Commemoration ‘2008: Address by Bruce Harrison

Bruce Harrison — Guest Speaker Of The 2008 Commemorations


We have gathered today to commemorate events that took place 68 and 64 years ago — the Katyn Massacre, the Warsaw Uprising and the Warsaw Flights. As we look down the corridor of the years — longer indeed than many here today have yet lived, we have to acknowledge that time dims memories and we might well observe, as Wordsworth did in his “Ode to Immortality”:

“The things which I have seen, I now can see no more.
“Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
“Where is it now, the glory and the dream?”

It would not be surprising if time dimmed the memory of those events — but it has not — and the fact that we are here today in numbers is evidence of this. We are gathered to honour and keep alive the memory of brave men and women, and the bonds forged between the people of Poland and South Africa in the furnace of war. The celebration of these events also takes place internationally, in the many services held in Poland and by Polish communities such as this, around the world. Here in South Africa, there was a special commemoration on Carte Blanche last Sunday evening, as well as our service today.

Poland, although an old and historic country, was a young republic in 1939, after just 21 years of independence after the First World War. Earlier, it had been occupied (for 123 years) by Russia, Prussia and Austria. There had been 3 major uprisings against the Russians, in the East. Poland emerged in 1918 as a patriotic Republic similar to Ireland. That’s why there were almost no collaborators there and real fighting.

We remember, and commemorate, and honour:

— Those Poles murdered by their captors at Katyn in 1940
— Those who joined the Home Army, the AK, and after 5 bitter years of occupation rose against the occupier in 1944. Over 200 000 gave their lives in that brave act, during the 63 days of the rising.
— Those airmen of the Polish Special Flights, the RAF and the South African Air Force who volunteered to fly the near-impossible relief flights.

We also salute Major General, then Brigadier Durrant, who commanded 205 Wing RAF at the time, which comprised 31 and 32 Squadron’s SAAF and 148 and 178 Squadron RAF. As Air Officer Commanding he was concerned at the implications for his crews of the extreme range across occupied Europe, weather and tiny margins from an operational point of view. The first flights, with their heavy losses — 16 out of 25 aircraft, confirmed his concerns. He visited AVM John Slessor to tell him so, and was surprised to be ushered into the presence of Winston Churchill himself. When he pointed out that the proposed airlift would not promote military success, and that the loss of air crew and aircraft would be unacceptably high, Churchill’s reply was brief and to the point.

“From a military point of view you are right”, he said “but from a political point of view you must carry on. Good Morning.”

And so Jimmy Durrant and his volunteer aircrews did carry on, accepting all the known risks. They made 196 trips to Warsaw, 11 hours over the Carparthian Mountains, and then flying at rooftop height to drop canisters packed with guns, ammunition and food.


— We honour those who fell in the fight for freedom
— We recognise those who survived, and the few still with us today
— And we remind the generations to come of the price paid for their freedom

The scripture records that many years ago King David, the Shepherd King of Israel, was himself besieged by the Philistines and in desperate circumstances. He longed for a drink of water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem. Three of his mighty men broke through the encircling Philistine garrison and brought him a drink of water he craved so much.

But, David refused to drink it; instead he poured it out before the Lord as an offering saying:

“God forbid that I should do this! Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?

It is appropriate that we should have the same sense of reverence as we commemorate those who fell.

Such were the men and women of the Home Army
Such were the men who flew to their assistance.

The Battle was lost and Warsaw reduced to ashes. But in those ashes there were diamonds — which shine brightly to this day. The diamonds of:

— Exceptional courage
— Incredible bravery
— Invincible determination
— The spirit of free men and women
— And, through all the tragedy, an indomitable sense of humour.

Polish Village

The story is told of the elderly mayor of a Polish village at the time the occupying Russians were demarcating the new borders. As it happened, the new line would pass right down the middle of the village street.

The mayor was given an option. Did he and his people want to fall into the Russian sector or remain in Poland? There was a short discussion and the mayor went back to the Russian authorities the next day with this answer:

“With respect, the village would prefer to remain in Poland, because they did not think they could stand another Russian winter!”

Nearly a hundred years before Warsaw, Abraham Lincoln was moved by similar bravery and sacrifice to write these words.

“We have come to remember and honour those who gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow that ground. The brave men and women who struggled there have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did there…

It is for us the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us.

That from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that the nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Well, by the good Grace of God, and thanks to those who knew what it was “to fight and not to yield, to sacrifice and not to count the cost”, freedom has not perished from the earth, and we all today can celebrate their sacrifice as free men and women. The glory and the dream of those brave days is alive and well today. Let us in our generation be worthy of their sacrifice.

Rev. Brian Jones, himself a survivor of the relief flights, recollects that he shared a tent in Brindise with Ben Impey, who was killed over Warsaw on the night of 16 — 17 August 1944. In that tent, the night before he flew, Impey wrote the “Airman’s Prayer”, which I quote as we close.


My God, this night I have to fly,
And ere I leave the ground,
I come with reverence to Thy Throne
Where perfect peace is found.

I thank Thee for the life I’ve had,
For home and all its love,
I thank Thee for the faith I have
That cometh from above.

Come with me now into the air,
Be with me as I fly,
Guide Thou each move that I shall make
Way up there — in the sky.

Be with me at the target, Lord,
When danger’s at its height
Be with me as I drop my load
And on the homeward flight.

And should it be my time to die,
Be with me to the end,
Help me to die a Christian’s death,
On Thee, God, I depend.

Then as I leave this mortal frame
From human ties set free,
Receive my soul, O God of love,
I humbly come to Thee.


Democracy did not die in the flames of Warsaw. And now, once more, Poland is free.

Commemoration ‘2008: Rev Dr Robin Petersen

Warsaw Uprising Memorial Sermon 6 September 2008


In our Gospel reading from Matth 25, we find a parable of why we are here today. The Gospel tells us of the judgement of the nations at the end of time, the separation of the just and the unjust, the sheep and the goats. And what is surprising is that those who are separated, who are declared to be just and unjust, are surprised! ‘Lord, when did we feed you, or clothe you, or visit you in prison?’ And the answer? ‘Truly, I tell you, just as you did it for the least of these you did it to me’.

