Friday, October 18, 2013

Sikorski's Memorial at Europa Point, Gibraltar

1. The Sikorski Memorial, Europa Point, Gibraltar
[Re-dedicated at this location in July 2013]
2. The Sikorski Memorial Plaque, Europa Point.
[Donated by the Royal Air Force, Gibraltar]
3. The Polish commemorative tablet, Europa Point
[Donated by the Republic of Poland, 4 July 2013]
4. Names of the Gibraltar plane crash victims
[Written in Polish and English]
For additional information click on 'Comments' below.
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5 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Introduction

At 23:07 on 4 July 1943 a Consolidated Liberator II, serial number AL523 took off from Gibraltar airport with 17 occupants. After a mere 16 seconds this plane crashed into the sea. Of the 17 occupants, there were 16 fatalities. Only the Czech pilot, Max Prchal, survived. He was rescued from the sea by an RAF launch.

Among those killed was General Wladyslaw Sikorski, the first Prime Minister of the London-based Polish government in exile and Commander-in-Chief of Poland's Armed Forces. Although not all the bodies of the plane crash victims were recovered from the sea, the body of General Sikorski was one of those found.

With the status of a Prime Minister General Sikorski's body lay in state at Gibraltar's Catholic Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned before being taken to Britain. He was first buried at Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire. In 1993 General Sikorski's remains were exhumed and laid to rest in the royal crypts of Wawel Castle, Kraków, Poland.

In Gibraltar, a memorial tablet was initially dedicated to General Sikorski's memory at the airport. To mark the 60th anniversary of General Sikorski's death, in 1993 the memorial tablet was removed from the near the runway at Gibraltar Airport and re-located as part of a larger memorial next to a garage workshop on Devils Tower Road, Gibraltar. It remained in this location for ten years, until July 2013.

To read an earlier article about General Sikorski's memorial at Gibraltar, including photographs, click on the following link:
The Sikorski Monument, Gibraltar (2003 - 2013)
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Friday, 18 October, 2013  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Relocation of General Sikorski's Memorial (July 2013)

In July 2013, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of General Sikorski's death, the memorial was moved from its modest location on Devil's Tower Road to a more spacious location near Europa Point, Gibraltar [Photograph No 1]. In addition, a new tablet was donated by the Royal Air Force, Gibraltar and unveiled on 4 July 2013 [Photograph No 2]. It gives an explanation of the various moves of the Sikorski Memorial over the years.

The new Sikorski Memorial at Europa Point was partly funded by the Republic of Poland [Photograph No 3]. For the first time in Gibraltar, another tablet in remembrance of all the victims of the Gibraltar plane crash of 4 July 1943, was unveiled at Europa Point [Photograph No 4].

Adjacent to the main memorial is a board explaining the significance of Poland in understanding the history of WW2 and some information about General Sikorski. Transcriptions of these boards are given below.
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Poland - a country that experienced a double aggression

Below is a transcription of the information board about Poland at the Sikorski Memorial at Europa Point, Gibraltar.

POLAND - the first country to fall victim to a double aggression: by the German Reich and the Soviet Union (on 28.09.1939 in Moscow, both aggressors and occupiers signed a friendship and border treaty, which constituted the fourth division of Poland and divided its territory exactly in half) ...

POLAND - whose underground army (the Home Army, numbering over 350 thousand soldiers) was the strongest army in German-occupied Europe ...

POLAND - the first and the staunchest ally of the victorious coalition, fighting at almost all fronts of World War II "for your freedom and ours" from 1.09.1939 until 8.05.1945 in Europe and until 2.09.1945 in the Far East, leaving the graves of its soldiers in 43 countries of the world ...

POLAND - paid for its participation in WWII, which had caused enormous human losses (almost 20% inhabitants), with losing half its territory (as the only allied state to suffer this), as well as losing its sovereignty for the following 45 years ...
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A tribute to General Sikorski and his Polish Army

General Wladyslaw SIKORSKI, the first Prime Minister and the first Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army in exile in 1939 - 1943, was at that time a symbol of the Polish resistance and Polish incessant fight, continuing despite the loss of own territory ... He was a personification and symbol of Polish hopes for victory and independence ...

