03 JUL 2019

Speech on Poles in WWII

John Howell (Henley) (Con)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard. My hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski) mentioned the attitude of the Attlee Government to Stalin. I am very pleased that last week we did not show that same attitude to the Russians. At the Council of Europe we stood up with the Poles to try valiantly to prevent the Russians from coming back. We may have lost, but it was a fight worth having.

My hon. Friend also mentioned—I think prompted by my intervention—the role that the Poles played in intelligence. He mentioned the three mathematicians—he gave their names, so I will not repeat them—who helped valiantly to crack Enigma and shorten the war by at least two years. That illustrates an important point: that Poland had the largest intelligence service in the second world war. It covered many countries right across Europe, and beyond. It was responsible for a number of activities, including guiding the allied landings in Morocco and Algeria. Just think of that: the Polish intelligence force guided those allied landings.

In 1943, the British intelligence service received more than 10,000 messages from Polish intelligence—an enormous number. More importantly, the Polish intelligence force managed to capture a complete V2 rocket and send details of it back to the UK so that we could analyse them and help to prevent that rocket from creating any more devastation. That is a fantastic achievement ​ for any intelligence service, and we should pay full tribute to it. We have spoken about the experience of the pilots, and we should not forget those Polish fighter pilots who served alongside Bomber Command and helped it to deliver what it was supposed to deliver to Germany.

The UK holds the records of many Polish personnel, and has freely made them available. They are more than just a symbol of Poland; they are a virulent symbol of the real sacrifice that was made by the Polish people during the second world war. If we can do something with them to make them more available and prominent, I will happily join that campaign to ensure that it happens.

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