An appeal by a Polish reader of The Buteman looking for the Rothesay grave of one of his countrymen has reached a successful conclusion - with the help of a member of Argyll and Bute Council’s environmental services team.
Ross McLaughlin contacted us after reading an article on The Buteman’s website in which we reported an appeal from Wiesław Hernacki for information about the grave of Mieczysław Paluch, who died in the town in 1942.
Ross was quickly able to point us towards the correct gravestone, one of a dozen in Rothesay cemetery marking the final resting places of members of the Polish forces who died on Bute during the Second World War.
Some six hundred Polish officers arrived on Bute in July 1940, though a cloud of mystery has always surrounded their circumstances. The 2005 book Bute’s War, written by Jess Sandeman and telling the story of the island’s involvement in the conflict, says: “They mostly seemed to be from the aristocracy, with several high-ranking army officers in the group.
“Impeccable in uniform and with immaculate manners, they were a great success with the ladies. Many were keen chess and bridge players, accomplished singers and pianists.
“One story was that they were ex-government ministers, but on the other hand it was rumoured that they were expected to be the leaders of a new government in their own country once peace was declared, and had been sent to Bute for their safety.”