Scot directs new film on WW2 Polish fighters

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

  • Published
HurricaneImage source, Hurricane
Image caption,
The film stars Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones fame

A Scottish filmmaker has directed a new film about a squadron of Polish pilots who fought alongside the RAF at the Battle of Britain in World War Two.

Hurricane is Johnstone-born David Blair's first war feature.

Starring Iwan Rheon of Game of Thrones fame, the film is about fliers who fought Nazi Germany after escaping to Britain from occupied Poland.

Flying Hurricane fighters for the RAF, they became a key component in the story of The Few.

Blair, who now lives near Moniaive in Dumfriesshire, said that while making the film he was struck by the Poles' self-sacrifice.

He said: "I knew there had been Poles - amongst others, from around the world - serving in the British armed forces during World War Two but that was about it.

"As I was growing up, there was little inclination in history lessons to point up the contribution made by 'foreigners' to our war effort."

Directing Hurricane, Blair said he learned of the exploits of Poles and service personnel from other parts of the world in Britain's war-time activities.

He said: "It's one thing to fight for a cause in a far away land but to do so while all sorts of horrors are taking place back home - of which you have only scant information - made the story heart-breaking - but irresistible too.

"What was taking place in Poland no doubt acted as a spur and incentive for the men to keep going."

Image source, Hurricane
Image caption,
Hurricane tells the story of Poles who flew fighters for the RAF

Blair added: "The contemporary angle also appealed. These men were instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain yet in time-honoured English tradition, the majority of the population wanted them deported after the war - once they'd fulfilled their usefulness.

"Not unlike what we're trying to do today with our catastrophic approach to immigration, the Windrush generation and so on."

Blair is known for "gritty realism" film and television dramas, and has regularly worked with Liverpool-born writer and producer Jimmy McGovern, including directing his TV series Accused.

"It's always good to step into an unfamiliar genre," said Blair.

Image source, Hurricane
Image caption,
The new film is Blair's first involving a war-time story

"A bit like actors, directors can get 'type-cast' to an extent too.

"I'm always interested in tackling something that veers off the normal path and highlighting the contribution of these particular men in the RAF makes it a war story 'with a difference'."

Made by Rakuten Cinema in partnership with Kaleidoscope Entertainment, Hurricane is to be released in UK cinemas in September.

Battle of Britain: July to October 1940

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Hurricanes taking off from Gravesend in Kent during the Battle of Britain in September 1940
  • The Battle of Britain was a pivotal moment in WW2 when the country stood alone against Hitler's seemingly unstoppable military power
  • In July 1940 the RAF deployed 640 planes, although more were available, and aircraft production was subsequently ramped up
  • The Luftwaffe could call upon 2,600 fighters and bombers
  • Nearly 3,000 aircrew served with RAF Fighter Command during the battle
  • The average age of a pilot was 20 years old
  • 20% of the pilots were from the British Dominions, and occupied European or neutral countries
  • The RAF lost 1,023 planes and the Luftwaffe lost 1,887 planes in the battle