Johnstone History Museum
Johnstone History Society • Scotland

24th Polish Lancers Played Role in WWII Defence
With regards to the 24th Polish Lancers based at Johnstone Castle, a Polish veteran Stanley Osuchowski remembered that whilst there they did not enough vehicles, so three cream and black coloured civilian single decker buses were provided for them, the drivers having to get used to the the right hand controls.

One story worth recounting is that on the night of Wednesday, 14th August 1940, just after midnight a single German aircraft was reported over Lochwinnoch. It flew north to Dumbarton before returning south over Johnstone and was finally plotted over Galston at 0028 hrs.

Almost immediately reports came in to the Home Guard that parachutists had landed on Eaglesham Moor. As one officer noted "Subsequent action by various units left something to be desired". Garrison troops in Renfrewshire were the 24th Polish Lancers and their reaction to the incident was described by one observer as being "too keen".

The plane had been carrying cases of maps, wireless transmitters and various instructions to imaginary agents. According to the German High Command war diary, "We dropped pack assemblies in order to feign a parachute landing, which caused great excitement in the British press". Hysteria about the supposed existence of a widespread fifth column reached fever pitch.

When the 24th Polish Lancers left Johnstone for the East Coast of Scotland they left behind a large shield shaped red stone, on which was inscribed "Polska - Poland" and the date 1940, together with a Polish Eagle with a map of Poland across its breast. Also at the bottom was a P.H. 24 cypher, which stood for 24 Pulk Uhlan, Polish for the 24th Polish Lancers. This stone was placed in the grounds near the Castle, and has now been sadly lost. It has in the past by other historians been wrongly described as a gravestone, which it wasn't, being simply a reminder of those soldiers of the 24th Polish Lancers who served there.
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