The officers died alongside General Wladyslaw Sikorski, then Poland’s prime minister and military commander, when his RAF Liberator plunged into the sea shortly after taking off from Gibraltar in July 1943.
The Ministry of Defence have approved the removal of the bodies from the Polish military cemetery in Newark, Nottinghamshire, early next month. They will then transport the remains to Poland with full military honours for a post mortem.
Although a wartime British inquiry deemed the crash an accident, Sikorski’s death has long been the subject of enduring and colourful conspiracy theories, which claim that the general died at the hands of Stalin’s assassins, or even British agents working under the orders of Churchill.
Rumours and speculation long maintained that the Liberator’s passengers may have been killed before the aircraft took off, or even that the aircraft may have carried a cargo of dead British soldiers dressed in Polish uniforms.
In an attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery, last year investigators carried out a post mortem on Sikorski’s remains which confirmed they were those of the general and that he had died from "trauma to internal organs caused by an accident".
Investigators now want to see if the other Poles suffered similar injuries.
"We expect the results to match those of General Sikorski but we have to exhaust all lines of inquiry and check all the evidence," said Ewa Koj from Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, the body charged with investigating crimes committed during the war and under communism.
But while officials have discarded the theory that the general and his colleagues were killed before the Liberator took off, they have still refused to rule out the possibility that the aircraft may have succumbed to sabotage.
Conspiracy theorists claim that both Stalin, and possibly Churchill, wanted Sikorski dead because he represented an awkward impediment to good relations between the two allies. The general had broken off diplomatic relations with Moscow after the revelation that Stalin had ordered the murder of thousands of Polish POWs in 1940, and the Pole’s insistence on a free and independent Poland troubled Anglo-Soviet relations.
Sceptics of the official explanation of the crash also point out that notorious double agent Kim Philby was head of MI5 for the Iberian Peninsula at the time.
By Matthew Day in Warsaw
25 Nov 2010