Wreath Laid at Stamford Polish War Memorial
A. L. Stubbs, Retired 33rd Parachute Regiment Royal Artillery, joined us for Armistice Day at the Stamford Schools to lay a wreath at the Polish War Memorial. Below are some words he wished to share with the Schools.
“Being asked to lay a wreath at the small Polish War Memorial at the Stamford Schools during this year’s Armistice Day made me realise that my knowledge of the Polish presence in Stamford was rather limited. Although I had been to Poland several times over the years, principally to see the Concentration/Extermination Camps, I consequently had to quickly brush up my knowledge of events of some seventy years ago.
“Germany in 1939 had concluded a “Non Aggression Pact” with the Soviet Union which from Germany’s view was simply a delaying tactic until later, when they had every intention of then invading Russia. Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, on trumped up charges, on 1st September 1939 followed by the Russia invasion from the north on the 17th. The devastation and murder of the Polish people was huge and both aggressors were pitiless. The Katyn Wood massacre was, for a time, blamed on the Germans, but found eventually to be the Russians murder of a large proportion of senior Polish army officers. The German planners in November 1939 had worked on the complete destruction of the Polish region to create additional living space for the Germans.
“German forces overran Europe very quickly, but in the meantime various Polish armed services managed to escape from the chaos in Poland and made their way through Europe, firstly to France then to the UK. Germany, overwhelmed by their huge successes, then changed “tack” when the RAF aided by the Polish pilots thwarted their plans to invade this country.
“Germany now turned on Russia – this was really the beginning of the end for Germany!
“The Polish Air Force and Army was now making a huge contribution to the Allied war effort in this country. In 1944 Polish Airborne Forces were stationed in and around Stamford in every available empty building, many together in Maiden Lane, Drill Hall and the Polish medical unit was stationed in the Schools’ Clapton House. ‘Parachute Forces’ were a new concept and so many accidents were experienced. In Stamford, two Dakota aircraft collided over the meadows area, and subsequently crashed, killing all on board. Apart from Polish Airborne Forces being stationed principally in the Stamford area, English Airborne Forces were scattered all around the Lincolnshire area. Both the British and Polish Forces left at the same time in September.
“1944 for Arnhem in Holland and the Polish Forces were on the opposite side of the river, which was a bold move with calculated risks and the purpose of endeavouring to shorten the war. This was a brave attempt which sadly failed – but in war calculated risks have to be taken!
“We owe a debt to the Polish Forces whose country was devastated by the Germans, who built three extermination camps at Auschwitz, Treblinka and Majdanek, and this is apart from so called ordinary concentration camps.”
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