fb-pixel Skip to main content

Richard Cosby, 86, engineer; served in Polish resistance

RICHARD COSBYCosby Family/Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Richard Cosby, a Polish resistance fighter during World War II who escaped a ­Nazi prison camp and retired as a civil engineer in the Washington, D.C., area, died June 25 at Inova Alexandria Hospital in Virginia. He was 86.

He had metastatic prostate cancer, said his daughter, television journalist Rita Cosby.

Mr. Cosby’s exploits were detailed in his daughter’s 2010 book, ‘‘Quiet Hero: Secrets From My ­Father’s Past.’’ She wrote that her father had left the family on Christmas 1983 and was largely ­estranged from her for more than 25 years.

In 2008, Rita Cosby discovered an old suitcase that contained some of his World War II possessions, including his resistance armband and prisoner-of-war identification. She reached out to her father to reconnect.


Mr. Cosby told her that he had seen his hometown destroyed by Nazi bombs and, still a teenager, lied about his age to join the resistance. He participated in the Warsaw uprising in 1944 and was captured by German forces. He emerged from a Nazi prison camp weighing 90 pounds.

He escaped with other prisoners in 1945. He told of hearing a plane above them and watching as the aircraft dropped what looked to be a bomb. Mr. Cosby discovered the supposed ordnance was a parcel filled with chocolate bars and directions to the nearest US forces.

After his liberation by the Americans in 1945, Mr. Cosby served in the Polish II Corps, an Allied unit. He received a civil engineering degree from the University of London in 1954.

Two years later, he moved to the United States and lived for many years in Connecticut.

Mr. Cosby was born Ryszard Kossobudzki in Brzesc, Poland.