Polish Valour In The Second World War

   This is the 74th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The British fought the battle systematically while the German strategy was scattered. After successes in Poland and France, the Germans believed they only needed to demonstrate their presence and success was theirs. The British won by preparation and superior Command and Control. Nothing would have worked without the courage of the pilots and the hard work of the ground crews. Although the 15th of September is the official anniversary, August 18th was regarded as “the hardest day.”

   The biggest non-British contribution was made by the Poles, a group of pilots who had the highest “scores” per man of any nationality, The Poles had flown against the German invaders in 1939, had escaped to fight in France with obsolete fighters and escaped again to England. The Polish pilots, on average, had many more flying hours than almost any other pilots in the Battle of Britain. Because of language difficulties, some of the Polish squadrons were led by non-Poles.

  One of the squadron leaders was a Canadian, Johnny Kent. Kent regarded this assignment as the worst he could get. As he flew together with his squadron, he quickly came to admire the skill and bravery of his men. They affectionately called him “Kentowski.” The Germans escaped failure in the Battle of Britain by never acknowledging it as a battle.

  The Poles also contributed ground and naval forces against Germany. They fought beside Canadians in closing the Falaise Gap, being bombed by their own side and plugging the gap as the Deutschers fled.

  Poles were excluded from the 1946 Victory Parade in London because the Allies didn’t want to “offend” Stalin. Stalin had murdered thousands of Polish leaders, so offending him was not possible. The ironies of history.

   Both the Russians and the Germans regarded Poland as a “temporary country” and treated Poles with brutality and disdain. Poland has survived and prospered and, in one of the Grand Ironies of history, it was the Solidarity Movement in Poland which was a major factor in the downfall of the Soviet Union, an organization which has killed, tortured and oppressed them for 6 decades.

  Here’s to the Poles and all the fighters in the Battle of Britain on the British side.

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