His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has today commemorated the 80th anniversary of the loss of Polish wartime leader General Władysław Sikorski.
On 4th July 1943, the Liberator Bomber carrying General Sikorski crashed into the sea immediately after take-off, killing 5 crew and 11 passengers, with its pilot as the sole survivor. General Sikorski was Poland’s Prime Minister in exile during a time of war, and was a source of inspiration and a rallying point for the Polish people. Today’s commemorations pay tribute to him as a leader and to the values and principles he stood for, which unite us to this day: freedom, liberty and democracy.
The Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia attended a special mass at the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned and later delivered a speech at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Sikorski memorial at Europa Point. Minister for Heritage, the Hon John Cortes, will attend tonight’s dinner hosted by the Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression at the Rock Hotel.
In his speech, the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia reflected on the commonalities between Poland and Gibraltar in our sense of duty, our shared principles and values, our determination to stand up for what is right, our proud history and our expertise in navigating the geopolitics of the moment.
Dr Garcia emphasised how in paying tribute to General Sikorski, we also pay tribute to the millions of Polish people who stood up against Nazi oppression. Over 100 Polish pilots served in the RAF during the Battle of Britain in addition to the thousands in the Polish Air Forces, the Polish navy had sailed to Britain when War broke out and Polish soldiers fought with the Allies in different operations. Sadly, six million Polish citizens died during World War II a fifth of the country’s pre-war population.
The Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, said: ‘Today’s commemorations offer an important opportunity for reflection. Eighty years on, Gibraltar is united with Poland and our European allies in backing the struggle against tyranny elsewhere, defending the same values in 2023 that we stood for in 1943, as we stand together with the people of Ukraine. I am proud that this enduring alliance between Poland and the United Kingdom enjoys the full support of the Government and the people of Gibraltar.’