Mon. May 16th, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

Special 80th anniversary planned for the defence of Cowes in WWII

2 min read

The 80th anniversary of the defence of Cowes and East Cowes by the Polish destroyer, ORP Błyskawica, during World War II will be celebrated from May 4 to 8.

The Friends of the ORP Błyskawica hold an annual ceremony on Cowes Parade to mark the date of the Second World War blitz which took place on the evening of May 4, 1942, when two waves of Luftwaffe bombers attacked strategic ports which were vital manufacturing areas for the British forces.

The personal tragic losses at that time were significant. ORP Błyskawica, along with her sister ship ORP Grom, were built in the local shipyards of J S White in East Cowes, and were the world’s fastest destroyers when launched, with Błyskawica achieving 41.5kts at her peak.

Nowadays she lies in the port of Gdynia, Poland, where she is an immaculately preserved floating museum. The defence of Cowes by Błyskawica was brought about by her being in port for re-armament, enabling her to defend Island towns throughout the night of the raid.

The Friends of the ORP Błyskawica Society, a Cowes based organisation, aims to make the 80th anniversary an important event over a period of five days, starting on the evening of Wednesday (May 4) until the end of Sunday.

The Polish government has taken great interest in this anniversary event and members of the society met with Poland’s ambassador to the UK, and were offered support for the commemoration.

To mark the special anniversary, as well as the usual service of remembrance, the Polish warship, ORP Wodnik, will arrive on Thursday, May 5, welcomed with a five-gun salute from the Royal Yacht Squadron. There will be exhibitions, concerts, commemorative walks, memorial services and a Polish food market over the five days. See next week’s IW Observer for more details.