CHAPTER 6 : "GET THEM BACK TO WHERE THEY BELONG OR SHOOT THE B-." British Public Reaction to the 'Polish Invasion'
HALF A CENTURY LATER...
By February of 1945 the gloom of despair had settled over the Polish Armed Forces. The Yalta Conference, the grave of so many Polish hopes, had removed the will of the Poles to continue the struggle and self doubt began to creep into their minds. It became apparent to British Government circles that if the Allies were still to make use of the Polish Forces then some gesture would have to be made. ATTENTION ! ATTENTION !
From the Polish perspective the future did indeed look bleak. On the battlefields of Europe the Poles were still dying and it was becoming more and more difficult to answer the question : why ? The country they had set out to fight for was now, apparently, out of reach. They saw that they would probably not be going home but then what? The future did indeed look empty. In this atmosphere Churchill stepped in with what become known as his pledge to the Poles:
"In any event, His Majesty's Government will never forget the debt they owe to the Polish troops who have served them so valiantly, and to all those who have fought under our command. I earnestly hope it may be possible to offer the citizenship and freedom of the British Empire, if they so desire.... But so far as we are concerned we should think it an honour to have such faithful and valiant warriors dwelling among us as if they were men of our own blood." 
Fine words indeed but an expression not exactly shared by all the Departments of State; the Home Office, for example, did not see the influx of two hundred thousand Poles as such a great 'honour'
"The Home Office view is that the settlement in this country of Poles to the number of 100,000 to which would have to be added a further figure for the wives and children who have to be allowed to join them - would present a most serious problem at the present time. The fact that the resident alien population of this country is some 150,000 gives a measure of the problem involved. The addition of large numbers of Poles would cause obvious difficulties in view of the housing shortage and present economic conditions and would moreover involve a real risk of anti-alien agitation since many people hold the view that there are already too many foreigners resident here.
The Home Office therefore feel strongly that the longer the possibility of opting for return to Poland is kept open, and the less the Poles are encouraged to suppose that they would be allowed to settle here, the greater the number who may be expected to go back to Poland." 
Similarly in a memo to the Committee on Polish Questions the Home Secretary wrote the following:
"The total recorded foreign population of the United Kingdom has not hitherto exceeded 290,000, and so large an influx of foreigners (all of one nationality and all coming within a comparatively limited period) is likely to arouse considerable public uneasiness or hostility. In so far as the Poles can be employed in occupations in which there is a shortage of labour their services will be of advantage to this country; but experience suggests that the quality of their work is poor and there are likely to be strong representations that these foreign newcomers are prejudicing the position of our own people, especially of those who are being demobilised from the British forces." 
The words of Home secretary, Chuter Ede presaged many of the problems that were soon to face the British Government. The total number of Poles which was in question at the end of the war was some 194,460 military personnel and some 33,000 dependents and civilians [For breakdown see Appendix E] but with continued recruitment, much to the chagrin of the British, the number rose to just over a quarter of a million.
Just as Government Ministers felt uneasy at the prospect of the Poles arriving on their doorstep so too
did the British public. The Foreign Office was swamped with a mass of protest letters about the impending arrival of the Poles. Count Raczynski sent the following note to the FO saying that someone was printing and then distributing them in the Fife area.
Your Home and Job
demands that You
STOP POLISH INVASION NOW
STAND EASY and
You've "Had it Chum"
Certainly the Scots, who had for so long put up with the brunt of the Poles seemed to be getting frustrated at the fact that the Poles were still not going home. While Britain was at war with Germany the Scots were prepared to put up with the foreigners in the sure and certain knowledge that, come Victory Day, they would return to Poland. With the messy conclusion of the post-war settlement these previously held truths could not be relied on. It looked not only that the Poles in Scotland might be staying but that they might soon be joined by thousands more from Europe.
That is not to say that all Scots had ill feeling towards the Poles. Many warm and lasting friendships had been formed during the war years, and many Scots felt a great deal of sympathy for the plight of the Poles.
Miss L. Herd wrote to the Foreign Office in June of 1946 about a meeting in Edinburgh where 2,500 Scots called on the British Government to reconsider the plan to bring the Poles to the UK. One of the speakers, Councillor Sim of Inverkeithing, called to the attending: "Are you going to stand by and allow this country to be overrun by foreigners". According to Miss Herd:
"He seemed to be Anti-Everything. Anti-Bevin, Anti-Churchill and was raising the Polish question as a means for voicing his Anti-feeling for all humanity." It was, she went on, "Ungrateful, unjust and above all unchristian." 
Positive views were rather heavily outnumbered by negative ones. As Hancock of the FO minuted plaintively alongside Miss Herd's letter "I wish we had more letters like this." And the truth was that protests came in by the bag full. One Railway Union branch wrote to Attlee:
"I am instructed to forward the following resolution which was passed at my branch yesterday:- 'That this meeting of Railwaymen at Colwick protest at paying taxation to maintain in Britain and Italy, Polish armed forces that are not being used for the furtherance of democratic ends, and are not loyal to their National Government, with whom we have diplomatic relations'.
F. Welton, Secretary." 
Trades Unions, in particular, were open in their hostility to the Poles, for a variety of reasons that will be discussed later. The Kirkaldy branch of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers was equally vociferous in its letter to Attlee:
Dear Sir and Brother.
At our branch meeting held on 9-7-45 I was instructed to urge upon you to do everything in your power to assist the Polish soldiers in this country to get home to their families.
The position has become so bad for these men that they are now appealing to the people in this area to assist them in getting home, pointing out at the same time that they are even impeded in getting postal communication with their relatives." 
Similarly the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers forwarded the following, setting down in no uncertain terms just why they objected to the Poles:
Our objection to the Poles is that they are a reactionary corps of people who refuse to face responsibility in their own country. They will become not a temporary labour force but a permanent labour force that will be a reactionary element in the country if allowed to settle down." 
The accusation that the Poles were reactionaries was a widespread one, and most of this venom was focused on General Anders and his 2nd Corps. As one businessman from Preston wrote:
Can I ask you the exact cost to the British taxpayer of all the Poles in Scotland, England and Italy under fascist Gen. Anders ? Over half of the rank and file are anxious to return to Poland, but are forcibly prevented by their reactionary officers." 
By July of 1946 the Foreign Office had received forty protests from Trades Unions, Trades Councils and from Co-operative Guilds plus twenty protest letters forwarded by MPs from their constituents. The highest proportion of these were from Scotland but many were not. The Foreign Office was happy to dismiss the English protests as a Leftist conspiracy. Hankey of the FO minuted that they were "artificially stirred up by Communist influence." 
