POLONICA IN SCOTLAND

A Register of Polonica of the physical manifestations of the Polish presence in Scotland

WORLD WAR TWO and 20C

DOUGLAS, LANARKSHIRE

 

Memorial pillar given by the Polish 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade

POLISH MEMORIAL GARDEN

 

The village of Douglas in Lanarkshire was one of several locations near which a large camp of the Polish Army were set up in the summer of 1940. Units of the 10th Cavalry Brigade, including the Podhalanski (Highland) Rifle Battalion, 10th Mounted Rifles Rgt, the 24th Lancers as well as brigade support and services units were stationed here for a period in permanent tented camps before moving to the east coast of Scotland, to protect Scotland from invasion.

 

DIRECTIONS :-

To get to Douglas if travelling south on the M74 come off at the service station at Junction 11 and look for the A70 to Ayr, if northbound on the M74, Douglas is signposted at Junction 12.

Memorial Pillar

 

Carved on the stone there is a Polish Eagle with an inscription in English and Polish –

10 Cavalry Brigade, Polish Army.

This monument is one of three which still exist in the vicinity of Douglas. The memorial pillar was built from stone taken from a partly demolished castle and was sculpted by a Polish soldier who before the war had been a sculptor living in Paris.

 

In a later ceremony of re-dedication of the Memorial Garden a Polish Eagle was placed atop the memorial pillar.

 

A POLISH MEMORIAL

GARDEN

 

created by the

Douglas Gardening Club

The three Polish monuments created by soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Brigade in 1940 in the vicinity of the village have been brought together. The garden will be a place of reflection.

A memorial pillar was presented to the town of Douglas by General Maczek (then commanding the 10th Brigade) in October 1940, in gratitude for the hospitality and kindness the Poles had received. The pillar is situated at the edge of the village and where the memorial garden is sited.

CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD FRASER OF CARMYLLIE Q.C. FOR A MEMORIAL TO GENERAL MACZEK IN EDINBURGH.

On 28 March 2103, at the New Club in Princes Street Edinurgh, Lord Fraser Q.C. saw the launch of the campaign in Edinburgh to recognise Maczek’s vital contribution to the UK and Allied Forces in what became his home town.   Lord Fraser proposed a metal bench with the General sitting on it, but with room for another to sit. For further information click here.

 

Nearby Douglas is Gateside Cemetery which contains the grave of a young 17 year old Polish soldier, called Edward Małczęc, from Sosnowiec. He served in the 10th Mounted Rifles (10 psk) and died tragically on 22nd August 1940 in a training accident.

 

 

POLISH MEMORIAL GARDEN

The Douglas Gardening Club in Lanarkshire, Scotland have created a Polish Memorial Garden incorporating three Polish memorials from 1940 which lie in the vicinity of the village.  Robert Wilson a member of the Gardening Club, who, as a young boy, remembers the Polish soldiers in 1940, felt that the Polish monuments were a "part of our history and in memory of the Polish Armed Forces who were our allies in the war, a lasting monument should be established."

 

Lord Home has greatly assisted the Club's plans by granting the Club the ground where the Memorial Garden is sited and with funding from a local trust they hope to make the Garden special, "in order that local people and families of the Polish soldiers can spend a quiet moment reflecting on the past and how much it meant to the people concerned." The memorial pillar presented by General Maczek to the village has been renovated. The Glasgow Herald of 28th October 1940 reported the words of General Maczek, .... "May this monument always remind you that you have in the 10th Cavalry Brigade most sincere and faithful friends."...

 

Two other monuments exist within the Polish Camp - one lay in a field opposite Lady Home Hospital.

 

Dziennik Żołnierza (Soldier’s Daily Newspaper) on 7th September 1940 reported,

"W niedziele o godz. 11-ej w szwadronie techniczna-samochodym naprzeciwko szpitala miejskiego ogladzic sie uroczystosci przekazania „SOUVENIR" miasta Douglas i okolicy w formie pomika przedstawiajacego oznake wojskowa ofiarodawców. Pomnik ten z betonu wykonal szw. tech.-samochowdowy."

Present were General Dreszer, then commanding the brigade and members of the Polish National Council including General Zeligowski, Mr Mikolajczyk, Prof. Folkierski and others as well as Scottish guests.  The newspaper was at that time printed in Douglas and used the outline of the still existing building at the entrance to the Estate (close to Cairn Lodge) as part of its mast head.

 

The third Polish monument most probably features the motif of the 10th Cavalry Brigade.

It has the abbreviation "10 BK" - 10th Cavalry Brigade and combines the motif of the leather wings of a Polish hussar (in the same way as the emblem of the 1st Polish Armoured Division) with an anchor.

