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    The story of one photograph

    The Institute of National Remembrance, with the help of Internet users, determined the data of a young woman from an archival photograph, which was published on social media. ‘We know that she served in the Polish Armed Forces in the West,’ said Adam Stefan Lewandowski from the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN). The admin of the Facebook page ‘World War II in Color’ discovered that it was Maria Barr, a Polish woman from Grodno, who was only 20 years old when the photo was taken.

    – The photo was found with a Facebook post on the Institute of National Remembrance’s page for Women’s Day. We recalled the role of Polish women in the fight for Poland’s independence in the 20th century. Our post was illustrated with several photographs from the IPN Archives, including one depicting our ‘unknown heroine’ – said Adam Stefan Lewandowski of the Institute of National Remembrance. 


    The Institute asked for help in identifying the person immortalized in the photograph, who was sent to the IPN Archives from the Military Information Services (WSI), on Monday (8 Mar 2021) by publishing a post on this matter on Facebook account. The photo comes from the folder entitled ‘Polish Armed Forces in the West’. 


    ‘We decided to find out the story of a stranger girl photographed over 70 years ago on an English street. We would like to find out whether she remained in exile or perhaps returned to her war-ravaged homeland, where Stalinist terror was rampant for good,’ was written in the post.


    ‘The girl in the photo is Polish, Maria Barr, wife of Squadron Leader Philip Rex Barr, Commander of the 107thRAF (Royal Air Force) Aerial Warfare Force,’ was written on ‘World War II in Color’ page on Facebook on Tuesday (16 Mar 2021). 


    ‘Maria came from Grodno, her father was a colonel in the Polish Army (I have some suspicions that it might have been Benedykt Chłusewicz),’ it was written. 


    ‘Philip Barr was lost over Belgium in 1942 and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). The decoration was received by his wife Maria. The photograph was taken on 8 June 1943 after the presentation of the orders by King George VI to the families of the fallen. She was 20 years old at the time this photo was taken,’ admin added.


    Maria died in 2018 at the age of 95 in England. 


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