Peking Plan, 1939

Błyskawica leads Grom and Burza en route to Scotland during the Peking Plan. Polish Navy photo.


In August, 1939, it was becoming increasingly apparent that war was coming between Germany and Poland. The Polish Navy was badly outnumbered, and the commanders realized that they would face certain destruction in a stand-up fight with the Kriegsmarine. After the signing of the Polish-British Common Defence Pact on 26 August, arrangements were made to send the core of the Polish Navy to the UK, where they would assist the Royal Navy in the fight against Germany. Dubbed the Peking Plan, sealed orders were delivered to the ships' captains, and confirmed by a radio message on the 29th of August. The destroyers Grom, Burza, and Błyskawica departed, and made their way through the Baltic. They encountered a German flotilla during the night of the 30th, while in the strait between Denmark and Sweden, but no peacetime combat took place. The following day the Poles were shadowed by German aircraft, and they headed for Norway to shake them off. The next morning brought news of the German invasion, followed by a rendezvous with British destroyers, which escorted them into Scotland. All three destroyers went on to take an active part in the War. Grom was sunk off Norway, but Błyskawica and Burza both survived the War.