The story of how the Poles came to play an important role in town life

Polish soldiers on parade in South Street, St Andrews
Polish soldiers on parade in South Street, St Andrews

The special relationship between Scotland and Poland has inspired a fascinating new exhibition that has just opened in St Andrews.

The Polish Connection, which runs until October 1 at St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum, tells the story of the town’s close association with the Poles who settled there after the Second World War through a display of photographs and other artefacts.

They include engravings and a sketches created by Polish soldiers stationed in St Andrews, General Sikorski’s coin collection - on loan from the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA) – and a log book signed by General Pasciewicz (Polish General of Sector Fife).

“A number of these pieces come from The St Andrews Preservation Trust’s collection, however we were also loaned a number of objects and photographs from the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA), Fife Cultural Trust (St Andrews Museum) and from one of our Trustees who herself has Polish heritage,” explained curator Nicola Moss.

“During the Second World War a number of Polish soldiers were stationed in St Andrews and while they were here they integrated with the local community.

“Although the threat of warfare was never too far away, many found the time to take part in organised art classes, learn English and attend St Andrews University.

“Once the war had ended, many decided to remain in St Andrews rather than return to Poland, creating new homes and raising families. Many of their descendants still live in St Andrews today and continue to have an impact on the town.”

Nicola continued: “I feel the connection between St Andrews and Poland has really developed due to the Poles ability to settle so easily into the town and to work well with locals. They were able to stay, raise families and create different lives for themselves all with the assistance of those already living in St Andrews. I think the connection can best be summed up by the unveiling of the mosaic on the wall of the Town Hall in 1941. Created by three Poles, it shows a Polish soldier with St Andrew behind him, offering his assistance and support.”