ZBYSZEK HRYCIUK ONE OF THE FIRST to be BORN IN THE CAMP

 
My parents, Władysław and Władysława Hryciuk, came to Blackshaw Moor in the latter part of 1946 from southern Italy and were met by the cold and wet October weather. They were first housed at camp 4 but shortly moved into camp 1. The winter snows came early in January; as luck had it Mother went into labour with me. A foot of snow had fallen overnight so there was little chance of getting to a hospital.

Sgt. Maj. Polish Armoured Brigade Władyslaw Hryciuk with wife Władysława nee Romańska Italy 1945

My parents, sister Basia me and our next door neighbours 1947

 I was born in the first aid barrack at Camp 1. For a little lad, growing up in the beautiful countryside on the edge of today‚Äôs Peak Park, the setting was perfect. Lots of places to explore, let imagination run wild and pull legs and wings off "daddy longlegs" in the autumn. There were woods close by in which two pools were hidden. It was the ideal place for a spot of fishing or going on a picnic.

However, life for our parents was far from ideal. We were housed in family barracks i.e. one big one which had been divided into two. These were made of hardboard walls and asbestos roof on a concrete base and concrete skeleton. The living area consisted of a large family room containing a cooking range, where most of the daily activities took place; three bedrooms and a small room with cold running water and a scullery. Lino covered the floor so walking barefoot was not comfortable.

 

Toilet facilities were restricted to toilet blocks scattered around the camps. Our hut was on a hill above the other huts and in the summer when the water pressure was low I remember my mother having to carry  buckets of water  from taps that were lower down the camp.

 

My father, like all the Poles, wanted to work for his living but despite a willingness, many found it difficult to find work. Jobs were  restricted to mining and agriculture and, although there was a shortage of labour, Poles were greeted with prejudice and suspicion. The first work my Father was able to find was at a quarry in Buxton. His other choices were: the copper works at Froghall or the coalmines of Stoke on Trent. It was heavy work, but he put up with it for a couple of years and then found work at Adams Dairy in Leek where he worked until his retirement.

 

The camp was self contained, in that it had a chapel, the priest being Father Paweł Sargiewicz to see to our spiritual needs; a shop, run by Mr. Szpala and then by Mr. Dziurdzik; a club, run by Mr. Jurczenko to see to our other "spiritual" needs.  A large nissen hut became a meeting hall for shows, national day celebration  (akademie),  Nativity plays (Jasełka) and dances where people like my Parents could meet and for a while forget the bad times.

As the children were growing up a nursery school was established, run by Mrs. Kurjanowicz and then by Mrs. Szmuniewska. At the age of seven, the children were enrolled into St. Mary’s Catholic School in Leek.

 

The late forties saw an exodus of soldiers to Poland and Argentina. As time went by, many of the residents left for other parts of Britain and the world. In the early and mid fifties many left for the USA and Canada. In between, others departed for different parts of the UK. By the time the camp closed in March 1964 there were only 50 families left on two camps. Everyone moved into the estate opposite the Three Horse Shoes Inn. Although it seems as if the community had broken up, the reverse had happened; we were brought much closer together and the community was strengthened as a result. Distant friendships were reinforced and a "second" community grew from them. In the late sixties and early seventies, as the young ones married and left the estate, the ones remaining were the original settlers some of whom are alive today.

 

Forgetting the bad times for a while Mr. and Mrs Korczyk  Mr. and Mrs, Hryciuk and  an unknown couple 1951

 

GROWING UP IN THE CAMP

 

Photo submitted by Sylwester Jaworski

Right:-Zbyszek Hryciuk and his three sisters.

Halina, Danusia and Basia in their national costume.

 
 

Left:- Sylwester Jaworski and friend riding their bikes in the camp with a view of  the Roaches in the background. Sylwester lived in the camp from 1948 to 1958 when his family emigrated to the USA.

 

 

 

The camp's " White Eagle" football team

Back row:- Tadeusz Łazowski, Elżbieta Markowska, Ryszard Milaszkiewicz, Barbara Szmuniewska and Wojciech Milaszkiewicz

Middle row:- Barbara Hryciuk, Danuta Markowska, Stasia Świeca, Halina Hryciuk

Sitting;- Danuta Hryciuk, Edward Kopeć, Zbigniew Hryciuk, and Teresa Krzywicka.

 

Basia Hryciuk and Tadzik Łazowski

Basia Hryciuk and friend

Mr. and Mrs. Hryciuk outside their new council house.

The camp church, previously in a nissen hut, was moved to a  barrack close to the new estate and can be seen in the background.

 

Nearly a quarter of a century after  WW2,  in 1964 Polish families living in army huts in Blackshaw Moor moved into a new council estate built  close to the camp opposite the Tree Horse Shoe Inn. Now there is little left of what was known as Little Poland.  The unsightly huts that spoilt the view of Staffordshire Moorlands were demolished and in their place now stands a  caravan site serving visitors to the Peak National Park.

 
Thank you to Zbyszek Hryciuk for memories and photos.
 

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