Polish Air Force Casualties
During the occupation of Poland the Germans and the Soviets killed over six million citizens or 20% of its population. Warsaw alone suffered 700,000 dead; a figure greater than the fatalities of the UK and USA combined. PAF special operations units supported the resistance fighters of the Polish Home Army and, despite heavy casualties, attempted to supply them during the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising of August to October 1944. To help protect those at home from reprisals, the exiles sometimes used false names or covered their faces in photographs.
After the Yalta Agreement of February 1945, the Poles watched helplessly as their country was taken over by the communists. As those that returned home risked death or imprisonment, most chose to remain in this country or began new lives abroad. For political reasons, Polish servicemen and women were excluded from the Victory Parade in London in June 1946.
The Poles, who had fought so hard and sacrificed so much, felt they had been betrayed. Nevertheless, veterans remembered their years of service with the RAF with pride and affection. The British in turn admired the men and women who had fought alongside them and hundreds of Poles were readmitted to the peacetime air force.
In November 1948, a memorial dedicated to the 2,408 Polish airmen killed during the war was unveiled at RAF Northolt. The memorial bears an apt inscription:
Stoczylem piekna walke, bieg ukonczylem, wiary nie stracilem.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
In 1990, 51 years after the German and Soviet invasions, Poland held open elections and at last took its place among the free nations of the world.
Can you help?
If you were a member of the Polish Air Force from 1940 to 1945, we would like to add your account of your service to this online exhibition.
If you would like to assist us please click here »
Czy mozesz pomóc?
Prosimy bylych polskich lotników z lat 1940-1945 o nadsylanie wszelkich wspomnien dotyczacych tego okresu, w celu rozszerzenia naszego wirtualnego muzeum.
Aby zalaczyc wspomnienia prosimy kliknac tutaj »