The Polish Shrine at St John's Cathedral Norwich where a wreath was laid and Polish Flag displayed on Remembrance Sunday in memory of Poles who had lost their lives fighting with Britain in World War II
Friends of NPHG who gathered to pay tribute to Polish men and women at the Polish Shrine which was conceived and constructed by Poles who stayed in Norfolk following the end of World War II
Sunday 14th November 2021
Around 6 million Polish citizens perished during World War II: about one fifth of the pre-war population. Nearly 17,000 men and women from the Polish Airforce arrived in this country in early 1940… to help Britain fight the Nazi oppression.
Of the Polish contribution to the Battle of Britain, for example, the Commander in Chief of Fighter Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding said:
"Had it not been for the magnificent work of the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry
in the Battle of Britain, I hesitate to say that the outcome of battle would have been the same".
In June 1940, the Polish Government in exile in the UK signed an agreement with the British Government to form an independent Polish Army, Air Force and Navy in the UK under British operational control. Polish ground forces, soldiers, fought with Britain in the North Africa campaign, the Italian campaign, the Normandy campaign following on from D Day and in the Battle for Berlin.
By 1944 Polish Armed Forces in the West numbered 195,000 personnel but there is no total finite figure regarding the number of deaths of soldiers, sailors and airmen out of that cohort. But by the end of that war approximately 19,400 Poles were serving in the RAF, across Fighter, Bomber and Coastal commands and we do know that 2,408 Polish airmen were killed during the war.
We believe that there were perhaps 3,000 Polish military personnel who remained in Norfolk after the war and this shrine was conceived and constructed in 1981 by some of those who stayed.
Adrian Żółkowski-O'dell said that, "This morning we remember those Poles who died fighting for this country in particular during WW2 and we also celebrate the lives of those who stayed in Norfolk after the conflict and for the many thousands who make it their home today".