A Question of Honor is the gripping, little-known story of the refugee Polish pilots who joined the RAF and played an essential role in saving Britain from the Nazis, only to be betrayed by the Allies after the war.
After Poland fell to the Nazis, thousands of Polish pilots, soldiers, and sailors escaped to England. Devoted to liberating their homeland, some would form the RAF’s 303 squadron, known as the Kosciuszko Squadron, after the elite unit in which many had flown back home. Their thrilling exploits and fearless flying made them celebrities in Britain, where they were “adopted” by socialites and seduced by countless women, even as they yearned for news from home. During the Battle of Britain, they downed more German aircraft than any other squadron, but in a stunning twist at the war’s end, the Allies rewarded their valor by abandoning Poland to Joseph Stalin. This moving, fascinating book uncovers a crucial forgotten chapter in World War II–and Polish–history.
Following up the acclaimed The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Frontlines of Broadcast Journalism, the authors offer a solid addition to WWII aviation history. The first all-Polish squadron in the Royal Air Force, the Kosciuszko Squadron was formed from experienced Polish Air Force pilots who had fled their fallen country by way of Romania and France to England. Its members, according to the authors, needed little instruction in combat flying but some in the English language. When they took to the air, the squadron's pilots, along with Poles serving elsewhere in Fighter Command, made a large (possibly indispensable) contribution to victory in the Battle of Britain. That battle is the dramatic high point of the book, which from 1941 on shifts its focus to the sorry fate meted out to Poland as a nation and Poles in particular, especially in the infamous Katyn Massacre and the Warsaw Uprising. The authors document how this mistreatment took place with the acquiescence of the Western Allies, grossly misjudging Stalin's ambitions in Eastern Europe. Despite the same extraordinarily fluent writing and thorough research found in The Murrow Boys, readers might still be left wanting to know more about the fate of some of the Polish aviators after the Battle of Britain. Even so, the political balance they bring to telling the political story is noteworthy. (Sept.)
This book is a true gem. It tells the story of a group of Polish pilots who escaped the Germans and Russians invasion of Poland to join RAF during WWII. They felt that the way to liberate their country was to continue to fight the Nazis. When the Battle of Britain came the Brits weren't quite sure what they had but they were short on trained pilots so they gave the Poles some Hurricane planes and kept training them. The Poles, who were all experienced and war tested pilots, eventually got tired of training flights and disobeyed orders to attack a swam of German planes. Their immediate success convinced RAF to let them off the leash and the Poles went after the Germans with unmatched ferocity. The Poles became one of the most successful and decorated fighter squadrons of the war. This story is set against the geopolitics of the war and does not have a happy ending as Poland was sold to the Russians who did not welcome anyone who fought with the Western Powers.