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In Memorian: Mátyás 'Matyi' Pirity

Virtuaalilentäjät ry - Matyas Pirity. Photo: Neomi Townsend
Mátyás 'Matyi' Pirity, Dec 28th, 1911 - May 17th, 2003

[ In memorian: Mátyás 'Matyi' Pirity | Noemi Pirity about her father | Pirity's funeral | Credits ]

Text: Jukka O. Kauppinen
Photos: Neomi Townsend via Göran Bruun.
Sources: Håkan Gustavsson, Göran Bruun, the book 'Hävittäjälentolaivue 26' by Carl-Erik Bruun, Neomi Townsend.

More info:
Biplane fighter aces - Pirity
Biplane fighter aces - Jozef Drlicka

In memorian: Mátyás 'Matyi' Pirity

Mátyás Pirity, a great friend of Finland and Finns, received his transfer to the shadow squadron on May 17th, 2003. The Hungarian military pilot was one of many foreign volunteers fighting in the Winter War, and one of the few who were true to their word and served in the front.

Virtuaalilentäjät ry - Matyas Pirity. Photo: Neomi Townsend
Pirity with his Fiat CR.32 fighter.
Born December 28th, 1911, Pirity was a commercial pilot in the Hungarian airline company Malvev in the 30's. As the political situation in Europe heated up, he was called to the Hungarian Air Force. Pirity fought in the less known border skirmish between Hungary and the Slovakian puppet state in Spring 1939.
Pirity flew the Italian-manufactured CR.32 fighter 1/1 in the third flight of the 1st Fighter Squadron, "Íjász" vadászszázad. The squadron's base of operations was the Ungvar airfield. Pirity's most successful mission was flown on March 24th, when the squadron's nine CR.32's encountered three Slovakian Letov Š.328 bombers escorted by three Avia B-534 fighters.
An air battle ensued, and the Hungarians shot down two bombers, one by Pirity. Three more Avia's joined the battle, and in the end the Hungarians claim to have shot down five out of six Slovak fighters.
Pirity was awarded the Magyar Érdemrend Lovagkeresztje hadiszalagon kardokkal medal of his efforts in the skirmish.
More information on Pirity's battles is available here: Biplane fighter aces.

Winter War Volunteer

Virtuaalilentäjät ry - Matyas Pirity. Photo: Neomi Townsend
Pirity was deeply convicted person who recognized the strong bond between the Hungarian and Finnish peoples. Therefore he couldn't watch the Russo-Finnish conflict from afar but volunteered to join the ranks. He was accepted to the Air Force on December 16th, 1940, along with another Hungarian pilot, Vilmos Békássy. Pirity was assigned to the LLv 26.
In February 1940, Pirity flew the FA-3, a new Fiat G.50 fighter, from Sweden to Finland. The first attempt on February 8th failed due to poor weather. The other Hungarian pilot got lost and went missing during that flight. The second attempt on the 15th was successful, though Pirity ran out of fuel and had to land on ice outside Naantali. Local civilians helped to refuel the plane, so Pirity could fly to Turku.
After a training period, the LLv 26 was transferred to the Hollola airfield. At 11.45 am on March 2nd, Pirity took off on his first war flight in the Finnish Air Force, flying the FA-1, and his second interception mission was on the same day at 4:15 pm. On March 9th, Pirity had to abandon an intercept mission, because of a fault in the landing gear.
Pirity flew a total of 22 war missions during the Winter War, and allegedly damaged one SB-2 bomber. He was awarded the Finnish Flight Badge on basis of Honoris Causa.
Pirity left Finland on March 28th, 1940, and arrived at Hungary two days later. As the war escalated, he served his country in the 102/1. futárszállító század squadron, flying a Junkers 52. After the war he was held for a time in Soviet Union as a POW.


