Bid for return of Polish standard to Duns

A bid to return an important element of the Duns Remembrance Day ceremonies is being made by members of the town’s Royal British Legion.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 3:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 3:02 pm
Wreaths being laid at the Polish War Memorial in Duns Park.

The club’s secretary and treasurer Tommy Dunse wants to see the return of a standard, which was traditionally carried by an ex-serviceman from the Polish Armoured Battalion posted in camps near Duns during and after the Second World War on Remembrance Day.

The Berwickshire town has a long and proud association with Poland: having Zagan as its twin town; there is a statue to the shell-carrying bear Wojtek, who was also based in the camps; and there is a Polish war memorial in the town, which plays an intrinsic part in its Remembrance Day ceremonies.

However, when the Polish Ex-Servicemen’s Club in Edinburgh was closed, the banner was moved to a Polish Church in London, and it's proving difficult to bring it back.

Tommy Dunse, secretary and treasurer of the Duns branch of the RBLS, said: “The standard does play an important and traditional part in our commemorations.

"It was made during the war by a woman in France, and it was hidden from the Nazis there until the end of the war.

"The banner is now in one of five Polish churches in London and they don’t want to send it back due to its value.”

Mr Dunse added: “What we are proposing is that the banner could be stored securely in either the Polish Consulate in Edinburgh or even Edinburgh Castle, and brought to Duns for the ceremonies, as we just don’t want this rich tradition to die.

"Sadly, I think all the first generation Polish ex-servicemen have passed away, but I’m sure their families would be only too happy to take up the task.”

Mr Dunse has contacted local MP John Lamont to help out in his bid.

A spokesman for Mr Lamont said: “Last week we wrote to the Charge D’affaires, Agnieszka Kowalska, at the Polish Embassy, as John and Tommy thought this would be a good place to start.

“We have not yet received a response.”