GRYCEWICZ FAMILY IN DODDINGTON

 
Józef Grycewicz was a Quartermaster Sergeant in the Polish Army. He came from Italy to England in 1946 with General Anders 2nd Corps. During the war his wife Maria and four children Zosia, Klara, Andrzej and Halina had been sent from Poland to a labour camp in Germany. When the war ended the family where  reunited with Józef in Doddington Camp in 1948. This is how Zosia remembers Doddington.

 

The camp created a good impression on us.  Beautifully situated, lots of trees, the tower and everything so green.  Well out of town, some of the residents had gardens full of flowers. At last we were free.  In our barrack everything was bare.  In one corner stood an iron heating stove, round and with a long exposed flue up to the ceiling.  There was a small cupboard, a table and of course four beds.  Mother sat on the bed and burst into tears.  Out of the frying pan and into the fire.  There is no water.  We have to walk a hundred yards to fetch water and a hundred yards in the opposite direction to the toilets.

 

Józef Skora, Mrs. Kotarska, Mrs. Tomczak photographed with a few of the Doddington communal kitchen staff

 

Meals were taken in a communal dining room.  It’s hard but it’s not the first time we had to start from scratch.  Finding accommodation was very difficult, even some of the locals had nowhere to live.  Everything was rationed.  We all had our ration books for food, fuel etc., one bag of coal a week.  I remember this particularly well because we had a good laugh at our mum.  The coal man arrived and said – one bag of coal Maria – to which mother replied in Polish – wysyp tu (tip it out here).  He apologised that he can’t let her have two, she can only have one.  But mother kept pointing and saying she wants it – tu.  Eventually the coal man relented and tipped out two bags of coal which caused mother to despair because she had set aside money for only one.  But we had to hold out for a better future.  Our first Christmas in freedom is just around the corner so all our efforts are directed at arranging the best possible celebration as a complete family with father.  We furnish the barrack as best we can, dividing it up with sheets and blankets into rooms.

 

Grycewicz Family’s first Christmas together on British soil.

Another family Christmas

 

Our father, Józef, travelled every week to work in a cotton mill in Manchester, returning home to his family each weekend, while my mum worked in the Potteries.  The children attended the camp Primary School where the headmaster was Mr. Pialucha.  A crčche provided child care for mothers going out to work,  the camp surgery was run by Dr. Węgrzynowska assisted by two nurses Mrs. Dzisiewska and Mrs Strańc.  Many of the adults were members of the local branch of the Polish Ex-Combatants Association (SPK), while young people joined the Polish Scouts or the Catholic Youth Association.

 

Later Klara and I boarded at  Stowell Park  Girl’s school near Cheltenham.  I studied Home Economics while Klara took Business Studies.  Klara had a gift Girl’s school near Cheltenham.  I studied Home Economics while Klara took Business Studies.  Klara had a gift for hairdressing and became the well known ‘Madam Klara’ and I became a dressmaker.  Andrew attended school in Wybunbury and later St. Anne’s in Nantwich.  He completed an apprentiship at British Rail and worked as a fitter.  Halina attended St. Anne’s and later St. Dominic’s Grammar School in Stoke.

 

Zosia Grycewicz, Tadek Wiśniewski, Stasia Bielec, Zbyszek Górski and

 Barbara Auer.

A nativity play - 1950

 Władka Łuszczycka Zosia Grycewicz, Marysia Częstochowska

Barbara Auer Mr. Niedzielski

 
 

As the years went by life in Doddington became very happy. The community hall provided a place for amateur dramatics, celebrations of National Days (Akademie) commemorating the 3rd of May constitution, Soldier’s day and Independence Day, not to mention regular dances and youth socials.  There was a folk dance group which performed not only in the camp but also travelled to perform at other camps in the vicinity.

 
We had our chapel where Fr. Urbański held services and where I married Edward in 1952.  The furnishing and decorations in the chapel were all made by the people living in the camp, among them, a beautiful painting of Our Lady of Ostra Brama and the Stations of the Cross. 
 

Zosia and Edward’s traditional wedding with 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen.  Stasia Bielec, Jurek Jermacz, Tadek Wisniewski, Pani Wisniewska, St. Mierzwinski, Marysia (Pitolcio), Danusia Kaszycka, Marysia Czestochowska, Mirek Stranc, Heniek Rojek, Marjan Rojek, Konstanty Ancuta

 

The visit to the camp by General Władysław Anders in the early 1950s created quiet a stir. Poles from much of the Midlands came to Doddington to see and listen to Gen. Anders when he came to visit the camp.  Coincidentally that was the day we made contact with my uncle Aleksander Jednaszewski, my mother’s brother, with whom we lost touch when he was deported to Germany during the war.

 

The General  leaving the camp after his visit.

General Anders with some of the children from the camp

 

The day to day running of the camp was in the hands of an elected Camp Council, on which my father served.  Over the years we became quite comfortable in our Little Poland so when the authorities announced, in the 1960s., that the camp was to close few wanted to move into the unfamiliar world outside.

 
Zosia has also written a short account of her school days in Stowell Park   "Królowej Jadwigi" School
 
  Page 1 Doddington camp
  Page 2 Memories from Jan Czerski and Jurek and Roman  Sitek 
  Page 3 Doddington Cemetery
  Page 4 Doddington Photo Exhibition.
  Page 5 Jasmina Dopierala Memories
  Page 6 Barbara Białozorska's Memories.
  Page 7 Current Zofia Grycewicz Remembers
  Page 8 My Journy to Doddington Barbara Auer
   
   

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