The crucial role played by Polish airmen during the Second World War and the colourful stories of their adventures have become part of British folklore.
But very few people have any idea of the extent of their involvement, or how they came to be in Britain.
In this brilliant history, Adam Zamoyski explores the unwavering courage of Polish fighters and how they helped to defeat the Nazis.
By the beginning of 1941, there was a fully fledged Polish Air Force operating alongside the RAF.
With 14 squadrons and support services, it was larger than the air forces of the Free French, Dutch, Belgians and all the other European Allies operating from Britain put together.
Some 17,000 men and women passed through its ranks while it was stationed on British soil. They not only played a crucial part in the Battle of Britain, they also contributed significantly to the Allied war effort in the air and took part in virtually every type of RAF operation, including the bombing of Germany, the Battle of the Atlantic and Special Operations.
This book is not intended as a full history of the Polish Air Force. Nor does it pretend to assess the exact contribution of these men and women to the Allied cause. The intention is to give a picture of who they were, where they came from, how they got here and what they did. It also looks at their, at times, strained but ultimately successful collaboration with the RAF and their sometimes difficult, often notorious, but ultimately happy relationship with the British people.
Count Adam Stefan Zamoyski is a historian and a member of the ancient Zamoyski family of Polish nobility. His books include ‘The Last King of Poland’, ‘Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries’, and ‘Paderewski’.
Praise for Adam Zamoyski:
‘So brilliant that it is impossible to put the book aside … A master craftsman at work.’ Sunday Times.
‘Zamoyski’s book is a brilliant piece of narrative history, full of sparkling set-pieces, a wholly fascinating account of what must be reckoned one of the greatest military disasters of all time.’ Sunday Telegraph.
‘An utterly admirable book. It combines clarity of thought and prose with a strong narrative drive.’ Daily Telegraph
‘A gripping tale.’ Economist
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