Royal” was abandoned in 1956 when Pakistan became a Republic.

The Poles who joined the RPAF were led by Squadron Leader Wladyslaw Józef Marian Turowicz, pilot and engineer. From an early age, Turowicz was fascinated by aeronautical technology and moved to Warsaw where he attended the most prestigious engineering institute, Warsaw University of Technology (WTU), with a specialization in aeronautical engineering ; after graduation he received his doctorate with honors in 1926.

He was commissioned into the Polish Air Force as an aeronautical engineer and fighter pilot, but later immigrated to the UK to join the RAF. During World War II he flew the British-built Handley Page Halifax bomber and also served in the RAF Aeronautical Division as a Technical Inspector, overseeing aircraft electrical and system information for organization, testing and aircraft assessment.

Entering the RPAF in 1948, Turowicz established technical institutes in Karachi, taught and revitalized the Pakistan Air Force Academy where he worked as chief scientist. In 1952, Turowicz was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander. In 1959, at the rank of Group Captain while in 1960, he became Air Commodore and Assistant Chief of Air Staff, in charge of the Maintenance Branch of the PAF.

Turowicz is the pioneer of the College of Aeronautics at PAF. To commemorate his services, a trophy was named in his honor for the best student in aeronautical engineering. In all his efforts, Turowciz was ably supported by his wife, Zofia. Turowicz’s wife took on the responsibilities of teaching Air Cadets Shaheen Gliding in Karachi and Rawalpindi and Applied Mathematics and Particle Physics at the University of Karachi.

In 1966, the government of Pakistan transferred him to SUPARCO, Pakistan’s national space agency, as chief scientist. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, he and Nobel Laureate Dr Abdus Salam succeeded in convincing President Ayub Khan of the importance of a space program for a developing country like Pakistan. The duo also persuaded the US government to invest and train Pakistani scientists in rocket technology.

Turowicz was appointed head of SUPARCO in 1967, where he launched the space program, modernized the Sonmiani satellite launch center, installed the flight test control command, the launch pad control system and the systems engineering division. Turowicz embarked on a project to manufacture and launch a Pakistani satellite, which enabled Pakistan to master the field of rocket technology.

Few people know that the famous engineer designed short and medium-range ballistic missiles and also participated in the development of Pakistan’s nuclear program.

The cruel hands of death tore him prematurely in a car accident on January 8, 1980. He was taken to the military hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was buried in Karachi with full military honors. Polish soldiers, including the Polish Consul General in Karachi Kazimierz Maurer, and Pakistani soldiers and civilians attended his funeral.

The Pakistani government sent a letter of condolence to his family, stating that Turowicz was not only an outstanding Air Force officer, but also a scientist, and had served in the country’s space program.

There is a conspiracy theory that Turowicz could have been assassinated by critics of the Pakistani nuclear program, but this has not been proven. For his meritorious service, Air Commodore Wladyslaw Turowicz received the awards: Sitara-e-Pakistan, Tamgha-e-Pakistan, Sitara-e-Khidmat, Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam, Sitara-e- Imtiaz, Abdus Salam Prize in Aeronautical Engineering and ICTP Prize in Space Physics. The Pakistani Air Force placed a commemorative plaque in honor of Air Commodore Turowicz at the PAF Museum while SUPARCO erected the Wladyslaw Turowicz Space Complex in Lahore.

His widow, Zofia Turowicz, who died in 2012, received Pride in Performance and Sitara-i-Imtiaz.

A documentary film about the life and scientific work of Air Cdre Wladyslaw Turowicz, directed by Anna T. Pietraszek was completed in 2008. The saga of Turowicz’s scientific achievements continues through his contributions to PAF and space superior of Pakistan, missile technology and nuclear program. .

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