DODDINGTON POLISH CAMP Cheshire1946-1960

 

In the heart of the Cheshire country side on Lord Delves Broughton's estate near to Wybunbury stands Doddington hall. Overlooking the lake this grade 1 mansion  deigned by Samuel Wyatt, is set in gardens landscaped by Capability Brown. In the 1940s the land in front of the mansion was requisitioned by the MOD and a very large camp was built, initially to house the Free French and then the American  Army in preparation for the invasion of Europe. The camp consisted of large corrugated metal Nissan huts and timber framed huts, covered with plasterboard on either side with the outside surface weather proofed with a bitumen coated paper, a metal frame supported an asbestos roof. The floors were concrete, the window frames were metal and there was a door at each end of the building.  Admin Blocks, communal wash houses, showers and toilet blocks were made of prefabricated concrete with brick built ends. A typical 1940s.army camp. 

 

Doddington Park on the A 51 between Nantwich and Woore.

 The map shows the three sections; camp 1 camp 2 and 3 that formed the camp.

 

After the war in 1946 the army camp in Doddington became one of many resettlement camps for Polish Displaced Persons. Men, women and children unable to return to their native country, made their homes in the now disused accommodation. The camp was under the administration of the National Assistance Board and had an English Warden helped by a handful of English speaking  Polish officials.

 

Rows of timber framed huts that were home to Polish families.

A National Assistance Board at the entrance to the camp.

 

The gate house at the entrance to the camp

An outside stand pipe water tap

 

Doddington like all the other Polish  camps at the time housed people from all walks of life and every profession.  Farmers, teachers, doctors, men and women who served in the Allied Armed Forces under British Command. By no stretch of the imagination were conditions in the camp ideal for families to live in but after years in the wilderness, being pushed from pillar to post, Poles were happy to have some stability and a roof over their heads. Life had to go on,  the church and priest became a pillar of stability, strengthening  their beliefs and giving them hope. Soon the camp transformed itself into a vibrant Polish community, observing their faith and traditions.

 

OBSERVING  THEIR  FAITH  AND  POLISH  TRADITIONS.

 

Finding themselves in a strange country, not speaking the language, poles found strength and solace in their faith and it was important to them to instil that faith in their children. Doddington camp was no exception, a church was soon established in one of the barracks. Sunday masses and daily services were always well attended.

 

Every year a Corpus Christi Procession wound  its way  through the camp, past the Nissen huts and barracks,  bringing  together the whole community in an act of worship and celebration. Young and old, come rain or shine, people in their Sunday best, little girls dressed in white, older girls in  national costume creating almost a carnival atmosphere.

 
On the left; one of the huts converted into a church - a view of the altar.
 

THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS  ARE ALL OF CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSIONS FROM VARIOUS YEARS.

 

The four altars where built around the camp and decorated by various organisations active in the camp.

 

 

 

It was also a day where children took the centre stage and one which many remember to this day.

 

Corpus Christi Processions

 from various years in the 1950s

 

FIRST HOLY COMMUNION

 

First Holy Communion was another day of celebration, this time for the children.

Back row, some of the teachers Mr. Grycewicz, Mr. Czapliński, Fr. Mieczysław Stasz, head teacher Mr. Piałuch. Some known names of the children - Helena Szpak, Krysia Rorbach, Andrzej Grycewicz, Jan Czerski, Andrzej Kucharski.

  Fr. Władysław  Puchalski,   Zdzisia Zakrzewska,  Andrzej Jackowski Wanda Banas,   Staszek Zakrzewski,   Basia Kosarew, Michalina Gorajewska, Teresa Kołociew.

 

 

Parents and children against the backdrop of one of the Nissen Huts.

A visit by Prelate Bronisław Michalski celebrating one of many children's First Communion

 

DODDINGTON  SCHOOL

 

The educational and social needs of people in the camp where catered  for by the Committee for the Education of Poles who employed Educational Organizers in every Polish camp. Their job was to organise nursery and primary school for the children, and adult evening classes for those who wanted to learn English. There were also some social activities, like sewing classes, amateur dramatics and a choir.  The Polish scout and guide movement catered for the needs of older children and teenagers.

 

Nursery and infant school children with their teachers - 1950s

Can you name the children and teachers.

Class 2 washing their hand outside.  You can just see the rims of the round wash bowls on the chairs

 

Junior school

Back row:  5th from right: Andrzej Chanerley,   3rd from right Edzio Kosy.

