Object of the Month

Field glasses retrieved by James Phillips from General Sikorski’s plane.

General Wladyslaw Sikorski, was the leader of Poland’s wartime government in exile, he died when his plane plunged into the sea off Gibraltar in 1943, killing all onboard except the pilot.

The general’s death has attracted a swarm of conspiracy theories, which variously accuse British, Soviet and even rival Polish factions of orchestrating his murder.

A British inquiry in 1943 found that the crash was caused by the plane’s controls jamming. But rumours persist of a plot to kill Gen Sikorski, whose defence of the Polish national cause threatened to derail Britain’s relationship with the Soviet Union.

Sikorski’s body was originally buried in a Polish war cemetery in Nottinghamshire but was repatriated in 1993. Huge crowds lined the streets of Krakow, where he was given a national hero’s burial.

In 2009 forensic tests on the exhumed body of Poland’s wartime leader, General Wladyslaw Sikorski, who died in a mysterious plane crash in 1943, found no indications that he was assassinated.

So behind, what appears to be an ordinary pair of field glasses, there is an interesting story.

James Phillips’ family lived in Thame and James was mentioned in Dispatches in the London Gazette 14th June 1945.

Did You Know ? – Field glasses have no internal prisms that can be knocked out of alignment so their main advantage is that they are durable, making them a good choice for combative outdoor pursuits. They use both the objective lens (the large lens which captures light initially) and a second lens inside each tube, which inverts and reverses the image to make it appear the right way up. However, field glasses can only magnify an image by five times at best. The increase in size and weight needed to increase their top end magnification would make them far too impractical to use.