French village remembers Polish D-Day fighters

7th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

POTIGNY, France, June 6 (AFP) - Residents of a French town burst into song Sunday as Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski visited the place where many Poles had settled and which was freed by Polish troops in 1944.

POTIGNY, France, June 6 (AFP) - Residents of a French town burst into song Sunday as Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski visited the place where many Poles had settled and which was freed by Polish troops in 1944.

The small mining town of Potigny had been settled by Polish immigrants from the start of the 20th century due to the nearby iron mines and was known as "Little Warsaw".

"Every day you heard Polish being spoken and Polish customs went hand in hand with Norman folklore," Kwasniewski said unveiling a plaque paying homage to "the Polish people and their role in the fight for freedom."

The crowd spontaneously broke into the traditional Polish birthday song "Sto lat" ("One hundred years").

One division of 18,000 Polish troops took part in the two-month battle for Normandy unleashed by the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings.

Kwasniewski also hailed three veterans of the First Polish Armoured Division who entered Potigny on August 15, 1944.

"Potigny fell without a fight, but afterwards we left for the battle of Falaise which was much more difficult," said 82-year-old miner's son Stephan Barylak, referring to the battle southeast of the city of Caen where German resistance to the Allied advance was fiercest.

Kwasniewski was later to take part in a French-Polish ceremony with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin in the town of Urville.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

0 Comments To This Article