Some Memories of My Life at Doddington Park

 

By Barbara Fisher (nee Białozorska)

 

My parents, Helena and Jerzy Białozorski, came to start their new lives in England in 1946.  They travelled through Italy to reach England, as Europe was in ruins after the Second World War, and most routes were inaccessible.  They settled down in the camp at Doddington Park near Wybunbury.  Here are some of my memories of my early years as a little girl of life at Doddington Park. The following photographs show Doddington Park as it existed in 1946 and show some of barracks which became homes to the first Polish refugees who came in 1946, and later, to live in the camp. Prior to this, the camp was occupied by American soldiers

 

The barracks were made from wood with an asbestos pitched roof.  This was covered in bitumen felt and coated tar.  The two wash-houses were always full of women doing the family washing and would be a focal point for the women to engage in local gossip and any other interesting past and present news.  There was no running water in the barracks and all the water was carried in buckets from water taps which were situated around each site.

 

Mrs. Bogacz and my mother Helena Białozorska

Basia Białozorska by the barrack which was home, the boy is unknown
 

Helena Białozorska and daughter Barbara  by some of the Nissen huts

Mrs. Bogacz with Barbara by the tower.

Helena Białozorska with her daughter Barbara

 

Many of the people grew their own vegetables and also kept hen coops.  My mum and dad kept a hen coop and my task was to feed the hens at tea-time and collect any eggs which might be laid.  Every Autumn time many of the people would walk to the local orchard which was situated outside the camp, to pick apples which were then carried back in bags.  My mother used to dread the journey back to the camp as it seemed such a long way back and the bags were very heavy.

 

These photographs show the school nursery which existed in the camp which provided a pre-school education.  The nursery provided an educational environment and learning experiences through play

Zosia Piałucha, Elżbieta Garlacz and Barbara Białozorska at the nursery.

 

The  photograph below was taken in the main hall of the Polish school featuring one class of children in the school.  Mr Piałucha, the headmaster, and the Polish priest are at the back of the photograph.  I remember the joy we experienced when climbing frames were built in the playground.  We loved climbing and swinging on the bars.  At the beginning, in the early 50's, we were taught  mainly to read and write Polish, some arithmetic, Polish history, art and music.

 

Some of the girls in the photograph (from right to left) are Bożena Świstek, Ewa Smolka, Krystyna Kołociew, Zosia Piaułcha, Barbara Białozorska and Krystyna Trembaluk.  Some of the boys are (from right to left) Władek Sokoł, Rysio Sobuta, Andrzej Chanerley, Zbyszek Glinski, Stefan Urbas, Zbyszek Kaplan, Jurek Czaplinski and Heniek Rogulski.

 

 

Certificates of Merit were awarded to children for working hard and here is an example of such a certificate and a picture of Mr Czerski's class of children.

 
 
 
 

Later, Mr Smith, a retired English teacher, came twice a week for two hours to teach us to read and write English.  He was extremely patient and through his dedication he provided us with a basic knowledge of English words and sentences.  As the camp was due to be closed down in 1960, it was decided that all the children in the camp were to continue their education in local primary schools.  Most of the children attended St Anne's Roman Catholic School in Nantwich and a few children went to Wybunbury Primary School.  A small group of children and I went to Bridgemere County Primary School.  This experience proved invaluable as a basis for learning English especially as the Polish community became re-housed around Crewe and Nantwich and became integrated with the English community.  The children went to local secondary schools where they continued to learn the various subjects in English

 

My mum used to clean the small library in the camp which was attached to the Polish school.  This had many Polish and English books.  I would sometimes go with her and this is where I saw many English fairy-tale books which I loved to skim through and look at the pictures and eventually I began to learn to read the books.  This was the beginning of my love and appreciation of books which later formed a foundation for me to learn to read and write English which eventually became my first language, although I also speak and understand domestic Polish.

 

The Polish camp had a local grocery store which was run by Mr Whalley.  I remember thinking how clever this English gentleman was because he spoke Polish so well and was able to communicate with the polish people who came to his shop.

 

I also remember every year the Polish community would do a performance, once a year, called (Akademia) in which both adults and children performed Polish dances, read poems and played various musical instruments especially the accordion

 

A group of children in the year 1955 under the guidance of their teacher Mr Czerski who went to sing Polish carols during Christmas time.