 

The camp occupied by units of the 10th Brigade, 10th Mounted Rifles Regiment, the 24th Lancers and Podhale (Highland) Rifle Battalion from late June to October 1940 is in an area steeped in the history of Scotland and Poland. For instance it is where the Scottish Cameronians Regiment was raised and nearby at Castlemains where Mrs Malkowska, the Chief Guide of pre-war Poland set up a private Polish primary boarding school. It was on the 27th June 1940 that the Polish Highlanders started to arrive at the permanent tented camp at Douglas, with more troops arriving on the 29th. These troops came mainly from Glasgow where they had been billeted in the city and now found themselves under canvas on either side of Douglas Water. Douglas was the setting of the first review by General Sikorski of the Polish Army in Scotland and where the Highland Brigade's standard was decorated with the order of Virtuti Militari.

 

British Pathė hold a short film entitled ‘General Sikorski Honours Polish Brigade’. The film, Copyright British Pathė is a preview version and you may have to view a modern advert before the film runs.

 

Numerous distinguished guests visited the Polish camp including the Duke of Kent. Many locals fondly remember the friendly invasion by Polish troops. In early August 1940 some 3,350 men were located in Douglas. The 10th Cavalry Brigade left the camp in October 1940 to participate in the defence of the Scottish coast in the Angus sector. Then, as the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, part of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, its soldiers achieved fame in combat in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. In modern times, the  brigade contributed troops to the Balkans and other wars. Click on 10 bryg kaw panc to go to an external Polish website featuring the Brigade, now named with the honorific title of “General Maczek”.

 

Already the Gardening Club has information and fascinating photographs from two soldiers who were in the camp - a Mr Kulig of Ontario, Canada and Mr Tabrecki of England. If any readers have memories or photographs of their stay in Douglas or can provide information about the monument with its anchor and wings please email to Mr R Ostrycharz, and I will be very pleased to pass on information to the Gardening Club.

 

The memorial garden demonstrates a shared heritage between the Scots and the Poles.

 

BOOKLET

A small booklet was prepared by the author of the website in 2002, entitled “The Polish Memorial Garden at Douglas”

Chapters cover :- Arrival of Strangers, September 1939 to the Evacuations from France June 1940, Scotland Welcomes the Polish Troops, Home Front in Douglas in the Summer of 1940, Life in Camp No 4 in July 1940, Scottish Aid Organizations Supporting the Poles, Scottish-Polish Cultural Events in August, Events Surrounding Camp No 4 in August, Events Surrounding Camp No 4 in September, Events surrounding the Polish Troops October 1940, Continuing Scottish-Polish Links.

 

Below is an extract from the Introduction :-

 

In gratitude for the friendship, goodwill and hospitality received by the Poles in Scotland during the last war, a number of monuments, plaques, religious items and other mementoes were presented by the Poles, particularly the Polish Army to the Scots. A number of these survive to this day and can be found on the walls of civic buildings, in churches, within institutions, and elsewhere.

Douglas is unique in Scotland in the number of Polish Army monuments in a relatively small area that have survived all these years. Three Polish monuments that stem from 1940 form the physical basis of the Memorial Garden at Douglas; a project undertaken by the Douglas Gardening Club. The first is a memorial pillar presented by General Maczek to the village at the time of the departure of the soldiers from Douglas. Another a ‘souvenir’ to the locals in the form of the crest of the Polish armoured troops and a third, a pillar made by Polish engineers as a reminder of their sojourn in the camp on Lord Home's estate.

 

Using their woodcraft skills Polish soldiers constructed other items using natural materials found in the camp. For example, there were several wooden field altars and chapels, a large map of Poland, which had been outlined on the ground as well as a number of national and army emblems. But these with the change in the use of the camp and the passage of time are now gone.

 

In a local initiative the surviving monuments with the help of the Royal Engineers of 102 (Clyde) Field Squadron (Air Support) (Volunteers) have now been brought together from their different original locations within the former Polish camp. Land has been donated by the present Earl of Home and a garden planted with appropriate landscaping.

 

The garden is a place of reflection and renewal. It is a reminder of the shared history and brotherhood that existed between the Scots and the Poles who came here as strangers in those dark days in 1940. This friendship was founded on the war and its times which brought different people together to fight a common cause and sympathy for the plight of the Polish soldiers who had lost their country and contact with their families. Outside St Simon's Church in Glasgow where Polish Mass has been celebrated since the last war there is a reminder of the words from St Matthew 25:35 'I was a stranger, and ye took me in'. The same may be said about the people of Douglas and the surrounding area who warmly welcomed the Polish soldiers into their lives. With the passage of time many of the Polish soldiers as well as many locals who were here have passed away. Perhaps in this garden their memory, their dedication and sacrifice during the war years will be remembered and live on.

© Copyright R Ostrycharz 1998

EXTERNAL WEBSITES

External websites for photographs of the Polish Memorial Garden visit, for example :-

The Scottish War Memorials Project

Edinburgh.com.pl (Polish language)

 

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mailto: robert@ostrycharz.free-online.co.uk

Polonicadouglas.htm  last modified 31 Mar 2013

© Copyright R M Ostrycharz 1998-2013