Prince Edward opens exhibition on Poles in Battle of Britain

His Royal Highness Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, cousin of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, has cut the ribbon of an exhibition dedicated to Polish pilots fighting in the Battle of Britain and their exploits.

Prepared by the Polish Embassy in London, the "#BoBPoles80: Polish Airmen in the Battle of Britain - the 80th Anniversary” exhibition was opened by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, on Tuesday the day of the 80th anniversary of the battle which, with Polish airmen’s contribution, turned the tide of WWII.

Consisting of 20 photographs the exhibition is showing the Polish airmen’s struggle against the aerial war machine of Germany’s Luftwaffe in the Summer and Autumn of 1940. Beholders can also see His Royal Majesty King George VI and British ministers in the photos taken together with the Polish sky aces. One of the images on display is the memorable group photo of the No. 303 Squadron RAF, whose pivotal input and exploits during the Battle of Britain are best summarised by Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, head of RAF Fighter Command during WWII, who wrote: "Had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry. I hesitate to say that the outcome of the Battle [of Britain] would have been the same."

At the inauguration ceremony, HRH The Duke of Kent said that it was a great honour to open the exhibition, adding that “the story of our ancestors who died in this battle is extraordinary. We will tell it to the next generations, because the courage, resistance and determination of those who died are legendary. Thanks to this exhibition, even more people will learn about it.”

For his part, Poland’s Ambassador to the UK Arkady Rzegocki said that he is “honoured that HRH the Duke of Kent has opened the exhibition of the Polish Embassy commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the seminal contribution of Poles in this pivotal military encounter of WWII.”

Alluding to Winston Churchill’s memorable words, the Ambassador stressed that “the exhibition was a proper tribute to the sacrifice of ‘the few’ thanks to which freedom could be enjoyed this day. The exhibition shows the strong spirit of brotherhood between Poland and the UK during the toughest times. Our pilots demonstrated that spirit through the common struggle for freedom of Poland, the UK and Europe. I encourage all who are able to do so to visit the exhibition and witness for themselves the heroism of Poles fighting in the Battle of Britain.” Being part of the Embassy’s #BoBPoles80 campaign which celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and Poles contribution to it, the exhibition will remain open to the public until the last day of October.

During the memorable battle, 145 Poles constituted the second-largest national group in the Allies’ camp. Serving in the No. 302 and 303 Squadrons RAF and other British units, they took down 203 German fighters during the 16-weeks-long battle. Until the end of WWII, over 18,000 Poles served in the UK’s RAF. Meanwhile in Poland, at the Polish Air Force University in Dęblin, the Anniversary of the Battle of Britain was also celebrated.