Communist propaganda mixed with not a little xenophobia led to many heated comments:
"...it's damned high time there were something done, No wonder they say 'let us stay' they were never as well off in all there lives. [sic] I say get them back to where they belong or shoot the B-, I am going to write to Sir Stafford Cripps about it." 
Mr. Bell's letter to the FO typifies many of the opinions that were floating around at that time.
The influence of the Communists can certainly not be discounted. Believers in conspiracy theories would find many similarities in the pronouncements of the Warsaw Government and the Moscow Press agencies, and the views listed above. If discrediting the Polish Armed Forces in the eyes of the British was the general idea then the plan seemed to be going well. By way of comparison to the British Unions' views, the following is the (Warsaw) Polish Trades Unions resolution at the World Federation of Trades Unions on the 13th June, 1946.:
"Considering that over a year after the end of the war there are still in existence Polish Armed Forces under the influence and command of reactionary Officers headed by Gen. Anders, that Gen. Anders and his associates are a basis and command centre for terrorist gangs in Poland, that these gangs are murdering Trade Union, workers and peasants leaders and are supported with funds, arms and manpower by Gen. Anders's staff, which has been established in several court proceedings. [...]
Considering further that a further existence of these Polish Armed Forces under British Command but dominated by Polish fascist generals and Officers constitutes one of the more dangerous focal points of fascism in the world, threatens peaceful relations and is a centre of imperialist propaganda for a third war...." 
The resolution called for the Poles to be demobilised and that the "Anders Officer Clique" should be removed from any influence.
The attitude of the British Trades Union movement was rather negative towards the Poles in the first years after the war. One Polish commentator at the time wrote that the TUC had made a mockery of the old Marxian slogan "proletarians of the world unite..." changing it to "proletarians of the UK unite - keep out the foreigners !".  The biggest fear for the Unions in Britain was that jobs and working conditions would suffer as the new wave of foreigners arrived. Although the apprehension was on the most part understandable, the open hostility came as quite a surprise to many. Post-war Britain was in desperate need of labour. Many men were serving abroad as occupation forces, the war losses would also have to be made up but at the same time the crops had to brought in and the coal had to be dug. As "The Economist" wrote in May of 1946:
"It is fortunate that the question of their [the Poles] demobilisation should come at a time when, particularly in agriculture and the coal mines, Britain is faced with a severe labour shortage. There will presumably be no violent opposition from the trades unions (in spite of the hostility of the Communists to all non-returning Poles); but the TUC will certainly ask for safeguards." 
In order to quell the public and labour disquiet about the incoming Poles the Foreign Office produced a standard format reply [Appendix F] in which the main public complaints were dealt with; the unnecessary passages could be deleted by the FO secretaries.
One of the major anomalies in the whole labour situation was that it appeared that the Unions preferred that jobs remained unfilled than that Poles should take them. This led to many a heated exchange in the Commons, especially after interventions by Mr. Piratin, one of the Communist members. In a question to the Labour Minister, Mr Isaacs, the case of the Red Lion Hotel, High Wycombe, was brought up in which a group of Poles were playing music:
Mr. Piratin: "May I ask him to bear in mind that the Polish musicians are taking the place of a band, all the members of which belong to the Musicians Union."
Mr. Lennox-Boyd: "Is it not the case in some quarters of the House that if the Poles take jobs they are abused and if they do not they are called drones ? [...]
Mr. Piratin: "May I ask the Minister to bear in mind that the essence of my question is merely to ensure that such Poles who are in this country do not in any way scab or blackleg on British Labour and that in this case they are actually replacing British Labour ? That is the essence of the question, and if the hon. member for Mid-Bedford (Mr. Lennox-Boyd) disputes that, he is in favour of scab labour."
Lt. Col. Sir Thomas Moore: "Does the right hon. Gentleman approve of this vendetta against Poles who want to work here rather than return to Communist Poland ?"
Mr. Isaacs: "May I confine myself to the Question ? There has been a complaint. The understanding which was reached and has been accepted by everyone is that foreign labour can only be employed when no British labour is available and willing to do the work." 
And as if to emphasise the point guidelines were issued to ensure that Polish musicians were kept in line.
"No Member of Polish Units shall play in Uniform in public outside the precints [sic] of his camp. Whether for a fee or otherwise."
"No private contracts shall be discussed or arranged within the precints of Camp."
"Any musical combination of Polish personnel or individual Polish Officers or Soldiers shall not advertise themselves on bills etc. by any title that would indicate their membership of or connection with the P.R.C."
"There is no objection to any Polish Officer or Soldier becoming a member of the Musicians Union." 
For the Poles the policy of the Unions seemed bizarre. Even if no-one wanted a particular job Poles were not allowed to take up the post just on the off-chance a British worker might take it up. Mr Lennox-Boyd again took up the case of the Poles in the Commons, and in particular the case of F. Magrian, a PRC soldier, who had been offered a job in a Brighton restaurant but had been refused permission by the Brighton Ministry of Labour who stated that the post could be filled by a British labourer. The Government reply was that that was the situation. Because Brighton had a high number of unemployed, Poles could not be employed. Poles could not be taken on if British labour was available and willing. 
As well as the restrictive labour laws there were other administrative problems that had to be overcome. A letter of complaint was sent to the Polish Daily from Sgt. Nietz:
"The day before yesterday the silk factory informed several men who had applied for work that the Preston Labour Exchange does not agree to the employment of Poles from camps other than the one in the neighbourhood of Preston and that for this reason our application for work cannot at present be taken into consideration. If the Poles in the camp near Preston, which is only 9 miles from the town do not apply for work and have not yet been engaged, it must be because they either do not want to work or have other prospects. Other Poles should be admitted to work in Preston where there is plenty of work. It is not my fault that I am living near the town of Hereford where there is no industry and only a few men can find work. This is an impediment caused by the British authorities whose "raison d'etre" is to direct men to productive employment.
(1) Is it the task of the Resettlement Corps to provide suitable civilian employment ?
(2) I found suitable employment and can begin it today.
(3) The factory is ready to accept me because it needs workmen. Meanwhile I have to wander from camp to camp and cannot find work. Is this common sense ?" 
This was not an isolated case as soldiers began to be caught up in official red-tape. Wojciech Leski was offered a job but his move to the Army reserve took so long to complete that by the time he was ready to take up the post the vacancy had been filled. 
