This work examines the nature of the relationship between the British Government and the Polish Government-in-Exile, 1939-1945. The relationship was extremely difficult owing to the extremity of the time and the situations of the two governments. Before 1939 there had been little contact between Poland and Britain, however between 1939 and 1945 the two countries were joined in a common desire for the military defeat of Germany: this was virtually the only common goal that the two governments shared; Polish ambitions to see Poland restored to its pre-war frontiers were not shared with its major allies (Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union) after 1941.
The question of differing objectives caused friction between the Western allies, the Soviet Union and the Polish Government-in-Exile. The Polish Government-in-Exile failed to recognise its true position in the alliance: it was very much a junior partner - just another minor European power and irritant. A key problem in the relationship between the British Government and the Polish Government-in-Exile was bound up in the lack of democracy present in the latter. Between 1926 and 1939 Poland had been ruled by a military clique and the signs were that little had changed in the mindset of many Poles, especially those military officers who arrived in exile after 1939. This situation vexed the British Government, which sought to work with democratically minded Poles, but found this pool to be limited owing to the continuing political influence of the Polish military in exile. This attitude worsened as the war progressed until eventually the Polish Government-in-Exile lost any relevance in the war against Germany.
Evan McGilvray was born in August 1961 in Winchester, Hampshire. He is a graduate of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London (UCL). Following this he undertook post-graduate studies at the University of Bradford and the University of Leeds, where he researched the politics of the Polish Army from 1918 to date. He also taught at the two universities. Evan is quite happy to challenge the myths that Poles have created around the Polish Army and the role of Poland during the Second World War. He also has an interest in other militaries and their role in society - quite simply civil-military relations - Poland being one of the most interesting European examples. To relax he has learnt to ignore the rest of the world, and notes, "Despite what Poles think, I am not a Scot, only in name!"