Thursday, November 5, 2020

This undated photo by Sgt. Deakin shows Polish troops being outfitted in Palestine.  
After their country was overrun and occupied by the Germans, a lot of young 
Poles managed to escape through Sweden and other means to join the 
Allied forces and continue the fight.  In fact, Polish aviators played a key role 
in winning the Battle of Britain.  There is an impressive monument to 
them just off the A-40 in West London that I visited with a Polish friend.



  1. I was unaware that Polish troops had served in British Mandate Palestine during WWII. Most Poles - as other nationalities - made their way via various routes to Britain. Some cursory research immediately provided some interesting details. It appears that when the French commander in French Mandate Syria, Général Mittelhauser, ordered the cessation of hostilities at the end of June, 1940, the brigade of Polish troops serving with the French told Général Mittelhauser and the French to take a "long hard suck on their arse" and marched across the border into Palestine and joined the British to continue fighting the Germans. It is to be assumed that they went on - with the Americans and British - to liberate Italy and fought at the Battle of Monte Casino.

    1. That explains why I found a Polish war cemetery when I was touring Italy a few years back. Thanks for researching the historical details, Calorman!

  2. A total of 2,937 aircrew from 17 countries or territories participated in the Battle of Britain to become Winston Churchill's "few": "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

    Australia (32), Barbados (1), Belgium (28), Britain (2,342), British Mandate Palestine (1), Canada (111), Czechoslovakia (88), France (13), Ireland (10), Jamaica (1), Newfoundland (1), New Zealand (127), Poland (145), South Rhodesia (3), Union of South Africa (25), United States of America (9).

    For historical accuracy only, all country names are given after the usage of the time.

    The Irish Free State was constitutionally a self-governing Dominion of the British Commonwealth, adopting the name Ireland in 1937 until the Republic was formally declared in 1949.

    Sgt Geoff Goodman, a British-born Jew who had emigrated to the Yishuv, accounts for British Mandate Palestine - and also the considerate if inaccurate inclusion of "Israel" in the list of participating countries at the end of the 1969 film, "The Battle of Britain". Following a vote in the United Nations, the State of Israel was refounded under international law in 1948.

    Newfoundland was a separate, self-governing Dominion and not yet part of the Canadian Confederation at the time, joining Canada in 1949.

    Poles comprised the largest national group after that of the United Kingdom.

    This Sunday, November 8th, 2020, my country holds its annual Remembrance Day to honour those who gave their lives in the service of Crown, Country and Commonwealth and those of our friends and allies.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them.

    - For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

  3. Here's a more modern (and cynical) take from the Rolling Stones' "Salt of the Earth":

    Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
    Spare a thought for his back breaking work
    Say a prayer for his wife and his children
    Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

    Raise your glass to the hard working people
    Let's drink to the uncounted dead
    Let's think of the wavering millions
    Who need leaders but get gamblers instead

  4. I didn't know that - many thanks. Pete Seeger summed it up for me. But there are legitimate wars, and WWII was one of them - otherwise, I would never have been born and my family cast onto the ash heap of history.

    1. Oh, I totally agree about WWII being necessary and justified.