Gentlemen, tonight your target is Warsaw‘. The route, laid out in red ribbon on a large wall map, outlines a chilling, frightening, impossible mission. ‘An unfair act of war’, as Colonel Dirkie Nel had called it. Flying thousands of miles over enemy territory, at the outer limits of the aircraft range, avoiding night fighters and anti-aircraft fire, and then descending to 200m with full flaps over a fiercely burning, heavily defended city, to drop desperately needed supplies to the Polish Home Army. The crews of 31 and 34 squadrons of the SAAF, far from home, volunteers all, are faced with an impossible task, a task which commentators have called ‘the most daring aviation feat in the history of war’. They are faced with death, and they have to overcome their fear as they stoically and heroically set out on their long, almost suicidal, journey.

And for whom? A people whose history and language they do not know, whose names and faces and struggles they do not know, whose bravery and courage in rising up in resistance they will only learn of later. They do not know of the 42 000 combatants of the AK who, with ammunition for only 2500, have taken on the might of the German army. They do not know of the 4000 Polish women in the AK like Myra Sobczyk who is here among us today, who have joined their men in resistance. They do not know of the young people crawling through the sewers to ensure survival. They not know of the history of betrayal of the Polish nation, and of its proud struggles to resist domination. They have not yet heard about the previous uprising of the Polish Jews in the Ghetto. They did not know that Hitler had determined to crush the Poles and destroy Warsaw forever.

They have heard none of this that might have made their mission seem more meaningful. All they have heard are the chilling words, the impossible words, ‘Gentlemen, tonight your target is Warsaw‘.

And because it is their duty, because it is their calling, they go. Overcoming their fears and doubts and trepidation, they go. And many of them do not return. Others, like Bryan Jones who is with us today as the last remaining survivor of those in his squadron who flew to Warsaw, are shot down and miraculously survive.

Like Moses, I am sure, they all thought to themselves ‘Who am I that I should go?’ But like Moses they went, many in the knowledge of God’s presence with them.

And so it is, as in our parable of the sheep and the goats, they are surprised, humbled, moved, amazed when their actions are so honoured as they are today. As Bryan’s son-in-law, I can testify to his continuing amazement at how you all have honoured him and his colleagues. He does not regard himself as a hero, yet you have honoured him as such. In annual celebrations like this one, in memorials erected in their honour in Poland, in their medals and awards, and above all in the way in which you have welcomed them and their families into your gracious and loving embrace, you have surprised, humbled and moved us all.

And as we all gather here today, with our different histories, our different memories, the wonderfully diverse and separate paths that we have taken to end up here, at the Katyn memorial on a glorious spring day in Johannesburg, I am moved, stirred with a deep emotion at the simple, yet profound nature of what we remember today and how it has brought us all together. An act of courage and mercy and fulfilment of simple duty, has had power that has spanned over sixty years of memory, over vast distances of time and space, and has united us in our diversity: South Africans and Poles, Protestants and Catholics, Christians and Jews, and has brought together in humility former enemies now friends under this simple cross, at this simple place.

I was recently given a book to read by Bryan, who is, as we know, a Protestant Pastor. He urged me to read it. It is called Memory and Identity, and it is written by a very famous Pole, Karol Wojtyla, or as you might know him, Pope John Paul II.

The late Pope ends the book with these words, which I find most appropriate to end our reflections today.

“All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation, a promise of joy: ‘I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake’, writes St. Paul. This applies to all forms of suffering, called forth by evil. It applies to that enormous social and political evil which divides and torments the world today: the evil of war, the evil of oppression afflicting individuals and peoples, the evil of social injustice, of human dignity trodden underfoot, of racial and religious discrimination, the evil of violence, terrorism, the arms race — all this evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering. In the love that pours forth from the heart of Christ, we find hope for the future of the world. Christ has redeemed the world: ‘By his wounds we are healed’.” (Memory and Identity — Pope John Paul II)

Commemoration ‘2007: Address by Philip Weyers

Address to the Warsaw Uprising and Relief Flights Service — 8 September 2007

Mr Chairman, Members of the Warsaw Flights Commemoration Organizing Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen

You do me a great honour by asking me to address you here today, for we celebrate not only the memory of those who fell in the Warsaw uprising and those who gave their lives during the relief flight operations, but also the relationship that exists today as it has done for decades gone by between the peoples of Poland and South Africa.

I must also admit to feeling quite some sentiment today, as the Polish Community was close to the heart of my Great-Grand Father, and closer to home also occupied a place in my late Father’s heart. My Father was honoured on more than one occasion by representing the then Chief of the Air Force at your Commemoration Service, something he particularly enjoyed and appreciated.

In light of the fact that we are remembering today 69 South African Air Force aircrew, I thought it appropriate that I talk initially about the part General Smuts, or the Oubaas, played in the formation of the concept of air forces and air power, in particular the Royal Air Force and of course the South African Air Force, both of whom flew with tremendous distinction during the Relief of Warsaw.

In 1917, having run around the veld in then German East Africa in an attempt to corner the German commander, General von Lettow Vorbeck, the Oubaas was sent by Louis Botha to London to attend the Imperial Conference in March of that year.

At the end of the Imperial Conference, the British wanted the Oubaas to stay in England. The man who a scant 15 years previously had been fighting the British with vigour in South Africa was deemed now indispensable to them and for a few reasons; the Irish question or problem, the problem of the Turks in Palestine and the Palestine question itself, and the fact that he was a unique asset to the War Cabinet being the only member with combat experience. As matters turned out, the Oubaas declined the Palestine command, made a trip to Ireland under the alias of John Smith, and did indeed join the War Cabinet, which brings me to the Royal Air Force.

During the latter part of the 1917 summer, there was growing resentment among the British populace regarding British air defences. London was being bombed at will, and it seemed to the Oubaas that every moonlit night brought a raid, which he watched from the balcony of his room at the Savoy Hotel.

In July 1917, the War Cabinet delegated two of it’s members to investigate the issues of 1. home defence against air raids and 2. the existing organisation for the study and higher direction of aerial operations. The members chosen were the Oubaas and David Lloyd-George. Lloyd-George made it clear that he had little or no expertise, and left the Commission to the Oubaas.

The Oubaas tucked into the assignment with his customary vigour, and within two weeks on 19 July had produced his first report which recommended four courses of action; Concentration of Executive Command under one senior officer of high ability. Immediate concentration and disposition of AA guns Rapid completion and training of air squadrons to fight in formation, and Provision of sufficient air-defence units to cope with the attacks on London.

