Council salutes heroic airmen

IN one of his final duties as Mayor, Councillor Jim Montgomery led tributes at a special service to unveil a memorial to one of the many Polish airmen who lost their lives here during the Second World War.

The memorial, for Flight Sergeant Wladyslaw Kolek is located at Boghill Road near Mallusk.

It is part of a project delivered by the Council working in partnership with For Your Freedom and Ours, who have created the Polish Wings Heritage Trail in Northern Ireland.

The trail is presented on a map and assists in locating civilian graves, crash sites, memorials and exhibitions.

The Borough, along with County Down, Belfast and the North Coast offered temporary homes to over 100 members of the Polish Air Force who were stationed with Royal Air Force squadrons between 1940 and 1945.

Flight Sergeant Wladyslaw Kolek of No. 315 Polish Squadron, lost his life during a training sortie involving a formation of three aircraft over County Antrim on September 11 1943.

He was just 26 - and, tragically, he died just two days after arriving in Northern Ireland for his posting at RAF Ballyhalbert.

After encountering bad weather and becoming lost, Sergeant Kolek’s Spitfire, (BL469 PK-F), crashed into a farm house on Flush Road near RAF Nutts Corner.

Guests attending this memorial service included Consul General of the Republic of Poland Mr Pawel Majewski; Northern Ireland Veterans’ Commissioner Danny Kinahan; council Chief Executive Jacqui Dixon; Rev Campbell Dixon MBE; Maciek Bator, Project Manager For Your Freedom and Ours; Ministry of Defence of Poland representatives, elected members, local MPs and members of the Polish community.

The Mayor said it was right that the Polish contribution to the war effort is saluted.

“It has been an honour to assist the group in my term of office with a number of shared history projects commemorating the legacy of the Polish Airmen who served in Northern Ireland during the Second World War and who played a vital role in the UK’s victory in the Battle of Britain,” he said.

“As we install this memorial to Flight Sergeant Kolek, we must remember all those brave airmen who fought in the Second World War and all those who were sadly lost.”

The Consul General thanked the council, and particularly the Mayor, for the special civic recognition.

“It is my hope that this memorial will show every person the famous gallantry of Polish Airmen during World War Two,” said Mr Majewski.

“Those Airmen, who bravely defended the shores of Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom and paid the highest price for our Freedom.

“I would like to thank the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Jim Montgomery.

“Without his tireless efforts in promoting Polish culture and the rights of the largest ethnic minority in Northern Ireland, this event would not have been possible.”

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