We learned yesterday that the cause of the United Nations had suffered a most grievous loss. (Hear, hear.) It is my duty to express the feelings of this House, and to pay my tribute to the memory of a great Polish patriot and staunch ally General Sikorski. (Sympathetic cheers.) His death in the air crash at Gibraltar was one of the heaviest strokes we have sustained.
From the first dark days of the Polish catastrophe and the brutal triumph of the German war machine until the moment of his death on Sunday night he was the symbol and the embodiment of that spirit which has borne the Polish nation through centuries of sorrow and is unquenchable by agony. When the organized resistance of the Polish Army in Poland was beaten down, General Sikorski's first thought was to organize all Polish elements in France to carry on the struggle, and a Polish army of over 80,000 men presently took its station on the French fronts. This army fought with the utmost resolution in the disastrous battles of 1940. Part fought its way out in good order into Switzerland, and is today interned there. Part marched resolutely to the sea, and reached this island.
Here General Sikorski had to begin his work again. He persevered, unwearied and undaunted. The powerful Polish forces which have now been accumulated and equipped in this country and in the Middle East, to the latter of whom his last visit was paid, now await with confidence and ardor the tasks which lie ahead. General Sikorski commanded the devoted loyalty of the Polish people now tortured and struggling in Poland itself. He personally directed that movement of resistance which has maintained a ceaseless warfare against German oppression in spite of sufferings as terrible as any nation has ever endured. (Hear, hear.) This resistance will grow in power until, at the approach of liberating armies, It will exterminate the German ravagers of the homeland.
I was often brought into contact with General Sikorski in those years of war. I had a high regard for him, and admired his poise and calm dignity amid so many trials and baffling problems. He was a man of remarkable pre-eminence, both as a statesman and a soldier, His agreement with Marshal Stalin of July 30th, 1941, was an outstanding example of his political wisdom. Until the moment of his death he lived in the conviction needs of the common struggle and in the faith that a better Europe will arise in which a great and independent Poland will play an honorable part. (Cheers.) We British here and throughout the Commonwealth and Empire, who declared war on Germany because of Hitler's invasion of Poland and in fulfillment of our guarantee, feel deeply for our Polish allies in their new loss.
We express our sympathy to them, we express our confidence in their immortal qualities, and we proclaim our resolve that General Sikorski's work as Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief shall not have been done in vain. (Cheers.) The House would, I am sure, wish also that its sympathy should be conveyed to Madame Sikorski, who dwells here in England, and whose husband and daughter have both been simultaneously killed on duty.
Sikorski was a statesman, outstanding among the leaders of the Second World War. This position he owed to his character, his faith in ultimate victory, his clearness of decision and his energy in all actions. ...
Wladyslaw Sikorski bequeathed much to those he left behind, and the fact that Polands name became famous during the war was largely due to him. Great Britain lost in him a great friend and one of the champions of a just and wise world policy.