At the Cabinet Foreign Labour Committee meeting, on the 25th November, 1946, another problem of placement was brought up. At a tin mine five miles from Partreath there were vacancies for 80 men. Nearby there was a Polish camp run by the Air Ministry for the Polish Air Wing with a manpower of 2,000. If a Pole took a Job he would, by the terms of Resettlement provisions, have to leave the service camp but in the area there was no alternative accommodation, hence he could not take the job. This type of no-win situation was resented by both Poles and the Ministry of Labour who also protested to the War Office that the situation was "not logical".  It appeared that the WO was putting forward administrative difficulties that "could be surmounted if the primary object was to get the Poles into work."
According to historian Keith Sword, there were some valid reasons for Polish labour to be held as a less desirable option for the British authorities, unlike the labour using prisoners of war. The Poles could not be directed into jobs at ministerial will; they could not be prevented from mixing with the local population with all the resulting risks of friction and civil disorder; if the Poles were admitted to civil employment this would be a first step to permanent settlement; once the labour crisis was over the Poles, unlike POWs, could not be sent home.  Such factors must surely have affected British thinking at the time, but there were indeed other, historical factors that had to be taken into consideration.
According to Towpik-Szejnowska's study on the PRC in the UK many miners in the Lancashire pits remembered their history when in the 19th Century Polish miners were used as blackleg labour and as strike-breakers.  This possibly accounts for some of the paranoia that affected the mining industry over the employment of the Poles. Much also stemmed from a distrust of all things foreign and a fear that Poles would be employed at lower rates and have increased norms of production that would affect the conditions of British miners. If, after all, a mine manager could employ a labourer at lower cost and with a higher rate of production would he not do so - even if that worker was a 'bloody foreigner'. From the mineworkers' perspective the question was quite straightforward - it was not that there were not enough British people who wanted to become miners but rather that working conditions deterred people from employment. The solution was to improve conditions rather than bringing in Poles to, as they saw it, further undermine the very fabric of worker-management relations. Hence they fought the Government proposals tooth and nail. As Shinwell, the Minister for Fuel and Power, admitted to the Commons in October, 1946:
"I can assure hon. members that the question of Polish labour in the Mines has been under review for many months, I will not seek to deny it. Unfortunately, as it appears to me, the National Union of Mineworkers are not willing to have the Poles in the pits. [...]
Therefore when I was faced with a problem of whether I should force into the pits 200 trained Polish miners, who were all that were available, or defer, at any rate for the time being, to the views of the National Union of Mineworkers, what would hon. members expect me to do ?"
Not everyone was so understanding with regards to the Governments position. "The Times", a newspaper not known for its support of the Poles in the West as will be shown later, wrote in its leader of September 2nd, 1946:
"If the nation shivers next winter it will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that such coal as it is possible to burn in British grates has not been touched by foreign hands, except by a couple of hundred pairs of Polish hands, if the Mineworkers' Union decides one day to permit it." 
Of the many criticisms levelled against the Poles one that caused much resentment was that somehow they were parasites and lazy freeloaders living at the expense of the British taxpayer. There was some effort by the British Joint Committee for Polish Affairs to redress the balance in the argument. It produced a pamphlet titled "Do the Poles here really work? Some facts". The pamphlet was reproduced in the "Polish Daily" so that Poles could show it to their English friends. The main contention of the pamphlet, produced in early 1949, was that the tax-money the British had put into the PRC had been more than made up by the income tax received from Poles already in employment.  As logical as the argument was it was difficult for Poles to shake off the epithet of 'sponger'
At Questions to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, McNeil, on the 21st January, 1948 a fairly typical exchange took place between those who supported the Poles and those who did not:
Sir Stanley Reed: "Will the right hon. Gentleman take into consideration the painful effect in many areas in which these camps are situated by the Poles being maintained in idleness while British workers are called upon for a special effort, and are even directed into special employment."
Vice Admiral Taylor: "Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the idleness on the part of the Poles is their fault or not ?"
Mr McNeil: "I should in fairness admit that there has been a most gratifying volume of volunteering by these people." 
One of the imperatives for the Resettlement Act in 1947 was to quell such murmerings. The Manchester Guardian of the 4th February, 1947 wrote:
"Only those who are blind to our tragic background of the Polish problem will question our moral obligations to these Polish ex-service men. But it is fair to wonder how long we can afford to maintain such a costly contingent in idleness and vacillation at a time when our labour force needs 657,000 recruits to bring it up to its strength in 1939." 
Offering criticism is always easy, finding solutions is usually the difficult part. For many MPs the Resettlement Act was not the solution to the problem. To quote Michael Astor speaking during the Bill's second reading:
"Today we are a bit complacent about them. These Poles are positively rotting with boredom, in many cases - absolute abject boredom. They have centred their hopes in this country. Their hopes in their own country have gone, for the time being, at any rate. They had various reasons to believe they might be allowed to acquire British citizenship. Now they are forcibly unemployed, and they have no hopes or prospects. The shortcoming of this bill is that it does not provide what is needed - prospects." 
Vice Admiral Taylor, another of the MPs who did much to further awareness of the problems of the Poles commented:
"They have been waiting a very long time, even years, in this country, while doing nothing at all, and there is nothing so devastating for a human being as to be doing absolutely nothing. That is one reason, I am afraid, why many people in the United Kingdom think rather badly of the Poles." 
Even as the Resettlement Corps was winding down there was a small contingent for whom it was very hard to find gainful employment. As a proportion to the overall total, officers made up a large part of the unemployable. By the 25th November, 1948, there were still 14,965 members still in the Resettlement Corps.
Male Officers : 6,161 Other Ranks : 8,154
Female Officers: 320 Other Ranks: 330 
A proportion of these were involved in administrative duties, while others were just too old or too ill to be employed in civilian work, yet they too became a weapon for those who would criticise the policy of Polish resettlement.
Mr Scollan : "Are the Government aware that the people of this country are a bit tired of carrying these 14,000 people for five years - [Hon. Members : 'No.'] - and how much longer are we to carry them ? Either make them work or get them home to where they came from."
Major Lloyd : "Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate when this Russian vendetta against our gallant Polish Ally will stop." 
For the most part the plans to help the Poles were made with only a grudging will. On one side of British society there was a friendly welcome with a recognition of past struggles and on the other side was the feeling that enough was enough; the Poles had played their part and now it was time for them to go back to Poland. The former view largely sums up the views of the British Right and the latter the view of the Left - for the Attlee Government steering a middle course was a difficult one that pleased few and angered many. Yet something had to be done - as one MP put it: "I feel that we owe it to these Poles, not all of whom are villains."  With such warm-hearted and friendly sentiments the Poles were sure to feel welcome.
