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Battle of Britain Heroes

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Uploaded on Sep 11, 2008

Battle of Britain Forgotten Heroes.2,944 pilots took part in the historic Battle of Britain, of whom 497 lost their lives. Amongst them there were 145 Polish pilots, of whom 32 were killed. The RAF and allied pilots shot down 1,733 German aircraft and the Luftwaffe shot down 915 British fighters. 203 German aircraft were shot by the Polish pilots. In September, during the highest intensity of German attacks, 13% of Polish pilots in frontline squadrons were Poles, and in October, because of the RAF loses, the proportion went up to 20%.
According to Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding, AOC Fighter Command of RAF: () all (Polish) squadrons swung into the fight with a dash and enthusiasm which is beyond praise. () The first Polish squadron (303) () during the course of one month shot down more Germans than any other British unit in the same period. Other Poles () were used () in British squadrons, but () they were probably most efficient employed in their own national units."
The changed attitude of the British towards the Polish pilots
The commander of the Northolt RAF station, W/Cdr Stanley Vincent, like many of the RAF high rank officers, doubted the scores reported by the Polish pilots from the 303 squadron. He did not believe that the Poles obeyed the regulations. He wanted to see personally what was true. One day he flew together with the 303 squadron and observed the fight against the German bombers. After the combat he said: Suddenly the sky became full of firing aircraft, parachutes and parts of broken wings". Vincent tried to fight, but every time he wanted to attack the Germans, a Polish pilot anticipated him. So he did not manage to fight in this battle. After the landing he said to the Intelligence officer: My God, they are really doing it!".

After the Battle of Britain, new Polish squadrons were formed. The aircraft with the Polish Air Force signs were seen all over the occupied Europe, fighting against Luftwaffe and taking part in bombing raids over Germany. In North Africa, the famous Polish Fighting Team (the so-called Skalski's Circus") was formed. The Polish pilots entered the combat in Italy and covered the landing in Normandy. When the World War Two was over, the Polish Air Force numbered 15 squadrons: seven day fighter squadrons (302, 303, 306, 308, 315, 316 and 317), one night fighter squadron (307), four bomber ones (300, 301, 304 and 305), one army cooperation squadron (later fighter reconnaissance squadron, then bomber fighter, later fighter - 309), one fighter reconnaissance squadron (318) as well as one air observation post (663). Polish squadrons were used also as occupational forces in Germany.

According to official documents "Battle of Britain" was the intensive preparations to defence and combat of Royal Air Force against Luftwaffe since September 10 till October 31, 1940. Main effort during this fight was taken by RAF Fighter Command. Contribution of fighter pilots to defence of Great Britain is the best illustrated by Sir Winston Churchill words: Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few". We Polish, living in United Europe 68 years after "Battle of Britain", are very proud of that among so few" were also ours compatriots pilots of two Polish fighter squadrons and detached to RAF units.

We still remember about "the few" who reversed the course of history and prevented the conquest of Europe by Germany. Far away from Homeland, to which a lot of them never would come back, they showed the world the best features of a Polish soldier: bravery, toughness and perseverance. Because of that, the following words on the monument to Polish airmen fallen in Great Britain are engraved: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept my faith".
"A Question of Honor": The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II LYNNE OLSON and STANLEY W. CLOUD

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