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Spitfires to fly in Polish fighter pilots tribute

An article about Poles who flew for the RAF in the Second World War.

Spitfires to fly above Forth again in Polish fighter pilots tribute

SPITFIRES are set fly up the Forth Estuary for the first time in more than 60 years in memory of a group of Polish fighter pilots, it was announced today.

The flypast will also include Hurricanes and Lancaster bombers and will take place on September 13 – the closest Saturday to Battle of Britain Day.

The Polish airmen were members of the 58 Operational Training Unit based at Grangemouth during the Second World War.

Hundreds developed their skills there and went on to claim record numbers of enemy planes. Some shot down as many as three aircraft in one day.

But the planes they were given were so bad that several young Poles were killed in training.

A permanent stone tribute to them, surrounded by a memorial garden, will be unveiled on the site of the former RAF Grangemouth.

The event has been organised by Flying Officer Tom McMorrow, 51, commanding officer of the 1333 (Grangemouth) Squadron of the Air Training Corps. He said: "With Grangemouth now hosting a growing Polish community, I just felt that now was the right time to try to do something to commemorate all these brave Polish boys who learnt to fly using Battle of Britain Mk 1 Spitfires.

"Many of these planes had been badly shot up, one of the reasons that so many were killed in training accidents.

"The council has now granted us a site for the memorial garden on a piece of ground on the perimeter of where the old airfield once stood. A stone will be unveiled on the closest Saturday to Battle of Britain Day. It will feature the names of each of the fighter pilots who died at Grangemouth.

"We will put up two flag-poles, one with an RAF flag and the other with the Polish flag.

"The Spitfire flypast will be the first Spitfire to fly over Grangemouth since the war and we hope it will bear the Polish colours."

Opened by Air Marshal Viscount Trenchard in 1939, Grangemouth was originally used as a civilian airfield, the Central Scotland Airport.

It consisted of two grass runways and was run by a private company but included a military training unit which used Tiger Moths and Avro Ansons.

By late 1939 it was used solely as a Battleof Britain satellite airbase – strategically vital for the protection of the Forth Bridge and Rosyth Docks, where many of the Royal Navy fleet were based or repaired.

It was home to a Spitfire fighter squadron, and others flying Blenheim bombers and Gladiators – long range coastal patrol aircraft.

Polish RAF airmen flying from Grangemouth played a crucial part in the Battle of Britain against the Luftwaffe.

The highest scoring unit during the conflict was the No 303 Polish Fighter Squadron and Poles claimed a disproportionate number of enemy aircraft.

After the Battle of Britain, the authorities wanted to train as many airmen as possible and in 1941 RAF Grangemouth became the main training station for Poles.

Mr McMorrow said: "All the great Polish fighter pilots who fought with the RAF passed through RAF Grangemouth. The famous aces came back as instructors."


Re: Spitfires to fly in Polish fighter pilots tribute

Loads of RAF personnel were shocked when the first anniversary of VE Day was celebrated without a Polish contingent.

Typical of the Norman English aristos in charge of the Establishment. Upper class arrogance and xenophobia.