The Polish Heritage Society
International conference to mark contribution of Polish “Silent and Unseen” to Allied intelligence during WWII
LONDON 10 June 2016 – The work of Polish Army’s WWII special forces - the “Silent and Unseen” or in Polish “Cichociemni” - as well as of the Polish section of Britain’s SOE , will be examined during an international military history conference in London on Saturday, 11th June 2016.
The conference, taking place at the embassy of the Republic of Poland in London and hosted by Ambassador Witold Sobków, has been organised by the Polish Heritage Society (UK) as part of a year of commemoration of the work of the Cichociemni declared by the Polish Senate.
“It has long been known that it was due to the critical intelligence supplied by the Polish Home Army from these courageous people that WWII concluded when it did,” said Ambassador Sobków. “The specialist speakers will give us an insight into this brave group of people, whose value to the Allies was undeniable.”
The conference will also include the British premiere of a documentary on the subject made by Polish television channel TVP 1.
The Cichociemni unit was made up of volunteers parachuted into Poland to bring specialist skills in areas such as staff work, covert operations, intelligence, document forging, demolitions, signals and general sabotage skills to the Polish military underground. A report at the end of the war showed that almost half of the British intelligence reports generated during the conflict were based on Polish sources.
“The Polish Heritage Society has worked to highlight the enormous contribution that the Cichociemni made both in Nazi-occupied Poland and as part of wider efforts within Allied Forces in Europe during WWII,” said PHS Chairman Dr Marek Stella-Sawicki.
Speakers at the conference include Dr Andrzej Suchcitz of the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum, Dr Paul Latawski of the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Dr Jeffrey Bines, Dr Bogdan Rowi.ski, former commander of Aldershot Garrison Col Michael Russell, and Colonel Piotr G.sta. - Commanding Officer of Polish army’s top special forces unit “GROM”.
In 1939, Poles lived in fear of aggression from both East and West but believed in the British and French guarantees of protection against Hitler. On the 23rd August 1939 the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact heightened their unease but a few days later Britain signed an Agreement of Mutual Assistance with Poland on 25th August, pledging to come to aid in the event of hostilities. General Gamelin, the French Chief of Staff, formally undertook to throw his divisions across the Maginot Line if Poland was attacked…………………………. Whilst, the Chief of the British Imperial General Staff, General Edmund Ironside, vowed that the Royal Air force would match any German air raids on Poland with raids on Germany……………………... Phoney War(1) then followed…………….The Polish Government were confident in their army, which nineteen years earlier had seen off so successfully the Red Army attack in August 1920. Events proved otherwise on 1st September 1939. WWII unfolded and Poland laid defeated, yet hopeful as her army joined the Allies on various fronts. The Polish Navy (Battle of Atlantic and other WWII theatres), Polish Army (2nd Corps at Monte Cassino), Polish Fighter Pilots (Battle of Britain), Polish Bomber Command and Parachute Brigade (who played an important role at Arnhem), Polish Armed Division at “The Falaise Gap” and in the liberation of Belgium and Holland (Wilhelmshaven). When the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944 started, the Polish Independent Parachute Brigade and PAF (Polish Air Force) hoped to be part of the support for this Uprising. It was the Cichociemni (1941-1945) that risked their lives ‘to jump blindly in to save their fatherland’ from Nazi Germany and Soviet annihilation.
(1) The Phoney War was an eight-month period at the beginning of World War II, during which there were effectively no military land operations on the overall Western Front. It began with the declaration of war by the western Allies (the United Kingdom and France) against Hitler and Nazi Germany on 3 September 1939, following the German invasion of Poland, and ended with the German attack on France and the Low Countries on 10 May 1940.
Tydzień Polski - Cichociemni Konferencja