A Question of Honor

Discussion in 'Non-fiction' started by evangilder, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    #1 evangilder, Jul 27, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2010
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    47,663
    Likes Received:
    1,417
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Cheshire, UK
    I'll have to look out for that one Eric, looks interesting.
    I just got this one on Saturday, and have read it from cover to cover. It's a real eye-opener as to how the Polish Air Force formed in Britain; from the incredible trials of escaping from Poland to reach Britain, the service right through WW2, to the disgraceful let down of a valiant ally, in order to appease Stalin after the Yalta conference. Well worth reading.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2005
    Messages:
    5,940
    Likes Received:
    624
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Cracow
    I recommend this book:
    Poles in Defence of Great Britain: July 1940 - June 1941 by Robert Gretzyngier in association with Wojtek Matusiak

    This is a day-by-day chronology of the Polish fighter pilot operations (samoloty myśliwskie) covering twelve eventful months of the "Battle of Britain." It was published in London, though the author resides in Poland. The reader will be immensely impressed by the meticulous effort this work required to assemble the material in England after 60 years. No wonder that the British friend Christopher Shores who edited this book offers his highly sympathetic praise, as do many collaborators who still remember those times or the recollections of their older friends or relatives. This is a historical record similar to those of regiments that fought in ancient, long forgotten wars.



    It is not one continuous story but rather a compilation of dozens of them (actually flight reports), reduced to a paragraph or two. For example, Stan Skalski tells us how on September 2, 1940, he flew in the Yellow Section when at 20,000 ft. his squadron sighted a large force of Do's (Dornier bombers) with many MF 109 escorts spread in a wide formation behind them. He attacked one, which then crashed near a bomber; then he shot down a second one, which flew out over the sea, and came down. Ultimately Skalski was forced to land with a pierced pipe, just as his engine died. Sometimes one needs to read between lines as the book offers only a few editorial comments. It contains pure facts. But one learns in passing that the British Hurricanes were often no match for the German Messerschmitts; they were too slow. The situation improved with the arrival of new Spitfires.

    In the summer of 1940, the Polish pilots were truly a godsend for the British. Many were highly qualified, and some had had actual combat experience in September 1939. They were faithful allies after the disastrous French campaign. True, there were some language problems. A minor one involved Polish names such as Pniak and Własnowolski. The men were promptly nicknamed Cognac and Vodka, while Nowierski and Ostaszewski became Novi with Osti. The Poles were a bit upset to find that British throttles operated in the opposite direction. One pilot could not land properly due to lack of English, and so the British command regretfully did not allow Poles to fly at night when radio communications are essential; there was a danger that a Polish boy would not comprehend the cockney slang of a London colleague giving him vital instructions. Of course, there was much serious flying by day, and certain handicaps were overcome. Some pilots were placed on duty with only a few hours of flying a Hurricane, and training in aerial gunnery was simply unavailable. A routine army training had to suffice. The principal function of the Polish squadrons (dywizjony) was the defense of southern England from German bombers and their fighter escorts and yet the British planes of that period were, by today's standards, quite primitive and accident prone. They had frequent problems with landing undercarriages.

    The Polish squadrons used "300" numbers, from 302 through 317, of which 303 became the most famous. The spirit of the flyers was admirable. When the royal family visited them and a sudden scramble was declared, the planes were in the air within five minutes. Perhaps the toughest day was September 7 1940, when 1,000 German planes headed for England, watched by Hermann Goering from his Calais base. During that month, the Poles shot down 100 enemy planes. Their own losses were also high: 80 pilots died during those memorable months. This thorough book lists amazing details, including all sorties in the course of twelve months. The activity slowed down considerably in June 1941, when the entire German air force was moved east to face the war with the Soviet Union.

    Amazon.com: Poles in Defence of Britain (9781902304540): Robert Gretzyngier: Books
     

    Attached Files:

  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    Thanks for those recommendations, guys! I have become very enamored with the Polish pilots after reading about halfway through this one.
     
