The Polish Heritage Society
First official Polish Forces War Memorial unveiled at National Memorial Arboretum
The first official memorial in the UK to the contribution made by Polish forces to the allied efforts in World War II was unveiled by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent at the National Memorial Arboretum on September 19th, 2009.
The ceremony was attended by senior military and political leaders from both Britain and Poland, along with the last surviving Polish war veterans and the families of many others.
The Duke of Kent delivered a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to the assembled crowd, paying tribute to the gallant Polish men and women, both civilian and military, who gave their lives in the cause of freedom.
The Polish Ambassador to the UK, Her Excellency Mrs Barbara Tuge-Erecinska, joined the unveiling on behalf of the President and the government of Poland, accompanied my music from the band of the Royal Air Force and a fly-past by a wartime RAF Hurricane and Spitfire.
Other speakers at the cerermony included Baroness Taylor of Bolton, Minister of International Defence and Security, on behalf of the British government; Minister Stanislaw Komorowski, on behalf of the the Polish Defence Ministry and the Polish Armed Forces; General Sir Peter Wall, Commander in Chief Land Forces, representing the British armed forces; the ex-President of Poland, Mr Ryszard Kaczorowski; and the Worldwide Chairman of SPK, the association of Polish ex-combattants, Mr Czeslaw Maryszczak.
Following a blessing by His Excellency Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, wreaths were laid by the dignatories and representatives of the Polish Air Force Association, the Polish Resistance Association, the Polish Naval Association, and the Polish Association of Sovereign & Military Order of Malta.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a statement in advance of the ceremony: “The Polish Forces War Memorial is a fitting tribute to all the Polish Forces who fought and died in the service of our country and who will continue to be recognised, remembered and honoured with pride and gratitude."
The £300,000 cost of the memorial was raised largely by public donations.
At the end of the official ceremony, war veterans, their families and other guests were able to inspect the memorial at first hand and lay their own wreaths in the autumn sunshine.
For more information about the memorial and the history of the project and to make a donation towards the cost of maintaining the monument, please visit the website: www.polishforcesmemorial.com
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Extensively researched and richly illustrated throughout with photographs First to Fight is the perfect reference work for anyone with an interest in the Polish contribution to the Allied victory over Nazi Germany during WWII. But First to Fight is not just about the historical facts, the book also includes a section of previously unpublished short memoirs of those who fought so valiantly in the service of Poland and whose vivid accounts bring history to life in the most poignant and moving way that only those whose experienced war first-hand can convey.
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