Kelso pays war tribute

Service held at Kelso War Memorial to commemorate the links between leso and polish soldiers during WW2. Polish Consul. Dr. Tomas Traffas lays a wreath at the plaque.
Service held at Kelso War Memorial to commemorate the links between leso and polish soldiers during WW2. Polish Consul. Dr. Tomas Traffas lays a wreath at the plaque.

The singing of the Polish national anthem poignantly closed a special Kelso war tribute.

Led by Heiton and Morebattle SWRI Choir, it was the final act in a recent ceremony at the town’s war memorial to mark links with Polish troops stationed locally during the Second World War.

Earlier this year, the town’s community council sanctioned moving a plaque paying tribute to the men, who were from the Polish 1st Armoured Division – the famous Black Devils – from the town hall to a more prominent position at the war memorial.

The service was attended by Consul General of Poland, Dr Tomasz Trafas, together with Kelso provost Fiona Scott, local councillors, members of the local Polish community and other residents.

A duplicate plaque of the one at nearby ruined Roxburgh Castle honouring three Polish soldiers who died as a result of a wartime tank training exercise, was also unveiled.

After a welcome from Provost Scott, there was an address from Dr Trafas, who outlined the history of Polish forces during the war.

Deacon Duncan MacFarlane then led a prayer, after which Joe Rosiejak, now a councillor in Fife, but who hails from Kelso and whose father was a Polish veteran, gave a reading.

The new memorials were blessed and there followed a minute’s silence, laying of wreaths and a piper playing Floo’ers o’ the Forest.

The traditional Polish prayer to ‘Our Lady of Czestochowa’ was recited, followed by the singing of the Polish national anthem which the choir had specially learned.

Dr Trafas was clearly moved by the efforts to mark links with, and sacrifices made by, his countrymen.

He told TheSouthern:“I found it very touching that people were here today, who perhaps don’t speak Polish, but whose fathers, grandfathers or even great-grandfathers came from Poland, and who brought a Polish flag, tried to sing the Polish national anthem and, when I met with them, tried to say a few words in Polish.

“And the fact the people of Kelso feel it is important to mark these links is wonderful.”