Belfast Telegraph

Video: Band of Brothers mural unveiled on west Belfast's iconic International Wall immortalises the efforts of Polish airmen during World War II

By Gary Grattan

A unique anti-racism project has been unveiled in west Belfast on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain to mark the valiant efforts of Polish airmen, who were stationed in Northern Ireland.

‘Band Of Brothers’ is the brainchild of Ballyhalbert-based journalist and RAF historian Pete Bleakley and is funded by the Housing Executive.

It aims to highlight the exploits of Polish airmen in the Battle Of Britain, reminding local communities of their efforts three-quarters of a century ago.

The Belfast mural was unveiled at the iconic 'International Wall' on the Falls Road in west Belfast , led by the Lower Shankill Community Association.

The mural is supported by a shared history event where young people from both communities came together this week to take part in a series of workshops, led by artist Ross Wilson.

An anti-racism tool kit will also be produced as part of the project.

Pete Bleakley explained: "I've had a lifelong interest in RAF history as my grandfather had joined in 1918, having been gassed and invalided out of the infantry. I began researching the history of 303 (Polish) RAF Squadron, which was stationed in Ballyhalbert.

“I learned that 303 and other Polish and Czech squadrons had an absolutely pivotal role in the Battle Of Britain. Having worked closely with both the Housing Executive and the Loyalist communities during ten years in community television, it occurred to me that perhaps events 75 years ago in the skies over Kent could help positively shape events on the ground in Belfast in 2015.

“The Battle Of Britain, and our freedom as a nation, was won in no small way by the bravery of those Polish pilots, whose wartime motto was, 'Love Demands Sacrifice.' They fought ferociously for their freedom and ours. The Poles were part of us then and they are part of us now."

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