Polish armed forces remembered in Weelsby Woods near Cleethorpes

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By elsawill | Friday, October 28, 2011, 16:19

Polish Carpathian Lancers remembered in Weelsby Woods, near Cleethorpes.

A commemorative plaque was unveiled today in Weelsby Woods, near Cleethorpes. As we remembered and honoured a regiment of the Polish army who made the Grimsby park their home between 1945 and 1947.

Amongst the dignitaries at the ceremony was the Mayoress of North East Lincolnshire Susan Pickett and her consort, Doug Pickett  and  military veterans to unveil the plaque in the regiment's honour within a special commemorative garden.

It was a very moving service  -  the Polish national anthem was sung and led by children and the British national anthem was also sung - and a verse from the famous poem  'For The Fallen' was read out:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

See our picture gallery of the ceremony

In 1945 many members of a 'crack' regiment of the Polish Army, the Carpathian Lancers, travelled to the UK as a formal military unit. Many of them settled in Grimsby at Weelsby, which remained an organised military camp until they disbanded in 1947.

After being formed in French Syria in 1940, the regiment, consisting of Poles escaping the Nazi and Soviet invasions of their country, moved to Palestine and fought with distinction as part of the Polish Forces in North Africa and Italy alongside the 'Desert Rats' of the British 8th Army.

In order to honour the regiment, the Anglo-Polish Society of North East Lincolnshire has been vigorously fundraising over the last 12 months for a commemorative plaque to be placed in Weelsby Wood.

Its chairman, former Carpathian Lancer George Palejowski, said: "We are delighted that we have been able to finally commemorate these Polish men who played a very important role in the war. They made Weelsby Woods their home after finding they could no longer return to their homeland, so we are delighted to have a plaque in the regiment's honour within a special garden in the park.

"We have had great support from the council's parks department and have received many generous donations from within the UK and as far a field as Europe, Scandanavia and America."

In addition to the regimental plaque, the Society has also commissioned a sculpture of 'Wojtek', a bear cub bought in Iran by Polish soldiers of an artillery supply regiment and who became their mascot.

Christine Bojen, whose father was a Carpathian Lancer decorated for bravery, said:  "Wojtek was widely known and even helped his comrades by unloading trucks and carrying heavy artillery shells.

"He was a typical soldier, enjoying a bottle of beer and a cigarette. We are sure he will make an attractive edition to the animal carvings already in Weelsby Wood."

Councillor Mick Burnett, portfolio holder for health, wellbeing, tourism and culture, said: "It's has been a pleasure to work with the North East Lincolnshire's Anglo Polish Society and it's extremely worthwhile to see that the Polish Army that settled here having a lasting tribute in recognition of their contribution to the Second World War.

"We are delighted to be able to offer them some space in Weelsby Woods for this commemorative plaque and hope that people will enjoy what it brings to our fantastic park and woodland."

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