It should be noted that at the time, the Royal Flying Corps occupied itself with matters on the Western Front, while the Royal Naval Air Service concentrated on the Channel. To add to the chaos, the “Army and Navy had on order 9483 aircraft of 76 varieties and 20000 engines of 76 kinds”.

The recommendations were accepted in toto by the War Cabinet and implementation instituted. The Oubaas however, was not done, and on 17 August presented a further, even more radical report. This report has subsequently been described by Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason in 1986 as “the single most important document in the history of air power”. This second report represented a paradigm shift in conventional and accepted thinking. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, then Chief of the Royal Air Force and now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said in late 2005 words to the effect that the thinking contained in this second report were so far reaching as to be difficult for traditionalists to comprehend.

In this second report, the Oubaas suggested that air power should have an offensive role, not just a defensive one as was Britain’s practice at the time. Due to the groundbreaking nature of what he was suggesting, the Oubaas drew a parallel with the role of artillery, saying that “artillery was a weapon, an instrument ancillary to a service, but one that could not be an independent service itself”.

It should be borne at this stage in mind that such air power as Brtitain possessed was divided between the Royal Navy Air Service as part of the Royal Navy, and the RFC, the Royal Flying Corps which was part of the army.

He went on to elaborate:
“Air Service on the contrary, can be used as an independent means of war operations far from and independently of, both Army and Navy. As far as can be presently foreseen there is absolutely no limit to the scale of its future independent war use. And the day might not be far off when aerial operations with their devastation of enemy lands and destruction of industrial and populous centres on a vast scale may become the principle operations of war to which the older forms of military and naval operations may become secondary and subordinate. In our opinion there is no reason why the Air Board (which was a joint service committee) should any longer continue in its present form and there is every reason why it should be raised to the status of an independent Ministry in control of its own war service.”

In essence, the Oubaas said that Britain could win the war the following year if she mobilised her inventive and mechanical genius to produce sufficient aircraft to strike hard at the enemy’s communications and deep into his homeland. For this an independent Air Staff and Air Ministry were required.

The basic recommendations of the report were:
— An Air Ministry be set up as soon as possible
— An Air Staff to be set up as soon as possible
— The Royal Naval Air Service to be merged with the Royal Flying Corps
— That the Air Service keep most close contact with the Army and Navy
— That the Air Staff attach to the army and navy such units necessary for military and naval operations.

The War Cabinet accepted the second report.

The Oubaas had created for himself a mountain of work. Lloyd George passed the proverbial buck immediately back to the Oubaas who became chairman of a new Air Organisation Committee. Of the more difficult tasks was to persuade the Admiralty to part with the RNAS, and to get sufficient production from British industry. The Oubaas had seen at that stage that neither the Navy nor the army were likely to win the war, even if they did combine their resources. To achieve this, an Aerial Operations Committee was established, later to become the War Priorities Committee, again with the Oubaas as it’s Chairman. This committee had the power to determine all questions of industrial priorities, independent of the War Cabinet, at the time itself an unheard of situation.

It effectively placed the Oubaas in charge of Britain’s industry, from the provision of raw materials, what was to be produced as well as the question of manpower. A unique situation, even by today’s more liberal standards.

With an understanding of the British way of doing things that only an objective viewer, viewing from the outside could have, the Oubaas managed, without detriment to the army and navy, to pull all the loose ends together and on 1 April 1918, the Royal Air Force, the first independent air force to exist anywhere, was officially born.

Lessons the Oubaas learned with his experience in the Royal Air Force establishment led to the establishment of the South African Air Force, the second oldest independent air force, on 1 February 1920 under the guidance of Lt Col Sir Pierre van Ryneveld.

And that Ladies and Gentlemen, is the abridged version of how the Royal Air Force and later our South African Air Force came into being.

It is also I believe most appropriate to recount to you today the story of the Polish orphans, or Oudtshoorn orphans, who were brought to South Africa in 1943. Here I must express my sincere thanks to Andrzej Romanowicz, who gave me a wonderful history lesson.

The Polish Government in exile, aware of the terrible plight of orphaned Polish children, and with the distinct possibility of further atrocities, made a request to the Allied Nations to provide for the safety of 10 000 Polish orphaned children. In this vein, the Polish Consulate in Pretoria approached the South African Government for refuge, a request that was initially not well received, due to an unspoken agreement between the South African political parties that European immigration to South Africa would not be permitted until the war ended. The Oubaas, with the subtle urging of both the Polish and American Governments, gave consent for 500 orphans to be given temporary refuge in South Africa.

A fully equipped facility outside Oudtshoorn was made available to house the orphans, which included accommodation, a school, hospital and periphery buildings, with equipment, clothing and food provided by the residents of Oudtshoorn and surrounds.

The children set off from Tehran and arrived in Oudtshoorn on 10 April 1943. The total number of Polish refugees numbered 551, comprising 500 children and 51 adults being medical personnel, teachers and support staff.

The children soon made their mark on South African society. With specialised skills such as embroidery and needlework, certain of the children toured the country exhibiting their work.

The schooling of the children proceeded well, and it was not long before specialist classes were provided in needlework and sewing for the girls, and for the boys commercial and engineering classes.

Cultural activities were not ignored, and played an active part in the childrens lives. A most successful choir was established, and colourfully clad dance group enthralled audiences nationally.

South Africans were most receptive to their new Polish community, and donated all forms of equipment, clothing, food and money. Children were invited to the holiday homes of local residents and at Great Brak a holiday camp was made available to the children.

The intention that the children would return home at the end of the war was dashed at the Yalta conference in February 1945, which was said to favour Russian imperialism and where by means devious and foul Stalin pulled the wool over the eyes of Churchill and Roosevelt, as a consequence of which, inter alia, Poland was sacrificed and became a communist country. This necessitated a re-evaluation of the plan which resulted in the decision to assimilate the orphans into mainstream South African society, of which to most intents and purposes they already were.

With this decision having been taken, the children were sent to schools around the country – the girls to convent schools primarily in the Cape and Natal, and the boys to various technical schools. A number of the orphans, despite their adverse past circumstances, became significant achievers and an example of this was the then new Durban Harbour and passenger terminal, where two engineering graduates, Leonard Rynkiewicz and Milek Masojada provided essential input to the designer, Prof Michal Zakrzewski.