- : -
If the British public viewed the impending arrival of the
Polish Armed Forces with unparalleled horror then for the Poles too it was not the answer to all their dreams.
To treat the Poles as a single body would be to do them
an injustice. For example the 1st Polish Corps, stationed in Scotland, was made up of many pre-war officers and
administrators who had managed to make their way to the UK after the fall of Poland in 1939 (there were also a
great many administrators and civil servants), whilst the 2nd Corps was made up from agricultural workers and
settlers of the eastern 'Kresy' that now formed part of the Soviet Union. For this second group their situation
was easier to accept, and for many pre-war peasants life in the UK was a vast improvement. Since they had few
demands out of life they found it easy to save money, for others life was a step
in the wrong direction. There was a severe element
of déclassé as former white-collar workers had to take on
manual jobs by which to survive. For men with skills it was easier but for men who had spent the pre-war period
as career officers or administrators life was difficult.
There are many stories of officers who were forced to take menial work, such as one General who was refused a job as a luggage porter since "...it wouldn't be fair to such a man." The General, however, maintained that even the humble job of a porter was better then begging from the Assistance Board. Pride and ambition were the key to many success stories after the war. Another Polish Officer spent his days cleaning toilets, but with the money he earned in one week he would survive for two thus giving him the time to go to the library and educate himself.  Another Polish Soldier was refused work in a biscuit factory because he was "too intelligent" to carry sacks of flour. Mieczyslaw Stelmaszynski spent nine years working as a junior clerk in a bank before moving to Canada where he opened a motel. 
Many British people misunderstood the determination of the first generation of Poles to make a success of life in Britain. The Poles became unpopular because they worked hard, especially if the job offered piecework. The harder the Poles worked the greater the rewards. They would start work early and, if they could, many would work through lunch. Most of the Poles had nothing so they needed the money; they were prepared to make sacrifices. The Poles preferred to work in non-union enterprises as the high demand - high reward environment suited them; overtime was also readily accepted, not only to get extra money but also to kill the boredom of life. This conscientiousness in work had a negative reaction on their British work-mates who not only resented having traditional work norms exceeded but also resented the fact that the Poles soon had the money to buy cars and houses yet they, born and bred in Britain, could not. 
Jealousy led to all-manner of wild accusation against the Poles, but in particular they were accused of 'spivvery'. Poles tended to dress better than the British, possibly to convince the locals that they were not tramps or beggars - even the youths wore long trousers instead of the ubiquitous grey flannel shorts, which in turn would certainly lead to the epithet of 'spiv'. Ewa Lipniacka writes about the Polish sense of style in clothes: In Palestine Polish officers transformed that "sartorial monstrosity, the standard issue British Army tropical baggy shorts, into natty little bum-hugging numbers"  But it went beyond the look of the Poles.
Misunderstanding led to unhelpful comments such as Mr. Beswick's pronouncement in the Commons regarding spare time 'remunerative private business':
"Is it not the point that the whole of the time of these men is spare time, and is it not a fact that in these days, it is almost as rare to see a Polish Resettlement Officer without a bulging brief case as it used to be before the war to see an S.S. man in Berlin without a Mercedes Car." 
The 'fascist' analogy returned here to haunt the Poles with accusations of lawlessness. That is not to say that occurrences of criminality did not take place. Bronislaw Dzikiewicz, formerly a Major in Italy, wrote at length on how the Poles managed to get past rationing:
"The Poles always seem to manage to get by in any situation. They started by buying ration coupons from the English for a shilling or two. There was suddenly a great rush in the clothes shops. After a while the English caught on that it was the Poles who were buying up great quantities of clothing material and so ruled that at the point of sale the whole book had to be shown and not just the coupon. But they managed to get round that too. Because it was so difficult to get hold of these books the Poles started to produce their own, and in the relevant places filled in names and addresses taken from the phone book. The books sold like hot cakes. There was another great rush in the shops. It was a funny sight seeing a Pole, not knowing the language at all, and often dressed in Polish uniform, using a ration book made out in the name of a born Englishman. Then came the ruling that the owner of the book would have to prove that he was English. Thankfully the Poles had stocked up with all the goods they needed and besides they could always ask an English friend to go shopping with them. The 'sons of Albion' retained their sense of humour and willingly went along with the game." 
Even when the law was not being broken the Poles seemed to cope well. Dzikiewicz goes on that the resourcefulness of the Poles surprised even him. As soon as the news got around that somewhere something was being sold without coupons the Poles, not knowing any English at all, would be off by train. They even managed to cope with the fact that during the war all direction signs and the names of railway stations were removed. Getting around for foreigners was not easy but even so the Poles managed to get by. 
The occurrences of crime were not restricted to the petty day-to-day infringements of the black-market. According to Jerzy Potocki the Second Corps had its share of problems as it approached its end. Although the over-all unity of the Corps was maintained there were incidences of desertion, theft, robbery and even armed raids as discipline fell apart. Potocki speaks of currency rackets that were carried on in Italy and the two way transports using Army transport vehicles. Soldiers would ship olive oil from the South of Italy to the North and would move clothes from the North to the South. In this way the lorries were always full.  Slepokora was also involved in this two way movement but he admits to moving machine parts South in return for olive oil to the North. This was the first way he and many Poles made their money.  This was not, however, a singularly Polish problem. Anyone who reads "Catch-22", Joseph Heller's fictional account of the American campaign in Italy, will see that war has the potential to make some people very wealthy.
The Poles in Britain also managed to get on the wrong side of the British by fighting their not-so-private war against Communism. One story made the press on the 30th July, 1946, when it was reported ...
"...that a number of Polish soldiers serving under His Majesty's command created a disturbance at a public meeting held at Edinburgh on 21st June, 1946, under the auspices of the British Council, presided over by the Lord Provost, when they insulted the Polish ambassador who was addressing the meeting, as a result of which they had to be removed by the Police." 
Rioting in the streets of Scotland was something guaranteed to create bad feelings among the locals. A report from the Scottish Office and Police painted a very negative view of the Poles in Scotland. The Foreign Office also received a copy and the following is the internal correspondence between Hancock and Robin Hankey of the FO.
Hancock: "I can't help feeling that this may be a rather partial report. The Police see the gloomy side of things. Personally I believe that, while there may be many people in Scotland who dislike the Poles, there are also many who like them."
