Poles in the Battle of Britain, a Photographic Album of the Polish ‘Few’

A very welcome book presenting the contribution made by Polish airmen during the Battle of Britain. The author provides an impressively researched account, with lavish B&W illustration in support of the text. Most Highly Recommended

NAME: Poles in the Battle of Britain, a Photographic Album of the Polish 'Few'
FILE: R3275
AUTHOR: Peter Sikora
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £25.00                                                        
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:   Polish 'Few', RAF, Battle of Britain, Hurricane, Spitfire, 11 Group, 
WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, Luftwaffe, air combat, dog 
fighting, daylight raids, bombers, bomber escorts, radar, command and control

ISBN: 1-52678-241-3

PAGES: 250 
IMAGE: B3275.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y8bnvy2c
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: A very welcome book presenting the contribution made by Polish 
airmen during the Battle of Britain. The author provides an impressively researched 
account, with lavish B&W illustration in support of the text. Most Highly 
Recommended

The very high photographic count, at first glance, makes this book like a photo essay, but there is excellent text and expressive captions and extended captions. The author has made a great job of presenting the Polish volunteers who were aggressive and highly effective in the dog fights taking place daily over Southern Britain during the Summer of 1940. It was pay back time for the German invasion of their homeland.

In 1939, the British and French were honour bound to declare war on Germany for its rape of Poland. Unfortunately there was not much they could do to help the Poles directly and many appeasers were still in positions of influence in both Britain and France. The result was, as many Polish airman as could escaped from German occupation and many made their way first to France. The Polish Air Force had been destroyed, largely on the ground. Those pilots who did manage to take off and to attack German aircraft were at a serious disadvantage in their obsolescent or obsolete aircraft. In France those who fought alongside French pilots were not necessarily better equipped than they had been in Poland. Certainly, France did not have an advanced radar equipped command and control system which meant that Combat Air Patrols were often on the ground refuelling when the German planes arrived, or ‘scrambled’ fighters were struggling to get off the ground and up to an altitude where they stood some chance of equality in combat.

Those Poles who made it to Britain were initially something of an embarrassment to the RAF. Language was a fundamental challenge and senior officers were concerned that the Poles would have difficulty fitting into the RAF command and control ethos. In training the Poles demonstrated tenacity and a determination to fight Germans but they also exhibited at times a language difficulty and a preference for ‘wild boar’ tactics rather than formation flying.

Against the challenges, they were good pilots who picked up new and different ideas quickly. They were equipped with two of the best, if not the absolutely best, advanced monoplane fighters with a heavy gun armament and an advanced reflector gun sight. Radio communication was clear and effective over the battlefield and the most advanced command and control system in the world was ready and debugged before the start of battle. It is therefore no surprise that when the Poles entered the fight, good training, equipment and a burning desire for vengeance made them formidable opponents who began shooting down large numbers of German aircraft.

The Poles were to form their own Polish Air Force alongside the RAF, directed by the common command and control system and separate for the first time from other Polish Forces. At the end of the war, many decided to settle in Britain. Of those who went back to Poland some were to escape once more, this time from Soviet subjugation.

This is a moving and sensitive tribute to their courage and determination. The photographs are first class and reproduced through the body of the book.