The Polish Air Force During WW2.

Polish War memorial London (Alan Malcher)

After visiting the Polish War Memorial in London, I saw the following on a plaque near the memorial and after taking a photograph found the text was too small to read online so decided to copy the content and post it on this site along with appropriate photographs.

“On 1 September 1939 Poland was invaded by Germany and on 17 September by Soviet Russia. Polish aircraft were outclassed by the latest German designs, but the Luftwaffe still lost 285 aircraft, 126 credited to air-to-air combat.

With the defeat of Poland inevitable, most members of the Polish Air Force evacuated through Romania to France where they flew with the French Air Force and were credited with a further 60 Luftwaffe aircraft.By June 1940 some 8,000 members of the Polish Air Force re-formed in Great Britain. The initial RAF scepticism changed to admiration for the skills of pilots and ground crews alike. Polish airmen fought in Fighter Command throughout the Battle of Britain. 145 Polish pilots, some five per cent of Fighter command’s strength claimed 203 German aircraft destroyed for the loss of 30 killed. This represents 12 per cent of the total allied victories, or 1.4 enemy aircraft for every pole engaged. At the same time the two Polish Squadrons suffered losses 70 per cent less than most RAF units.”

303 Squadron (Polish)

“On 15 September, celebrated in the United Kingdom as ‘Battle of Britain Day’, one in five of the pilots in action was Polish. At the end of the 16-week campaign the top scoring Fighter Command Unit {Squadron} was 303 Polish Squadron which in only six weeks was credited with 126 enemy aircraft. Arguably the most successful individual pilot- with 17 victories- was Sergeant Josef Frantis, a Czech member of 303 squadron”.

303 Squadron (Polish) IWM

Eventually, the Polish Air Force amounted to 18,000 personnel, formed 14 squadrons plus two additional special flights attached to British units {RAF squadrons} and supported by Polish training schools, engineers and administrators. Individual Polish pilots also flew with the RAF and USAAF squadrons. “

Polish War Memorial (Alan Malcher)

“At the end of the war Poland was handed over by the allies to the control of the same Soviet Union which had invaded her in 1939. Polish Armed Forces were excluded from the 1946 Victory Parade. The Polish Government in Exile established during the war years remained in Great Britain until Poland regained sovereignty in 1990.”  (Source Polish War Memorial, Northolt, London)

At the rear of the memorial and close to the remembrance garden will be found the names of 1,936 Polish airmen killed during air combat over England and other countries.  

Author: Alan Malcher

Military historian and defence commentator

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