Hankey: "Possibly but our correspondence tends to confirm that these feelings of resentment are pretty widespread. And many responsible Poles such as Count Raczynski are seriously disturbed at the present state of feeling." 
The views of the Scottish Police were not shared by all Forces around the country. The Horsham Police in West Sussex went on the public record in 1948. In an article in a local newspaper entitled "A Bouquet for the Poles", Supt. Miller announced that "considering the large number of Poles we have in this district we get very little trouble from them."  Unless one lived in a town like Horsham with over 3,000 Poles stationed in its Council area then the Poles were not a daily feature. In Scotland the Poles were notable by their very visibility and numbers. In October 1946, in Scotland, there was one Pole to every 141 Scots: In England and Wales there was only one Pole to every 322 English and Welsh.  When the 2nd Corps was brought from Italy it was decided that most should not go to Scotland but would be spread around the rest of the United Kingdom. As Bevin put it these "blessings" had to be shared around the country.
The War Office did not help the Polish case by forming the 1st Corps in Scotland. As a reserve Corps it was made up of 'deserters' from the German Army. The troops with whom such good relations had been built were serving in North Germany as an army of occupation. General Maczek's 1st Armoured Division is remembered fondly by the Scots, but the new influx of 'Germans' added fuel to the flames and gave credibility to the
According to Warsaw's military attaché, Colonel Kuropieska, there were some 89,000 Poles recruited from the German Army.
1st Polish Corps
2,000 : Recruited North Africa
33,192 : Recruited from D-Day to end 1944
15,439 : 1st Jan. 1944 to End April 1945
4,000 : May and June 1945
2nd Polish Corps
2,500 : Recruited up to June 1944
14,000 : Recruited Second half of 1944
18,000 : Recruited first half of 1945
Total : 89.131 
The War Office gives a lower and more accurate breakdown of the "Germans" in the 1st Corps both at home and serving in the BAOR.
Ex-Wehrmacht + Todt
1st Armd Div (BAOR) 4,149 + 96 = 4,245 out of 15,000
1st Para Brig (BAOR) 1,984 + 55 = 2,039 out of 4,000
1st Corps (UK) 16,200 out of 30,000
22,484 out of 39,000
Certainly Kuropieska was in a position to know about the recruits from the German Army. Much to his surprise he discovered that all his staff had been chosen from a Polish Repatriation Camp and that they had all, at one time or another, served in the Wehrmacht.
Kuropieska recounts a conversation he had with one of his staff who was not well disposed to the English:
"If the Colonel only knew how we chased them, and now look at them; these layabouts ! these upstarts !"
"But where did you chase them ?"
"In Africa - we were with Rommel." 
It transpired that all his staff had been in the Afrika Korps until they were captured in 1942 and then joined the Polish Army. According to Kuropieska their pride in their former service was great and their behaviour with him was exemplary. All were subsequently repatriated to Poland.
The British were very aware of the feeling that although their public might put up with the Poles who had stood by them in the early war years, to ask them to accept the men who had at one time fought against their soldiers was pushing their good will. As more and more letters of protest came in so the Foreign Office added a supplementary answer to the format answer to calm public concern. The Foreign Office attitude was that it would not be possible to discriminate against the ex-Wehrmacht Poles as it would be more trouble than it was worth. As Hankey minuted:
"I don't see you can make the distinction administratively effective. You have many categories:-
Poles who fought in Poland or France + were captured by Germans, put into Todt Orgn + escaped or were recaptured by us + fought for us.
Poles who did not fight in 1940 but ditto
Poles who served willingly or otherwise on E.Front + got out through Persia or Italy + fought for us.
Poles from labour camps who escaped + were enlisted but never fought against Gs.
There 's only one tidy distinction; did he serve in Polish A.F. under our command. Anything else produces a hurricane of favouritism, discrimination + complaints.
Besides, what do we do with the others ? Deport them ? And in British Uniform ?
There'd be the whale of a howl. We'd better let this aspect rest. It's being worked up [...] for partisan purposes. RMAH 24/10/46" 
- : -
If it is possible to talk about being politically 'correct' then the Poles who were about to join British society were definitely running against the flow of the then current fashionable thought.
While in Italy the 2nd Corps was accused of all manner of anti-Communist activity. Many of the accusations were the work of Communist agitation, Italy after all turned very Leftist after the war, but many incidents did occur. In November of 1945 Anders felt compelled to issue an order to his senior officers that they should put an end to the attacks on Communists:
"I understand the negative feelings towards the representatives of Bierut's Government but I cannot, however, allow improper behaviour from my subordinates. The local Communist press and these very Bierut representatives instantly make the most of every such incident." 
Mieczyslaw Waclawski writes that while in Italy he attended a speech by the local Communist delegate who got as far as "Citizens of Alessano..." before being showered in a hail of rotten Polish tomatoes and oranges. Another group of Poles at the same time overturned the delegate's car in front of the Church. 
Colonel Sidor lists 195 separate incidents taken from the Italian press, ranging from shoplifting to the rape and murder of a woman reported in "Il Giornale della Sera" of 29th November, 1946.  Even given Sidor's bias it cannot be denied that certain events did occur - and not always started by the Poles. In a report to the Chief-of-Staff, Colonel Skoczen of the Polish Military Police lists the most serious incidents from January 1945 to September 1946 including a fight in Senigallia between the Poles and Italian Communists - an Italian, Mario Balducci, died of his wounds. A Polish Sapper on the other hand was shot by Germano Germolini for trying to remove a Communist Party poster. 
These sort of events did not go unnoticed in Britain, and agitation by British Communists made sure it would not be missed. Hankey of the FO was aware of this and wrote to the War Office in that respect:
"I may add in parenthesis that I doubt if the 2nd Corps have been guilty of more than a fraction of the things imputed to them for political motives by their adversaries, but I would not care to put my last shirt on it owing to their undoubtedly strong bias." 
The Polish Armed Forces rapidly gained the reputation among the British as being vehemently opposed to the Communists and anti-Russian, no surprise to anyone who knew their history. The Polish way of thinking did not endear them to the many British who supported the Russians after the war. According to "The Sunday Times", in August 1945, eight hundred Polish soldiers decided to boycott the Scottish border town of Peebles and not fraternise with the local population because the local Council had asked the Government to send them all back to Poland. Councillor John Mackay described them as "big, lusty fellows with nothing to do while their own country needs them badly." Mrs Kathleen Chapman from Sheffield was so inspired by the Peebles story that she wrote to Bevin in support of the Scots:
"We have given them sanctuary in our country for 4« years now and it is time they were back in Poland, great lusty fellows simply idling about with nothing to do (but frat with our girls) while Poland needs them now. I am sure you will regret it if you do not act boldly and sensibly and order them to return, they are all without exception anti-Russian and have no good word for our fine brave allies." 
