London, United Kingdom—A new war movie celebrating the Polish pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain is out.
The movie narrates the story of RAF Squadron 303, which was comprised mostly of Polish pilots.
Poland was the first victim of the German onslaught. Utilizing the novel Blitzkrieg tactics, the first modern usage of combined warfare, using aircraft, tanks, and mechanized infantry to outmaneuver and destroy the enemy, the Wehrmacht was able to defeat the Polish armed forces in less than five weeks. The majority of the Polish air force was destroyed on the ground by the Luftwaffe. But many Poles managed to flee. And fighter and bomber pilots made up a large number of them. The countryless Poles traced their way to where they could fight the hated Germans. And, after the fall of France and the miraculous British evacuation at Dunkirk, that meant Britain.
First questioned about their capabilities, the Polish pilots quickly managed to convince their British hosts with their tenacity and technical skills. Polish pilots would end up manning 15 RAF squadrons.
“I thought I should have known about this and I didn’t, and that was really the contribution these guys had made. I knew there were Polish servicemen that had fought and all that, I just hadn’t realised the extent of their contribution, particularly in the Battle of Britain,” said David Blair, the movie’s director.
Most know about the legendary Spitfire and how it saved Britain from the German jackboot. Yet the slower, sturdier Hurricane played a significant role in the British victory, accounting for 2/3 of downed German planes. Equally important, the Hurricane was far easier to maintain than the Spitfire and could be produced twice as fast as the famous fighter.
Polish pilots flying Hurricanes accounted for close to 20 percent of downed German aircraft during the Battle of Britain. And in that vicious struggle, that lasted almost four months, every downed Luftwaffe aircraft counted. Many don’t know how close Britain came to perish in those early months of WWII.
“It’s not just straight in-your-face war, it’s really about what’s going on on the ground and what’s happening in these people’s lives and how they feel about this and what’s going on, which was very interesting for me to see,” said Milo Gibson, who plays the Canadian fighter ace John A. “Kent” Kentowski. Gibson was also in the movie Hacksaw Ridge.
Gibson has a valid point. The Poles were without a country. Although the Luftwaffe lost the Battle of Britain, Germany still seemed invincible. And it would take five more bloody years before Nazi Germany was defeated.