The Polish 2nd Corps received their mauling at the hands of the German paratroops in the ruins of Monte Cassino; in that bloody meatgrinder of a battle, in which Anders sent even his cooks and bottlewashers to fight, a fourth and final determined assault won the key strongpoint and opened the Allied advance into Nazi Germany's soft underbelly. As the Polish flag was raised in the ruins and a trumpeter played the mournful five-note melody of the Hejnal mariacki, Poland regained her pride and honour.
Stalin's signed order to Beria for the execution of over 14,000 Polish officers at Katyn came to light after the fall of Communism, but Andrzej Wajda's film remains banned in Russia. Today, as Putin joins Merkel at Gdansk to mark the start of the second war, I recall clearly the more recent struggle for freedom at that port; Lech Walesa and the 'Solidarity' movement that sought freedom from Russian socialist totalitarianism.
And this week also, perhaps fifty years too late, the UK also honours the Polish war effort; not just at Monte Cassino, but in the air during the Battle of Britain, and during the liberation of France and the conquest of Nazi Germany. Finally, £300,000 has been raised by public subscription to raise a monument in the National Memorial Arboretum to the Poles. Many of the tens of thousands of Ander's Army who settled here after 1945 will now have passed, and perhaps it's too late for the Hejnal mariacki to sound in Staffordshire with any conviction, but whilst one remains alive it was worth doing.