Not letting the Poles slide

Friday 28th October 2016 7:15 am
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NIGEL VAUGHAN, of Slapton, writes:

Living in an area where they practised for D-Day, I am often reminded of the part played by US service personnel in freeing Europe of Nazi domination.

As such, it is easy to overlook the role played by other smaller nations, but earlier this year I had a poignant reminder of one such country’s valiant contribution.

My family and I were ­walking near West Charleton when we met two metal detectorists, with whom I then loitered in conversation.

Among the various ­interesting things they said they had found in the area were remnants of a Wellington bomber.

The bomber proved to be ­distinctive in that the artefacts enabled them to identify it as one that had been powered by American Pratt & Whitney engines.

After further research, the younger detectorist had then been able to identify the specific aircraft and some of the story behind it being where it was.

The aircraft had been on a mission to Essen when it had been damaged by enemy action. The crew had nearly managed to get the plane home before having to bail out ­somewhere off Start Point. Two of the crew were swept away and perished. The plane had been crewed by Poles.

So, this Remembrance Day, following a chance encounter in a field with a pair of metal detectorists, I will remember not just the great sacrifice made by British and Commonwealth service personnel, and those from the US, who I am very aware of because of where I live, but also those from Poland, who fought and died in the Allied cause.

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