Telling the Story Afresh: Exeter’s Polish War Heroes Remembered

11 November 2021

A special wreath-laying ceremony will take place at Exeter Cathedral on Monday 15 November 2021, to commemorate the heroic Second World War defence of Exeter by a Polish night-fighter squadron.

 

The ceremony is part of a special event, For Your Freedom & Ours, taking place at Exeter Guildhall from 10am-4pm on Monday 15th November in memory of the Polish 307 Squadron. It sets out the story of the Squadron and the history of Exeter Airport, where they were based from 1941-1943

The event includes:

10.00am: the Polish flag will be raised over Exeter Guildhall by the Past Lord Mayor of Exeter, Councillor Peter Holland.

2.00pm: there will be a wreath laying ceremony at the 307 Squadron memorial in Exeter Cathedral.

For Your Freedom & Ours has been organised by 307 Squadron Project (a British-Polish registered charity), with support from Exeter City Council and The Polish Embassy.

It is free to attend and is in both English and Polish.

307 Squadron Project have created an official trailer for the event, For Your Freedom & Ours. You can view it through Facebook here.


The 307 night-fighter squadron was part of the RAF, who defended the South West of England during WW2. It prevented Exeter from being totally destroyed during the blitz on the city in 1942.

Poland’s 307 Squadron was based at RAF Clyst Honiton — now the site of Exeter Airport — between 1941 and 1943, to defend the South West against night attacks by enemy bombers. On the main night of the Exeter Blitz, the squadron — heavily outnumbered with just four available aircraft to tackle 40 enemy planes — shot down four German bombers which were primed to release their bombs on Exeter, potentially preventing total destruction of the city.

On 15th November 1942, to demonstrate the friendship that had developed between the squadron and Exeter, 307 Squadron presented the city with their national flag, the first British city to have ever received the Polish colours. The presentation, which took place outside the West Front of Exeter Cathedral, was attended by clergy of the Cathedral including the Bishop of Exeter, the Mayor of Exeter and approximately 400 members of 307 Squadron. (Top photo: courtesy of Janina Struk)


It is hoped that the exhibition and ceremony may result in more people becoming aware of the region’s debt to Poland.

The Cathedral’s Canon Precentor, the Revd Canon James Mustard, said:

“It is a huge privilege and utterly humbling to play a role in remembering the critical wartime contribution of our Polish friends.

“We hope we can help to express Exeter’s enduring gratitude to those in Poland and around the world, who may share a connection with 307 Squadron.”

 

Find out more on the 307 Squadron Project’s Facebook page here.

 

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