The reaction of the British public was to some extent determined by their attitude towards the Soviet Union. Those who believed the, not inconsiderable, propaganda that the Soviets were the friends of all workers tended to look at the Poles, who seemed to be their main critics at the time, with animosity. Those who took a more pragmatic, and with hindsight we can say a more realistic view of the Soviet Union, tended to look at the Poles with sympathy as victims of an injustice and a hostile campaign of misinformation.
Vice Admiral Taylor, in another of his staunch defences of Polish interests in the Commons, put forward his ideas on why the Poles were not going to return to Poland:
"The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr.N.Hynd) said that the main object of the Government was to get the Poles to go back to Poland. If conditions in Poland were entirely different from what they are - I refer to the Communist set-up - and the administration were changed so that these people could go back, they would not require any pushing. They are all most anxious to return to their own country. There is no nation which is so patriotic; no nation which loves their country more than the Poles. They do not need any urging to go back; but how is it possible for the Poles to go back to Poland under the conditions which exist there today ?"
Mr. Ben Levy then asked if it was so bad why were 250 Poles returning every week ? Admiral Taylor continued:
"Some of them are going back to Poland, of
course, that is a fact, but the vast majority of Poles here will not return to their homeland under the conditions
which exist there. [...] The Government is Communist, and anyone who opposed the Communist regime in Poland
is looked upon as a fascist, a reactionary, and a traitor to his country, and is dealt with accordingly if he goes
back to Poland. Under these conditions, how do hon. Members consider that the Poles should go back to
Admiral Taylor was not alone in feeling that more could, and should, be done for the Poles. As Mrs Short wrote to
the Foreign Office in August, 1945:
"I have seen what the Poles have suffered during this war, and I have seen their pathetic loyalty and faith in England and England's honour - a faith which has, to our everlasting shame, not been justified. In every quarter our enemies are being better treated than our most faithful Ally - Poland." 
The Poles felt this acutely, and knew that they were losing the battle of hearts and minds for public sympathy. As one soldier in Italy wrote:
"I am sorry that the majority of the English people prefer not to see the truth. Perhaps it is more convenient for them at the moment to be blind and dumb, but to lean on a lie is rather dangerous." 
The Labour Party in Britain - front benches excluded - was in particular had swung to the Left. The Hendon Branch of the Party put forward the following resolution at the 1946 Labour Party Conference:
"This Conference is of the opinion that world peace can only be based on a British policy directed to ensure firm friendship and co-operation with the progressive forces throughout the world, and in particular with the USSR ... The Conference therefore calls upon the Government (a) to maintain and foster an attitude of sympathy and friendship towards the Soviet Union, ...and (b) to repudiate Mr. Churchill's defeatist proposal to make the British Commonwealth a mere satellite of American Monopoly Capitalism which will inevitably lead to our being aligned in a partnership of hostility to Russia." 
The question of this mass of pro-Soviet goodwill must be on whose inspiration did it come about?
The British press came in for some criticism of its partiality and balance. George Orwell, a writer more in tune with reality than many of his contemporaries, wrote the following remarkably accurate piece in "Tribune", on the 1st September, 1944:
"I cannot discuss here why it is that the British intelligentsia, with few exceptions, have developed a nationalistic loyalty towards the USSR, and are dishonestly uncritical of its policies.... But I would like to close with two considerations which are worth thinking over.
First of all a message to English Left-Wing journalists and intellectuals generally. Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don't imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the bootlicking propagandist of the Soviet regime, or any other regime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.
Secondly, a wider consideration. Nothing is more important in the world today than Anglo-Russian friendship and co-operation, and that will not be attained without plain speaking. The best way to come to an agreement with a foreign nation is not to refrain from criticising its policies, even to the extent of leaving your own people in the dark about them. At present, so slavish is the attitude of nearly the whole British press that ordinary people have very little idea of what is happening, and may well be committed to policies which they will repudiate in five years time." 
Hugh Trevor-Roper, writing the introduction to Bethell's "Last Secret", is even more specific:
"Nevertheless, in the West, where public opinion was powerful, the alliance of necessity had to be represented as an understanding, a sympathy between peoples of similar ideals. By 1944 British propaganda had for three years recorded the sufferings and extolled the heroism of the Russian people. It had concealed the true character of the Russian government. It had suggested that its aims were similar to our own. Thereby it had created a public attitude towards that government which made possible, and even acceptable, certain great betrayals." 
The cartoons reproduced as appendices H and I show how over the course of the war attitudes changed towards the "fine brave ally". In 1939, after the invasion of Poland, but in particular during the Soviet-Finnish war, the main current was that both the Nazis and the Soviets used similar methods and to the same ends. The images, whether the 'Russian Body snatcher' or the 'Gorilla Ambassador', are strong and negative. By 1945 the images had become more heroic: it was now the desire to support the Soviet Union. Past events had been reassessed and it became "...worthwhile to review the military aspects of the war from the Russian standpoint, in order to give its history more objectively and to correct earlier impressions."  What this meant in reality was that according to the press, the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 was not the 'stab in the back' that was claimed at the time. In Finland it was claimed that Stalin was fully justified in seeking safe defensive borders, whereas at the time maps were being published to ask the British public how they would feel if asked to cede Southampton, the Isle of White, parts of Norfolk and the Orkney Isles to a foreign power.
The new, pro-Soviet, way of thinking was the reason the Poles found it so difficult to convince the British public of the validity of their arguments. The Poles were well aware that they were losing the propaganda war, and they knew why. Tadeusz Modelski wrote, of the British public:
"They [the Poles] also ignored the farcical buffoonery and lies of "The Daily Worker" correspondent in Moscow, Harold King, who wrote: "The Soldiers of the Second Polish Corps who want to fight together shoulder to shoulder with the Red Army are prosecuted, tortured and disappear without trace." I can assure my readers that no Pole who experienced the hell of Soviet captivity would want to go to Russia again to fight together with the Soviet Army, shoulder to shoulder. They were embittered by the venomous comments of the British press on the left towards the rightful Polish Government in London. This press declared support for "our Russian allies' territorial and political demands in Poland" and demanded that a "sharp hygienic process" was necessary against "our ungrateful friends", meaning the Polish Government which did not want to give Stalin one-third of Polish territory or be signatory for depriving Poland of its freedom and independence." 
