The Polish Air Force Memorial
The Polish Air Force Memorial at South Ruislip, in the London Borough of Hillingdon, was unveiled in 1948 to honour and commemorate the Polish airmen killed during the Second World War while under British Command.
The simple design of the Memorial depicts the Polish Air Force emblem of a large bronze eagle, with its wings spread wide, ready to take off from the top of a tall Portland stone Obelisk. The fourteen wartime Polish Air Force squadrons, and the battles in which they took part, are embossed in bronze letters on the front face. The base of the column is supported either side by two large stone plinths. One is inscribed: TO THE MEMORY OF FALLEN POLISH AIRMEN and the other POLEGŁYM LOTNIKOM POLSKIM. The rear of these blocks has the inscription: I HAVE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT. I HAVE FINISHED MY COURSE. I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH. -II TIM.IV.7-
Also to the rear is a sunken semi-circular walkway flanked by two walls of granite. These are engraved with the names of 1877* Polish airmen lost while under British Command, together with the insignias of the individual Polish Air Force wartime squadrons. There is also an inscription of the names of the 23 Polish airmen lost during the French campaign of 1940. The Memorial is fronted by a shallow ornamental pond surrounded by a paved walkway and adjacent grassed area and flower beds within a gated iron boundary fence.
The Memorial is close to the southeast perimeter corner of RAF Northolt, the home of seven Polish fighter squadrons at different times during the war, including the 1st Polish Wing. The main entrance, through a cast iron gate on stone posts, is on the corner of the A4180 West End Road at the junction with the A40 Western Avenue roundabout. There is provision for restricted free parking on the adjacent access road. The nearest Underground and Mainline railway station is South Ruislip, a distance of approximately 1,200 yards and about a 14 minute walk.
This prominent local heritage landmark has its own “Polish Air Force Memorial” sign beside the A40 trunk road in and out of London and regularly features in traffic reports on the radio. The London Borough of Hillingdon has been the owner and custodian of the Memorial since 1965 and keeps it in pristine condition with regular cleaning and maintenance.
In 2015, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the London Borough of Hillingdon, in partnership with the Polish Embassy in London, developed and created the Polish Air Force Memorial Remembrance Garden on an area of land on the west side of the Memorial boundary. This ornamental garden, with bench seating, includes trees, native hedges and wildflower meadows and a natural pond, all creating a diverse habitat for many different species of wildlife. The garden was officially opened on 5 September 2015 by the Leader of the London Borough of Hillingdon Raymond Puddifoot MBE and the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland Witold Sobków. The Memorial Garden, which has a national Green Flag Award, is regularly maintained by the Council’s own in-house maintenance team.
*The official statistics for Polish airmen lost under British command reveal 1234 killed in action, 104 missing in action, now assumed killed in action, 394 killed training in operational units and 199 killed training in non-operational units, making a combined overall total of 1931.