As I said, many Britons are under the impression that we're 'historical special friends' with Poland due to WW2, whereas Poles are often quite strident in the opinion that we're not.
CasualObserver, I think you're wrong. I would say Poles have a special affection for the UK due to it's role during the World War II. Since the fall of France the Polish government-in-exile was based in London and Great Britain was the only country where Poles could find safe haven and continue to fight Nazi Germany (since I wouldn't call the Soviet Union an exactly "safe haven", if you know what I mean). So there is definitely a positive sentiment.
That doesn't mean, however, that those same Poles who recognise Britain's role and have this positive sentiment won't mention "the Western betrayal" or "the Phoney War". Those are elements of the same reality and not two realities that exclude each other :)
I suppose I'd also make the case for Poles taking more trouble to find out about and understand British historical perspectives and attitudes, especially if migrating there, as I get the impression that many have a narrow or limited view of the UK
Oh, the same can be said about the British (or Westerners in general) migrating to Poland :)
(blame the Commies, I suppose). I had a conversation with a group of well-educated Poles of varying ages, earlier this year, when this subject came up, and they were totally surprised to hear of the Marshall Plan and that Britain was essentially bankrupted by WW2 and lost virtually everything (including quite a few destroyed cities), that food rationing continued until the mid 1950s, and bomb damage existed in some places until the 1980s. I think they thought maybe it was like Las Vegas from 1945 onwards ;)
I think the Marshall Plan is a rather basic knowledge, although maybe it's mainly talked about in reference to Germany. Poland didn't take part in the Marshall Plan so perhaps there isn't (or wasn't) much focus on it at history classes. Probably just some general info.
As for Britain's situation probably most people (average Poles) know some basic facts, like that the UK was bombed by the Nazis, that there was Battle of Britain (and that Poles took part in it), that Chamberlain sucked ass and Churchill was cool, stuff like that :)
It's the same with average British people and their knowledge about what was going on in Poland during and after the war, I can imagine. I suspect they know even less than Poles about the UK. For an average British person it's most likely something in the lines of "The World War II started when Hitler attacked Poland and... and... Oh! I know! Auschwitz was in Poland, wasn't it?" And that's probably it ;)
But I have yet to meet a Pole (and I think I can add you to this list?) who seems capable of accepting any validity in the general British view. As someone said above, you seem to think it;s just a propaganda myth that we arrogantly delude ourselves with, rather than it might actually have some merit as a valid point of view.
What is this "general British view" and "propaganda myth" that you're talking about? I'm sorry, I just didn't get it from the discussion in this thread.
Naturally, the truth lies somewhere inbetween, but i do feel that the avergae Briton is more likely to budge towards that centre-ground than the average Pole ;)
To be honest, I doubt that you've discussed with enough Poles to be able to say what an average Pole is more likely to do or not ;)
I've discussed history with people of different nationalities and observed discussions of others and I've noticed that every country has it's own point of view, their own bias in looking at history, their own myths, justifications, etc. etc. And sometimes quite shocking misconceptions, like, for example, one Scot who suggested here on these very forums that Hitler decided to build death camps (or concentration camps in general, I don't remember) in Poland because... Poles were so anti-Semitic.
Of course, I would say that the way history was taught in communistic countries (and even more so in the Soviet Union) had very particular flaws but I have an impression that Westerners aren't free from bias when looking at their own history (or history of other countries) and sometimes their view of historical events can be pretty skewed.
I think that it also depends on what's your attitude to Poles/Poland/Polish history, as L777 mentioned. If you're going to be friendly a Pole will probably start talking about the Battle of Britain and what great brothers in arms we were or something of this sort lol But if you come across as a jerk he may start with "the Western betrayal", etc.
It also depends on the Pole too, naturally - some people can be objective, others - not really.
There's also another factor to all of this, I suspect. You've mentioned that you had three people begin such conversation. I think it may be also partly due to the strain that Polish immigration to the UK brought onto Polish-British relations. Poles think (I'm generalising here, of course) that the British view them as a threat to their jobs, a nuisance and that they look down on Poles (and Poland). It doesn't generate warm feelings, I can imagine, and thus, maybe, such sharp reactions. Of course I'm just guessing here, but the English did lose the most from all the nationalities in the latest CBOS poll (the number of people who like the English went down from 47% to 43% and those who dislike the English gained 5% - now it's 20%), so they did "lose out" more on the whole despite the fact that the Russians got the biggest fall in the "like" percentage. Data from CBOS poll nr 20/2014 "The Attitudes of Poles to Other Nations":
Ranking the most popular of nations once again opens the Czechs, every second Pole (50% of the declarations of sympathy) has a positive attitude towards them, behind them the Italians (48%), Slovaks (47%), Hispanic (46%), Irish (46% ). The least liked are Gypsies (55% declaration of aversion) and Romanian (45%).
However, English people are still in the top 10 of Poles' most favourite nationalities (on the 9th place, I think - in 2012 they were on 4th place).