Middle Row: 4th from left: Zosia Pialucha (Headmasters' daughter), 5th from left: Mr Czerski (teacher).  Front Row from left: 1. Jan Gliński,  2. Henio Talarek,  3. Jacek Czaplinski (son of Mr Czaplinski one of the teachers).

Class 4 with their teacher outside the school

Can you name anyone?

 

Adult sewing class

Halina Wolan 
Katarzyna Lupa  
Maria Niechciał    
Czesława Kamińska
Halina Gutman 
 Agnieszka Babisz 
Janina Sitek  
Irena Kropielnicka 
Maria Lasota  
Halina Piekarska  
Rita Anikin 
Michalina Januchowska
Anna Socha 
Maria Fiederowicz   
Maria Ejgird
Katarzyna Pasławska
Maria Nykiel    
Jadwiga Dudziak 

Maria Wirkus              

Jadwiga Katkiewicz   
Hermina Golas   
Helena Dobrzyńska 
Anna Auer    
Helena Chanerley
Barbara Auer             
Janina Wollowicz   
Helena Szpak   
Wilhelmina Grabowska
Genowefa Zaczek   
Wanda Sogatis
Anna Rogowska  
Anna Budarkiewicz    
Janina Chrzanowska 
 Kazimiera Misiuna   
Stanisława Pietnoczko
 

Evening sewing class - 1950

Mrs. Tomczak, Malwina Kosarew, Janina Kuś, Mrs. Niewdach

LIST OF THOSE ENROLLED FOR THE SEWING COURSE IN 1953

 

Polish scouts and guides

Mr. Hruch with the camp's scout group

The camp's Polish Girl guides, The red poppy and sunburst troop.

 
 

 TRADITIONS

 
   
 

Polish History is steeped in tradition and culture.  Commemorating  the 3rd. of May  Polish Constitution Day was celebrated every year in all Polish camps, Doddington being  no exception.  The camp's children  dressed in national dress, usually made for them by their mothers, delighted the audience and  parents as they recited Polish poetry and danced traditional Polish dances

 

 Basia Auer, Klara Grycewicz, Urszula Łyszczucka, Leonis ?

Wanda and Julek Socha

Wanda Socha

 

Children on stage singing “Witaj  Majowa Jutrzenko” (Welcome this May Dawn) is always sung on the 3rd of May - Constitution day.

 

 

On the 6th of December St. Nicholas visits all good children bearing gifts.

 

St Nicholas was born in the third century to a wealthy family. He used his inheritance to assist the poor and the sick.  He was made bishop of Myra a city that was on the southern Mediterranean coast of what is now Turkey. His generosity is commemorated throughout Europe on the 6th of December. In Poland St Nicholas called "Św. Mikołaj", calls on all good  children bearing gifts of  fruit apples, oranges, nuts and "pierniki" a kind of cookie made with honey and spices. In the camps all the children  gathered in the main hall waiting in anticipation for this saintly man dressed in bishop's robes with a crosier and sack of goodies accompanied by angles and a little devil.  

 

Jurek Sitek reciving a gift from St, Nicholas.

Polish children receive presents not only at Christmas  but also on the 6th of December St. Nicholas day.

 

Father Christmas visiting children in the camp's sick bay.

Carol singers with a Crib and Stars "Szopka and Kolędnicy"

 

The post war Polish community in the UK encompassed not only all the social, professional, ethnic and religious groups found in Polish society but also a huge range of war experiences and personal suffering. Most cherished a dream of returning to a free Poland and picking up their lives from where they left them.  Sadly this dream could not be realised.  Few lived to see their homes and families in an independent Poland.

 
 

Tadusz Wąs was one of them. As a young man he studied fine art in the Institute of fine art in  Kraków, specialising in mural painting and stained glass. He had just graduated with honours when war broke out bringing to a halt  his artistic ambitions.  Tadeusz became a soldier fighting for Poland's freedom in the hope of returning to his country and building a career in his specialised subject. Sadly fate denied him his dream. The end of the war did not bring Poland its freedom. Tadeusz with thousands of other Polish soldiers had to build a new life in a new country. He settled in Doddington Camp where he met and married and brought up a family, earning a living  as a painter and decorator for Crewe Council, a sad waste of his artistic talent.  In his spare time he resumed his love of painting and, in 1996 at the age of 79, he achieved his dream of his first one man exhibition. More exhibitions followed in renowned art galleries including those in Manchester and  Glasgow. Mr. Wąs died in 2005 but his legecy lives on, with his paintings becoming increasingly sought after.

 

Aniela and Tadeusz Wąs walking in the camp.
 
If you lived in the camp and would like to share your memories and photos please contact me.
 
   

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