The Cichociemni: The Polish ‘Silent Unseen’

26 September 2021

The Cichociemni: The Polish ‘Silent Unseen’

Discover the fascinating story of the Cichociemni, the elite Polish 'Silent Unseen', who trained in Britain and led the resistance in occupied Poland during the Second World War.
General Władysław Sikorski (left) decorating an officer at the Cichociemni training centre at Audley End

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Description

The Cichociemni, or ‘the Silent Unseen’, were elite special troops serving in the exiled Polish Army. The organisation was formed in Britain during the Second World War and members underwent rigorous and extensive training before heading to occupied Poland to lead the resistance.

Members of the Cichociemni were trained across Britain, including at Beaulieu in Hampshire and at Audley End in Essex. Here, they trained in covert operations, sabotage and intelligence-gathering, as well as the many and various skills that would be useful in sustaining the ‘Underground’ State in Poland, actively participating in the armed struggle in Poland itself and in providing large quantities of valuable military intelligence for use in the other theatres of war in Europe.

Join a panel of experts, as they discuss this fascinating chapter in the shared history of Britain and Poland. In this special discussion, developed exclusively for the Chelsea History Festival, they will dwell on the experiences of the Cichociemni in Britain.

This event is curated by Ognisko Polskie (the Polish Hearth) and sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute.

About the panel

Andrew Hann is head of the historians team at English Heritage where he has worked since 2007. A historical geographer by training, he specialises in postmedieval history, particularly country houses and historic designed landscapes. He is also the English Heritage lead for external research engagement and manages the collaborative doctoral award programme. He has been researching Audley End since 2007.

After almost 20 years in the teaching profession, John Smith left a school headship and joined BBC Radio as a producer and commentator. He broadcast from major events throughout England and across Europe. On his retirement, he was invited by the late Lord Montagu of Beaulieu to create an exhibition honouring the men and women of the Special Operations Executive involved in agent training at Beaulieu during the Second World War. The Princess Royal opened the exhibition in 2005.

Marek Mrozek is a geophysicist by profession and is a trustee and director of the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in South Kensington, London. He has extensive knowledge of the Cichociemni and Polish history.

Clare Mulley is an award-winning author and broadcaster. Her first book, The Woman Who Saved the Children, won the Daily Mail Biographers’ Club Prize, and The Spy Who Loved led to Clare being decorated with Poland’s national honour, the Bene Merito. Clare’s third book, The Women Who Flew for Hitler, was long-listed for the Historic Writers Association Non-Fiction Crown.

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