Virtuaalilentäjät ry - Matyas Pirity. Photo: Neomi Townsend
The Pirity family in Australia in the 50's. His daughter Neomi (center) still lives there.
Pirity fled Hungary after the war and moved to Australia, since he was not in favor of the country's new government. The communist regime didn't approve his fighting in the Winter War on the 'wrong side'. Pirity felt however that he had done the right thing, his bond to his fellow pilots and civilians in Finland was strong. He was always proud of having been given the opportunity to fight side by side with Finns.
Finland didn't forget Pirity. The Winter War memorial medal was awarded to him while living in Australia. In his 'new life' Pirity worked in the Transport Department and drew political cartoons, but the desk job hardly satisfied his longing back to air. He obtained a flying licence and flew small planes for a couple of years, but that didn't satisfy him either. In the end he stated he had flown his share.
Pirity was finally allowed to return home in 1993. He moved back to Hungary and spent the last years in Budapest. He wrote a book of his experiences, but it hasn't been published.
On May 17th, 2003, Pirity was called to the shadow squadron. His funeral was held in May 29th, with the Finnish consul and a military attaché taking part. His final resting place is with his fellow war time pilots.
Pirity had long dreamed of making a visit to Finland to revitalize the old memories, but unfortunately our fellow never got to come.

Pirity's daughter Noemi Townsend lives in Australia.

Noemi Pirity about her father

Noemi Pirity's email to Jukka Kauppinen:

I appreciate your interest in my father's history and feel very grateful that you are making the effort to write your article. I am very proud of my father's achievements and the contribution he made to the war effort, particularly volunteering to help the Finnish people in their plight against the Russians.

My father was a person of strong moral convictions and was outraged by the events leading up to the invasion of Finland. He volunteered for he could not accept the injustice at such a big power invading a small country.

He felt that there was a strong connection between the Finns and Hungarians and this sense of loyalty contributed to his decision to help the Finns. He spoke very warmly of the Finnish people he came into contact with and also highly of flying comrades with whom he flew his missions. He was a person who had a very keen sense of what was right and just and always felt he had to help the underdog.

Prior to joining the Air Force he was a Commercial Airline pilot for Malvev as far as I am aware he was conscripted for Military Service he may have joined but I am not sure nor do I know the date. He felt that joining the Finns against the Russians was a worthy cause and he had no regrets about this at all. In fact he was proud to have fought with the Finns. Yes he did suffer for fighting on the "wrong side" it was impossible for him to stay in Hungary with the Communists in power he was blacklisted and this lead to his decision to escape from Hungary and start a new life in Australia.

Virtuaalilentäjät ry - Matyas Pirity. Photo: Neomi Townsend
Pirity's wife, who followed him to Australia after the wars.
(My father) never worked as a pilot in Australia it was very difficult for immigrants to get work. The first few years were very hard on my parents. It was a constant struggle, it was not so easy for people to assimilate in the 1950's, one was regarded with distrust.

However things improved and got better he worked for the Transport Department in an Administrative capacity a desk job was not an easy thing for a man with my father's background. He missed the action and the thrill of flying. He did obtain a flying license and flew small twin engine craft for a few years, but realized it was a poor substitute for real planes. So he decided with a certain degree of sadness that his flying days were through.

He moved back to Hungary without my mother and myself.

My father never returned to Finland. He said that one day he would make a sentimental journey back there, but that day never came. I have attached photos that may be of interest to you. The first is to give you some idea of what it was like for us in Australia, to be very poor and struggling. The second is my mother and the third is another photo of my father.

Yes I believe he was a great friend of Finland. Old friends of his spoke of this at his funeral. The funeral was a very moving tribute to him and he is buried next to his flying buddies, a happy ending. And maybe as Göran said, he will join the "Silent Squadron in the sky", I hope so I think you would be happy to be there. To me Silent Squadron in the sky has such a beautiful sound and makes me feel quite sad and happy at the same time. A bit silly maybe, but saying this and looking back over my father's life comforts me and makes me realize what a truly special person he was.
Again thank you for your interest in my father
Kind Regards

Pirity's funeral

The great Finnish friend Matyas Pirity passed away on the 17th of May in Budapest. His funeral was on the 29th of May and many pilots attended the funeral together with the Finnish Consul and Attachei.
Mr. Pirity got 3 Finnish medals for his actions in Finland during the Winter War. He is buried near his fellow pilots with whom he flew during the war and after the war. He will never be forgotten by us who knew his actions.
Göran Bruun.


The memorial of the Hungarian volunteer pilot Mátyás Pirity written by:

Text: Jukka O. Kauppinen
Photos: Neomi Townsend via Göran Bruun.
Sources: Håkan Gustavsson, Göran Bruun, the book 'Hävittäjälentolaivue 26' by Carl-Erik Bruun, Neomi Townsend.

Copyright Virtuaalilentäjät ry - Finnish Virtual Pilots Association 2003.



Viimeksi muokattu: 2004-04-13 22:41