The first permanent exhibition highlighting the vital role of the Polish Air Force during the Second World War has opened at the Battle of Britain Bunker in west London.
Poland's Senate adopted a resolution on Wednesday commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the role of Polish pilots, among other heroes in view of the importance of the battle for the course of World War II.
The memorial commemorates the Polish “Few” and the 1,900 Poles who lost their lives in the air war.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Polish Ambassador to England Arkady Rzegocki in London on Monday paid tribute to Polish fighter pilots who, during World War Two, fought in the Battle of Britain, the Foreign Ministry has said.
Dubbed ‘Flying Death’ by the Germans, Stanisław Skalski saw action in Poland following the outbreak of war, later becoming the first Pole to command an RAF squadron. Miraculously avoiding death twice, after the war it seemed his luck had run out when he was arrested by the secret police on trumped up charges of espionage, tortured for over a year and then sentenced to be executed. But again, he survived.
The 302nd was the first Polish squadron to be declared operational and entered battle on 15 August. Meanwhile, the pilots of the 303 Squadron were awaiting action with growing desperation. Finally given the chance to fight, the Poles were devastatingly effective. Indeed, according to historian Andy Saunders, "Poles and their unbelievable contribution to the RAF's air operations saved Europe.”
Within days of debuting, the company reported that it had already covered its production costs.
Thousands of members of the Polish Air Force lived in Hillingdon, now a borough of Greater London, during WWII. The trail encompasses four locations that were significant to the Polish pilots.
The film "Hurricane," about Polish pilots who fought in the skies above England during the Battle of Britain, directed by David Blair, premiered at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square, central London, on Tuesday.
Families of veterans, officials, Polish cadets and students on Saturday laid wreaths at the London-based monument to Polish pilots who during WWII defended the British skies in Polish units serving under Royal Air Force (RAF) command.