• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland


  • NEWS

  • 15 December 2018

    Saturday, 15th December 2018 saw the ceremony of the Polish School in Oxford receiving the patronage of General Alfons Maćkowiak, aka Alan Mack, a Polish Second World War veteran of Operation Market Garden, a legendary instructor of the Silent Unseen at Station 43 in Audley End House and Gardens, and a long-time coach at the Oxford University Athletics Club (OUAC).


    The naming ceremony took place to recognise the important role Gen Maćkowiak played in the history of Oxford, with his methods of coaching inspiring generations of athletes and helping them achieve sporting success from 1964 to 1989. 


    Among the guests were Ambassador of Poland Arkady Rzegocki, Deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford Cllr Sajjad Malik, representatives of the Polish Armed Forces, Chair of the Polish Educational Society Krystyna Olliffe, family members and friends of General Maćkowiak and Silent Unseen, Tadeusz Kobyliński, as well as the school’s teachers and students.


    Speaking at the event, Ambassador Rzegocki said: “I am absolutely delighted that we can recognise General Maćkowiak's influence on Oxford by naming this school after him. I hope that the patronage will remind future generations of this remarkable person, a Polish war hero, who became a hero of the young people, inspiring them to achieve great things in life."


    Alfons Maćkowiak was born on 29th March 1916. After serving in the artillery in September 1939 following the German invasion of Poland, he escaped from Soviet capture and was reunited with Polish forces in the French campaign in June 1940. After the fall of France, he again escaped from captivity, reaching the UK via Vichy France and Spain, and being recruited into the Special Operations Executive, latterly as an instructor to the Cichociemni (“The Silent Unseen”). In September 1944, Maćkowiak took part in Operation Market Garden as part of the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade.


    After the war, Maćkowiak settled in the United Kingdom. He taught physical education at Bishop's Stortford College, and then, from 1964 to 1989, he was a coach at the OUAC, where he trained generations of athletes, leading them to numerous victories in varsity matches against Cambridge University Athletics Club. He was also actively involved in social work at the Polish Social and Cultural Centre (POSK) in London.


    Alfons Maćkowiak died on 31st January 2017. He was posthumously promoted to the brigadier general rank by President of Poland Andrzej Duda. In June this year, a special plaque was unveiled at the Oxford University Sports Centre to honour the general’s army career and his contribution to British athletics.


    Polish Embassy Press Office


    Print Print Share: