In the wake of recent attacks by 'loyalists' on a number of Polish families in Belfast, I was sent a letter written by a Belfast resident that provides an interesting perspective and exposes the ignorance and irrational hatred at the heart of these despicable crimes.
Following Hitler's occupation of Poland and his racially motivated ethnic cleansing, many experienced Polish airmen joined the Royal Air Force and were stationed here in Northern Ireland where they provided much needed protection for the people of Belfast against the evil of fascism. Some of them were killed in action, others on training missions and their war graves at various locations in Belfast and County Down remain as a permanent memorial to the sacrifice of these brave Polish men.
Elsewhere in the UK, thousands of Polish people contributed to the British war effort, serving in all sections of the armed forces and it was Polish mathematicians who played a critical role at Bletchley Park in cracking the German codes and altering the course of the war in favour of the Allies. Speaking in the House of Commons after the war, Winston Churchill said of the Polish contribution "Her Majesty’s government will never forget the debt they owe to the Polish troops who have served them so valiantly and for all those who have fought under our command…”
The 'loyalists' who carried out the attacks on Polish families have clearly forgotten that debt, are guilty of racially motivated hate crimes and bring disgrace on this community. Their cowardly actions are an insult to the memory of the courageous Polish airmen and others who gave their lives in defence of Belfast, the United Kingdom and our freedom.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE POLISH CONTRIBUTION TO THE BRITISH WAR EFFORT AND THE ENORMOUS PRICE THEY PAID - VISIT THE WEBSITE: www.polishforcesmemorial.com
TEXT OF A LETTER ON THE RACIST ATTACKS AGAINST POLISH FAMILIES IN BELFAST:
Subject: Polish airmen defence of Belfast. WW2
In the light of recent attacks on Polish people living in Northern Ireland, I felt I must share my mother's tale of how she watched a Polish airman give his life for the people of East Belfast. The bombing of East Belfast during world war 2 is a part of history well known to most Ulster people. My mother and father who lived in East Belfast managed to flee to higher ground in the local green belt called "Orangefield", from where they witnessed a Polish R.A.F. Squadron defend Belfast against the Luftwaffe. It is well documented how Britain as a whole is indebted to the Polish airmen, as at the start of the war they were the only experienced pilots Britain had. They had already been fighting a war in Europe.
However, it is about one airman in particular that I am contacting you. It is particularly poignant, bearing in mind how very young all the pilots were. From the safety of Orangefield, my parents watched the battle in the air as the Polish fliers tried to prevent the Luftwaffe bombers drop their deadly loads. My father knew they were a Polish branch of the R.A.F. because of the markings on the planes.
One Polish R.A.F. plane had been hit, but apparently not so badly that the pilot could have escaped. There was time for the pilot to parachute to safety. Instead, he chose to stay in the
plane and steer it towards and into a German bomber, destroying them both. My mother never forgot the memory of that unknown Polish flier, so far from home, giving his life for people he did not know.
I felt I must share it with you bearing in mind the awful news of attacks on Polish people. Surely this stems from ignorance, and perhaps if our schools included how much we owed our Polish allies in their local history studies, it would help.