Memorial garden honours Battle of Britain heroes
Official opening on 75th anniversary remembers Polish pilots
A NEW Polish War Memorial Remembrance Garden was officially opened at the weekend to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Representatives from Hillingdon Council, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London, the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee and RAF Northolt stood together to mark the occasion on Saturday (September 5).
The garden was designed and created by Hillingdon Council with a contribution from the Polish Embassy.
It was opened by Cllr Ray Puddifoot MBE, leader of Hillingdon Council, and His Excellency Witold Sobków, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in London, at the annual Polish Air Force Memorial Ceremony.
Cllr Puddifoot said: “The council is extremely proud of its close links with the military and we are delighted that in this 75th anniversary year, we are able to acknowledge the significant contributions made by the Polish Air Force in securing victory in the Battle of Britain.
“This garden will provide a peaceful and beautiful open space for people to be able to remember and reflect on the pivotal role they played.”
The opening was followed by the annual Polish Air Force Memorial Ceremony, in which RAF Northolt personnel were on parade and was concluded by a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Group Captain David Manning, RAF Northolt’s Station Commander, said: “History recognises the significant contribution of the Polish pilots and airmen during the Battle of Britain 75 years ago.
“We at RAF Northolt are extremely proud of the close link that we cherish and maintain with the Polish communities to this day.
“It has been a superb commemoration ceremony and as Station Commander I am hugely honoured to be able to represent the station, honour the memory of those pilots and airmen, and spend time with the inspirational veterans and their families.”
A Portland Stone obelisk with granite plaques, one in English and one in Polish were unveiled in the new garden to mark the occasion and blessed by Monsignor Wylezek.
Ambassador Witold Sobków, said: “The contribution made by 145 Polish fighter pilots to the Battle of Britain, who fought in No. 302 and No. 303 Polish Squadrons as well as in British units, is a source of immense pride for Poland and the Polish community in the UK.
“Out of the overall number of fighter pilots from Allied countries, they constituted the second largest contingent after the British.
“We are very thankful to Hillingdon Council that the sacrifice made by Polish airmen and airwomen “for your freedom and ours” will now be commemorated also by this peaceful garden.”
The Polish Air Force Memorial Ceremony attracted representation at the highest levels of officials from Poland as well as senior British representatives.
Wreaths were laid by the Polish and British Governments, Local Authorities, the Polish Air Force and the Royal Air Force.
Veterans of individual squadrons or their descendants also laid wreaths for each Polish squadron that flew alongside the Royal Air Force from 1940 to 1945.
Interpretation Boards, also in both languages, and installed adjacent to the obelisk state ‘This Memorial Garden is dedicated with grateful thanks to the Polish Air Force by the London Borough of Hillingdon.’
n REMEMBRANCE: Ken Olisa laying a wreath. Left, Lowering the Standards as the last post is called
Photos by Rob Bourne www.buyaphototms.co.uk WL154919