The relatives of an elite group of Polish resistance fighters who trained in the UK before fighting the Nazis from behind enemy lines during the second world war are being encouraged to share their stories on the 80th anniversary of the unit’s first mission.
More than 600 Cichociemni were trained in sites around the UK, including Scotland, Manchester and Essex, with more than 300 eventually being sent back to Poland.
Andrew Hann, of the charity English Heritage, said the exploits of the Cichociemni played a key part in helping the Allies defeat the Nazis, including gaining key intelligence ahead of the D-Day landings and sourcing information on the launch bases of V1 and V2 rockets.
Mr Hann said many of the agents who worked with the Home Army, which had 300,000 recruits at its peak, took part in the Warsaw uprising in the summer of 1944. In total, 112 were killed during the war and nine more by the communist regime that was hostile to the Cichociemni, which it saw as English infiltrators.
The agents are celebrated in Poland, but their story is still relatively unknown in the UK, despite the crucial role they played in the war effort. “I think it hugely important for Poland, but it sort of slips out of the collective memory in the UK because we focused on the agents that were in France and the French resistance,” he said.