Is London Council really banning commemoration of Polish Battle of Britain pilots?


On the polish right wing portal wprawo.pl an article was published. It was entitled “Allies? London council prevented laying flowers at the Polish War Monument”. This text tells a dramatic history of Polish War Veterans who were forced to leave their flowers at the padlocked gate after “annual Polish celebrations” were banned due to complaints from local residents (you can read between the lines that those residents are anti-Polish). The article is illustrated by the picture of Polish pilots from Battle of Britain: 


So, is it true? Let’s do some basic fact check.

1. The event had nothing to do with Polish Pilots. The story is related to celebrations of National Day of Cursed Soldiers – that is, commemoration of those, who refused to accept, that after the war Poland was sold to Stalin, and decided to go underground and fight the communist regime. Somehow wprawo.pl forgotten to mention that fact in their piece.

2. As the National Day of Cursed Soldiers has been established only in 2011, it is hardly a long established tradition. In London itself this day is celebrated only since 2012, and the idea of laying flowers under Polish War Monument is even youner – it came up another two years later.

Source: a piece from Polish press in the UK on 2013 celebrations of National Day of Cursed Soldiers. It clearly states that there will be a march from Trafalgar Square to the Parliament buildings. 

3. The Polish right can only blame themselves for being banned from marching to Polish War Memorial this year. The council deemed the march to be high risk event after pyrotechnic flares were used en masse last year (as the new Polish right has it’s roots among Polish football hooligans, somehow the flares became an inseparable element of the patriotic events (see for example here). The smoke from the flares was carried over A40 – one of the most important routes in and out of London – causing traffic delays and significant risks (it’s enough to mention that just a few years back a smoke from the fireworks caused a huge crash on M5 in which 7 people died and 51 was injured). It has also to be mentioned, that after last year’s celebration, the area was littered – not only with spent flares, but also with take away boxes and drink containers.

Source: example article from local press

4. As a result of last year’s events, the event was classified as high risk. As such, it requires police presence. But since in Great Britain police presence is free only during the most important event, and some national celebrations of the Polish Community is hardly a major London event, the police presence would have to be paid by the organizers. As a result, this year’s celebrations were organized at the private property – notable in the gardens of a local Beefeater pub, where model of Spitfire plane and commemorative plaque are located. Therefore visit of the veterans to the Polish War Memorial was in no way a part of the official celebrations.

Source: official message from the organizers.

In summary: It’s not English who are to blame for the fact, that this year’s March for Cursed Soldiers was not allowed to go to Polish War Monument. It’s Polish “new patriotic”, right wing youth and their love for flares that caused the ban. Use of pyrotechnic flares without permission during such events is illegal in Britain – just as it is in Poland. They seemed to forget, that unlike Polish police, the British one is not going to turn a blind eye to it.

It would probably also help, if participants in last year’s march would not litter around the monument that commemorates the sacrifice of Polish soldiers. Patriotism is not only about wearing t-shirts with nationalist symbolic.

It has to be mentioned that in the past Britons indeed were not to keen to pay their respect to the Polish heroes, who were fighting for their freedom. Even Daily Mail admits it. But on this particular occasion the ban of the Cursed Soldiers march has nothing to do with this situation from the past.

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