General Wladyslaw SIKORSKI did not live to see either the greatest Polish victory in World War II (seizure of Monte Cassino in May 1944), or creation of the Polish occupation sector in the British occupation zone in Germany (in May 1945) ... He did not live either to see the victorious ending of WWII, so bitter for Poland and the Poles ...

Hence the monument to Gen. Wladyslaw SIKORSKI in Gibraltar is not only a commemoration of his tragic death, but also a symbolic homage to the unfulfilled dreams of a few hundred thousands of its soldiers (soldiers of the Polish Army in exile and soldiers of the Home Army in occupied Poland) about a free and sovereign homeland ...
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Friday, 18 October, 2013  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

A tribute to General Sikorski and his Polish Army

General Wladyslaw SIKORSKI, the first Prime Minister and the first Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army in exile in 1939 - 1943, was at that time a symbol of the Polish resistance and Polish incessant fight, continuing despite the loss of own territory ... He was a personification and symbol of Polish hopes for victory and independence ...

General Wladyslaw SIKORSKI did not live to see either the greatest Polish victory in World War II (seizure of Monte Cassino in May 1944), or creation of the Polish occupation sector in the British occupation zone in Germany (in May 1945) ... He did not live either to see the victorious ending of WWII, so bitter for Poland and the Poles ...

Hence the monument to Gen. Wladyslaw SIKORSKI in Gibraltar is not only a commemoration of his tragic death, but also a symbolic homage to the unfulfilled dreams of a few hundred thousands of its soldiers (soldiers of the Polish Army in exile and soldiers of the Home Army in occupied Poland) about a free and sovereign homeland ...
------------------

Why the Poles remember ...

Built into the new Sikorski memorial at Europa Point are two quotations made by exiled Poles and dating from the war years.

The first is from "Testament of the fallen" by Ryszard Kiersnowski:

"And when children forget that they had lived in shelters,
That the deeds they had witnessed were too base to forgive,
Let them always remember just this thing about us,
That we all fell in battle so that freedom might live".

Ryszard Kiersnowski,
"Testament of the fallen", London, 1942.
......................

The second quotation built into this new Sikorski memorial is by Władysław Raczkiewicz, the first President of the Polish Republic in exile in London:

"We want peace based on the force of law and not on the law of force, not only for ourselves, but for the whole world".

Władysław Raczkiewicz,
President of the Republic of Poland in exile,
Radio speech, London, 1.09.1944
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Friday, 18 October, 2013  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The Fallen of the Gibraltar plane crash of 4 July 1943

The following people died in the Gibraltar plane crash of 4 July 1943:

General Wladyslaw Sikorski
Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army in exile

Maj-Gen. Taduesz Klimecki
Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief

Col. Dipl. Andrzej Marecki
Chief of the III Bureau (Operations) of the Staff to the Commander-in-Chief

Lt. Józef Ponikiewski
Personal Aide-de-Camp to Gen. Sikorski

Adam Kułakowski
Personal Secretary to General Sikorski

Jan Gralewski
Home Army courier

Zofia Wanda Leśniowska (née Sikorska)
Daughter of Gen. Sikorski
Former Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Women's Auxiliary Service

Lt.-Col. Victor Cazalet, M.P.
Liaison Officer to Gen. Sikorski

Walter H. Lock
Ministry of War clerk

Harry Pinder
Telegraphist

Brigadier John P. Whiteley, M.P.

Sq/Ldr. Wilfred S. Herring
Second Pilot

W/O Lewis Zalsberg
Flight Navigator

F/Sgt. George B. Gerry
Radio Operator / Gunner

F/Sgt. Dobson Hunter
Radio Operator / Gunner

F/Sgt. Francis S. Kelly
Flight Mechanic
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Friday, 18 October, 2013  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Dedication

This article is dedicated to the memory of General Sikorski and all the victims of the Gibraltar plane crash of 4 July 1943.

Still remembered in Gibraltar, Poland and throughout the world by those who live in freedom:

"Za wolność Naszą i Waszą" (in English: "For our freedom and yours").
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Friday, 18 October, 2013  

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