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Moving memory


General Sikorski was killed when his aircraft, leaving Gibraltar in 1943, crashed into the sea.

The Newark funeral was a memorable occasion with Polish troops lining the route from the King Street Roman Catholic church to the London Road Polish war cemetery.

Thousands of Newarkers saw the procession headed by the exiled Polish government and Newark’s mayor, Advertiser editor Cyril Parlby.

One group with a good vantage point however missed the historic spectacle. Sixth formers at Newark Girls’ High School were ordered to turn away from the windows by their pacifist headmistress.

After his body was exhumed it lay, still wrapped in a British army blanket, with the Polish flag draped across a fresh coffin, in Newark Parish Church overnight, guarded by members of the RAF Regiment with reversed arms.

Next day the Duke of Edinburgh was among a crowded congregation for the first Roman Catholic service to be held in the church since the reformation. Three Polish bishops officiated and music was provided by the RAF Cranwell band.

A Newark civic party, headed by the town’s mayor, Harry Furness, flew with the body from Waddington to Warsaw.

In Krakow Prince Philip, in field marshal’s uniform, walked with Newark’s mayor in his scarlet robe behind a gun carriage bearing the Sikorski coffin. Poles crowded the route.

During the procession the duke turned to Newark’s mayor and said: “You’d better take that red robe off; they will think you are a communist.”

At Warwel Royal Castle the procession halted for an outdoor service. Then Sikorski was finally laid to rest.

Fresh flowers now adorn the marble edifice.

Sikorski’s name and title are inscribed on a silver plaque, but the circumstances of his violent death go unremarked.

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