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The Polish Invasion
The Scots were until recently accustomed to think of themselves as an emigrant nation. With the great exception of the Irish immigration into the industrial west of Scotland in the 19th century, they had almost no experience of hosting a large group of no


 
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ISBN: 9781843410485

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The Scots were until recently accustomed to think of themselves as an emigrant nation. With the great exception of the Irish immigration into the industrial west of Scotland in the 19th century, they had almost no experience of hosting a large group of non-Scots until the Second World War.  So the arrival in 1940 of tens of thousands of Polish servicemen – soldiers, sailors and airmen – was an enormous and ultimately liberating cultural shock.  Vividly ‘foreign’, with their exotic uniforms and strange language, the Poles spread out across camps and bases mainly in the east and south-east of Scotland.  

In the course of their stay, which was to last almost five years,  they injected Scottish rural and small-town life with a new excitement which is still remembered – mostly very fondly – by the older generation. They were the survivors of the Polish forces who had fought the Germans in their own country and then fought them again in France in 1940.  Churchill decreed that the troops who escaped across the Channel after the fall of France should be based in Scotland. Here they guarded the coast against invasion, retrained and eventually took part in the Allied landings in Normandy and the campaigns which followed.  Many of the men came from Poland’s eastern provinces which had been seized by the Soviet Union in 1939, and after the war, thousands chose to remain in Scotland.

This book, first published in 1941, is a witty and perceptive account of the mutual impact of Poles and Scots in wartime Scotland. As he says, real affection grew out of initial misunderstanding: ‘[the Pole] took the other for a kind of Englishman, and was rewarded by being taken for a kind of Russian’. He records warm Scottish hospitality, and friendships in which each side tried to explain the complexities of their national history to the other.

Ksawery Pruszynski was a radical journalist who had lost his own home in what is now Byelorussia. After serving with the forces in Scotland, he became a diplomat and – although never a Communist – returned to Poland after the war to serve the new Communist-dominated government at the United Nations and then as ambassador to the Netherlands.  But Soviet intelligence never trusted him, and in 1950 he was killed in a car crash in Germany which may not have been an accident.
Features
  • Paperback
  • Size - 5" x 7.75" -13cm x 20cm
  • 112 pages


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