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Dan Snow: Polish contribution to Battle of Britain "essential"


Historian and TV presenter Dan Snow has praised the "essential" role of Polish airmen in the Battle of Britain in a new documentary marking the 80th anniversary of the air campaign.

Dan Snow

The Polish Pilots Who Fought for Britain, released for Battle of Britain Day, explores the exploits of Poles, who formed the second-largest Allied contingent in the battle, after the British. 

"The Polish contribution to the decisive victory and turning point of the Second World War was essential," says Snow in the 6-minute film, produced by the History Hit network.

The documentary stresses that while the RAF successfully prevented a German invasion of Britain, the country "was not alone" in the fight against the Luftwaffe.

"Among the RAF and Allied pilots who flew that summer were 145 Poles," it says, adding that with their experience and "a burning desire to take on the Germans", they proved "ideal additions" to the depleted Allied forces.

501 Squadron pilot Antoni GÅ‚owacki – the first 'ace in a day' of the battle – and 303 Polish Squadron's commanding officer Witold Urbanowicz are two figures which Snow picks to exemplify the Poles' derring-do, along with the famous 303 Squadron itself.

"303 Squadron was the top performing RAF and Allied squadron during the Battle of Britain, even though it joined the fighting after it had already been raging for eight weeks. Flying Hurricane aircraft, they tore into formations of German bombers and claimed 126 downed enemy aircraft," says the 41-year-old presenter, who is known for programmes such as Battlefield Britain.

The film ends by recounting the airmen's losses, highlighting the 18,000-strong Polish Air Force in Britain during the war, and quoting Sir Hugh Dowding's famous appraisal of Poles. 

"The Polish Pilots Who Fought for Britain" is available to watch now free of charge on the History Hit website.

Polish Embassy UK Press Office