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Polish victims of Katyn massacre remembered in moving ceremony

More than 400 people gathered in Gunnersbury Cemetery to pay their respects to the estimated 22,000 people killed in the atrocity

Relatives of those killed in the Katyn massacre, which claimed the lives of an estimated 22,000 Polish prisoners during the Second World War, were among those who gathered for a moving ceremony on the 75th anniversary of the atrocity.

More than 400 people attended the commemorative service in Gunnersbury Cemetery, on the borders of Chiswick and Acton, on Sunday (April 26).

Polish ambassador Witold Sobkow and Jadwiga Kaczorowska, the daughter of last Polish president in exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski, joined other dignitaries, veterans, scouts and schoolchildren to pay their respects at the foot of the cemetery's black granite obelisk Katyn memorial.

The ceremony, organised by the Polish Ex-Combatants' Association, followed a service at the Roman Catholic Church of St Andrew Bobola, in Leysfield Road, Shepherd's Bush, that morning.

Patryk Malinski, who attended the ceremony, said: "It was a very solemn day. There were British and Polish flags, uniting the two nations, and it was nice to see Hounslow mayor Corinna Smart there, along with the mayors of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea.

"It was also good to see so many young faces there, on whom we rely on to keep the tradition going."

A total of 22,000 Polish captives are estimated to have been shot by the Soviet Union's secret police on Stalin's orders during April and May 1940.

The massacre takes its name from the forest in modern day Russia where in 1943 a mass grave containing the bodies of many of those killed was discovered.

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