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80th anniversary of PAF Standard handover.

16 July

80th anniversary of PAF Standard handover.

On this day 80 years ago 16 July 1941 the Polish Air Force Standard was presented to 300 Bomber Squadron at RAF Swinderby, Lincolnshire, so completing its long journey from Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) to the Polish Air Force in Britain. The Standard was embroidered in secret and once completed, it was smuggled out of Wilno in the Japanese diplomatic bag to Stockholm, from where it was brought to Britain.

In the presence of the President of the Republic of Poland Władysław Raczkiewicz and other Polish and British dignitaries, the honour of initially delivering the Standard was given to its creator kpt. Jan Hryniewicz. He handed it to retired General Lucjan Żeligowski for passing to Prime Minister of the Polish Government in Exile and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces General Władysław Sikorski. Following a short speech General Władysław Sikorski formally presented the Standard to the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Air Force Brigadier General Stanisław Ujejski, so finally completing its journey from Wilno to the Polish Air Force. He then handed it to the commander of 300 (Polish) Land of Masovia squadron W/Cdr Wacław Makowski, who in turn presented it to a 300 Squadron Standard bearer for parading at the ceremony.

The hangar doors, which formed the backdrop to the handover ceremony and painted with PAF emblems, have been salvaged and will go on display at the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre, ( the home of the Polish Bomber squadrons.

The Standard was held initially by 300 Squadron and then successively passed in turn to the majority of the Polish squadrons that served alongside the RAF until the end of the war.

In 1992, after the fall of communism in Poland and the first free elections, the Standard was returned to Poland. On 4 September, during the first world reunion of Polish Airmen on Polish soil, the Standard was handed back in a ceremony in Piłsudski Square, in front of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in the heart of Warsaw. Being too fragile for future parading it is on display at the Polish Air Force Museum, Dęblin.

With the personal support of the Commander of the Polish Air Force, Lt. Gen. Lech Majewski, a replica of the Standard was produced in Poland. On the 27 August 2012, twenty years after the original was returned to Poland, the replica was handed over by Lt. Gen. Lech Majewski to the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee at a ceremony in Warsaw, and marched off the parade ground by a colour party of the RAF Queen’s Colour Squadron.

The replica Standard is now part of the Polish Air Force exhibition at the Battle of Britain Bunker, Uxbridge, and is paraded at the annual ceremony at the Polish Air Force Memorial at Northolt, and at other commemorative events.

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