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THE WHITE CLIFFS OF …POLAND. … OR, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO POLONIA’S FAMOUS FAWLEY COURT
2014.07.06 / Mirek Malevski
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Up and down the British Isles, and stretching internationally, numerous events, anniversaries from both WW1 (centenary), and WW2 are being rightly, and movingly commemorated. From the White Cliffs of Normandy, France, to the White Cliffs of Dover, D-Day, to the Battle at Monte Cassino, Italy, via Palestine, Iraq, Africa and Burma, Poland’s contribution to the allied victory was immense. The Fawley Court War Museum, in England, on Britain’s shores, is testimony to this glorious chapter in Poland’s proud military history. But where today is this unique Anglo-Polish war museum…?

There’ll be bluebirds over, the white cliffs of Dover,
There’ll be love and laughter
And peace ever after,
Tomorrow, when the world (and Poland) is FREE…
(With thanks and apologies to Dame Vera Lynn, 1942).

On 31 March 1939, after a series of treacherous Hitler deceptions, invading, and systematically occupying , first Austria (the Anschluss annexation), Czechoslovakia and Lithuania, their hand finally forced, the British government signaled it’s intent to support Poland in the event of a Nazi-German invasion – which duly occurred.

On Friday, at 4.45am, 31 September 1939, starting at Gliwice, a million Nazi-German troops poured into Poland. Breaking through at various Polish frontier points in a premeditated one way lightning strike, uniquely combining aircraft, tanks, and motorized infantry. The blow for concentrated rapid-fire modern warfare was struck – The Nazi Blitzkrieg.

And so with the Hitler Nazi Polish invasion, a day later on 1 October 1939, for five years Poland and Britain became allies, wartime partners in a world war, WW2, against an aggressor like no other. This alliance against the Nazi’s lasted until the war’s, weary end. By 6th June 1944 - the Allies now joined by formidable USA forces - Polish troops were still fighting, to the last on D Day, on the French Normandy beaches, still with Britain – first in, last out - fighting to win back not their own homeland, but help liberate Western Europe, and the security on one side of the English Channel, England’s historic beloved white cliffs of Dover, and on the other side, the White Cliffs of Normandy (the Alabaster Coast/La Cote d’Albatre). An allied landing/invasion - repulsing the Nazi aggressor - the largest of it’s kind ever – was won. All at a cost of fifty million dead.

Poland itself, was still far, far away…lost.

(… Today on the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy landings, above those famous White Cliffs, twenty-seven cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German; 9,386 American; 17,769 British; 5002 Canadian…and 650 Poles. As at Monte Cassino (1,051 graves), the Poles did their bit).

Poland’s own new ‘Third World War’ was just starting. By early 1945 she was being stealthily engulfed – ‘liberated’ - by her deadly, traditional foe, the Russian - but now disguised in the ‘military’ mantle of imperialist Soviet-Stalinist communism. The tripartite conferences, Teheran, Yalta (stitch-up), and Potsdam, accounted for the final nail in the Polish coffin. Having troop-trotted around the globe, the battle weary Polish soldiers, and their families found themselves abandoned, stranded. Worse, for many thousands of Poles, contemplating a return to Soviet occupied Poland meant imprisonment, and/or almost certain death. Having fought off the Nazi , they had overnight, out of evil political expediency become traitors – enemies of the Polish Soviet state.

A welcome of sorts came from the shores of Britain, starting at the White Cliffs of Dover. Displaced, and a threat to British post-war employment, the Poles nonetheless found ‘home’ in the hundreds of refugee camps dotted around the shires of Great Britain. Slowly they rebuilt their lives. From top to bottom. Somehow life, and a re-learning, how to earn a –meagre - living, went on.