Some of the children in the photograph.

Barbara Białozorska, Krystyna  Kołociew, Krystyna Trembaluk, Elżbieta Garlacz, Urszula Czerska, Ewa Smolka, Stasia Król, and Władek Sokol.  Mr Czerski is at the back of the photograph

FIRST COMMUNION

Boys and girls in Doddington and their first Holy Communion celebrations as most of the community in the camp were Roman Catholics. The girls and some of the boys were dressed in pure white outfits.  All the girls wore white veils and some of the boys wore black suits and white shirts

 

Every year a Corpus Christi procession made its way through the camp.  The whole community was involved in an act of worship and celebration.  The girls were dressed in white and older girls in National costume.  The boys wore their Scout outfits.  The girls carried small frilly baskets which were full of colourful petals.  These were dropped to the ground in small handfuls at regular intervals.

 
 

There was a Polish Girl Guides group and a Boy Scout group in the camp and during the year various outings were arranged for a few days where the children had to camp outside in tents.  During the days they were away from home they were set tasks which helped to develop the skills of socialising, cooking, orienteering, decision making and independence.

 

Teresa Szlifirska, Zosia Dziedziul, Halina Gdowska, Barbara Białozorska, Ewa Smolka

Girl Guides at Doddington Park.

 

My family lived by a small Tower House on the hillside which still stands there today.  It was rumoured that the Black Prince stayed in this tower.  The Tower House held an air of mystery and great speculation to us as it had a tall fence around it with the words (NO ENTRY).  Further research into the history of Doddington tells us that this is the area which sent famous squires to share in the glory of Poitiers - the battle of 1356 - at which the Black Prince defeated the King of France, who was taken prisoner and brought to London. 

 

It is recorded that at one point in the battle, 300 French cavalrymen were confronted in a narrow lane and driven back by the arrows of Sir James Audley�s forces led by his four squires - Delves of Doddington, Hawkstone of Wrinehill, Fowlshurst of Crewe and Dutton of Dutton.  The Tower House has typical corner turrets and inside stand rustically carved figures of the Black Prince, Audley and his four squires Delves of Doddington, Hawkstone of Wrinehill, Fowlshurst of Crewe and Dutton of Dutton.  The four Houses at the Crewe Grammar School were named after the four squires above.

 

THE TOWER with is still standing dominated the centre of the CAMP

Helena and Jerzy Białozorski with daughter Barbara standing by the Tower House .

Helena and Jerzy  with their daughter Barbara and Mr.and Mrs Bogacz. You can just see one of the barracks  we lived in.

Mr.and Mrs  Białozorski with daughter Barbara and new baby Piotr.

Barbara, Ewa and Piotr Białozorski 1956. with the tower in the background.

 
Penley Polish hospital was about 25 miles from Doddington and sometimes we went there to visit my godfather who was being treated for T.B. The photos below show my godfather, my father and me I do not remember the man with the briefcase. The photos were taken in 1954.
 

 

I remember the beautiful countryside and green fields around the camp and the variety of beautiful wild flowers and grasses which grew around them.  As children, we had the freedom to roam the countryside and to ride our bikes around it.  It was exciting, but most exciting of all was the little wood where, during springtime, there grew hundreds of bluebells of the English variety creating a blue carpet with an exhilarating scent which filled the air around the wood and beyond.  The children called it (The Magic Bluebell Wood).  It had a narrow meandering stream which during the summer months we would try to jump across.  We built dens and pretend houses out of pieces of dead twigs and leaves which were lying around.  These dens and homes were magical to us and we would engage in all kinds of creative play.  We were so lucky that we were able to have the freedom and feel safe and secure in this environment

 
   
  Page 1 Doddington Polish Camp
  Page 2 Memories from Jan Czerski and Jurek and Roman  Sitek
  Page 3 Doddington Cemetery
  Page 4 Doddington Photo Exhibition.
  Page 5 Jaśmina Dopierala's Memories
  Page 6 Current.
  Page 7 The  Grycewicz Family
  Page 8 My Journy to Doddington Barbara Auer
   
 
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