Polish SOE War Memorial, Audley End

Overview

Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1451516

Date first listed: 19-Feb-2018

Statutory Address: Polish Special Operations Executive War Memorial, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF

Map

Ordnance survey map of Polish SOE War Memorial, Audley End
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Location

Statutory Address: Polish Special Operations Executive War Memorial, Audley End, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4JF

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Uttlesford (District Authority)

Parish: Saffron Walden

National Grid Reference: TL5240138083

Summary

Second World War Polish Memorial.

Reasons for Designation

The Polish Special Operations Executive (SOE) War Memorial, unveiled on 20 June 1983, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* A finely crafted monument in the classical style, demonstrating a high standard of design and detailing that is superior to many of the more typical forms of war memorial; Historic interest:

* An eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events;

* Relatively rare as a separate memorial dedicated to the fallen of the Second World War, particularly as it commemorates the sacrifice made by the Polish members of the SOE;

Group value:

* It is appropriately located within the grounds of Audley End House where the Polish agents trained and thus has strong group value with the listed house and registered park which are both designated at Grade I.

History

The concept of commemorating war dead did not develop to any great extent until towards the end of the C19. Before then memorials were rare and were mainly dedicated to individual officers, or sometimes regiments. The first large-scale erection of war memorials dedicated to the ordinary soldier followed the Second Boer War of 1899-1902 which was the first major war following reforms to the British Army leading to regiments being recruited from local communities and with volunteer soldiers. However, it was the aftermath of the First World War that was the great age of memorial building, both as a result of the huge impact the loss of three quarters of a million British lives had on communities and the official policy of not repatriating the dead, which meant that the memorials provided the main focus of the grief felt at this great loss. In many cases the names of the fallen from the Second World War were added to these memorials but in other, relatively rare instances, a separate memorial was erected.

The memorial is dedicated to Polish members of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) who lost their lives in the Second World War. It is located in the grounds (Grade I registered and scheduled) of Audley End House (Grade I listed) because they trained there between 1942 and 1944 when it was a secret training station for Polish agents. They undertook a series of arduous training courses in all aspects of guerrilla warfare before being parachuted into occupied Europe. In 1943, Audley End, or Secret Training Station 43, was placed exclusively under Polish control, a situation unique to the Special Operations Executive. The memorial was unveiled on 20 June 1983 by Colonel Sir P A Wilkinson. Present at the event were Kazimierz Sabbat, the Polish Prime Minister in exile, and Michael Heseltine MP.

Details

Second World War memorial, unveiled on 20 June 1983.

MATERIALS: stone.

EXTERIOR: the memorial is located around 65m south-west of the south-west corner of Audley End House. It takes the form of a highly decorated classical urn set upon a plinth. The urn has a gadrooned base and calyx, and below the rim a band of carved decoration in high relief made up of two rams’ masks with swags of drapery in between. The gadrooned, waisted cap is surmounted by a flame finial. On the front face an oval tablet bears in relief the ‘screaming eagle’ emblem which represents three levels of Polish Service. The eagle-wing surround is the badge of the Polish Paratrooper; the wreath at the bottom means that the serviceman had undertaken a parachute jump; and the PW within stands for Polska Walczy (‘Poland is Fighting’).

The urn is mounted on a square plinth with a moulded cornice and base, and recessed, moulded panels on each face. The front panel is filled by a carved oval wreath of laurel leaves inside of which is inscribed the words:

BETWEEN/ 1942 AND 1944/ POLISH MEMBERS/ OF THE/ SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE/ TRAINED IN THIS HOUSE/ FOR MISSIONS IN THEIR HOMELAND/ THIS MEMORIAL COMMEMORATES/ THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THOSE/ WHO PARACHUTED INTO/ ENEMY OCCUPIED POLAND/ AND GAVE THEIR LIVES/ FOR THE FREEDOM OF/ THIS AND THEIR OWN/ COUNTRY

The two flanking sides of the plinth are inscribed with the words DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI arranged in a circle. The rear face has an attached metal ‘screaming eagle’ emblem, and below the incised dates 1942 -1944.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Online. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 27 February 2018.

Sources

Books and journals
Valentine, I, Station 43: Audley End House and SOE’s Polish Section, (2010)
Websites
UK Inventory of War Memorials , accessed 10 October 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/56163
War Memorials Online, accessed 27 February 2018 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/175895

End of official listing