Time: Early 1940
Place: Recruiting office for would be pilots
Cast : Wing Commander May, Pilot Officer Rudd, Flight Sergeant Stone.
WC May: Now look here Rudd. We are going to be fighting THE Battle of Britain very shortly and we need to have sufficient Pilots trained and ready to fly our superb Spitfires and Hurricanes. We need to be prepared to beat these bloody Huns and it is your job to find these pilots and train them.
WC exits stage
PO Rudd: Well you heard what she said Stone, get on with it.
FS Stone: Begging your pardon Ma’am finding the right people with the right skills is actually very difficult. But I have found a dozen or so Polish and Czech pilots who are already trained and have relevant experience.
PO Rudd: Are you out of your mind Stone, we can’t have Polish pilots fighting the Battle of Britain! How will that look in the History Books?
FS Stone: But this makes good sense Ma’am. Gives us a bit of a head start while we train our own guys.
PO Rudd: Yes I see your point but I tell you what, just run your ideas past our advisory panel. Super guys, British through and through, Cambridge grads you know. What are their names – yes Burgess, McLean, Philby and I think Bunt or something like that.
One week later
PO Rudd: Ma’am, recruiting sufficient pilots in the required time scale is proving very difficult but we have found a temporary solution.
WC May: And that is?
PO Rudd: We have found a dozen or so pilots already trained and with and with relevant experience, but mm they are not British.
WC May: well I’m not sure that is such a big problem, Australians or Canadians fit in quite well I find – bit rough and ready but OK.
PO Rudd: They are actually Polish and Czech Ma’am
WC May proceeds to have an apoplectic fit – : What on earth are you thinking of Rudd. This is the Battle of Britain. Mark my words this will be our finest hour. Our whole image will be destroyed if we have to say we had to rely on some Europeans to help us win this battle. What does our advisory panel say. Agains the idea? Not surprised. But tell you what here is what we do. With a bit of luck they will all get killed. No mention in the press of this at all. They are not allowed to march in the Victory parade of which there will be one, mark my words, and at the end if the war make sure they are all sent back home.
PO Rudd: And if they have no home to go to? I understand Stalin has his eyes on a substantial part of Poland?
WC May : That won’t be our problem
And so it came to pass. Polish and Czech pilots made a very significant contribution to the Battle of Britain with their superior flying skills, downing proportionately more German planes than other pilots. And of course they were not allowed to take take part in the Victory parade. And some of course found their home had effectively disappeared. Even in 2016 it is rare to find any credit given to their contribution as of course that might, might just destroy the myth of “Our Finest Hour” and even that bigger myth “We won the war” . Perhaps in some small way that failure to understand we did not stand alone, that it was Russia who won the war in Europe helps to explain some of the isolationist thinking that led to Brexit?