New film: Hurricane

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Russell Phillips
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New film: Hurricane

Post by Russell Phillips » 27 Feb 2018, 09:19

Just heard about this - a new film about 303 Squadron in the Battle of Britain.

https://youtu.be/QgmMIisbufo
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Seret
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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by Seret » 28 Feb 2018, 11:04

Pretty edgy comment from a Pole at the top of the comments section!

He's not wrong though.

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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by sediment » 28 Feb 2018, 11:30

From the viewpoint of over 70 years distance, perhaps he could be viewed as correct. But from the rubble of a devastated Europe, should we have stood up for Poland and insisted Stalin withdraw? Britain was on its knees, facing starvation and bankruptcy, and I suspect our military was so far behind the Russians in capability it would have meant the end of the West in Europe - we barely had the manpower to replace losses in the army in Germany before May 1945. Many of my friends and colleagues over the years have been the children of Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian and Ukrainian exiles who were unable to return home until the 1990's, so we did at least offer a safe haven for those who wanted to stay.

Just a thought.

Cheers, Andy

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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by Seret » 28 Feb 2018, 15:07

All up, our treatment of the Poles was pretty bad, and not something we should be proud of. We hung them out to dry in 39 and they still fought for us. We trained up the Polish paratroopers by telling them they'd be dropped into Warsaw, then when the uprising came we sat and watched, and didn't send them to fight the battle they thought they'd been raised to fight. The after it all we told them they couldn't march in the victory parade because it might upset the Soviets!

About the only person who thought fighting to free Poland from the Soviets was a good idea was Churchill. His generals certainly told him what they thought of that idea. I think once the Red Army had parked its tanks on Poland there was little the Allies could really do, but we still acted pretty badly towards the Poles. 303 Sqn is a good example, they were treated with suspicion and derision by the RAF, and it turned out they were the best of the best. It took us until 2009 to even give them their own memorial.

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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by sediment » 28 Feb 2018, 19:47

While I agree with your first sentence, I can't really see that declaring war on Germany was a way of "hanging the Poles out to dry". Thinking pragmatically, there was very little practical help Britain and France could offer considering the separation of geography, other than bring pressure on Germany's western borders and make as much use of the navy and air force as possible. The very act of declaring war resulted in both the U.K. and France losing almost all their world status and influence, a process still continuing to this very day, and facing massive war debts that weren't paid off until 2005.

I think the idea of dropping Polish paratroopers was an act of desperation on the part of the free Polish Govt and Military when faced with the Warsaw uprising, brutal Nazi suppression and Stalin's decision to let the Nazis get on with it. The idea of parachuting a brigade of Polish paratroopers into Warsaw was met with derision by the RAF at the time and backed up by the failure to successfully drop and supply a reinforced British, US and Polish Division in Holland in September 1944. I cannot imagine the loss of transport aircraft and paratroopers that such an operation in Poland would have involved. Despite that, I can fully sympathise with people who would have liked it to be feasible, given what was happening in Warsaw and I know from speaking with my parents that the British people would have been fully supportive of such a venture had it had a chance of success.

Interesting that there is no mention of the near mutinies of the Poles in Italy and the German border when news of the Yalta conference broke. Again, one can fully sympathise with their plight. However, at the time, the Allies were locked in a war to the death with the Nazis and Stalin was a vital part of the alliance. He was fully aware of the demands he was making and of the rock and hard place he was putting Britain and the USA in by making them. Short of being prepared to go to war with Russia, there was little else that would have changed Stalin's mind.

It is interesting that few now are aware that Britain came close to declaring war on Russia in 1940 when, after their part in invading eastern Poland, the Russians started the Winter War with Finland. Britain had to remember the old adage "one step at a time" and declined to intervene, which drove Finland into the Axis camp.

The exclusion of free Poles from the victory parades was a direct result of Stalin's demands at Yalta and reiterated at Potsdam, in which he wanted no recognition for the Polish Govt in exile. These may seem to be petty snubs to a deserving people, but there were sound geopolitical realities driving it. Popular opinion in the U.K. was generally pretty positive towards the free Poles, Czechs, French, Dutch Norwegians and so on.

