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Hillingdon Council launches Polish Air Force Heritage Trail

News release: 2/11/18 - The contribution of the Polish Air Force during the Second World War was commemorated at an event on Friday 2 November, as Hillingdon Council launched a heritage trail honouring the Polish Air Force Fighter Squadrons that were based at RAF Northolt. It was here that the most successful Fighter Command unit in the Battle of Britain, No.303 (Kościuszko) Squadron was formed in August 1940.

Dignitaries at Polish Air Force Memorial 70th anniversary service

News release: 02 November 2018

The Polish Air Force Heritage Trail leads visitors to four locations in Hillingdon (The Battle of Britain Bunker in Uxbridge; The Polish Air Force Memorial in South Ruislip; The Orchard pub in Ruislip and Northwood Cemetery) that were all significant to the Polish Air Force Fighter Squadrons based at RAF Northolt.

Hillingdon Council collaborated with the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee (PAFMC), the Polish Airmen's Association (PAA) and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland to create the Polish Air Force Heritage Trail.  

The launch coincided with the 70th anniversary of the unveiling of the Polish Air Force Memorial, which was unveiled on 2 November 1948.  Professor Arkady Rzegocki, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland, joined Cllr John Morgan, Mayor of Hillingdon and Cllr Ray Puddifoot MBE, Leader of Hillingdon Council, in laying wreaths at the memorial near RAF Northolt.

A visit was also made to The Orchard pub in Ruislip, where during the war the airmen relaxed between their flying missions, before continuing on to the Battle of Britain Bunker Exhibition and Visitor Centre for the official launch.

Arkady Rzegocki said: "It gives me great pleasure to launch the Polish Air Force Heritage Trail commemorating the contributions that the Polish pilots and ground crews made to this country. 2018 is a special year to launch this trail as we are celebrating the centenary of the Royal Air Force and the Polish Air Force as well as the 70th Anniversary of the Polish Air Force Memorial. I hope that this trail will allow us not only to revisit the stories of the Polish airmen and airwomen who worked with the Royal Air Force in the turbulent years of the Second World War but also learn from their personal stories of fortitude and bravery. My congratulations and thanks to all who have worked hard in making this enormous initiative possible."

Cllr Ray Puddifoot said: "The contribution of the Polish Air Force in this country's hour of need cannot be underestimated. In both fighter and bomber squadrons the Polish Air Force served with gallantry, honour and distinction. Today we are honouring the service and sacrifice of those who served at RAF Northolt during the Second World War and  as we launch this trail here at the Battle of Britain Bunker let us remember the words of Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding, who said: "Had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of the battle would have been the same." In Hillingdon we are proud of our long association with the Polish Air Force and we hope that this heritage trail will bring the Polish airmen's stories to life and ensure that their bravery and valour will be remembered for generations to come."

 

 

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