The adverse attitude of the Press was noticed not just by the Poles. As the protest letters from the British public flooded into the Foreign Office, Waterfield, one of the clerks there, commented:
"Many are from the Kircaldy area of Scotland. In general they are bitter and show an ignorance of the facts which a reading of the daily papers would prevent. There is no diminution in the am[oun]t of the correspondence." 
The point Waterfield seemed to miss was that elements of the British press appeared to have their own agenda in dealing with Polish matters. "The News Chronicle", for example, misquoted one of Chuter Ede's statements to the Commons in March, 1947. He actually said that: "Isolated individuals previously connected with the Polish Forces have been actively associated with black market operations in London." It was reported in the paper as: "Many Poles have been actively engaged in the black market in London."  A not very subtle change that only added fuel to the flames.
The case of the "Polish Dachau" was one story that gained international notoriety. In June 1945 "Pravda" reported that the Poles had set up a "concentration camp at Inverkeithing" in Scotland. It was alleged that hundreds of thousands of Poles were being held there, many of them in chains. The next day the Poles opened the camp to reporters. The War Office confirmed that there were in fact only 53 prisoners in the camp all of whom had been sentenced by Courts Martial and were not political offenders. "The Daily Telegraph" reported that although conditions were not good it was not a concentration camp - the 'chains' were in fact British issue restraints used for more "obstreperous prisoners". "The Daily Sketch" was criticised by the FO for ignoring the facts and concentrating on the more "lurid" aspects of the story. "The Daily Worker", "as might be expected", followed the "Pravda" line without question. There was some concern that even the BBC released the "Pravda" story without comment. This in turn led to a complaint from Count Raczynski and hurried editorials from the World Service and some time later on the Home Service. 
Some of the reports in the British press were fanciful to say the least. One story, taken as fact by "The Daily Herald" and "The Scotsman" as they originated from a Reuters release, claimed that the Polish officers murdered at Katyn were all former prisoners from Sachsenhausen. According to Erik Johansen, a Norwegian who had been in the concentration camp since 1941, the bodies had been taken from the camp and put in Polish uniforms. The Germans had a Jewish team forge and 'age' the documents that were then planted on the bodies and to remove witnesses the Jews were then liquidated. Even in 1945 the story seemed unlikely yet it was just what people who wanted to believe the best of "our fine brave ally" wanted to hear.  As early as January 1943, Douglas Reed wrote in "Time and Tide" that:
"The British people... ask each other, what is this trend in the war that causes the Press suddenly to attack all our friends, all those who bore the brunt of the fight "against Nazi aggression. Unhappily the people can only look to the press for their information, and this leads me to say (as I hope you will allow me to say) that, in all my experience I have never known (not even in Germany or other dictatorship States) the picture of affairs in foreign countries to be so falsified in presentation to the reading public, as is the picture of Poland, Yugoslavia and Greece in the information laid before the British people by the radio and the Press today. It is hypocrisy to assert that any freedom of the Press exists in this country today, while, in the matter of these three countries, the future of which affects us as closely and vitally as did that of Czecho-Slovakia in 1938, some secret ban has quite clearly been laid on the publication of authentic information." 
The notion of a conspiracy to gag the press is not strictly the case, at least once hostilities were over, but questions about the unrepresentative nature of Press coverage should be asked. The Foreign Office was "seriously concerned" about the quality of correspondent in Poland:
"The only good man is, I understand, the Sunday Times man, Mr. Selby and he has been expelled. Mr. Cang who represents The Times and Manchester Guardian, is financed and housed in suspicious circumstances apparently by the Polish Government and cannot be relied upon to send independent reports. Many of his reports are obviously inspired by a desire to conciliate the present Communist regime. The Reynolds News man is a [?-word unclear] Indian of Communist tendencies. The Economist representative is also a fellow traveller. The Reuter string man is known to be a Communist. This state of affairs is completely unworthy of the British Press and even the B.B.C. now has to rely partly on quotations from the American Press for its Polish service." 
The Foreign Office was fully aware of the capacity for those who "stank of fellow travellership a mile off" to influence events as well as just reporting them.  The 1946 referendum, the results of which are covered in chapter five, was reported in "The Times" in the following manner:
"3 Times Yes
Polling here today in the referendum, in which the Polish Government seeks approval on three main points of policy, went quietly with every appearance that the machinery of voting was being fairly operated." 
More a question of hope over truth. Similarly in August of 1945 there was a report in "The Times" about three Poles who had been arrested by the Polish Forces in Britain and put in Polkemmet Camp, West Lothian. According to "The Times" they had been disarmed and put into old German uniforms. Apparently the reason for their arrest was that they had expressed a view to returning to Poland.  The article was recognised by the Foreign Office as being untrue and part of a Communist anti-Polish agitation campaign, but the problem was how to stop such clearly partial reporting. Such were the joys of a 'free' Press.
The biggest problem the Poles had in trying to convince British public opinion was the fact that the British wanted to believe the best. Although the term 'brainwashing' is an overstatement it is true, however, that since 1941, and the German attack on the Soviet Union, the British propaganda machine had been fostering happy thoughts about their 'gallant ally' and these feelings could not be switched off over night.
Michael Charlton conducted the following interview with Lord Gladwyn, who was, in 1946, the Acting Secretary General of the United Nations:
Charlton: "Do you agree that those who influenced our policy (and perhaps yourself included) were on the whole too optimistic?
Gladwyn: Possibly, yes. But I think in view of public opinion, particularly in America, but also in England, it was difficult to be anything else. If you'd given the impression that you were not trying to come to some kind of agreement of a reasonable nature with the Russians there'd have been a revolt in the House of Commons and in the nation generally - certainly in the army.
Charlton: Why do you say that: "...certainly in the army?"
Gladwyn: Well the army, after all, was very left-wing on the whole, as was shown by the elections in 1945. I think they thought that we were fighting for democracy, and they had certain illusions about the Russians - 'the gallant ally'.
Charlton: But surely those illusions were fostered by those who influenced our policy with the constant suppression, or covering up, of information which might have led public opinion to a different conclusion?
Gladwyn: It may have been. But, on the other hand, if we hadn't done something to foster the idea of 'the gallant ally' some people would have said that the Russians might have made a separate deal with Hitler. You see, that was the idea." 