Interesting discussion though.

Cheers, Andy

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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by Seret » 01 Mar 2018, 10:19

sediment wrote:
28 Feb 2018, 19:47
While I agree with your first sentence, I can't really see that declaring war on Germany was a way of "hanging the Poles out to dry". Thinking pragmatically, there was very little practical help Britain and France could offer considering the separation of geography, other than bring pressure on Germany's western borders and make as much use of the navy and air force as possible. The very act of declaring war resulted in both the U.K. and France losing almost all their world status and influence, a process still continuing to this very day, and facing massive war debts that weren't paid off until 2005.
Polish strategy for their defence was based entirely on the presumption that their alliance with France (a traditional ally) and to a lesser extent Britain would result in a prompt attack against Germany's western borders should Germany strike east. Indeed, the treaties it signed obliged Britain and France to do so. Poland knew it couldn't defeat Germany alone, the only way they could survive was if Germany were forced to turn back west to meet a new threat. France and Britain knew this too, but sat by idly while Poland went under. Yes, France and Britain declared war but then did nothing, much to the Germans' surprise and delight. Measure in any practical way, we reneged on our treaty with Poland.
I think the idea of dropping Polish paratroopers was an act of desperation on the part of the free Polish Govt and Military when faced with the Warsaw uprising, brutal Nazi suppression and Stalin's decision to let the Nazis get on with it. The idea of parachuting a brigade of Polish paratroopers into Warsaw was met with derision by the RAF at the time
The brigade was raised for the express purpose of dropping into Poland way back in 1941. We promised the Poles they would drop into Poland when the time came. The Poles understood they'd get little help after the drop. The plan was for them to link up with the AK, reinforce them and act as a cadre. They knew it would be near-suicidal, but that's what they joined for. All they wanted was to get their boots back onto Polish soil and die there fighting the invader.

Then we changed our mind and dropped them into the Low Countries instead.
Popular opinion in the U.K. was generally pretty positive towards the free Poles, Czechs, French, Dutch Norwegians and so on.
During the early and late war, yes. But as the war wound down and troops started being demobbed many came to see the Poles as overstayers. They didn't want them staying here and taking jobs that they felt demobbing Brits should walk back into.

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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by sediment » 01 Mar 2018, 12:47

Seret wrote:
01 Mar 2018, 10:19
Polish strategy for their defence was based entirely on the presumption that their alliance with France (a traditional ally) and to a lesser extent Britain would result in a prompt attack against Germany's western borders should Germany strike east. Indeed, the treaties it signed obliged Britain and France to do so. Poland knew it couldn't defeat Germany alone, the only way they could survive was if Germany were forced to turn back west to meet a new threat. France and Britain knew this too, but sat by idly while Poland went under. Yes, France and Britain declared war but then did nothing, much to the Germans' surprise and delight. Measure in any practical way, we reneged on our treaty with Poland.
You may be right that Germany was relieved, but the French army was still totally focussed on defensive strategy, investing huge sums in the Maginot Line, so with Britain's biggest ally (and let's face it the largest army even compared to the Germans) unable or unwilling to act aggressively, what else could Britain do? I don't think it would have helped the Poles if the British Army threw itself onto the flames of a hugely costly and largely unsupported push into Germany.
Seret wrote:
01 Mar 2018, 10:19
The brigade was raised for the express purpose of dropping into Poland way back in 1941. We promised the Poles they would drop into Poland when the time came. The Poles understood they'd get little help after the drop. The plan was for them to link up with the AK, reinforce them and act as a cadre. They knew it would be near-suicidal, but that's what they joined for. All they wanted was to get their boots back onto Polish soil and die there fighting the invader.

