The German overrunning of their country in 1939 did not crush the Polish spirit. Many escaped to the West to carry on the fight. Polish fighter pilots played a major role in the Battle of ... See full summary »

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Charles Messenger
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Episode credited cast:
Robert Powell ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
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The German overrunning of their country in 1939 did not crush the Polish spirit. Many escaped to the West to carry on the fight. Polish fighter pilots played a major role in the Battle of Britain, while Polish ground forces helped to liberate Western Europe. Another Polish force, held captive by the Russians in Siberia, made an epic trek to the Middle East to fought in Italy, where their courage brought a victorious end to the bitter battle for Monte Cassino. Written by Anonymous

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2002 (UK) See more »

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The First Flag Over Monte Cassino Was Polish.
7 March 2015 | by rmax304823See all my reviews

This is an interesting series, less focused on politics than on particular organizations, in this case the Free Polish Forces that fought in uniform on the Allied side. And it was Polish scientists that provided Bletchley Park with the solution to Enigma.

Poland was invaded in 1939 by Germany. They could hardly have put up much resistance because of the tiny size of their armed forces and their out-dated weaponry. Polish lancers found themselves charging German Panzers on horseback.

But after the surrender, many young Poles, men and women, former military and civilians alike, managed to make their way through German occupied territory and join the French.

When the French were defeated, the Poles escaped to Britain if they could. Their few ships served under the Royal Navy. One Polish destroyer was sunk by the Nazis at Narvik, Norway. The foot soldiers were integrated into the British Army and the pilots served in the RAF. One hundred and forty-four Polish pilots flew fighters in the Battle of Brittain and twenty-nine were killed in action. We rarely hear about the Poles, the Czechs, and the other smaller units on the Allied side. We barely hear about the FRENCH. Not that the Polish contingent was particularly small. Twenty-four thousand men managed to escape from France and reach England. It's as if the fighting in Europe had all been carried out by the British and Americans.

Yet the Poles were reliable and stubborn in combat. They were among the besieged at Tobruk and played a pivot role in the battle for Monte Cassino, as did the Ghurkas, the French, and New Zealanders. They were the third wave of paratroops at Arnhem in the Netherlands, dropped haphazardly into a battle that the Allies has already lost.

When the war finally ended, the Poles had mixed feelings. Their country was now dominated by the communist Russians. About half the Poles returned, many to be arrested and deported. Stalin was, after all, a ruthless bastard. Half settled in the West and made new lives. Poland finally achieved independence in 1989 with the collapse of the USSR.


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