Commemorating Polish war hero, General SikorskiPosted on: Tuesday, July 4, 2023
On 4 July 1943, a plane crashed on take off in Gibraltar. On board this aircraft was the Commander in Chief of the Polish Forces, his daughter Zofia, and other eminent dignitaries including an English MP.
That man was General Władysław Sikorski, Polish Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces in exile.
Following General Sikorski's death, his body was brought to Newark and laid to rest in Newark Cemetery at the foot of the Polish Memorial.
80 years on, Newark and Sherwood District Council with the Polish Cultural Institute and Newark Town Council are commemorating this extraordinary life by unveiling a statue of the General on 4 July 2023 at Newark Cemetery.
The life-size bronze figure has been created by illustrative sculptor Andrew Lilley. It shows the General saluting the Polish Memorial Cross he unveiled over 80 years before. The artist, Andrew also created the acclaimed and much-loved sculpture at Fountain Gardens in Newark of Irena Sendler, the Polish civil servant who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War Two.
Dr Marta de Zuniga, Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in London, says:
‘The 80th anniversary of Sikorski’s death offers a chance to raise awareness among non-Poles of the significant Polish-British relationship that existed during WWII. It is an opportunity to rediscover Britain’s forgotten ally and celebrate his achievements among audiences beyond Poland.’
Councillor Neil Ross, Armed Forces Champion for Newark and Sherwood District Council added, ‘I served in the Royal Air Force for 20 years, including a posting to RAF Gibraltar. General Sikorski is remembered as a significant figure who worked closely with Winston Churchill. His pilots flew alongside the British pilots in the Battle of Britain a major turning point in the war. It is fitting that he should be remembered, alongside his fallen comrades, in Newark where his body was laid to rest for fifty years before being returned to Poland.’
The links between Newark and the Polish community run deep with the Polish war graves in the Newark Cemetery and the repatriation of General Sikorski 30 years ago in 1993.
Councillor Paul Peacock, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council adds, ‘When General Sikorski died in a plane crash on 4 July 1943, it made sense that he should be laid to rest with his men in Newark. To mark the 80th anniversary of his death, it is fitting that we have a statue erected in his memory in Newark watching over his fallen comrades. It is a great honour for our town to have played such an important part in the history of Poland and an honour to be able to mark our association with Poland in this way.’
The unveiling will take place at Newark Cemetery on 4 July 2023 in front of invited guests representing the Polish and British Governments, as well as local dignitaries.
A flypast has been planned over the cemetery by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane at 3:30pm to honour the late General and the contribution he and his forces made to the Allied war effort.
The Polish Cultural Institute has created a video to give more background on this project, you can view the video on YouTube by going to https://youtu.be/MjU8klyM6wI