The Pole, though he is famed in all the nations of the earth,
For loving more than life itself the country of his birth,
Yet he is ready to depart and to the world's end go
And live the weary length of years in misery and woe,
Fighting against the might of men and destiny's cruel hand,
That through the storm this hope may shine: I serve my
Adam Mickiewicz Pan Tadeusz 1834
The above translated lines from Adam Mickiewicz's epic poem were included in a publication It Speaks for Itself published in 1946 quoting what British war leaders said about the Polish Armed Forces 1939-1946
The Polish Memorial Garden at Douglas
Written and prepared by Robert Ostrycharz
Copyright © Robert Ostrycharz 2002
 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Note The English alphabet is used for Polish names.
Contents *
Acknowledgments *
Introduction *
Arrival of Strangers *
September 1939 to the Evacuations from France June 1940 *
Scotland Welcomes the Polish Troops *
Home Front in Douglas in the Summer of 1940 *
Life in Camp No 4 in July 1940 *
Scottish Aid Organizations Supporting the Poles *
Scottish-Polish Cultural Events in August *
Events Surrounding Camp No 4 in August *
Events Surrounding Camp No 4 in September *
Events surrounding the Polish Troops&emdash;October 1940 *
Continuing Scottish-Polish Links *
Sources *
In gratitude for the friendship, goodwill and hospitality received by the Poles in Scotland during the last war, a number of monuments, plaques, religious items and other mementoes were presented by the Poles, particularly the Polish Army to the Scots. A number of these survive to this day and can be found on the walls of civic buildings, in churches, within institutions, and elsewhere.
Douglas is unique in Scotland in the number of Polish Army monuments in a relatively small area that have survived all these years. Three Polish monuments that stem from 1940 form the physical basis of the Memorial Garden at Douglas&emdash;a project undertaken by the Douglas Gardening Club. The first is a memorial pillar presented by General Maczek to the village at the time of the departure of the soldiers from Douglas. Another a ‘souvenir’ to the locals in the form of the crest of the Polish armoured troops and a third, a pillar made by Polish engineers as a reminder of their sojourn in the camp on Lord Home's estate.
Using their woodcraft skills Polish soldiers constructed other items using natural materials found in the camp. For example, there were several wooden field altars and chapels, a large map of Poland, which had been outlined on the ground as well as a number of national and army emblems. But these with the change in the use of the camp and the passage of time are now gone.
In a local initiative the surviving monuments with the help of the Royal Engineers of 102 (Clyde) Field Squadron (Air Support) (Volunteers) have now been brought together from their different original locations within the former Polish camp. Land has been donated by the present Earl of Home and a garden planted with appropriate landscaping.
The garden is a place of reflection and renewal. It is a reminder of the shared history and brotherhood that existed between the Scots and the Poles who came here as strangers in those dark days in 1940. This friendship was founded on the war and its times which brought different people together to fight a common cause and sympathy for the plight of the Polish soldiers who had lost their country and contact with their families. Outside St Simon's Church in Glasgow where Polish Mass has been celebrated since the last war there is a reminder of the words from St Matthew 25:35 'I was a stranger, and ye took me in'. The same may be said about the people of Douglas and the surrounding area who warmly welcomed the Polish soldiers into their lives. With the passage of time many of the Polish soldiers as well as many locals who were here have passed away. Perhaps in this garden their memory, their dedication and sacrifice during the war years will be remembered and live on.