LibLink: William Wallace highlights the roles of others in World War II

In yesterday’s Independent, William Wallace took the opportunity to remind Conservatives that Remembrance Sunday is not just about the British repelling our enemies in two world wars, it’s about Commonwealth troops, about those from Occupied Europe who fought under British colours, and those who supported us with troops, weapons and other fighting equipment.

He notes how this is part of a pattern of Conservative thinking, downplaying our interdependence;

Conservative ministers have determinedly resisted giving publicity to British military cooperation. Liam Fox suppressed information on the extent of Franco-British defence joint operations, and would not invite the media to visit the British-led headquarters of the EU’s anti-piracy operations in Northwood.

He compares our reticence with the more inclusive remembrance by the French,
and closes by suggesting that, unless we recognise the contributions of others, too many will go on thinking that;

Poles are taking our jobs, Belgians have never fought for anything, the French left us alone in 1940, and Indians are unwelcome immigrants – and that none of them have played a positive part in Britain’s island story.

It’s undoubtedly a provocative piece if you’re a Brexiteer, but worth a read, I’d suggest.

Mark Valladares is the Monday Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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7 Comments

  • nigel hunter 6th Nov '17 - 1:35pm

    Just a thought on 1940. WE abandoned the French and ran at Dunkirk.The Belgian and French troops were also evacuated. The French went back to fight in France except for the..Free French under De Gaulle’s leadership The Belgians stayed to form forces in the UK.Likewise the Polish pilots and troops who were in Italy,not to mention the Indians etc at El Alamein 1942. Yes the Tories deny the truth and live in the past.That is where they should remain.

  • I’m glad William raised this.

    I would add to Nigel’s comment that Polish pilots also played an outstanding role in the Battle of Britain in 1940. The 147 Polish pilots claimed 201 aircraft shot down. 303 Squadron claimed the highest number of kills (126) of all Allied squadrons engaged in the Battle of Britain.

    I know that In Normandy in 1944, Polish pilots served alongside my Dad and played a major part in the Normandy campaign flying Typhoons. Polish paratroopers fought a gallant battle at Arnhem in September, 1944, and they virtually abandoned by Browning and the British High Command. .

    The postwar settlement badly let down the Poles (particularly Churchill) and this country should feel shame at what happened.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 6th Nov '17 - 2:35pm

    David

    My mother in law is an immigrant to America , who fled , literally escaped as a refugee from Communist Poland. She lost her father the first week of the war.Her mother joined her in the States and her brother later.

    Do not blame this country or the US too much for post war Poland.

    The two countries and those William mentions and refers to so correctly, only fought because of the subjugation of Poland , and did so , long and hard to free them and all of us from the enemy.

    It was one much lauded and very hideous ally Uncle, I think , not, Joe we need to blame the most.

    The grovelling to him was wretched.

    The mentioned British pm, not blameless, nor his successor , nor the presidents of the USA.

    But some , George Galloway this week, are remembering 1917 , for the Russian Revolution, his argument, because it gave us the regime who helped to fight the , according to him, and most, worse enemy in ww2.

    The fawning to Stalin is hideous but has its roots then, and poor old Poland and all their neighbours are the victims.

  • Ed Shepherd 6th Nov '17 - 9:14pm

    Between 1941 and 1945 it was entirely right for Britain to assist the bad (Stalinism) in defeating the worse (Nazism, Fascism and Imperial Japan). A Nazi victory would been the absolute end of any kind of world civilisation of any kind; the total destruction of entire populations when the Nazis would have linked up with the Japanese empire somewhere in India: absolute wipe out of the populace of Eastern Europe and China, at the very least. As someone with Polish links, I can see how a free and democratic Poland would have been the ideal outcome in 1945 but I am not sure how that could have been achieved. Despite the promises of a few gungho generals like Patton in 1945, the Western Allies would not have won a war against the USSR in 1945, I suspect. (Dunkirk was not the end of the British involvement in the Battle Of France. British troops continued to land in other parts of France following the Dunkirk evacuation.)

  • @Nigel
    I think it is harsh to say we abandoned the French, Dunkirk was a retreat not a surrender.

    It is however true that too many people forget the contributions of others in the two World Wars. That said it is always good that the BBC highlight the contributions of Commonwealth (then Empire) forces each year when the High Commisioners lay their Wreaths at the Cenotaph…

  • Without the British Indian Army in north Africa and Burma there would have been no Allied victory. And don’t forget the Karens who fought valiantly to push the Japanese Imperial army out of Burma.

  • Lorenzo. Mr Galloway is quite capable of conflating two distinct and plausible views of major twentieth century events and distilling them into his odious brand of fantasy (Trust me, I was at his Bradford count!). That need not prevent us recognising the significance of the Bolshevik revolution and trying to learn from it while acknowledging the huge sacrifices made by Russia in World War 2. While we have no idea what Marx would have said about Stalin’s atrocities, there is a respectable view that says he would have been horrified at the thought of Russia being in the vanguard of the implementation of communism. The revolution was supposed to happen in rather more developed countries.

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