Then we changed our mind and dropped them into the Low Countries instead.
Sorry, I don't know enough about the early stages of the formation of the Polish Parachute Brigade, but a quick Wicki seems to support that. However, the Polish Govt in Exile may have had that in mind, but without the air lift capacity, they would always be cap in hand to the British and given the logistics and tactical difficulties of flying transport aircraft across the width of Germany, was in effect a non-starter, much though many would have wished it possible. Given Stalin's intentions, there was a real risk that this might have affected his resolve to defeat Germany or at least he may have allowed the western allies to bear the brunt of the manpower losses, something Britain and America couldn't have afforded.
Seret wrote:
01 Mar 2018, 10:19
During the early and late war, yes. But as the war wound down and troops started being demobbed many came to see the Poles as overstayers. They didn't want them staying here and taking jobs that they felt demobbing Brits should walk back into.
You are probably right, but many did stay. I can name two colleagues who are children of free-Poles, one a child of a Latvian SS officer and a friend who at the age of 15 was pressed into the SS in the Ukraine in 1944 and managed to visit his old home for the first time in 1994, a month after his father had passed away.

I guess we'll have to differ, but still can't see it as Britain "hanging the Poles out to dry". By 1939, Britain was already a fading imperial power doing the best it could to continue to take a front row seat on the international political table (and defeat Hitler on the way). Yalta and Potsdam left no doubt as to where the new powers lay!

Cheers, Andy

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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by Seret » 01 Mar 2018, 13:34

sediment wrote:
01 Mar 2018, 12:47
You may be right that Germany was relieved, but the French army was still totally focussed on defensive strategy, investing huge sums in the Maginot Line, so with Britain's biggest ally (and let's face it the largest army even compared to the Germans) unable or unwilling to act aggressively, what else could Britain do? I don't think it would have helped the Poles if the British Army threw itself onto the flames of a hugely costly and largely unsupported push into Germany.
Absolutely, the fault has to rest mostly with France. They formed the vast bulk of the forces available, the BEF was tiny by comparison. They were too slow to mobilise, and not nearly aggressive enough. You could argue that there's little Britain could have done in the 30's that would have swayed the French from their disastrous focus on turtling up, but the fact remains that like France Britain did sign a treaty with Poland that promised an offensive in the west if German attacked. If we had no intention of doing so we shouldn't have done that. The Poles took us for our word (perhaps naively?) and thousands of them died while waiting for us to do our duty.

Chamberlain stood up in the Commons and publicly declared:
"in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty's Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.

I may add that the French Government have authorised me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty's Government."

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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by sediment » 01 Mar 2018, 14:44

Quick timeline in 1939;

1st September Poland invaded, UK declares war on Nazi Germany
4th September Advance BEF parties arrive in France
9th September 1st BEF detachments leave UK
17th September Russia invades eastern Poland
6th October Poland surrenders
19th October BEF near complete initial deployment in France

Question is, what would the British have invaded Germany with, had they acted unilaterally to maintain their treaty commitments? BEF weren't even completely committed in France before Poland was defeated.

Cheers, Andy

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Re: New film: Hurricane

Post by hammurabi70 » 01 Mar 2018, 21:01

Seret wrote:
01 Mar 2018, 10:19
Polish strategy for their defence was based entirely on the presumption that their alliance with France (a traditional ally) and to a lesser extent Britain would result in a prompt attack against Germany's western borders should Germany strike east. Indeed, the treaties it signed obliged Britain and France to do so. Poland knew it couldn't defeat Germany alone, the only way they could survive was if Germany were forced to turn back west to meet a new threat. France and Britain knew this too, but sat by idly while Poland went under. Yes, France and Britain declared war but then did nothing, much to the Germans' surprise and delight. Measure in any practical way, we reneged on our treaty with Poland.
Was it? I think the principle weapon deployed was supposed to be BLOCKADE. Perhaps the SAAR OFFENSIVE was assumed to fulfil the requirements of taking the offensive, even if something of a fig-leaf attempt. Perhaps France was waiting for British commitment to be evident rather than fight to the last Frenchman for Perfidious Albion. By 1945 Operation Unthinkable planning demonstrated the unfeasibility of taking direct action over Poland's future.
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