Julie met Frank Pleszak at Polish Heritage Day back in May, and was fascinated to hear about the hidden histories he has uncovered, whilst researching his father’s experiences as a Polish refugee in the Second World War. Here he talks about his family, his research and his ongoing relationship with his father’s land.
I was born in Manchester and have lived and worked here all my life. I’m proud to be a Mancunian. I love it when people ask me where I’m from and I can say Manchester.
But my surname clearly isn’t local. My mum was from Salford but my dad, who died in 1994, was Polish. He never spoke much about his early life, I know he’d fought in Italy at the famous battle of Monte Cassino but it wasn’t until after his death that I began to think about why he was here in Manchester, why he’d been in Italy, and why he hadn’t gone back home to Poland after the war. I had no idea of the monumental series of events, together with World War Two, that had created me a Mancunian.
At the house my dad lived in until his arrest in 1939
We’re extremely excited that author Ray Costello will be joining us to talk about his historical research into Liverpool, Black soldiers and Black sailors later this month as part of our Black History Month programme (tickets still available if you’d like to join us, free but please do book via Eventbrite so we know you’re coming: ray-costello.eventbrite.co.uk). Jo has been taking a look at his most recent book Black Tommies.
Hardit Singh Malik was the first Indian and Sikh to become an officer in any of the world’s air forces. David Orman has been researching this fascinating history.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon early in 1918, a delegation from the Indian Government was taken from Manchester’s Midland Hotel, where they had enjoyed luncheon, to the Athletic Ground in Fallowfield, just a short distance away.
There, Manchester Chamber of Commerce presented them with an aeroplane – a Sopwith F1 Camel – to mark ‘Lancashire’s appreciation of the splendid part which India was playing in the war.’
The pilot who would fly the Camel from Manchester was 2nd Lt. Hardit Singh Malik.
Flt Lt Malik in Manchester. Image in the public domain.
The battle of Neuve Chapelle started 100 years ago today, and continued for three days until 13th March 1915. It was far from being the first battle of the war, and far from the largest of the conflict. But it was the first major planned offensive and set the military approach employed in virtually all subsequent large scale actions on the Western Front. It was also the first time on the Front that Indian troops played a leading — and highly successful — role.
- ‘Indian bombers holding important trench near Neuve Chapelle come under Bosche shell fire’. Originally published as a stereoscopic card by Realistic Travels Publishers, 1915-18
How did two Manchester businessmen from a respectable Jewish family come to be accused of supporting the enemy during the First World War?
January 1915. The Great War was less than six months old, but already more than a million British men had volunteered to serve; many thousands had been killed. The Manchester Regiment (including the newly-formed Manchester Pals) had been deployed and seen action, including at the first Battle of Ypres.
Supporting the effort
In central Manchester, tobacconists Marcus and Henry Themans decided to show their support for the troops. Continue reading