The former Polish Military Attache in Berlin from 1932 to 1939, Colonel-Major, (later General), Antoni Szymanski, a military expert on war, from holding protocol meetings one to one, alone with Adolf Hitler, in the large, august, marble rooms of the Fuhrer’s Berlin Chancellery, to being a Soviet political prisoner at the notorious Lubyanka in Moscow, briefly again Polish Military Attache in Paris, was now serving, poledwica, wiejska and krakowska sausage, or serniks, stefanka’s and makowiec, at the Polish delicatessen (Mr Jablonski’s), on the corner of Ennismore Avenue, and Chiswick High Road. As the Father of the lovely Jewish family, the Grossman’s, living opposite at 32 Homefield Road, at once lamenting Poland’s subjugation to Stalin’s Soviet Union, but possibly pleased with the Jew’s own new founded state of State of Israel (David Ben Gurion, 14 May 1948), commented…“Your Grandfather has the most noble military bearing, he must have done, and seen a few things in the war….”. Yes, he has, I would reply aged nine.

His wife Halina Szymanska, (now remarried to‘General Wisniowski), daughter of famous pre-war Judge Siennicki, and wealthy, accompanied Szymanski in his diplomatic mission to Berlin. Having befriended , at a diplomatic dinner party, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Chief of the the German Intelligence the Abhwer, and also head of counter-intelligence, Canaris was impressed with her intelligence, education and memory, saying she would be ‘useful’ in the fight against the NAZI war. Szymanska at great risk to her life, through Canaris would convey invaluable intelligence to the British and allies. This included the precise date of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Grandma herself met Adolf Hitler just once, in 1936 at a diplomatic ball in Berlin. The ‘ Nazi Fuhrer kindly offered her a sweet as he received his guests. Their eyes met. Horror. Hitler’s were two black holes of interminable evil, at it’s abyss a sea of human skeletons…Says Grandma Szymanska: “I had never seen such evil in one man’s eyes.”

By the late 1950s Halina Szymanska was living in her huge, much tenanted sprawling house at 6 Montpelier Road, Ealing, and was now also repairing ladies’ stockings ‘nylons’ to make ends meet. Her husband Gen. Kazimierz Wisniowski was an expert in repairing and restoring Meissen porcelain - all to make ends meet.

And so the Poles assimilated. As best they could, but largely as Poles abroad do - successfully. Some continued/made careers as architects, surveyors, engineers, doctors, or lawyers,(even priests), others went onto to be fine builders, teachers, salesmen, or worked in administration and education. Whilst for many – like today, over-qualified, with University degrees and professional diplomas bulging out of their suitcases - taxi-driving, waitressing, hotels, or night shifts in factories or warehouses was the norm. Out of this ‘new freedom’ a desire to have the best for their children was born. The dream, realized in 1952, was a school with the highest standards, for Polish Catholic boys, teaching both a Polish and English curriculum. This was Kolegium Bozego Milosierdzia/Divine Mercy College, at Fawley Court, Henley on Thames. At the same time the school’s founder, Father Jozef Jarzebowski , Polish soldier, poet, and historian, initiated and with with unbounded enthusiasm and help from ÉMIGRÉ POLES, assembled on English soil, the famous, and only one of it’s kind, the Fawley Court Polish History, and War Museum.

Fawley Court became throughout half a century and more, 1950s onwards, the most important focal point in the UK for all those hundreds Polish refugee camps, those émigré Poles, and new intake, bettering themselves, new houses mortgaged to the hilt, working all hours (to make ends meet), and looking towards Fawley Court in the free world, as their most important religious Christian Polish Catholic sanctuary/grotto/shrine, Polish cultural anchor, beacon of hope, and freedom – their equivalent to the iconographic Normandy and White Cliffs of Dover. The traditional summer Polish Christian Whitsun festivity, Zielone Swiatki, held annually at Fawley Court for sixty years, were famous the world over.

The Fawley Court Polish History and Polish War Museum, England, an integral part of Polonia history, really is an extraordinary story. It contains (or should) medals donated by Generals Anders, and Sulik. Uniforms, battledress, maps, and helmets worn by the heroes of Monte Cassino, D-Day, and other WW2 battles. This part of the Muesum was donated specifically by the engineer Z. Lenkiewicz-Ipohorski, for Polonia, émigré Poles, the Anglo-Polish community and the boys of Fawley Court at Fawley Court, as was the extensive eighty-piece fabulous Major W Buchowski sword collection. Again, the trust deed declares quite categorically, destined for the Fawley Court (War) Museum, at Fawley Court, England.

