Northolt Commemoration Ceremony
Northolt Commemoration Ceremony
The annual and 60th Ceremony of Homage to Fallen Polish Airmen during World War II was held at the Polish Air Force Memorial at South Ruislip on Saturday 4 September.
The ceremony opened with a trumpeter sounding the assembly and a fly past of a Spitfire from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Then followed a parade of the replica Polish Air Force Standard and Standards of the Polish Scouts and Guides. Polish Air Force Memorial Committee Chairman Richard Kornicki CBE DL, followed with his opening address, outlining the difficulties posed over the previous year and a half, which provided a taste of what it must have felt like to be alive in 1940. The full address can be viewed by clicking the appropriate icon below.
His address was followed by the Polish Roll-Call of the Fallen, this year carried out by Polish scouts and guides on behalf of the Officer Cadets of the Polish Air Force Academy, Dęblin, who were unable to attend due to Covid travel restrictions. Prayers followed led by Ks Stefan Wylężek, Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales.
Invited dignitaries, representing national and local government, Polish and Royal Air Forces and various organisations and associations laid wreaths on the Memorial. They were followed by veterans and descendants of the Polish Squadrons and Units commemorated on the Memorial that flew alongside the RAF from 1940 to 1945. Concluding Prayers were led by Rev Sq Ldr Neil Galloway followed by the Last Post and a minute’s silence ending with Reveille.
The hour-long ceremony ended with the Polish and UK national anthems and withdrawal of the Standards followed by the trumpeter playing ‘White Roses’. Personal wreaths were laid after the ceremony ended. Music was provided by the RAF Central Band with the kind permission of the Air Force Board of the Defence Council.
Guests then transferred to RAF Northolt for a reception and buffet lunch in the Station’s Sword and Wheel Club, while being entertained by Polish dancers. PAFMC Commendations were awarded to people and organisations who, with no personal connections with Poland, have made an exceptional contribution to preserving the memory of the Polish Air Force.
Geoff Burton, founder and Trustee of the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre, Lincolnshire, outlined the considerable progress the voluntary organisation has made since its formation in 2010. It aims to create a centre to remember and celebrate the remarkable story of the Polish men and women of the Polish Air Force Bomber Squadrons, flying alongside the RAF during WW2. The next phase is to install a new roof and windows to an existing building to create the Main Exhibition Centre. Geoff Burton used the occasion to launch an appeal to raise funds for this project, which will cost approximately £96,000. Donations can be made at this link https://www.goldengiving.com/wall/raf-ingham-heritage-centre.
The full address can be viewed by clicking the appropriate icon below. Details of the RAF Ingham Heritage Centre can be found at this link. https://www.rafingham.co.uk
RAF Northolt Station Commander Gp Capt Toria McPhaden concluded proceedings by inviting guests to take tours of the Officers’ Mess and the recently restored Hut 27, the Station’s Operations Room during the war.
The Memorial programme, speeches and commendations can be viewed by clicking the relevant icons below. Photos in the slide show can be viewed and enlarged by double clicking the image then the arrows. All photos are either Crown copyright or courtesy of Marek Borzęcki. A short video of the ceremony is available at this link https://youtu.be/IxoJc5jI28A.
Next year’s Commemoration will take place on Saturday 3 September at 12.00.