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The Polish Army in Dunfermline

From late 1940 until the 1944 D-Day preparations, the Polish Army had a very significant presence in Dunfermline. Locals thought they were just training, but these plans map their resolve to fight (along with the Home Guard) to hold the city against Nazi invasion.

To an anti-tank island scheme of roadblocks, weapons pits & trenches the Polish 'no surrender' attitude added - the High Street Redoubt - key shops & offices to fortify as ‘bolt holes’.

Reflecting Poland’s bitter experience in 1939 fighting against Hitler’s Blitzkrieg onslaught.

These images remind us of these soldiers here in wartime. And the ones who chose to settle here after the war was won - but their country had been lost.

This plaque was presented to Dunfermline District Council, at a reception held in the City Chambers, on 9 October 1985. The idea behind it came from the group of Polish men and women who met weekly at the home in Dunfermline of Paul and Doreen Leszczuk.


They wanted to show their appreciation for the lives they had been able to live in Dunfermline and they decided that the presentation of a plaque would be a fitting way of doing this. Donations towards its cost came mostly from Polish people living locally, and their families and friends. A particular effort was also made to contact and include former Polish soldiers who had actually been stationed in Dunfermline during the war.

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The plaque itself was made by the Edinburgh firm of Alexander Kirkwood & Son, which had produced badges for the Polish Forces during the war. As to the question of how best to represent the Polish eagle on it, Józef Bełtowski, the much-respected Edinburgh lawyer, came to the rescue. He had served in Dunfermline with the 3rd Cadre Rifle Brigade and it was he who donated his wartime cap badge to be affixed onto the plaque.


Nowadays, the Poles of the wartime generation who attended that reception in 1985 are long gone.


But they did serve, truly, ‘For Our Freedom and Yours’…

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Map Legend:

Home Guard Defences

Polish Defence Reinforcements

Polish Billet in the Glen Pavillion

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 Polish soldiers parade in the Glen 

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 Dunfermline Defence Plans 


Piotr Pawel Leszcuk

Piotr Paweł Leszczuk (1916-99) escaped from Poland in September 1939, crossed the border into Hungary, and eventually joined the Polish Army in France. After the fall of France, he managed to board a Royal Navy destroyer, which landed him in Plymouth.


As a member of the 3rd Cadre Rifle Brigade, he first came to Dunfermline in March 1941. Most officers of this Polish unit were billeted at the Women’s Institute in Pilmuir Street with the rest, including 2/Lt Leszczuk, staying at the Glen Pavilion. From 1941-43 he served with the British Army in West Africa, after which he returned to Scotland to join the 1st Polish Armoured Division.

At the war’s end, Lt Leszczuk had no desire to live in Poland under Communist rule. He settled in Dunfermline and, from 1950-58, worked in West Africa. Thereafter, he spent the rest of his days in this, his adopted town.

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 Leszczuk On His Motorbike 

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 Unveiling the Anti-Tank Cubes 

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 Polish Soldiers in the Glen 


Aerial photo (1946): Cities Revealed® copyright by The GeoInformation® Group 2013 and © Crown Copyright. All rights reserved.

Many think of history as boring, but not for me. I’ve been a WWII soldier many times as a Defend Fife re-enactor. The most interest I had in history before was reading Horrible Histories and the odd documentary, now I’m planning to take it at university.


Dunfermline’s military significance in the war was unearthed by Forth Pilgrim - Anti-tank blocks now in Pittencrieff Park, trenches in fields & archived Polish Maps showing defensive schemes, against invasion. People’s stories have also been collected. The festivals draw thousands of people. The big discovery is the extent of the involvement of the Polish army in our city."

Duncan Graham


By Forth Pilgrim and Duncan Graham

Comic art: Gordon Somers
Pictures & memories: Tony Leszczuk
Design: Aidan Robertson
Translation: Monika Krähmer
Funding: The Polish Consulate in Edinburgh
Old photos & maps: Copyright Polish Institute & Sikorski Museum

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