The Oudtshoorn Polish Orphans soon became South Africans in every sense, while at the same not foregoing their Polish heritage and ancestry which is that which in so many ways defines our being. Poland’s very sad loss was doubtless South Africa’s considerable gain, and many of those orphans who landed on South African shores 64 years ago remain catalysts of the South African Polish community and integral and essential elements of South African society.

In 1994 Orphans donated to the Oudsthoorn Cathedral a Black Madonna, crafted in Poland, which is now the center piece of the Chapel of the Children, and now essential South African history.

Coming back to the Oubaas the following snippets might show another side of the Oubaas’ multi-faceted character.

Queen Frederica of the Helenes, in her book “A measure of understanding”, portrayed a few interesting facets of the Oubaas.

During the Second World War, while staying in South Africa, she asked him whether he hated the Germans. He answered; “No, Churchill asked me the same question, and I answered him that I could not hate anybody as much as I hated the British during the Boer War. You grow beyond these baser emotions when you learn to understand people and circumstances. I have long forgotten how to hate. Now I am only sorry for people, for nations and on rare occasions for myself. This might go some way to explaining how, 12 years after the cessation of Boer War hostilities, he effectively sided with the British when he started his First World War action in German South West Africa.

When Freddy asked the Oubaas what had gone wrong, why did his generation, who had already fought one world war, not prevent a second he answered:
“I will tell you why it went wrong. There are three reasons, one is that we allies believed in France, the second is that America let us down and the third is that I ran away. I was in England during and at the end of the war, a member of the War Cabinet. The King had privately asked me to stay on and become his Prime Minister. I felt my own country needed me as General Botha had just died. I refused, although this would have been a unique situation and opportunity. You see, so I ran away, so do not rub it in. I know my responsibilities.”

Queen Freddie also had this to say of the Oubaas:
“India condemned South Africa for not giving enough rights to the Indians. South Africa defeated him for giving too many rights to the Indians” His life can never be judged by one or two political defeats, his life can only be judged by his creative and holistic thinking.”

I leave you with some thoughts of the Oubaas:
“There is still hope for our human race; look at those mountains. They took millions of years to be what they are and have not changed. Compared to them we are a great success. Look at the short time we have lived on this planet and look at our minds. Is there not in us a colossal creative power? Surely this is a wonderful world when Holism can produce the laughter of children, the dreams of lovers, the poems of poets and the arts of painters and musicians. This is a good world and we must never complain.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for the honour of being with you today and express my appreciation for listening to me with such good natured patience. Thank you.

Commemoration ‘2007: Letter From Mrs. Went

All good wishes for the annual commemoration on the 8th September 2007

Dear Mr Romanowicz,

I respond to the article on page 29 of the Sunday Argus of 2 September ’07, “Epic and bloody fight for freedom”.

“Bob” Burgess, mentioned in the article, together with his wife, Inez, an army nurse, spent their final years in this retirement home. They moved in in July 2002 and were very happy here. They both became very frail in time and were cared for in the frail care unit of the home for the last year or two. Inez passed away on 4 July and Bob on 14 July this year.

Their son and daughter had both left the country to live in New Zealand and visited as often as they were able. The medal issued by the Polish Government (?) a few years ago and sent to Bob, has been handed to his son who has kept Bob’s scrap book, medals and other Air Force memorablia.

All good wishes for the annual Warsaw Uprising and airlift commemoration next Saturday. I wonder if some of the Polish evacuees who were at school with me will be present? Unfortunately I don’t rememeber their names, but I recall a small group of girls who used to spend much of their free time doing the most beautiful embroidery!

Kind regards,

Marion Went – Manager
The Brown & Annie Lawrence Home
7 Broadwalk, Pinelands 7405

Commemoration ‘2006: Rev Dr Robin Petersen


I would like to begin by paying tribute to a number of people.

First of all, to the courageous and heroic ordinary people of Warsaw who for 63 days in 1944 fought for their freedom and dignity against the most impossible odds. We honour and salute you.

Secondly, to the courageous and heroic and ordinary folk of the South African, Royal, Free Polish and US Air Forces who undertook a suicide mission to bring relief to the beleagured combatants and civilians of Warsaw. We honour and salute you.

Thirdly, to the Polish community here in RSA whose faithfulness in remembering this day and these events so faithfully down the years has been exemplary and inspiring. We honour and cherish you.

Why do I, in each instance say we honour you?

Because we are immensely honoured to have among us today, as we have down the years, representatives of these three groups of people.

Father Jaworski, a priest and partisan of the Uprising. We honour and salute you.

Pastor Bryan Jones, my father-in-law, navigator in 31 Squadron of the SAAF, shot down over Warsaw on the night of the 12th of August. We honour and salute you.

Andrzej Romanowicz. President of the Warsaw Flights Commemoration Committee, and tireless leader and driver of these and other celebrations — We honour and salute you, Sir!

62 years is a long time. I have just buried my father this past week, who was younger than both Bryan and Father Jaworski. So I am particularly aware of the frailty and temporality of human life. To have both of you with us today, as well as other Warsaw veterans among us, is an immense honour and privilege. And may I be so bold as to promise, Sirs, that we will continue to honour and salute your memory each year, even when you are no longer with us.

The Uprising

I think all here have heard the history of uprising. But we are taught, by all our religious traditions, that each time we tell the story we somehow bring it again to life. Our stories that we tell make it new for us each time, and help us to pass on the importance of memory to each new generation.

And so let us remember a few things on this special day of remembrance.

Let us remember the courage of the people.

The courage of 42000 combatants, but with arms and ammunition for only 2500!

The courage of the 4000 women who fought side by side with their men.

The courage of the young people who made up the bulk of the combatants.

Let us never forget the atrocities visited on the people of Warsaw.

The 200,000 people killed by the Nazis during the uprising. The complete destruction of the City of Warsaw at the end of the uprising.

