Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen in London

September 7, 2019

A moving ceremony of homage to fallen Polish Airmen took place at the Polish War Memorial in Northolt on Saturday, September 7th.

From 1940 to 1945 thousands of members of the Polish Air Force were stationed within what is now the London Borough of Hillingdon. Most were based at RAF Northolt as part of a Polish Fighter Wing, with a smaller number working at RAF Uxbridge.

The Polish Air Force Memorial in Northolt was unveiled in 1948 to commemorate fallen Polish airmen and the participation of Polish Squadrons in the war effort. Every year there are ceremonies, organised by many associations, of homage to them.

97-year-old Jan Stangryciuk, a rear gunner in 300 Squadron and Air Chief Marshal Michael Wigston

The commemoration was attended by many distinguished guests, among others: HE Arkady Rzegocki, the Polish ambassador, Bruce Houlder, representative deputy Lieutenant from Hillingdon, Cllr David Yarrow, Cllr Abdullah Gulaid, Cllr Daryl Brown, Cllr Irene Brown – Mayors of Hillingdon, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Newark, Air Chief Marshal Michael Wigston, General Piotr Krawczyk, Rector Commandant from Polish Air Force University in Dęblin, commanders of RAF Northolt, veterans with families, and representatives of combatant associations.

Officer cadets from the Polish Air Force Academy (Lotnicza Akademia Wojskowa) in Dęblin

The ceremony started with the Parade, followed by the Roll-call of the Fallen (Apel Poległych) read by the officer cadets from the Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin:

“Polish Airmen Heroes of the struggle for freedom and all people here present,

Lotnicy Polscy! Bohaterowie walk o Niepodległość,

In a moment of profound solemnity,

we gather for this roll-call, our hearts joined in remembering the heroes of the Polish sky.

We are come to honour their memory and to pay tribute to all the airmen who laid down their lives

and their strength in the service of the Republic.

We owe our deepest gratitude to those who,

in a struggle high above the earth,

did not spare their blood for Poland,

the country that would not be overcome.

Present yourselves for the Roll-Call. They fell on the Field of Glory,

Stańcie do Apelu! Polegli na Polu Chwały!”

I call on you, you heroes of the Battle of Britain.

Defending the Island of the Last Hope,

you won the admiration of the world for your deeds.

Yours was the most successful Fighter squadron of any in the Battle,

protecting London to the utmost.

You hunted Hitler’s marauders over the North Sea,

in the Bay of Biscay, in the English Channel.

You were heroes of the air-war above the sands of Africa.

Far from your native land,

you laid down your lives with thoughts of Poland.

I call on you, the crews of the Bomber squadrons,

making raids on distant enemy targets

and supporting the air-bridge to our occupied country.

Present yourselves for the Roll-Call. They fell on the Field of Glory,

Stańcie do Apelu! Polegli na Polu Chwały!”

 

After the roll-call the wreaths were laid for each of Polish RAF squadrons.

Members of Metropolitan Police Polish Association

This was followed by the prayers and the Polish and British national anthems.

The Trumpeter played touching “White Roses” before leaving the enclosure:

“The buds of white roses are blooming again,

Come back, Jasiu, come back from your war.

Come back and kiss me, as in days gone by,

And I will give you those roses once more (…)”

 

M. B.

Pictures: British Poles

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