Museum spotlight falls on famous Polish army

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THE story of the 1st Polish Armoured Division, For Our Freedom and Yours, is a fascinating and moving exhibition, which traces the story of the famous Polish Armoured Division from their formation in Duns in 1942 to their campaigns in Western Europe in 1944-1945 under the command of the esteemed General Stanislaw Maczek.

The brainchild of Sean Szmalc and Margot Corson, the display, which is currently showing at the museum, is an exciting, awe inspiring and evocative national touring exhibition which has already been visited in other parts of the country by thousands of people. It features many rare and previously unseen artefacts from soldiers of the 1st Polish armoured division. These include uniforms, equipment and personal belongings of the soldiers.

The exhibition will incorporate examples of other Polish army units during the second world war including a complete combat uniform depicting a paratrooper from the Polish independent parachute brigade as well as a uniform from the Polish 2nd Corps which famously fought with distinction at Monte Cassino in Italy. There will also be a selection of wonderful props and costumes from the blockbuster movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and the mini-series ‘Band of Brothers.’

Sean’s fascination with the Second World War began when he was a young boy, due to his grandfather, the late Emil Szmalc, serving in the Polish army and later the 1st Polish armoured division during the Second World War. Sean grew up in the Polish community and attended the Polish Ex-Servicemen’s club in Falkirk, where he was good friends with his grandfather’s brothers in arms. He and Margot Corson, his partner, have been amassing their awe-inspiring collection ever since. Sean said: “This diverse exhibition appeals to so many people from all age groups. With the exhibition we aim to increase the knowledge of the struggles and the plight that the Polish soldiers had to go through, and the fight for freedom which they carried out with much bravery and honour. Each individual visitor to the exhibition will get a feeling of what it was like to have been a soldier on the front lines in the Polish army from the invasion of Poland in September 1939 to the end of the war in 1945.”

The exhibitions runs until January 29, 2013, and admission is free.

For more information, telephone 373457.