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Who we are

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The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee

 

The Polish Air Force Memorial Committee (PAFMC) is a registered charity (no. 1185691) formed “to commemorate for the public benefit the achievements of the Polish Air Force in the Second World War; to honour fallen Polish Airmen by the creation and maintenance of public memorials; and to educate and inform the public about the Polish Air Force and its history, including the operation of Polish Air Force Museums”.

 

The PAFMC is the delegated successor of the Polish Air Force Association (PAFA), who set it up to continue their work in the longer term.

 

Its origins go back to the summer of 1945 and concern about the problems facing those Poles who decided to stay in exile in Britain rather than return to the Communist-ruled Poland or migrate to other countries. To meet their needs an organisation, originally named Samopomoc Lotnicza, was established; this soon adopted the English title Polish Air Force Association. The Polish name was later changed to Stowarzyszenie Lotników Polskich (SLP).

 

The PAFA made a great contribution to the welfare of those Polish Air Force personnel who remained in exile in Britain. With its headquarters at Collingham Gardens in London, the PAFA set up branches with clubs in major cities throughout Britain. It published the periodical magazine Skrzydła (Wings) and later in 1991 commissioned the definitive The Polish Air Force At War The Official History by Jerzy Cynk, published in 1998.

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Following the unveiling of the Polish Air Force Memorial at South Ruislip in 1948, PAFA took on the organisation of the annual commemoration ceremony of homage to the fallen Polish airmen. In 1968 it initiated the installation of the Polish Air Force Memorial slab in the floor of the RAF St. Clement Danes Church, Strand, London and in 1981 it was responsible for the unveiling of the Polish Air Force stained glass window in St. Andrew Bobola’s Church, Hammersmith, London.

 

Following the first free elections in Poland in 1989 PAFA escorted and returned its most cherished war relic - the Polish Air Force Standard - to Poland during a PAFA World Reunion in Warsaw in 1992. This is now on display in the Polish Air Force Museum, Dęblin. A duplicate of the original Standard, created on the authority of the Commander in Chief of the Polish Air Force, Lt Gen Lech Majewski, is held in Britain and is on display at the Polish Air Force Museum at the RAF Battle of Britain Bunker at Uxbridge. It is paraded at the annual commemoration ceremony at the Polish Air Force Memorial at South Ruislip and at the annual Battle of Britain service at Capel-le-Ferne, Kent.

 

In 1987, as the numbers of surviving veterans declined, PAFA sold most of its property and used the proceeds to create the PAFA Charitable Trust, at which point the various local clubs became independent entities. The PAFA Charitable Trust, with the Polish Air Force Benevolent Fund, which it had absorbed, continued until 2010, when it decided to wind itself up by distributing its assets and providing for the continuation of its most important functions by the creation of a simpler body, the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee. The new PAFMC was formed with the explicit agreement of the Commander in Chief of the Polish Air Force, Lt Gen Lech Majewski, and of the Chief of the Air Staff for the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton. It remains to this day the direct formal successor of the Polish Air Force active in Britain during WWII, and the organisations which represented it here after the war.