Blackshaw Moor Camp Staffordshire

 
 

Blackshaw Moor Polish Camp was home to Polish soldiers and their families from 1946 to 1964. Today the site where the camp once stood is a Caravan Club site.

 

The Caravan Club has very kindly funded the erection of a granite plaque commemorating the Polish people who were unable to return to their homes in Poland and for whom this place became a temporary home after the war.

 

 

A Commemorative Plaque was unveiled on the 15th of September 2015 on the former site of Camp 1

 

 

A 30 page booklet with information and over 40 photos has been published for the occasion.

Available from Blackshaw Moor Caravan club

Picture Book in Leek

Email zosia@northwickparkpolishdpcamp.co.uk

 

Blackshaw Moor Polish Camp in North Staffordshire was located on the A53 between Leek and Buxton. In 1943 it was a transit camp and home to the 565th US Anti Aircraft Battalion then, in 1946 after the Americans  moved out,  the camp was taken over by Polish troops  returning from Italy and other battlefields of  Europe. Men and women who served in the Allied Armed Forces under British command, unable to return to their homeland, made their homes in the abandoned ex American camps. The camps where  run by the N.S.H.C. (National Service Hostels Corporation) on the behalf of the National Assistance Board. There were four camps clustered around the Blacksaw Moor area. From all accounts, number 4 camp located north of Leek past Solomon's Hollow, was the administrative centre for the allocation of barracks to the returning soldiers and their families. It was also used as a transit camp for families awaiting accommodation in one of the three other camps. Camps 1, 2 and 3 were  located around the Three Horse Shoes Inn.  In the early 50s Camp 4 was vacated to make way for an MOD army training camp.

 

A group of Polish soldiers from the 2nd Corps - Winter 1947

Stanisław and Jan Kapusta with Wojciech Iciek.

 

From soldiers to civilians 1948 Blackshaw Moor Camp football team.

The camp's football team - 1948

In training on the camps pitch, with referee Mr. W. Dziurdzik

 

The heart of the community was in  camp no.1, it included a nursery school, shop, clubhouse and, most importantly, a chapel . Most of the camp's activities revolved around the chapel and clubhouse, these where housed in two large steel nissen huts in the centre of the camp. The barracks in which families were housed had a concrete skeleton with walls made out of some sort of weather proofed plaster board.  They were in clumps of four located mostly around the perimeter of the camp with strategically placed communal  toilets and wash rooms

 

BLACKSHAW MOOR

Map showing camps 1and 2

 

Most Poles are Roman Catholics, and  it is their faith that helped them to overcome the war, exile and  years in the wilderness. They came to the camps as total strangers and from every walk of life. With the help of  their priests new bonds and communities were created. Every camp became a little Poland, teaching Polish history and language and passing on traditions to the younger generation.

 

Fr. Pawel Sargiewicz with and angelic Zbyszek Hryciuk 1954

Fr. Paweł Sargiewicz

 

Fr. Paweł Sargiewicz like many priests during WW2  was imprisoned by the soviets and later deported to Siberia. In 1942, after Russia found itself part of the anti Hitler alliance, he joined General Anders' 2 corps and became army Chaplin to the troops. He took part in the Italian campaign and was at Monte Cassino, his war effort was recognised both by the church and the army giving him honours and medals. He came to Blackshaw Moor camp in 1946 with the Polish 2 corps from Italy and here he stayed taking on the role of Polish Parish Priest for the families living in the camp and surrounding area reaching as far as Stoke on Trent. He was much loved by his parishioners, having gone through the same hell as they, he understood their fears and anxieties.  Fr Sargiewicz died on 1/9/1967 in a car accident and is buried in the family grave with his parents in Białystok  Poland.

Fr. Paweł Sargiewicz as a young Priest

 

One of the corrugated nissen huts was transformed into a light and airy chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Częstochowa, were Sunday Masses, evening services, christenings, and funerals took place. There was always a big celebration when the camp's children made their First Communion.  All marriages took place in Leek

 

First Communion in the camps' chapel

Inside the new Chapel

 

First Holy Communion 1954

 

Janusz Dziurdzik, Ryszard Widelski, Stanisław Kapusta, Tadeusz Łazowski, Maria Żurek, Anna Stępek, Barbara Hryciuk, Unknown, Krystyna Kapusta, Ryszard Milaszkiewicz, Zbigniew Hryciuk, Henryk Minorczyk, Unknown

 

  The nissen hut in the background was the camps' chapel

 

1952  Christening of twins Danuta and Genowefa Kapusta with godparents   Mr. Żurek, Mrs. Dziurdzik, Mr. Dziurdzik and Mrs. Kwartnik

 

CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION

 

Every year on the Sunday following Corpus Christi, which falls on a Thursday. From early morning there was a buzz in the camp as  people set about building the four altars in different parts of the camp and decorating them with holy pictures and flowers in readiness for the procession. Although the Corpus Christi celebration is exclusively a religious occasion it is always well attended by young and old

 
It is an exciting day for the younger members of the community, little girls all dressed  up in white scattering  flower petals along the path of the procession  and the older girls dressed  in traditional Polish costumes carrying banners
 

Photos from various years.

 
 

Outside the chapel getting ready for Corpus Christy Procession in 1963 are Teresa Krzywicka, Danuta Hryciuk, and Krystyna Hermit,

1963 Fr. P Sargiewicz after the procession

 

Procession winding it's way through the camp past the huts people lived in.

Early 1950s.

 

1953 Fr P. Sargiewicz with parents and children.

Parishioners and children after Corpus Christi Procession  with Fr, Sargiewicz 1958

 

 Visitations to the camp by Ks. Infułat B.Michalski

 

In the 50s Ks. Infułat B. Michalski from the Polish Catholic Mission in London visited most of the Polish Displaced Persons Camps in the UK. In 1956  people in Blackshaw Moor camp welcomed their spiritual leader, there was a concelebrated  Mass attended by many  Polish and English priests and a  procession around the camp,

.

Procession passing the "Welcome gate" you can just see Kś. Michalski's mitre  above the welcoming crowd.

Polish clergy from the North West attended the ceremony

 
Thank you to Zbyszek Hryciuk for the information and photos.
 

Continue NEXT PAGE Zbyszek Hryciuk memories and photos.

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