I’m delighted to report that Evening 1 of the fundraising talks for the Battle of Britain Bunker was a great success.
First up, I spoke about Polska Dotty to an audience, I would later discover, comprising a fair number of Brits of Polish origin. So, for example, there were Brits with their Polish born parents: the former struggling a bit with the language – like me! – the latter still retaining their Polish accents. Stories of my encounters with the polish police raised wry smiles and laughter. And my canter through Polish history, focussing on the bravery Poles showed in the course of many rebellions against foreign invaders, seemed well received. Indeed, I suspect most of the audience knew more of this history than I did. During questions, I was asked about regionalism in Poland, and explained that it’s alive and well: there are strong local dialects, and the influence of the partitioning powers, from way back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, can still be detected.
This fighting role of Poland was taken up by the second speaker on the night – Richard Kornicki – who emphasised how Poles fought for everyone else’s freedom as well as their own (“Za Wolnosc Wasza i Nasza”). So, for example, in defending themselves against the Bolsheviks in 1920, Poland may have set back the Soviet invasion of Eastern Europe by some 25 years. Richard – son of youngest ever Polish squadron leader Franciszek Kornicki, who flew in the Battle of Britain – went on to speak about his father’s experiences during the War, and the great contribution generally of Polish pilots and ground crew.
At the start of the evening, I presented Daniel Stirland with a copy of Polska Dotty. Daniel, the Battle of Britain Bunker Curator, has done a sterling job in arranging the talks (yes, I made the joke “Stirland by name, sterling by nature” – though wasn’t sure if Daniel was amused!). Daniel has arranged further talks for 21 , 25 and 31 October – so please come along.
I suspect we’ll have raised several hundred pounds for the renovation of the Bunker, and with 3 evenings of talks to come, it would be nice if we could get well into four figures. Visiting the Bunker is a marvellous experience: it’s what inspired me in the first place to suggest to Daniel we might hold a series of fundraising talks. You can visit the bunker by contacting RAF Northolt to make an appointment, and during next summer, the Bunker should open at weekends without prior appointment being required. Do visit!