Brass bench memorial to honour Polish war hero

Lieutenant General Stanislaw Maczek. Picture: contributed
Lieutenant General Stanislaw Maczek. Picture: contributed
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A CAMPAIGN is under way to commemorate the most accomplished Polish tank commander of the Second World War by erecting a memorial in the Meadows.

General Stanisław Maczek, who played a crucial role in the Normandy campaign, risked his life for his country, but was exiled for his efforts and spent his final years in Marchmont.

Lord Peter Fraser of Carmyllie, QC, is now spearheading a drive which, it is hoped, will see the general immortalised in a brass memorial.

Plans for the memorial – which could instead be built in Bruntsfield Links – would set Gen Maczek on a bench, with room for park-goers to take a seat.

A launch event, to be held at the New Club in Princes Street tonight, will be attended by political leaders and the Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links.

Lord Fraser said: “The United Kingdom and Scotland in particular owe a debt of gratitude to the great Gen Maczek and our lack of acknowledgement of him over nearly 60 years has not been honourable. Now is time to make amends.”
In 1942, Gen Maczek became leader of the first Polish Armoured Division. His finest hour came when the division helped encircle Falaise, a key tactical area in the Normandy campaign against the Nazis. During six days of bloody battle, the Poles tackled two German SS Corps, taking 5000 prisoners.

Winston Churchill entrusted him with the defence of north-east Scotland when it was feared the Nazi invasion of the UK would come from Norway or Denmark.

After the war, Gen Maczek settled in Arden Street with his wife Zofia, whom he married in 1928, son Andrew and daughters Renata and Magda.

At one stage, he worked in the Learmonth Hotel in Comely Bank, then owned by one of his old soldiers.

Councillor Eric Milligan, who attended the unveiling of a plaque in Gen Maczek’s honour in 1997, said he welcomed the campaign.

He added: “The British forces owe a lot to the Poles who came to fight alongside us in the Second World War.

“What nobody has disputed is the valour of the Polish people and their determination to make it through various conflicts.”