A CAMPAIGN has been launched to preserve a plaque celebrating the friendship forged between Poland and Portsmouth during the Second World War.
Polish pensioner Wojciech Grzeskowiak is on a mission to find a new home for the treasured metal shield, which was presented to the city after the war.
It is believed the artefact was crafted by the Polish Navy – who had vessels based in the Solent during the war – and handed Portsmouth City Council in 1947.
But Mr Grzeskowiak said the shield came into the possession of his late uncle, Antony Jankowski, a prominent priest serving Hampshire’s Polish community, in the 1960s or 70s.
Since then it has remained a treasured family heirloom but one he is now eager to now return to the city for prosperity’s sake.
Retired Mr Grzeskowiak, of Anglesey Road, Alverstoke, said: ‘The Polish navy left this as a gift for Portsmouth when they left the city. It deserves to be returned.
‘The plaque had been left in a store room at the council until it was given to my uncle. He was obviously very proud of the plaque and he kept it in his study in Southampton.
‘I want to make sure it isn’t forgotten so I would love to present it to a museum.’
Five Polish ships are recorded to have served with the Royal Navy during the war, with four of the vessels operating from Portsmouth.
Among them included the destroyer Blyskawica, which valiantly helped to defend the area during the Blizt, blasting Nazi warplanes out of the sky.
The vessel stopped in Portsmouth on several occasions for repairs, including a major refit in May, 1942. She is now preserved as a floating museum in Gdynia, Poland.
Mr Grzeskowiak hoped the plaque could be looked after by Portsmouth City Museum.
Andrew Whitmarsh, from the museum, said he’d be ‘interested in it’ but ‘couldn’t guarantee’ it would be accepted. He said: ‘People offer items to the museum quite regularly. We like to have an initial conversation and then see the item in person.
‘People often offer items that would be more appropriate for other museums.
‘We're always happy to help someone ensure an item is placed in the right museum.’