English Heritage on trail of Polish ‘Silent Unseen’ memoirs

In connection with the 80th anniversary of the first drop of the Polish elite paratrooper unit called Cichociemni (Eng. The Silent Unseen), English Heritage, an organisation dealing with the protection of objects recognised as the national heritage of England, appealed to the relatives of these soldiers to share stories about them.

"We would like to hear from people who have connections with the Silent Unseen or stories to tell about them. What we are particularly interested in are the stories of people who lived in the area of Audley End at that time and who may remember the night rumbles or saw soldiers walking through the fields in the dark. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they left few clear traces given that they were well trained to be both silent and unseen,” said Andrew Hann, an English Heritage historian who administers Audley End, an 17th century residence in Essex in south-east England, where the Cichociemni were trained during World War II.

Andrew Hann highlighted the merits of this Polish special unit, recalling that the actions of the Cichociemni helped gather key intelligence prior to the Allied landing in Normandy and the location of the V1 and V2 missile launches.

English Heritage’s appeal was published by the "Guardian" daily and several regional newspapers. On Monday, employees from Audley End laid wreaths at a small monument in honour of the Cichociemni sent by the Polish Embassy, the National Army's Silent Paratroopers Foundation and English Heritage itself.

Arkady Rzegocki, the Polish ambassador to Great Britain, said that the anniversary of the first airdrop was "an important date in the history of Poland, its special forces and Polish-British relations." He added that their first mission gave "a glimmer of hope to the beleaguered homeland that help is coming."

In all, 2,613 soldiers of the Polish Armed Forces volunteered for training in covert operations, but only 606 finished the tough course, of which 527 completed it at Audley End. In the years 1941-1945, 316 Cichociemni soldiers were dropped onto the territory of German-occupied Poland. 103 of them lost their lives in the fight against the Germans, while nine were murdered by the communists after the war.