Clydebank Blitz remembered

On March 11th, Izabela Czekaj, John Lassa and Antony Kozlowski, attended the official opening of the Blitz Remembered Exhibition at Clydebank Library. The exhibition marks the 75th Anniversary of the Clydebank Blitz, the heaviest, single, two-day air-raid on British soil during the Second World War. Over a thousand civilians were killed and tens of thousands made homeless. John and Antony, together with friend Peter Rudzinski, each made major contributions to the exhibition. Their fathers served on the Polish destroyer ORP Piorun, built in Clydebank and now commemorated to posterity for the brave actions of her crew during the Blitz. Also present at the opening ceremony was Julian Rybarczyk whose group, Cousin Halifax, performed a special piece written for the occasion (see foot of page).

Arkleston.jpgThe following day, March 12th, at 1000 hours, a group from the Society, again led by Izabela and including our guest Martin Hazell from Plymouth, paid their respects at Arkleston Cemetery, Renfrew, at the graves of three young Polish airmen. Twenty-eight-year-old Lance-Corporal Pawel Radke, 18-year-old Aircraftsman Antoni Ptaszkowski and twenty-four-year-old Aircraftsman Zygmunt Sokołowski were killed during the Blitz on Clydebank. They had been at St James's RC Church, Renfrew and, at great risk to themselves, were extinguishing fires caused by incendiary-bombs dropped wide by the German pathfinder squadrons. Pawel Radke and Zygmunt Sokołowski were killed outright by a bomb from the third wave of German bombers. Antoni Ptaszkowski died the following day in Alexandria Hospital, Paisley. They were buried with full military honours in two graves at Arkleston Cemetery. We laid a wreath in their honour. 

Dalnotter.jpgOur group moved on to Old Dalnottar Cemetery for 1100 hours where we were joined by scores of mourners, including former First Minister, Alex Salmond, and other political figures and also two of our Honorary Patrons, Consul General Dariusz Adler and former Provost of Clydebank Alistair Macdonald, MBE, DL. Good friend Marek Straczynski of SPK Trust in Edinburgh was also with us. Again, we laid wreaths in honour of the innocent dead at the Blitz Memorial. The following day, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid her respects there, too.


At 1145 hours at Solidarity Plaza in Clydebank, another large crowd witnessed the laying of wreaths at the Piorun Memorial Stone commemorating the brave actions of the crew of the Polish destroyer ORP Piorun who earned a place in the collective memory of Clydebank by firing its guns at the German raiders and by bravely extinguishing fires on British warships undergoing fitting-out at John Brown’s Shipyard. There is no question that these acts saved the yard and those ships from serious damage, even though it was one of the primary targets. Our Folk Group and others marked the occasion by singing our National Hymn. There is no question that our Polish presence at these events means a great deal to the people of Clydebank – and to us.


After the events at Solidarity Plaza, we attended a reception laid on by the Council of West Dunbartonshire in the Clydebank Hall and, following that, many of us visited the Blitz Remembered exhibition in the town library. This exhibition is in place until April 2017. We urge you to make an effort to attend during the year. You will see how important our Polish heritage is to the citizens of Clydebank and Glasgow. 


Duntocher Hill - A song about the Blitz by Cousin Halifax
(Article by Julian Rybarczyk) 

The original intention was for Cousin Halifax to write music to the lyrics of a forgotten song by Clydebank resident Margaret Makay, however having met with the commemoration committee and hearing first hand accounts of the horror of those awful nights, it became apparent that the legacy of the blitz was far more reaching. As such the band elected to write Duntocher Hill, music and lyrics in their entirety using Margarets observations for inspiration, partly out of respect for Margaret Makays work, but also to highlight the post traumatic issues that so many survivors had kept within themselves for seventy five years. I wrote the music & Steven Wood wrote the lyrics.

You can play the song using the media player below.

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