PAF in Great Britain after the war
Polish Resettlement Corps RAF (PRC RAF)
he Polish Air Force in Great Britain was disbanded in November 1946. Some PAF personnel returned to the homeland, others joined the Polish Resettlement Corps RAF (Polski Lotniczy Korpus Przysposobienia i Rozmieszczenia). The Command of the PAF was reorganized into the Inspectorate General PRC RAF. Airmen were transferred to eight PRC stations and began applying for a return to Poland or to join the Resettlement Corps. The Technical School and the High School at RAF station Millom were founded. Very many former airmen received scholarships for higher education provided by the Treasury Committee for the Education of Poles in Great Britain (Komitet Edukacji Polaków w Wielkiej Brytanii). During its two and a half years existence, the PRC RAF gave airmen a chance to adapt to civilian life by enabling them to acquire a profession or employment using their pre-war skills.
In 1949 the PRC RAF was officially disbanded but the PAF Liquidation Commission operated for another two years. Finally, from about 11,000 members of the Corps fewer than 3,000 returned to the homeland, 2,800 emigrated from the UK to other countries of residence, and 500 persons, mostly flying personnel, joined the RAF. Many airmen who returned to Poland fell victim to repression and persecution by the communist government. Show trials of airmen accused of “espionage” proliferated, ending with death sentences, six of which were carried out.
Polish Air Force Association 1945-1999
y mid-1945, it was already clear that the disbanding of the Polish Forces in Great Britain was only a matter of time. A group of far-sighted PAF officers took the initiative of creating the Polish Air Force Association, similar to the Royal Air Force Association. This organization was supposed to continue the fight for Polish independence under the changed conditions of peacetime, and its purpose was to interact with the British authorities to solve the difficult issue of transitioning Polish airmen to civilian life, help them to settle and support in the UK and around the world, as long as it was needed. By 24 June 1945, the Provisional Executive Committee was already appointed under the direction of płk. pil. Ludwik Szul (president), ppłk. obs. Czesław Korbut (vice-president), ppłk. pil. Roman Czerniawski (honorary secretary) and mjr pil. Zbigniew Siarkowski (honorary treasurer) for the development of a legal draft of the proposed organization and its constitution. The organization adopted the English name of the Polish Air Force Association (PAFA) and received privileges under the “Charity Act of 1940” as a charity, and full recognition by the Air Ministry.
The beginnings of PAFA were extremely difficult. Many Poles, embittered by the development of events, lost confidence in official institutions, but when the initial shock caused by British political decisions passed, it was widely acknowledged that the best way to deal with the new situation was to maintain the bonds of friendly relationship and mutual assistance. By the end of 1945, nearly half of the PAF personnel remaining in the UK – 6,000 people – became members of PAFA.
A main objective of PAFA was to preserve ideological continuity as described in the proclaimed “Ideological Declaration” which confirms membership in the independence camp and recognition of the President and Polish Government in Exile. PAFA had become an active, well-managed organization in terms of ideology and objectives of its action which allowed it to play a leading role in all Polish independence initiatives.
The first Secretary General of PAFA elected was płk pil. Roman Czerniawski, the next after him – dr Zdzisław Matraś (the last Secretary General, who held the position for 24 years was Tadeusz Jerzy Krzystek). Presidents of the Polish Air Force Association in the Great Britain, who according to the statute represented “Wings” (Skrzydła) in Western countries were: from 18.01.1946 płk. pil. Wacław Makowski; from 05.12.1948 gen. pil. Ludomił Rayski; from 25.02.1950 gen. pil. Stanisław Karpiński; from 24.04.1954 gen. pil. Ludomił Rayski; from 17.05.1958 – płk. pil. Jerzy Bajan; from 30.05.1964 płk. pil. Aleksander Gabszewicz; from 07.06.1968 płk. pil. Robert Beill; from 06.01.1969 again płk. pil. Aleksander Gabszewicz. The last President of PAFA, AVM Aleksander Maisner, was elected on 12.06.1982.