The Battle of Britain - The Magnificent PolesPosted on Friday 30th August 2013
The very proportion of ground to air crew must have made a difference: in the RAF it was more than 100 to 1, in the Luftwaffe it was about 80 to 1, and in the Polish Air Force it was only 30 to 1. ‘Brothers have never been closer than we were,’ confirms Skalski’s fitter. He recalls a reception where Skalski, the Battle of Britain ace and by then a wing-commander, walked up to him and kissed his hands. The British officers present were astonished and a little shocked at the sight of a wing-commander kissing a fitter’s hands. ‘Were it not for these hands I would never have shot down so many planes – I’d be dead,’ Skalski declared. ‘The whole squadron was one family, sharing the joy of victories and successful flights, and sharing in the sorrow of losses. The mechanics would be in a frenzy of excitement as the planes came back from an operation, waiting to see whether they would buzz the airfield or make a victory roll, signifying success. They could see from the torn masking of the machine guns if the plane had been firing and would run up to their planes, hang on to the wings while they were still taxiing and shout: “How many?” The pilots would show them on their fingers. According to the pilots, the ground crew took more pride in the squadron’s score than did pilots themselves. “Mine’s been firing,” hollers one of them, as though it were all down to him. Such is the unwritten but immutable law, that the machine belongs not to God, nor to the king, nor to the government, but to him, and only to him, an oil-smeared scarecrow in blue overalls.’
The Forgotten Few
(Paperback - 256 pages)
by Adam Zamoyski
Only £11.99 RRP £14.99
By the beginning of 1941 there was a fully fledged Polish Air Force operating alongside the RAF. With 14 Squadrons it was larger than any other of the Air Force from Nazi-occupied Europe that had joined the Allies. Over 17,000 men and women passed through the ranks of the Polish Air Force while it was stationed in the UK.
They shot down 745 enemy aircraft, with a further 175 unconfirmed. They dropped thousands of bombs and laid hundreds of mines, flying 102,486 sorties notching up a total…
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