The first British awards to be given to Polish airmen were made in December, 1940, when four pilots of the Polish Squadron of the R.A.F were decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross by the Air Officer C-in-C, Fighter Command, Air Marshal W. Sholto Douglas, at an aerodrome in the north of England. A fifth D.F.C. was awarded to a pilot who had been killed in action. After decorating the men the Air Marshal said: "The R.A.F is proud to have its Polish comrades, whose deeds are known throughout the Air Force. I hope your Squadron will do equally well in the months to come. I look forward to the victory of our cause and to a free and independent Poland." The Polish Squadron played an important part in the defence of London in September, and between them these five pilots destroyed 44 German aircraft and severely damaged others. The officer commanding the Polish fighters was Squadron Leader R. G Kellett, D.S.O, D.FC, who was leader of the R.A.F long distance flight to Australia in 1938. To him Poland has given her highest award for valour, the "Virtuti Militari." The Four Polish Airmen who were decorated with the D.F.C. by Air Marshal Sholto Douglas in December, 1940.