As many popular misconceptions abounded with regards to the new regime in Warsaw as about the nature of the Soviet Union. It was believed by many that a revolution had taken place with the support of the people and that the stories emanating from the Poles in the West were the lies of expropriated landowners who had personal or financial reasons for opposing the government of 'peasants and workers'. In a book, remarkable only in its blind devotion to the Communist line, W.P. and Zelda Coates wrote a history of Russo-Polish relations. The book was published in 1948, just as Polish Stalinization was moving up a gear, and with that in mind the ideas expressed seem out of touch with reality:
"There can be little doubt that a Polish Government whose power rests on the people and which considers the interests of the latter paramount, a Government which knows how to interest the masses of workers and peasants in the economic and cultural development of the country will not repeat the mistakes still less the crimes of the old Polish Pans, but will maintain the independence of the country, promote the welfare of its people and lead it from strength to strength." 
Forty five years and the fall of the Communist regime later, it is difficult to believe that someone once believed in these words. Yet believed they were, and by more than a few people. As one Polish Officer in Italy wrote, in 1944:
"I have made one observation analysing all events, that an Englishman sees what he wants to see and manages to close his eyes if it is more convenient for him to do so." 
It would be unfair to give the impression that everyone in the field of influencing public opinion was so blindly pro-Soviet and pro-Communist. Despite the criticism of "The Economist's" Warsaw correspondent, quoted earlier, the Journal as a whole was no friend of the Left. The following criticism of the Engineering Union comes from February of 1949:
"The AEU's recent decision to reverse its policy of refusing or expelling Polish refugee workers deserves notice and welcome - even if couched only in the phrase "And high time too !" The dog-in-the-manger meanness of the original decision may probably be attributed less to the natural attitude of the AEU membership, who are doubtless no more selfish or stupid than other people, than to the vindictiveness of the Communist element among them. The defeat of that element is certainly an added reason for congratulation." 
Even more remarkable than this is "The Economist's" criticism of the entire thrust of British post-war foreign policy towards Poland. In reviewing Jan Ciechanowski's "Defeat in Victory" "The Economist's" reviewer wrote:
"The tale of the acts of British and American policy towards Poland in the later years of the war adds up to a record of gross treachery. Yet it was not, as the policy of the Kremlin clearly was, a process premeditated and calculated from the beginning. First Mr Churchill, and later President Roosevelt also, slid gradually down the slippery slope of dishonour like the embezzler who starts by really intending to pay back the money he takes." 
Perhaps the above account has given a very negative view of the public reaction to the Poles and certainly not everyone in Britain opposed their arrival in the UK. The Roman Catholic hierarchy welcomed the Polish Forces. The Archbishop of Westminster, Dr Griffin, was quoted in "The Daily Telegraph" in July, 1945:
"The overwhelming majority of Poles outside Poland are unwilling to go back to Poland as it is now. We understand and we assure those who stay that they are altogether welcome among us." 
In June 1946 the "Joint Committee of Welcome for Polish Forces" was set up with Lt.Gen. Sir Noel Mason Macfarlane as its proposed chairman but due to ill health the Duchess of Atholl had to stand in. The Vice-Chairman was William J. Rose of the University of London's School of Slavonic and East European Studies. This body of public figures and intellectuals distributed cards to arriving troops welcoming them to Britain and wishing them well for the future and luck in reconstructing Britain.  It should also be pointed out that not all the Trades Unions opposed helping the Poles into the labour market. The Transport and General Workers Union did much to help Poles. The TGWU had a full-time organising Secretary of All-Polish Union branches so that by 1949 there were 6,000 members of the Union plus many more who were in local 'British' branches. The Union also organised Sunday Schools to introduce Poles to British Unionism and to highlight available means of language tuition and further education for those who wanted it. As Mrs McKay, TGWU Secretary for branch 1333 wrote to "The Polish Daily" in April 1950:
"A Polish worker who helps in the task of social reconstruction of Britain, serves his country as well: he gains a valuable experience which he will use to the best advantage of his country when the hour of liberation strikes." 
However, as with most protests, the mass of letters and articles come from people who have a particular 'axe to grind'. Certainly in the Foreign Office files there are a mass of letters protesting against the Poles and denouncing them as 'fascists'. Yet as early as 1944 Ernest Bevin defended the Poles at the Labour Party Conference:
"People have stood on the rostrum this week and said that the Poles are fascists. Some are. I knew General Sikorski, no one will tell me he was a fascist. Neither is Mikolajczyk nor the Polish Socialist Party. Hurling epithets at one another will not do." 
Yet the popular idea that the Poles were fascists and reactionaries remained. Despite the many letters of protest it is difficult to generalise that most of the British public objected to the Poles. MPs like Mr. Gallacher, Communist member for Fife West, were in favour of forced repatriation. He pronounced that a revolution in Poland had taken place: "The days of Tsardom have gone and the days of political and religious persecution have gone" . Gallacher declared that if it were up to him he would "...be prepared to use that power and authority to put these men back into their own country." In other words he would force the Poles back at gun-point. It is fairly certain that this was very much a minority view and went against the idea of 'fair play'.
H. Foster Anderson, on a 1946 trip to Poland, put forward his notions of British public opinion:
"I think," I said, "I ought to tell you the views of the ordinary man in England about the Poles. He knows that there is some sort of domestic quarrel between you here in Poland and the Poles outside. He is not clear what it is all about and he is not particularly interested. But he knows that when England stood alone, Polish airmen fought by our side in the Battle of Britain and throughout the war the soldiers, sailors and airmen of Poland fought side by side with our men. He wants the Poles to go back home but if they feel they cannot, he does not want them to be forced to go back to Poland." 
This probably sums up quite accurately what the majority of the British public was thinking. It failed to answer the question of where the Poles would live if they would not return to Poland. Even the most well meaning of Britons might think twice if he found a Polish Division camping on his doorstep. Yet by the time the Poles had arrived from Italy and Germany much of the damage had been done. Opinions had been forming for some time and if the integration of the Poles was to work then it would take hard work on both sides as an article in "The Polish Daily" explained:
"It is a fact that the British public looks with some anxiety on the arrival of the Second Corps and it is also a fact that for the Polish Soldiers from Italy this country represents only one stage in their journey - and that a stage full of bitterness. Much work on both sides during the next weeks and months will be required to overcome the fears of the British public, to do away with the bitterness on the Polish side and to secure that what is now happening may be profitable to Polish British friendship."