The Relief Flights

I want you all to turn your eyes to Sandton City and Michelangelo Towers. Now I want you to imagine yourself at the controls, or in the nose cone, of a large, lumbering bomber, flying at that height above one of the most heavily defended cities at a speed of around 145 mph. You are blinded by the glare of searchlights that have easily picked you up as you entered the outskirts of the city. On the way you had dodged and fought of the pack of terrier-like fighters. And now you were flying over the Vistula. You are in the nose cone. You can see every detail on the ground Despite the jarring shocks every second as the plane lurches from side to side as flak and bullets rip into its fragile skin, and despite your dim awareness that two of your engines are ablaze, you tell the pilot to hold steady, to keep course. You count the bridges, every instinct of self-preservation screaming at you to pull up, to pull out, to abandon the course and get out of this hell. One, — steady — two — steady almost there, three — turn, turn, drop, supplies gone!!! Let’s get out of here!!! And relief as the lights lose you, and blackness engulfs you, blessed protective darkness. The plane’s nose is up, you are climbing away to safety and freedom, you loosen your grip. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the blackness changes, and in an instant you realise that you are about to hit the ground. You are crashing! You are going to die!! And then, miraculously, you slide along clear ground, an open field surrounded by trees. You have crash landed on Warsaw airport! You are alive! God has spared you and the rest of your crew.

This is the incredible story of one man, Pastor Bryan, my father-in-law, whom we continue to honour and salute


Our Scripture today reminds us that greater love has no-one than to lay down his life for his neighbour. Jesus also reminds us that our neighbour is not our friend, our colleague, our blood relation or kinsman — no, our neighbour is the stranger in need, the one who calls for us to help and whom we dare not pass by. If Jesus had lived a couple of centuries later, he could easily have used the example of the aircrews that willingly went to Poland to respond to call of their unknown neighbour in need, and who, in many instances laid down their lives for them, as the example for his parable.

Do you want to know what love is? Think on this! Remember them! And honour and them by seeking to find, in the relative peace and equanimity of your life, of my life, ways in which we too can show that love.

Commemoration ‘2005: Dr Robin Petersen

Love Demands Sacrifice (Unofficial standard of the Polish Air Force in Britain)


In spring of 1941, a beautiful banner hand-stitched by the women of Wilno and smuggled by the Polish underground, arrived in London. The banner bore the words “Love demands Sacrifice” under an image of the Virgin Mary. This banner became the unofficial standard of the Polish Air Force in Britain, and from 1941 it was rotated among the various Polish squadrons until it was to be carried into Warsaw with the squadron who would eventually carry it home.

The banner never made it home, at least not in the way intended by General Sikorsky, the Polish Prime Minister and Commander in Exile. It never made it home because most of the 30,000 Polish military who were in Britain at the end of the war, did not want to return home to a country once again occupied by their enemy. Betrayed at Yalta, the Poles who had fought, in the words of their slogan “For your freedom and ours”, were left homeless and exiled, even banned from taking part in the great Victory march through London at the end of the war because of global geo-politics.

But who were these airmen and soldiers and sailors who fought the Nazi’s longer than any other nation? What had they achieved once their beloved land had been defeated so decisively in September 1939?

Before I answer that, I want to tell you about who I am.

I am not a Pole. I have no Polish ancestry at all. But over the years of my marriage to Heather Jones, I have fallen in love with the story of people of Poland and of the Warsaw uprising as I have listened to it through the experiences of my father-in-law, Bryan Jones.

His story and that of his brave South African comrades of 31 Squadron, you have heard this morning at the Katyn memorial service. You have also heard of the courageous and daring exploits of the Jewish Poles of the Warsaw Ghetto, who rose up against the Nazi’s in 1943, and you have heard of the heroism of the AK and the people of Warsaw in the great Warsaw uprising of August 1944.

But like me, I am sure that you have not heard of the many other stories of Polish heroism and resistance during this terrible war, during this terrible time of destruction.

So when I was asked by Andre Romanowicz whether I would speak on this topic today, I was ignorant. I suppose I had believed the myths that still circulate about the gallant and romantic, but ultimately fool-hardy resistance of the Polish cavalry against the Nazi blitzkrieg. I had heard and not questioned the myths and stories about the “easy” defeat of the Polish army in the face of the onslaught. I had heard and unthinkingly believed that the Polish Christians had done very little to assist the vast Polish Jewish community as they were systematically exterminated by the evil logic of the Nazi Final Solution.

So what a privilege for me to discover a whole new world as I prepared for this talk, What a privilege, a humbling privilege, it was for me to read about the way in which the Poles had defended their homeland to the last, never capitulating, and how the military men and women that remained had managed in the most dire circumstances to flee after the defeat and regroup, first in France and then in Britain, and how they participated decisively in many of the most significant battles of the war: The Battle of Britain, Narvik, Tobruk, Monte Cassino, the liberation of Bologna, and many others.

And so, in this short time, I want to tell you about my journey of discovery, as I highlight some of the more significant and poignant of the stories.

First of all, let me talk about the manner in which the people of Poland demonstrated how their love for their country demanded the ultimate sacrifice. Let me replace in your mind, as it was in mine, the myth with the facts.

Polish Resistance

What about the easy capitulation of the Poles on their own soil?

The Poles were the first country to experience the devastating effect of the German blitzkrieg and the ruthlessness of the Nazi war tactics. Aircrew dangling from their parachutes were fair targets to the Germans. Civilians, including women and children were attacked and killed by the invaders, following secret instructions from the Fuhrer: “Kill without pity or mercy all men, women and children of Polish descent or language. Only in this way can we obtain the living space we need”.

The Poles, like the Dutch and French a few months later, were woefully unprepared for this new form of warfare. But here is the fact: The Poles never officially surrendered. In fact, they held out longer than expected, until they were invaded from the east by the Soviets as well. Of all occupied countries, it was the only one with no local collaborating government.

This is even more remarkable, because Hitler’s goal was the complete extermination of the Polish nation. Their language, culture and history were to be destroyed, and, chillingly, their elite was to be systematically liquidated.

The Einsatzgruppen, or Nazi extermination squads, entered Poland soon after Warsaw fell, and began their work of horror. “Jews, intelligentsia, clergy and the nobility were to be exterminated.

Before the war, 4/5 of the world’s Jews lived in Poland. No wonder over 3 million Polish Jews died in the war, most exterminated in the death camps and in the destruction of the Polish ghetto in Warsaw. But over 3 million non-Jewish Poles also perished in the war. Poland lost 20% of its population in the war, compared with 11% of the USSR, 7% Germany, and less than 1% of Britain and the USA. No nation suffered more. No occupied nation resisted more vigorously. It is no surprise that two of the only three urban uprisings against Nazi occupation in Europe occurred in Warsaw. Poles, Jewish and Christian alike, refused to capitulate to the horror.

