Saturday, October 19, 2013

An SOE eye-witness to Sikorski's death

1. View towards North Front, Gibraltar & Spain
[From one end of the Great Siege Tunnels]
2. The Sikorski Memorial plaques (in English & Polish)
WWII Tunnels, Gibraltar  
 For additional information click on 'Comments' below.
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1 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Introduction

During WW2 the Great Siege tunnels at Gibraltar proved an ideal spot for British agents to survey Gibraltar' North Front and the airfield with Spain beyond. A modern view from the tunnels can be seen above [Photograph No 1].

It was from this vantage point on the night of 4 July 1943 that one SOE agent, radio operator Douglas F. Martin witnessed the plane crash in which General Sikorski and 15 other passengers lost their lives. General Sikorski was the Polish Prime Minister in exile and the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces. Douglas Martin was the only person who actually saw the plane crash.

For many years after the war, Gibraltar's tunnels and the wartime clandestine surveillance that went on there was restricted information. In May 2005, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the WWII Tunnels were opened to the general public for the first time. For the first time it was possible for members of the general public to follow in the footsteps of many of the Allied leaders of the war, such as Churchill, Eisenhower De Gaulle and Sikorski.

Two tablets of stone, one in English and one in Polish, were unveiled inside the tunnels noting that it was near this spot that Douglas Martin witnessed the plane crash in which General Sikorski lost his life [Photograph No 2]. Over the years since 1943 many people have been sceptical about the cause of the crash, although to date there has been no definite proof that there was a conspiracy.

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Transcription of the memorial plaque

Below is a transcription of the English language memorial tablet for General Sikorski at the end of the Great Siege Tunnels. This is the plaque seen on the left-hand side in Photograph No 2 (above). The right-hand side plaque gives the same information in Polish.

This is the transcription:

"In early July 1943, General Wladyslav Sikorski Prime Minister and commander-in-Chief of the Polish Forces in exile stopped at Gibraltar on his way from Cairo to London. On the night of the 4 July 1943, a British bomber with General Sikorski on board crashed into the sea shortly after take-off, the cause of this mysterious accident has never been ascertained; a fact which has given rise to many speculations, doubts and rumours. At the end of this tunnel, Douglas F. Martin, a radio-operator with Special Operations Executive, had his transmitting station, roughly four hundred meters from the plane. He was the only witness who actually saw the crash."
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Saturday, 19 October, 2013  

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