Campaigners seeking funding boost for memorial to Polish airmen

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A memorial to the role of the Polish Air Force during the Second World War is due to be unveiled in Northern Ireland in November.

Campaigners want to raise the remaining £2,700 to ensure the project goes ahead in Newtownards in Co Down.

‬‬‬‬‬‬Experienced and battle-hardened Polish airmen fought in the pivotal Battle of Britain, including No. 303 (Polish) Fighter Squadron which was later stationed at Ballyhalbert RAF base, a short distance from Newtownards.

A message on crowdfunding website Just Giving said: “We are campaigning to raise funding that would allow us to finalise the Polish Air Force Memorial project & support the replacement of Warrant Officer Stanislaw Grondowski’s crash memorial on Plantation Road in Lisburn.

“Our hope is that the Polish Air Force memorial can be unveiled on November 17 2018.

“To celebrate the 100 years of Polish Independence and the Royal Air Force and the Polish Air Force Centenaries, For Your Freedom & Ours reached out to a number of organisations and partners with an idea of unveiling the Polish Air Force Memorial.

“The monument is dedicated to the memory of the Polish airmen who lost their lives in the Battle of Britain and other theatres of the Second World War.”

It is also in remembrance of the No 303 and No 315 Polish Fighter Squadrons that were stationed at RAF Ballyhalbert and all the members of the Polish Forces buried in Northern Ireland.

Ards and North Down Borough Council have agreed to help a planning application and cover the planning fee.

The extra funding will be used to support the costs of the stonemasonry and the replacement of officer Grondowski’s crash memorial.

The airman flew a Spitfire and was based in Ballyhalbert. He crashed in Lisburn during a training flight in September 1943.

A small memorial on Plantation Road in Lisburn has been there for over 30 years and needs to be replaced.

Two of the Polish squadrons were stationed at RAF Ballyhalbert airfield, in a fighter defence role, from July until November 1943 and from November 1943 until the end of April 1944, tasked with patrolling the coastline searching for German U-Boats. Polish airmen also served in conventional RAF squadrons that were based in Northern Ireland.

Fifteen Polish airmen stationed in Northern Ireland were killed during active service.

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