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Bravery of Polish airmen marked in anti-racism project

Published: Mon, 14 Sep 2015
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We have funded the 'Band of Brothers' project.
Polish airmen
A unique anti-racism project is set to be unveiled in Belfast on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
This will mark the valiant efforts of Polish airmen, later stationed in Northern Ireland.
We are funding the ‘Band Of Brothers’ project, created by Ballyhalbert based RAF historian Pete Bleakley. The project aims to highlight the exploits of Polish airmen in the Battle Of Britain, reminding local communities of their efforts three-quarters of a century ago.
A mural will be unveiled at the iconic International Wall tomorrow (September 15th) led by the Lower Shankill Community Association.
The mural is supported by a shared history event where young people from both communities came together last week to take part in a series of workshops, led by artist Ross Wilson. An anti-racism tool kit will also be produced as part of the project.
Pete Bleakley said:
"I learned that 303 and other Polish and Czech squadrons had an absolutely pivotal role in the Battle Of Britain. Having worked closely with both the Housing Executive and the Loyalist communities during ten years in community television, it occurred to me that perhaps events 75 years ago in the skies over Kent could help positively shape events on the ground in Belfast in 2015.
“The Battle Of Britain, and our freedom as a nation, was won in no small way by the bravery of those Polish pilots, whose wartime motto was, 'Love Demands Sacrifice.' They fought ferociously for their freedom and ours. The Poles were part of us then and they are part of us now."
Our Head of Neighbourhoods, Jennifer Hawthorne, said:
“The contribution of the Polish airmen during the Battle of Britain was vital and their efforts are an important part of our shared history. Those Poles and other nationalities who choose to make Northern Ireland their home today are as important in helping to create a shared, diverse and integrated community.
Ian McLaughlin, of the Lower Shankill Community Association said:
“We are proud to be leading this project out and to celebrate with our Polish community in Belfast in marking the efforts of the airmen from Squadron 303. Our community should be very proud of their efforts to protect us during the Battle of Britain.