Dedication ceremony for Polish Commandos who were stationed in Eastbourne during World War II

Commandos of the Second World War in Eastbourne SUS-181017-090737001
Commandos of the Second World War in Eastbourne SUS-181017-090737001

The Polish South Coast Charity Trust and the White Eagle Historical Society will be holding a ceremony dedicated to the No 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando No 6 (Polish) Troop tomorrow (Sunday October 21), from 2pm to 5pm.

The venue is All Saints Chapel hall, Darley Road, Eastbourne.

The commandos were garrisoned in Eastbourne during World War II in 1943.

The organisers have written this short history of how the unit came to be:

“In 1940, practically all of Europe from Norway to Spain was under the control of the Third Reich. After the evacuation of the British from Dunkirk, however, efforts to pursue the continental struggle continued.

“On the initiative of Winston Churchill, the idea arose to create special units capable of carrying out raids and sabotage operations in the territories occupied by the Germans.

“Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Clarke developed a preliminary project for forming units, which he called Commando.

These future commandos were recruited from volunteers of the Territorial Army and some from the units of the regular British Army.

“The first combat action in the history of Commando troops was a raid held on June 24, 1940, on the French coast near Boulogne (Operation Collar).

“On July 17, Churchill appointed Fleet Admiral Roger Keyes as Director of Combined Operations. Keyes soon created the Combined Operations Command, which served as Commando units. In Invaray, he founded the Combined Training Centre for amphibious landing techniques.

“The first major success under the leadership of the Admiral was the Lofoten raid on March 4, 1941.

“On October 27, 1941, Admiral Keyes was replaced by Commander Lord Louis Mountbatten, who conducted a series of successful actions in France and Norway for which he was promoted to Vice Admiral and the Head of Combined Operations. Mountbatten unified and centralised the training of Commando troops at the Commando Basic Training Centre in Achnacarry Castle near Spean Bridge.

“At the beginning of August 1942, Vice Admiral Mountbatten approached the Supreme Commander of the Polish Armed Forces in the West, General Sikorski, to form a Polish Commando division. By August 28, 1942, the creation of a Polish unit began. This task was entrusted to Captain Władysław Smrokowski.

“On October 10, the formed unit went into training at Fairbourne and then to the Commando Garrison in Achnacarry where it became a part of the British Commando branch and was known as No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando No. 6 Troop.

“On May 31, 1943, No. 6 Troop left Caernarvon for Commando Headquarters in Eastbourne where all other units of No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando were garrisoned, i.e. 1. French, 2. Dutch, 3. British, 4. Belgian, 5. Norwegian.

“In August 1943, the Commander of “Combined Operations” Lord Mountbatten issued an order to include the Polish and Belgian units of No. 10 Commando into the Special Service Brigade and enter into action on the Italian front.

“The Chief Commander of Polish Forces in the West, General Sosnkowski, accompanied by General Charles Haydon, Col. Dehmel, Col. D.S. Lister, Captain Bohomolec and Captain Główczyński reviewed the company on September 6 in Devonshire Park and accepted the company’s parade on Winter Garden Square.

“On September 13, 1943, the unit left Eastbourne for Algiers before transferring to the Italian front, where they were given a hero’s welcome after single-handedly liberating a whole village.

“Seventy-five years ago, the Polish commandos bid farewell to Eastbourne, thanking residents for their support and hospitality.

“The Polish South Coast Charity Trust would like to invite anyone interested to come to a festive afternoon dedicated to No.10 (Inter-Allied) Commando No. 6 Troop, which will take place on Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 2pm in All Saints Chapel Hall, Eastbourne.

Should anyone know of any person or family who hosted Polish commandos in their homes in 1943, we should be very grateful if you would honour us with your presence at this event or contact us on tel. 0703 453 7566 or email pkmh@op.pl

“We also cordially invite all readers of the Eastbourne Herald to participate in our event.”