Polish Forces War Memorial:National Memorial Arboretum

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The Polish War Memorial Design Study

The National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield, Staffordshire, England, comprises 150 acres of woodland and memorials dedicated to the fallen servicemen and women from World War I, World War and other conflicts of the 20th Century. Until now there has been no memorial dedicated to the Poles who lost their lives during World War II despite the fact that Polish Forces served with the Allies from the first day of war until the last — fielding the fourth largest Allied army in the fight against Nazi German tyranny across Europe. Poles gave their lives on all fronts - on land, at sea and in the air, where they distinguished themselves with courage and self-sacrifice. Four humble toy soldiers, each painted a bronze colour and glued back-to-back atop a two-pence piece, created by Dr. Andrzej Meeson-Kielanowski, provided the inspiration behind the monument’s design. It was decided that the statue design would be based on the model soldier concept and would comprise four sculptures of typical members of the different branches of the Polish Armed Forces: the Air Force, the Army, the Navy and the Polish Underground Home Army. The Airman is a Polish pilot from RAF 303 Squadron during the Battle of Britain; the Underground figure is a woman courier wearing civilian clothes; the Army is represented by a typical Polish soldier from the battle of Monte-Cassino; the Sailor is a crew member of the Polish destroyer Błyskawica. In addition, the figures are ‘combined’ with an eagle uniting all four sculptures under its outspread wings.

One of four surrounding plaques

The Polish Forces War Memorial statue is set within an imposing 18 metre diameter architectural feature and has a series of plaques inset into the monument surround describing the Polish contribution in the Second World War so therefore the monument will act not only as a tribute to the fallen, but also as an educational aid for those visitors not familiar with the history of the allied Polish Forces during World War II.

The instigators of the Polish Forces Memorial project, Dr. Marek Stella-Sawicki, who is the project committee’s chairman, and Dr. Andrzej Meeson-Kielanowski, deputy chairman, were the driving force behind the Memorial with the aim to commission the design and construction of an imposing bronze monument of fitting artistic and architectural merit. Renowned Polish figurative sculptor Robert Sobociński was commissioned to create design mock-ups for the War Memorial statues with the plan that the final bronze statue was to be cast in Poznań, Poland and shipped to Great Britain ready for installation at the National Memorial Arboretum in the early summer of 2009. The installation of the monument was followed by an unveiling ceremony during September 2009, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.

The Polish Forces Memorial project main sponsors and associated organisations:

  • The Polish Ex-Combatants Association (Polish: Stowarzyszenie Polskich Kombatantów)
  • The Association of Polish Knights of The Sovereign and Military Order of Malta (UK)
  • The Polish Air Force Association Charitable Trust (Polish: Stowarzyszenie Lotników Polskich)
  • The Polish Underground Movement (1939-1945) Study Trust (Polish: Studium Polski Podziemnej)

References[edit]

  • Garliński, Józef. Poland in the Second World War. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1985. ISBN 978-0-87052-372-4
  • First to Fight Edited by Dr. Marek Stella-Sawicki, Jarek Garliński and Stefan Mucha. London: Polish Underground Movement (1939–45) Study Trust, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9557824-4-2

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°43′28″N 1°43′34″W / 52.724540°N 1.726158°W / 52.724540; -1.726158