Here at Solent we are often so busy working on the next project that we forget to stop and really take in what we have achieved. So, we are trying to make time to look at the things we have been working on lately, one of them being commissioned to produce the recent O.R.P Blyskawica programme.
This warship has a special relationship with the Isle of Wight, having originally been built here when, in 1935, JS White shipbuilders and engineers of Cowes, , won an order from the Polish Navy for a new class of destroyer, the ‘Grom’ Class against the stiffest international competition. They built ORP Grom and ORP Błyskawica (in English: Thunder and Lightning).
In the spring of 1942, ORP Błyskawica had returned to Cowes for a refit and was anchored just upstream from the chain ferry, facing north. Overnight on the 4-5 May 1942, during WW2, the Luftwaffe carried out a ferocious aerial attack on Cowes using some 160 fighter bombers in two raids. Fortunately for the town, the Polish Destroyer ORP Blyskawica was still armed (against Admiralty regulations). That night, the Blyskawica crew put up an impressive defence of the town and their ship throughout the raids. The intensity of her gunfire, coupled with a smokescreen laid across the town, dramatically reduced the effectiveness of the raid. Over 70 people died and all of Cowes and East Cowes firmly believe that except for the fierce resistance of the Polish sailors, the damage to lives, property and factories would have been far greater.
2017 marks the 75th Anniversary of this event and the great warship. The vessel is now a preserved museum ship in the Polish Navy and held in as much regard as we hold the HMS Victory. Cowes celebrated the anniversary with a week long programme of events including concerts, historical talks and exhibitions.
We were very pleased to be asked to work on the official leaflet that accompanied all the celebrations. We love all our work but when it marks a bit of the Isle of Wights history, it makes it that bit extra special.