DELAMERE POLISH CAMP Cheshire

 

It is hard to  imagine to day that, amidst the former grandeur and modern affluence of Delamere Park, this was once the setting for one of the largest displaced persons' camps in the North West of England. Delamere House and the parkland around it had been abandoned to the elements for almost a year when WW2 broke out as Hitler's troops invaded Poland. In Britain as part of the war effort large sways of land from country estates were requisitioned by the War Office to build airfields and army camps. By 1941 Delamere park was transformed into a vast army camp comprising of Laing and Nissan huts housing around 15,000American troops.

 

With the end of the war the  MOD were faced with a new problem, that of Polish forces that fought along side the British throughout the war, not only to free Poland but  also  Europe form Nazi domination. Sadly the Yalta Conference did not give Poland its freedom, on the contrary Poland  now found itself under communist control. The Polish forces felt  betrayed and unwilling to go back to communist dominated Poland. The now disused camps found a new lease of life as accommodation for the Polish troops and  their families.

 

Under the Polish Resettlement Act  the first Polish troops arrived at Delamere from Italy in the summer of 1946.  They were General Anders' 2 Corps Command Group.  Little  is known that  throughout  the campaign, through Persia, the Middle East and Italy the 2 Corps artillery supply mascot was Wojtek an orphaned baby bear.  Although Wojtek did not come to Delamere camp, many of the soldiers arriving there  knew him  and had  stories about him..  Wojtek's  story can be found in books and on the internet.

 
 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wojtek_(soldier_bear) and http://www.iranchamber.com/history/articles/iranian_soldier_bear.php and  www.voytekbear.com

 

Wojtek the soldier bear with Polish Troops.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Pozniak
 
Photo courtesy of Mark Bevan   Main Entrance to the camp

Delamere camp

 
Photo courtesy of Mark Bevan A view of the camp with The Laing Huts and  water tower
 

Over the next few months the camp was filling up with  women and children. Many families  were  reunited after years of separation arriving  with no more then the clothes on their backs and a few meagre possessions. The huts  had to be shared by several families so, to have some privacy, they were partitioned off with army Blankets. All sanitary facilities were shared in  central ablution blocks

Although Delamere was classified as a Polish Displaced Persons' camp, it was not run by the National Assistance Board. When the MOD left, the camp came under the jurisdiction of the local authority and  with the shortage of houses it also became home to bombed out British families.

 

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Later on the Ministry of Housing and the Local Authority modernised the huts into two bedroom accommodation with a sitting room, kitchen , running water and bathroom so the living conditions for the Poles improved. The two communities co-existed side by side with little integration between them. Devoted to their culture, language and religious ideals the Poles kept themselves to themselves carrying on with their deep rooted traditions.

 

Most of the above information is taken from the book THE STORY OF DELAMERE HOUSE AND DELAMERE PARK by A. D. Coxhead and R.M. Bevan

 

SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THEIR HOMES IN THE CAMP.

 

Polish soldiers with a friend and  Rozalia with husband Władysław  Strzelecki 1947 the camp could be Doddington in Cheshire.       Photo donated by Mrs.Strzelecka

Władysław Strzelecki outside his hut in Delamere camp - early 1950 . Photo donated by Mrs.Strzelecka

 

The photos of huts in Delamere Park were contributed by one of the early residents at the the camp Mrs. Rozalia Strzelecka

 

Władysław Strzelecki by his hut. 1952 Delamere camp.    Photos donated by Mrs.Strzelecka

Unknown man with Rozalia and Władysław Strzelecki next to their hut 1952 Delamere camp.

 

 

 

MINKIEWICZ Family

 
Stefan's family left India bound for the UK on the Empire Brent arriving in Southampton on the 26th September 1947. They joined their father in Oulton Park army camp in Cheshire and after demobilisation the family  moved to Delamere Park Polish camp also in Cheshire were they lived until 1963. Stefan attended Lilford Technical School for boys and has also donated photos and memories from his time spent at the school.  http://www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk.co.uk/lilfordschool.htm  
 

Stefan Minkiewicz with his parents, Stanisław and Stanisława.

4 generations of the Minkiewicz family; Grandmother Julia Mazur, her daughter and son in law Stanisława and Stanisław Mankiewicz their children Stefan and his wife Irena and Lucyna and her husband Mieczyslaw Szmidt and baby Ryszard Szmidt.

 

Mr.Szlamka, Janusz Poźniak, Danusia Beker, Stefan Minkiewicz, Fr. Antoni Mańturzyk   Bogdan Maliszweski, Mr.Szulc on the accordion,  Mrs Parowicz and her son Józef Szlamka, Janina Szlamka, Jerzy Poźniak, Alicja Beker, Jan Wójcik. 1953/54.

Picnic in the woods close to the camp, Jan Wójcik, Danuta Beker, Witold Poźniak, Alicja Beker, Jerzy Pozniak, Bogdan Maliszewski and Stefan Minkiewicz.

 

Lucyna and Mieczyslaw Szmidt wedding in Northwich Cheshire1956. The little girl on the left is Iwonka Korzeniowska

Stefan and Irena Minkiewicz wedding Northwich Cheshire.

  Park Camp and have photos and a story to tell please contact me.
 

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