The words ‘Thank you’ just don’t seem to do justice to how much we owe Richard and all other veterans who have fought for this country and their own

Lt Duncan Napier

The two ship traded shells for a good hour – without either side scoring a hit. When Bismarck’s shells landed just 20 yards away, the destroyer decided to break off the action.

Mr Polanski was subsequently assigned to destroyer ORP Kukawiak on Malta convoy duties running the gauntlet of Axis air and sea attacks. Her luck ran out in June 1942 when she hit a mine near Malta and sank with the loss of 13 crew.

He would have been drafted to the destroyer Orkan but bad weather prevented him joining her by transfer. A few days later she was torpedoed on convoy duties in the Atlantic; three quarters of her crew were killed.

At the war’s end, the Pole found he could not safely return home; his birthplace Lvov was now in the Ukraine while Communists had taken charge of Poland – relatives warned Richard that he would be shot if he set foot back in the country.

Instead, he met Joyce Burns Rosie in Glasgow, and settled down with her in Scotland.

Seventy years later, and the Polish-born Scot is a very active member of the RBL – so active that he’s due to fly to Australia later this month to take part in the country’s ANZAC Day commemorations.

Example’s crew decided the veteran needed some appropriate headgear, so before leaving Mr Polanski was presented with a beret and cap badge.

“The words ‘Thank you’ just don’t seem to do justice to how much we owe Richard and all other veterans who have fought for this country and their own,” said Example’s CO Lt Duncan Napier.

“His story is a unique one, demonstrating the bravery and sacrifice he and many others made during the dark days of the 1940s.

“I’m glad we could put a smile on his face by presenting him with a small token of appreciation from the Royal Navy.”

OC Emma added: “The importance of recognising Mr Polanksi’s service cannot be overstated and we were honoured to be a part of the events recognising his service during the war.”

After the presentation on the ship, a reception was held ashore in honour of Richard and his family, organised by the RBL and the local council, to which Example’s crew and students were invited.