And what about the Polish Jews? The “tremendum” of the horror of the holocaust was borne by them above all nations. 3 million Polish Jews perished. But far from the myth of non-Jewish indifference to this fate, did you know that in the Yad Vashem, the Israeli memorial to the Holocaust, Poland stands top of the list of nations whose citizens are honoured among the “Righteous of the Nations” for their assistance to the Jews. And only in Poland was it automatic death penalty for oneself and ones family for rendering this assistance. Also honoured at Yad Vashem is the Zegota, the code name for the Relief Council for Polish Jews formed by the AK, and who were responsible for saving the lives of at least 40,000 Jews.

Battle of Britain

So what happened to the Poles who were able to escape from their defeated country? Crossing countless borders in the most difficult of circumstances, they regrouped and participated in the futile defence of France, and in Narvik, Norway, actually defeated the Germans and pushed them out the peninsula back into Sweden.

These now battle hardened soldiers and airmen regrouped in Britain, where they were at first cautiously received, and then, as their fighting mettle was demonstrated, gladly welcomed.

Their most significant feat was the decisive role that the Polish pilots of the famous Kosciuszko (303) Squadron and the Poznan (302) Squadrons played in the most critical turning point of the war: The Battle of Britain.

In all 5500 Polish airmen and crew made it from Poland to France to the Britain. The 142 combat trained and combat hardened members of these two squadrons made the decisive difference in the fortunes of the Allies in the Battle of Britain.

Here are some of the facts:
– In Sept 1940 of 962 German planes shot down, Poles accounted for 131.
– One in eight enemy planes shot down in the Battle of Britain were shot down by Poles.
– In 6 weeks of the Battle of Britain, the Kosciuszko Squadron flying Hurricane aircraft and led by its aces Witold Lokuciewski, Miroslav Feric, Jan Zumbach, Witold Urbanowicz and Zdzislaw Krasnodebski, shot down 126 enemy aircraft, twice as many as any other squadron for that period.

Their tactics, honed in their battles with the Luftwaffe in their defence of Poland, where they were flying vastly inferior aircraft, were to Get as close as you can before opening fire. In this they brought to air the elan of the Polish Cavalry.

Thomas Gleave: “I wonder if mankind is yet aware of the credit that is their due. They fought for English soil with an abandon, tempered with skill and backed by indomitable courage such that it could never have been surpassed had it been in defense of their own native land.”

Sir Hugh Dowding Air Marshall of the RAF ” Had it not been for the magnificent work of the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of battle would have been the same”

Quote: “One cannot help feeling that if all our Allies had been Poles, the course of this war, up till now, would have been very different”

Monte Cassino

It was not only in the air, but on the ground that the Polish fighting forces demonstrated their prowess and their commitment to fight for “Your freedom and Ours”.

Perhaps the most famous, or infamous, of the battles in which they participated successfully, was the battle for the heavily defended Monte Cassino. Blocking the advance of the Allies up the boot of Italy, Monte Cassino had withstood months of Allied attempts to dislodge the German occupiers.

The number II Polish Corps was then assigned the task of attempting to do what others had failed to do. In one of the most heroic and bloody battles of the Italian campaign, the soldiers of II Corps eventually managed to liberate Monte Cassino, determined to prove to the Germans and to their Allied comrades that they had the ability to take the battle to the enemy and win in the face of enormous odds.

In two perilous ascents, they finally routed the German defenses, but at great cost. Over 1000 men were killed and 3000 wounded in the attack.

One of the most poignant moments came as the battle weary Polish troops entered the now devastated monastery. Olson writes: “As the Regimental standard gently fluttered atop the mountain, the sound of bugle suddenly pierced the air. An unseen lancer was playing the Krakow Hejnal, a famous call celebrating a 13th century trumpeter in Krakow, whose throat had been pierced by an arrow as he summoned his fellow citizens to battle against the Tartars. Commemorating the trumpeter’s interrupted call to arms, the Hejnal breaks off abruptly, in the middle of a note. At the sound of the trumpet, thousands of hardened infantrymen wept like children. After their years of wandering and exile, they were hearing, from a supposedly impregnable German fortress, the voice of Poland”. (p.313)


So on this day of remembrance, let us remember with pride the achievements of the Polish people: of the gallant Polish army, the intrepid pilots of the Polish Air Force, and above all, the indominable courage to resist of the Polish people, both Jew and Christian, for the love of their country and for the love of freedom.

And let us remember with shame and humility the betrayal of the this people and this nation through the horror of this war and the 45 years that followed.

And let us celebrate today, that 60 years after the end of this terrible conflict, we all — Poles, South Africans, Britons, Jews and Germans can sit together and remember, can sit together as friends, can sit together and vow that such a horror, such a Shoah, such a devastation will never again be allowed to happen.

And we do so in and as a nation of South Africans who have endured and overcome our own history of horror, our own shame and our own struggle. May we continue in this great country of ours to show the way to world of peace and reconciliation, of justice and freedom, of forgiveness and restitution.

I want to close with the prayer for Africa,
but today make it the prayer for Poland as well:
“God bless Africa, Guide her leaders, Guard her people, and give her Peace”
“God bless Poland. Guide her leaders. Guard her people. And give her Peace”


1. Olson, L, and Cloud, S “For your Freedom and Ours: The Kosciuszko Squadron. Forgotten Heroes of World War II” (Arrow Books: 2003)

2. Filipow, Krzysztof and Wawer, Zbigniew “Passerby, Tell Poland” (Arkady, Warsaw, 1991)

Commemoration ‘2005: Ambassador Romuald Szuniewicz

Excellencies, Distinguished Veterans and Families, Dear Friends


This year, 60 years after the end of the Second World War, is the right time to pay our tribute to those who died in the battles, who were murdered, who sacrificed their lives in order to let us live free.

Today, we attended a solemn ceremony at the Katyn memorial, a monument built to remember over 20 thousand Polish prisoners of war — mostly officers and policemen, killed ruthlessly by the Soviet oppressors in 1940. They were guilty of being Polish patriots and therefore doomed to be forgotten forever under the forests of Katyn and other sites of genocide. But their martyrdom has not been forgotten and never will.

The inscriptions at the monument remember also the heros of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 — a battle against German occupants that took the highest toll of death during World War II. Among those heroes were South African Airmen, who were bringing aid to Warsaw, knowing only too well how slim were their chances of survival.

When remembering a hero one is tempted to say: we have gathered here not to mourn his death but to praise his glory. The loss of one man is a tragedy, but dozens of others may follow in his steps. When they sacrifice their lives, thousands of others may throw themselves as “stones for a rampart”. But when hundreds of thousands — the elite of a nation — are annihilated, all those who survive become orphans. It is their right to mourn the dead and it is their duty to remember and pass that memory down to new generations.

Let me express — on behalf of Poland — our admiration and gratitude to those of you who combated for Poland. Let us pay the honour to those who are no longer among the living. And let us pay our respect to all in South Africa who have been helping us to keep alive and cherish the memories of the tragic and the glorious events that we commemorate today.

Commemoration ‘2005: Wreath Laying

Commemoration ‘2005 — Wreath Laying


1. Polish Embassy in South Africa Ambassador R. Szuniewicz
2. South African Defence Force Maj.Gen. D.M. Mofokeng CSL,GDM,MMM
3. South African Air Force Brig.Gen. A. Kriegler SD,SM,MMM
4. Royal Air Force Lt.Col G.W. Argyle
5. German Defence Force Lt.Col. W. Ruthe Military Attache
6. Belgian Defence Force Col. V. Scarniet Military Attache
7. Polish Combatants Association Mr. G. Lisowski
8. 2nd Wing SA Air Force John & Richard Durrant
9. 31 Squadron SA Air Force Mr. A. Winchester
10. 34 Squadron SA Air Force Maj. A. McPherson
11. 148 Squadron RAF Maj. P. McLean
12. 178 Squadron RAF Shirley & Dennis Rosenthall
13. 1586 Polish Special Duties Flight Lt. M. Sobczyk Warsaw Insurgents
14. SA Air Force Association Col. L. du Plessis President
15. SAAF Association — Johannesburg Cpt. D. Dwyer President
16. Royal Air Force Association Maj. P. McLean Chairman
17. Royal Air Force Officers Club Mr. S. Smith JHB Chairman
18. World Veterans Federation Lt.Gen. D.P. Knobel SSAS,SD,SOE,SM,MMM
19. Council of the Military Veterans Association Lt.Col. L. Poorter JCD
20. South African Jewish Ex-Service League Lt.Col. W.J. Bergman
21. Centre for Military Study Col. L. du Plessis
22. Zonderwater Block Ex-Prisoners of War Association Mr. A. Costella
23. Polish Air Force Association Mr. S. Czuba Chairman
24. Polish Council in South Africa Mr. J. Fastyn
25. Polish Heritage Foundation in South Africa Mr. S. Wojtasik
26. Union of Polish Associations in Pretoria Mr. J. Sadowski Chairman
27. Polish Association in Johannesburg Mrs. B. Kukulska Chairlady
28. Polish Engineers Association Mr. A. Marek
29. Polish Association — KwaZulu-Natal Mr. J. Granicki
30. Polish Association — Vaal Triangle Mr. R. Skoczynski
31. Belgian SAAF & RAF Ex-Servicemen Col. C. Hugyhe
32. SA Legion Maj. C. Shepherd
33. Sappers Foundation Sapper I. Ransome
34. MOTH Mr. D. Gush
35. Alpine 44 Club Mr. M. Urry
36. SA Polish Chamber of Commerce Mr. K. Mason
37. Sandton District Scouts Mr. T. Dearilng District Commissioner
38. Polish School in Bryanston Children
39. Families & Friends

Commemoration ‘2005: Rev. Bryan Jones


Dzien Dobry — Shalom — Good Morning

Dear Friends, it is so nice to be together again on this beautiful morning.

I am so pleased to see many young people here as I believe Memorial Services have a special message and challenge for the youth. I will now ask a young man to read a few verses of great wisdom spoken by King Solomon and recorded in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs.

Extracts on wisdom from the Book of Proverbs.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and discipline.
The Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come
Knowledge and Understanding.
Then you will understand what is right and just
And fair — every good path.
Godly reverence of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom,
And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
Lean not to your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He shall direct your path.

Thank you Mathew, I have two questions for you.

How old are you? (answer 20)

What is your occupation? (I am a fulltime university student)

Friends these are significant answers, for I remind you that the average age of the young men of 31 and 34 Squadrons we are honouring to-day was 20! Furthermore most of them were university students or recent schoolboys.

It makes you think, doesn’t it?

These fun-loving young men were full of the zest for life and came from all over the country — every city, town, village and farm were represented. They came as volunteers to fight against violent evil and the worst racial oppression the world has ever known. Perhaps they were not as sophisticated and worldly wise as you are for they did not have computers, television or cellphones and very few even held driving licences.

That reminds me to tell you that one day my friend John Colman and I were admiring our Colonels Jeep standing outside squadron headquarters with his pennant flying up front. Although I had never driven any vehicle, there was I explaining to John the controls and how they worked, when the door burst open and Col. Dirk Nel came out and hopped into the back seat with the instruction “Jones drive me to the Mess” I did not stand stuttering and stammering that I did not have a licence and could not drive, because in those days Dirk Nel was not the kindly old Grandpa we usually see at these services but a fiery 26 year old commander of a big squadron with heavy responsibilities and when he said jump you did not wait to ask him “how high”. So I jumped into the Jeep and left John laughing his head off as we went sliding and jerking our way through that thick Italian mud!

To get back to these young men; they did have loving parents back home who prayed for them and also beautiful girl friends — just look at our wives to-day to see what I mean! Like you, young folk, they loved their sport. Whilst forming up in the Egyptian Desert they went in large numbers to the Gizera Sporting Club in Cairo to see the 6th Division Springboks play the New Zealand Kiwis at rugby. At Lydda in Palestine I recall a grand soccer challenge between RAF and SAAF and in Italy they shared a landing strip with a United States squadron and enjoyed many fine games of baseball together.

Then came that fateful day — Sunday 13 August 1944, when 10 crews of 31 squadron were hurriedly sent down to Brindisi for briefing and loading of the special cargo for that night. They were horrified to hear that they were to fly at rooftop height over a heavily defended city and were also told that they would not experience too many problems if they stuck to the center of the Vistula River as other squadrons had not encountered any problems during the last few nights. However, during a hurried coffee/sandwich break other locally based airmen told them that the Polish Flight had been almost decimated in their attempts to get through to Warsaw! That briefing ended with a very emotional Polish Squadron Leader saying “Poland is in dire trouble and I plead with you South African and British gentlemen to save my country to-night.”