  5. Violator

    Violator Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2007
    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Seattle
    Great choice, Eric! "A Question of Honor" is definitely a first-rate book--informative, entertaining and well researched. As well as this book points out the phenomenal courage and spirit of the Poles, it does an equally good job illustrating just how shameful the US and Britain's abandonment of the Poles was.
     
  6. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    I normally only read a few pages a night, but this one is so engaging, I end up reading a chapter a night. I go to bed earlier just to read more.
     
  7. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,592
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    IT
    Location:
    Hurst, Texas
    Sad to say, I picked up this book at a bargain bookstore for about $4....about four years ago. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet, for various reasons, none of which are really valid. But after re-reading a bit about Market-Garden and the Italy campaigns, and picking up tidbits here and there, I have a new-found respect for the Poles....and your thread reminded me that this book got shifted over to the "read" shelves awhile back. It is now in its rightful place on the to-be-read shelves.
     
  8. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,069
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I got this book (A Question of Honor) awhile back and has sat in my "too read" pile. It finally worked itself to the top and I started reading it on Friday and could not put the dam thing down. I finished it about 30 minutes ago and holy <bleep!>. What an eye opening book, it's just beyond my comprehension how the Americans and British could have sold out such a key ally to of all people Stalin. As much as I have studied military use of airpower, I had never even heard of the American founded Kosciuszko Squadron used during the 1919 War between Poland and Russia. This book was really amazing!

    In regards to the Yalta Conference, it's sad when Stalin turns out to be the most honest leader in the meeting.
     
  9. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    Yeah, there are some parts of that book that really raises questions about how we did things. Obviously, it's easy to question things through the window of time, but it is really sad how bad the Poles got treated by their allies.
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,523
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I intend no disrespect to the Poles,nor would I deny their shabby treatment at the end of the war. I will not however get misty eyed about them.

    574 "foreign" pilots flew in the Battle of Britain alongside 2,353 of their British counterparts. Of these 145 were Polish,that's only 10 more than the 135 New Zealanders.

    As I said no disrespect intended,but let's keep things in proportion. There has been a lot of mythologising about the Polish contribution,important and valiant as it was.

    Steve
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,676
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    #11 parsifal, Oct 1, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2012
    I too have a very heavy heart when it comes to what happened to the poles at the end of the war. i have not read this book, and i need to, but despite that obvious weakness, i was always led to believe that Churchill gave up on poland fully realizing what the russians intended to do, wanting to to do something about it, but powerless to act (really), because by 1944, britain was just about utterly exhausted from the fighting she had done. if i were to blame anyone, it would be the Americans, who i understand remained quite oblivious to soviet malice toward the poles.....

    I'll stand corrected on all that once ive had a chance to read the book and check my facts.....
     
  12. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    I am not discounting the other non-British nationals that fought with the RAF. Everyone who fought did so valiantly and with honor. The sad part about the Poles for me is how bad they got bloodied at the beginning, and how bad they got the wrong end of the stick at the end, to the point that they were not allowed to fly in the victory celebrations for fear of Russian anger.
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,523
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    #13 stona, Oct 1, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2012
    I don't understand the bloodied bit. They were not proportianately anymore likely to die than any other BoB pilot. Infact the most famous Polish Squadron (303) had a loss rate significantly lower than average.

    30 of the 145 Poles died compared with 20 of the 135 New Zealanders. 23 of the 83 Canadians were killed,though such numbers games are not really my cup of tea.

    The treatment of the Poles at the end of the war was disgraceful.

    Steve
     
  14. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    I meant Poland as a nation, not the individual pilots.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,523
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    For sure I'm with you there.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  16. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,069
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    After having read the book, it went quite beyond being oblivious. FDR had a number of advisors warn him, he was just indifferent to the Poles - which to me makes it far worse then being oblivious. I have to be honest, after having read the book it made me sick to my stomach what we had done to the Poles, as well as the rest of the Eastern countries
     
Loading...

Share This Page