There exist wonderful stories, among many, how Father Jarzebowski with helpers, well wishers, academics and business people set up the Polish Fawley Court Historical and War Museum. Elzbieta Leligdowicz knew Fr. Jazrzebowski from the Lower Bullingham, Hereford days. She remembers often travelling with Fr Jozef, by car, and he would always insist on stopping by, at every antique shop, in the hope of uncovering some Polish memorabilia. Old Boy Paul Kieniewicz writing in “Ave Maria”, the 25th Commemorative booklet of Fr Jozef’s death (1964), recalls how both the history master Prof. P Schultz and Fr Jozef excitedly told the boys in the James Wyatt library about the marvelous acquisition for the museum of a manuscript with Tadeusz Koszciuszko’s signature.

The two room library museum, and the basement museum at Fawley Court housed untold Polish treasures: Mikolaj Radziwill’s first edition15th century bible translation; Adam Mickiewicz signed first editions; a whole cabinet of mementoes (medals, letters, postcards) from Pope John Paul; many manuscripts; Parchments, and incunabula, including the original Laski’s code of Laws datring back to 1506. The encyclopeadic list, and priceless books in the library of the Fawley Court museum just goes on and on…

Ognisko’s Cultural Curator, Art Historian, collector, and restorer Michal Kulczykowski has shown FCOB a legally binding document confirming an agreement/Satutory Declaration of 11 September 2011, between The Club of Polish Collectors, with the earlier declaratory promises of 1970s Marian priest Pawel Jasinski (not to be confused with the infamous, and treacherous 2000s ‘sell-out’ Wojciech Jasinski), confirming that both the Buchowski, and Ipohorski sword collections were/are the legal property of émigré Polonia in England, and Fawley Court ‘Old Boys’, and to be housed in trust, in perpetuity at the Fawley Court Polish War Museum, England. Most importantly the Statutory Declaration emphasizes that these priceless Buchowski and Ipohorski sword collections – as much, much else in the Fawley Court Polish Museum - were/are emphatically NOT the property of the Marian Priesthood !

Fortunately, Fawley Court Old Boys also has film and video evidence of the intact Fawley Court Polish History and War Museum. This should prove helpful in the legal battle ahead with the ‘Las Vegas’ Basilica and Marian money spinning operation at Lichen, Poland, where bizarrely much, but not all, of the Fawley Court History and War museum has been illegally and unlawfully ‘relocated’. A war museum in a church, a place of worship for God and peace ?!

When pressed on this iconoclastic, illicit removal of the museum and religious artefacts, Marian Trustee and Priest Wojciech Jasinski said he was “only obeying orders”. Oh dear, where have we heard that lamentable excuse before…? The battle for the return of the Fawley Court History, Military and War Museum has only just begun – anew.

Adding insult to injury, the Marian 'brothers' , amidst furious controversy, under onerous and lawfully questionable 'sale' conditions, see to the exhumation of Father Jarzebowski, turfing him out of his own  War Grave at Fawley Court. Dignitaries and military, such as Gen W Anders, and Gen.K Wisniowski had half a century earlier, all especially attended this special man's funeral. One recoils with distaste and in horror at the Marians' , and Fawley Court's current 'occupiers': their mindless, irresponsible, unpatriotic behaviour; their cheap pursuit of their own ends…all for a pitiful bag of money. As the saying goes, "Who needs enemies with 'friends' like this ?" This year, 13 September 1964, sees the fiftieth anniversary of Fr Jozef's death. How pray do the Marians propose to to commemorate and celebrate on this occasion the memory of this great and humble man ? At Fawley Court, we hope ?

Mirek Malevski, Chairman, Fawley Court Old Boys/FCOB Ltd

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