When my grandfather was alive, as a Polish soldier who had fought in the defence of his country from the 1st September, as someone who by 1940 had fought, escaped and got to re-join the Polish ranks in France and then in Britain, he was proud to have served alongside the Polish Airforce and then with those airmen who made it to Britain.
Ignorance often rears its ugly head when people ask, what did the Poles ever do for us? They do not realise that the Poles were the largest contingent of foreign airmen to serve in the RAF during the Battle of Britain. This excellently researched book sets the record straight and highlights the role of the 145 Polish airmen who took part in the Battle of Britain.
This book explains how for over a thousand years Poland had always had problems with her powerful neighbours, and had often had to defend herself from them. In 1792, Poland had been conquered and divided by Russia, Austria and Prussia/Germany. It was not until 1918 that Poland once again came blinking out into daylight, and once again a country in her own right.
Once free, Poland always knew she may have to defend her borders and while they had an army of sorts, they would need an airforce. She built an airforce on the backs of pioneers, veterans of the First World War, who had been forced to fight each other under different empires.
By the time the Poles arrived in England in late 1939 early 1940, they were already battle-hardened and had fought the Luftwaffe over the Skies of Poland. It was this experience that came to fruition during the Battle of Britain, as the Poles pushed themselves hard and hard to kill the enemy. Both Churchill and Air Chief Marshall Dowding acknowledged the work of the Poles in defending Britain.
This excellently researched and written book is an in depth look at those 145 Polish airmen and their service in the Royal Air Force. Even giving accounts of each individual pilot, this really is a magnificent book. Highly recommended book for those interested in the Battle of Britain and Polish Armed Forces.
Paul Diggett 5/5
The Polish Few by Peter Sikora
Frontline Books 9781526714855 hbk Oct 2018