Residents of Duns in the Scottish Borders have honoured the Polish 1st Armoured Division, 80 years after it was formed. A ceremony, which involved the laying of wreaths, was held at the Polish War Memorial in the town.

Quite a few Polish soldiers were stationed around the Borders during the Second World War. Many of them came straight to Scotland to form brand new regiments before they were shipped off to the front lines in mainland Europe. Duns itself was at the very core of the 1st Armoured Division, a regiment of the Polish Army, who were trained in the UK. The first Polish soldiers arrived in Duns in 1941 and there was still a Polish presence in 1944.

Some 127 men serving in the first and second Armoured Divisions died during the conflict, and all of them are remembered at the town’s war memorial. Also honoured in Duns is Wojtek, a Syrian brown bear with a long and involved history in the Polish Army. His contributions to the Armed Forces, mostly in the transportation of cargo, meant he became quite the celebrity of his time. He had spent some time near Duns, and lived out his final years at Edinburgh Zoo, hence the statue honouring him.

On 26 February, locals gathered at the Polish War Memorial. The event had been organised by Kazimierz Wróblewski, Scottish representative of the association of families. Wreaths were also laid by George Romanes, Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Renata Wasilewska-Mazur, Deputy Polish Consul for Scotland, and Tommy Dunse, Standard Bearer for the Legion Scotland branch in Duns.