Tributes paid to Polish airman at World War Two memorial in Newtownabbey
A memorial to commemorate the life of a Polish Air Force man who perished during a training operation in Co Antrim in 1943 has been officially unveiled in Mallusk.
The memorial, for Flight Sergeant Wladyslaw Kolek, located at Boghill Road Mallusk, is part of a project delivered by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council working in partnership with For Your Freedom and Ours, who have created the Polish Wings Heritage Trail in Northern Ireland.
The trail is presented on a map and assists in locating civilian graves, crash sites, memorials and exhibitions.
Co Down, Belfast, Newtownabbey and the North Coast were temporary homes to over 100 members of the Polish Air Force who were stationed with Royal Air Force squadrons here between 1940 and 1945.
Flight Sergeant Wladyslaw Kolek of 315 Polish Squadron, lost his life during a training sortie involving a formation of three aircraft over Co Antrim on September 11 1943, aged 26, just two days after arriving in Northern Ireland for his posting at RAF Ballyhalbert.
After encountering bad weather and becoming lost, Sergeant Kolek’s Spitfire, (BL469 PK-F), crashed into a farm house on Flush Road near RAF Nutts Corner.
Guests attending the recent memorial service included Consul General of the Republic of Poland Mr Pawel Majewski, Northern Ireland Veterans’ Commissioner, Danny Kinahan DL, Chief Executive of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Mrs Jacqui Dixon, Rev Campbell Dixon MBE, Maciek Bator Project Manager For Your Freedom and Ours, Ministry of Defence of Poland representatives, Elected Members and members of the Polish community.
The event was one of Cllr Jim Montgomery’s last enegagements as Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey.
Cllr Montgomery, who led the tributes, said: “It has been an honour to assist the group in my term of office with a number of shared history projects commemorating the legacy of the Polish Airmen who served in Northern Ireland during the Second World War and who played a vital role in the UK’s victory in the Battle of Britain.
“As we install this memorial to Flight Sergeant Kolek, we must remember all those brave airmen who fought in the Second World War and all those who were sadly lost.”
Consul General of the Republic of Poland Mr Pawel Majewski added: “It is my hope that this memorial will show every person the famous gallantry of Polish Airmen during World War Two.
“Those Airmen, who bravely defended the shores of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom and paid the highest price for our freedom.
“I would like to thank Cllr Jim Montgomery, without his tireless efforts in promoting Polish culture, and the rights of the largest ethnic minority in Northern Ireland, this event would not have been possible.”
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