The Polish Battle of Britain
I wasn’t expecting a lot from The Polish Battle of Britain. Dramatised documentaries tend to be very hit and miss, and I’ve seen quite a few misses. But this was a World War II documentary, so I was keen to find out about these apparent heroes of the Battle of Britain, heroes that I had never heard anything about before.
The 303 Squadron were comprised of 34 Polish fighter pilots who wanted to do nothing more than to kill as many Germans as possible. Having made it safely to Britain however was only going to be part of their struggle. They had to face the absurd Englishness of the RAF.
As they struggled for acceptance, these trained pilots were first forced to learn rudimentary English before they were allowed to train in the British Hurricanes. Even then they were not thought of much, seeing as the Polish air-force had bee beaten by the Germans in three short days.
The Poles were however about to teach the British a thing or two, now that they were able to fly planes that were the equal of their German counterparts.
It wasn’t long until the Poles had established a name for them selves, and by the end of the Battle for Britain, the 303 Squadron had the highest number of kills of any RAF Squadron with only one third of the loses.
Having won the respect of the English pilots, the Poles were in for a nasty shock as the war drew to a close, and the English who owed them so much, were about to turn there backs on them.
Clocking in at 46 minutes, The Polish Battle of Britain is a finely crafted dramtised documentary that brings a spark of life to the history, in much the same was as Ambrose did with Band of Brothers. The run time was just enough to allow the plight and passion of the Polish pilots to sneak into your hearts that you feel their pain when the British give them the ultimate cold shoulder at the wars end.
The combination of archival film adds to the authenticity and helps render the fact that this is a real story being told for the first time, a story that shows that despite having lost their country, the Poles had not been beaten, and sadly a story that casts a dark cloud over the bigotry of the British people at the time.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read