With these words ringing in their ears these fine young men flew out into the setting sun to help our courageous allies in Warsaw. The rest is history. They were well trained and disciplined and many of them were also young men of faith and I believe that prayers of commitment and calls for Divine help went up as they wrestled with their crippled aircraft before plunging into the streets of Warsaw or nearby forests there to die along side thousands of brave Polish men and women.

At 25, my tent mate, Eric Impey, was older than most and after packing up my personal belongings, he sat down and wrote the well known Airmans Prayer before going out to Warsaw that night never to return. He was the reigning South African High Jump Champion and a young man of faith.

I have been asked to be personal, so I tell you that I too was a young man of faith in God and His saving grace and in a definite way knew of the Lord’s presence with me that night. Only years later I came to understand His last promise to his friends “Lo I am with you always” As we ran into the target at just 400 feet above the Vistula River, I was lying on my stomach in the nose of that aircraft, guiding the pilot into our precise dropping area in the Old City and in the midst of the vivid fireworks display below, I heard a voice say “Jones put on your tin hat”. We were obliged to take our steel helmets with us but never wore them as they were cumbersome in that confined space. When God’s voice came for the second time, I reached for the tin hat on the floor behind me where I usually dropped it, and put it on. Friends, had I not done so, I would not be speaking to you to-day for moments later that big crippled aircraft crashed nose first on to Warsaw Airfield. I was knocked out but all seven of us miraculously scrambled out to be taken prisoners.

The point of all this is to challenge you young people as well as those a little older, to take up the leadership into the future. It is true that after 60 years Poland and South Africa are free and relatively prosperous but there remains “much ground to be possessed” — we oldies have not got it all right and you need to take over into the future. You will need great wisdom and I can do no better than point you to God’s Word — start at the book of Proverbs, that marvelous manual of instruction for young people on how to successfully play the Game of Life. Learn the seven Pillars of Wisdom which will help you and may God bless, guide and strengthen you.

Thank you for listening — I am grateful for the honour of sharing this service with Rabbi Yosef Hecht of Wendywood and Father Jaworski- our very own “Pope of Norwood”. We thank Chairman Andrzej Romanowicz for his leadership as well as his wife Krystina and her team of Polish Ladies for the good eats they are now preparing for us.

Obchody ‘2004: gen. bryg. Jerzy Kurczewski

Obchody 60. rocznicy Lotów nad Warszawę

W dniach 17-27 września 2004 r. na zaproszenie Komitetu Obchodów 60. Rocznicy Lotów nad Warszawę, w Republice Południowej Afryki przebywała polska delegacja, której przewodniczył przedstawiciel Prezydenta RP — gen. bryg. Jerzy Kurczewski, z udziałem przedstawicieli Związku Powstańców Warszawskich — prezesa Zbigniewa Scibora-Rylskiego i wiceprezesa Edmunda Baranowskiego. Poniżej publikujemy relację gen. bryg. Jerzego Kurczewskiego z uroczystości w RPA.

W dniu 18 września br. wziąłem udział w uroczystych obchodach 60. rocznicy Lotów nad Warszawę. Uroczystość miała miejsce przed Pomnikiem Katyńskim w Johannesburgu i rozpoczęła się odegraniem hymnów Polski i RPA. Następnie odmówiona została, przez miejscowych biskupów i księży, modlitwa ekumeniczna. Uczestnik lotów w 1944 r., pastor Bryan Jones, wygłosił homilię, po której przed pomnikiem zostały złożone wieńce, w tym od: Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, Dowództwa Sił Powietrznych RPA, Związku Powstańców Warszawskich. W sumie złożono 50 wieńców od władz, stowarzyszeń i organizacji.

Dalsza część uroczystości miała miejsce w Muzeum Historii Sił Zbrojnych Południowej Afryki. Była to część oficjalna — z wystąpieniami przedstawicieli miejscowych władz i Sił Zbrojnych RPA. Na samym początku odczytano przesłanie królowej brytyjskiej i zaraz po nim odczytałem list Prezydenta RP. Po wystąpieniach odbył się akt dekoracji odznaczeniami państwowymi Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, które wręczyłem w imieniu Prezydenta RP. Otrzymali je pastor por. B.D. Jones, ppor. L.E.D. Winchester, por. W.F. Austin, por. H.C.D. Steel, por. J.R. Colman.

W czasie obydwu uroczystości szczególnymi honorami darzono przybyłych z Polski weteranów Powstania Warszawskiego: prezesa Zbigniewa Scibora-Rylskiego i wiceprezesa Edmunda Baranowskiego oraz uczestników lotów nad Warszawę, byłych lotników Sił Powietrznych RPA. Uczestniczący w uroczystości przedstawiciele Polonii okazywali swoje wzruszenie z faktu obecności munduru polskiego na ziemi RPA. Mundur, a przede wszystkim czapka rogatywka — starszym wiekiem “polonusom” przywoływała w ich pamięci lata walki o wolność i niepodległość Rzeczypospolitej w II wojnie światowej.

19 września uczestniczyliśmy w uroczystościach związanych z “Battle of Britain” (Bitwą o Anglię), zaś 26 września — w uroczystościach związanych z 60. rocznicą Lotów nad Alpami. Wszystkie te trzy uroczystości są ze sobą tradycyjnie już od wielu lat związane i w pojęciu tamtejszej społeczności stanowią jedną nierozerwalną całość obchodów pamięci o lotnikach Sił Powietrznych RPA (SAAF) i RAF, niosących pomoc powstańcom Warszawy i partyzantom włoskim (12-13 paśdziernika 1944 r.).

Podczas wszystkich uroczystości kombatanci z Polski byli witani z wielką serdecznością i podejmowani niemal jak oficjalna delegacja Polski. Chciałbym również podkreślić gościnność, z jaką spotkaliśmy się ze strony Komitetu Obchodów 60. rocznicy Lotów nad Warszawę, a szczególnie ze strony jego prezesa Andrzeja Romanowicza. Szczególnie warto podkreślić gościnność mieszkających w RPA Polaków, dla których uroczystości rocznicowe były wielkim świętem.

Gen. bryg. Jerzy Kurczewski
Czasopismo “Kombatant”, nr 12, 2004