NEXT weekend will be Spitfire Saturday in Worcester when a full size replica of a Supermarine model takes centre stage in Cathedral Plaza, along with the recovered remains of a Polish-flown Spitfire which caught fire and crashed near Malvern in May, 1941.

These exhibits will be just part of special Polish Heritage Day to celebrate the history of Polish Communities in Worcester and pay tribute to the Polish pilots who flew, and died, with the RAF during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War.

As well as the military hardware there will be a 22ft long street barbecue of Polish food, a display of classic Polish cars, events and activities for children and a live auction of historic items linked to WW2 and the Battle of Britain. Belgian TV will be there and visitors will be able to meet and speak with event organisers and sponsors in a reception area.

The day will be opened by Worcester’s Mayor Councillor Jabba Riaz and is being supported by Worcester’s Spitfire expert and author Dilip Sarkar. It is being co-ordinated by Tom Wisniewski, director of Worcester Polish Association and former member of the Polish Army’s Special Forces.

The Spitfire on display in Worcester will be MK805, which has taken a team of enthusiasts led by Terry Arlow more than 25 years to restore, using copies of the original Spitfire drawings and around 75 per cent of the original parts. It was first built by Vickers Armstrong at its Castle Bromwich works in March 1944 and entered service on July 5, 1944 with 64 Fighter Squadron, However on September 27 after carrying out a mission escorting Halifaxes bombing the oil plant at Bottrop in Germany, it's engine seized up over the North Sea, having apparently collected some flak while over the target.

The pilot /Lt. Anthony (Tony) Cooper was able to glide back into Belgium and land in a ploughed field, four miles inside the Allied lines at Moerbeke unhurt. Eventually, MK805 was collected and returned to England, where it was made airworthy again and, after a period of time, put back into service; this time in the Italian theatre of war. However, MK805 never flew again on an operational sortie and retired after the conflict to a plinth on which it guarded the entrance of an Italian firing range at Nettuno.

There it was later discovered by a group of enthusiasts and after thousands of hours of patient and dedicated engineering has been completely restored.

The Spitfire which crashed near Malvern, parts of which will be on display in The Old Palace, Deansway during Spitfire Saturday, was researched by the Malvern Spitfire Team, who excavated the crash site in Jennet Tree Lane.

The pilot was Flying Officer Franek Surma of 308 ‘City of Krakow’ Squadron, who had baled out of Spitfire R6644 over Madresfield owing to an engine fire. The team located the crash site, interviewed eye-witnesses, and confirmed that Surma – an ace – was shot down over the French coast six months later and remained missing.

Dilip Sarkar, a founder member of MST and author of “The Invisible Thread: A Spitfire’s Tale”, which recounts the Surma and R6644 story, explained: “We decided because Surma was missing, it would be appropriate to remember him through a small memorial cairn at the roadside. In September 1987, following months of publicity, the excavation took place at a public event organised to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. Thousands of people attended, and that afternoon Polish Battle of Britain pilots Squadron Leaders ‘Gandy’ Drobinski DFC and Ludwik Martel unveiled our memorial, which remains the only such tribute to an individual Polish fighter pilot in the UK.

“The following year our exhibition, telling the story of Surma and R6644 opened at Tudor House Museum, Worcester, attracting 10,000 visitors in just three months. Thereafter this became a travelling exhibition, ‘Spitfire!’, enjoyed by countless people nationwide.”