During WWII, many Polish troops were evacuated to Scotland. In the summer of 1940 several thousand soldiers were sent to Biggar and surrounds to train to fight against Nazi Germany. One such training area was Tinto hill.
As you can imagine the arrival of the Poles livened up the whole area. They received a warm welcome from the people of Upper Clydesdale as they made new friends with the locals. These bonds endured long after the troops left Biggar in October 1940 when they were moved to the East coast to help defend Scotland against possible invasion.
The 1st Polish Rifle Brigade formed in Biggar under the command of General Gustaw Paszkiewicz. The old Biggar primary school serving as their headquarters.
Notable visitors came to inspect the troops including HRH the Duke of Kent and General Wladyslaw Sikorski, the Prime Minister of the Polish Government in exile and the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish armed forces.
The strong military presence and defences, including barricades at either end of the town, provided the local people with a sense of security. The locals were keen to show their gratitude and often invited the soldiers into their own homes offering them baths, clean clothes, cups of tea & friendship.
Some of the soldiers formed such strong relationships during their stay in Upper Clydesdale that they later returned to the area and married local women. Others sadly did not survive the war.