MY JOURNEY FROM POLAND TO DODDINGTON by Barbara AUER

 

My Father's  family came from Warsaw, my Mother Agnieszka  from the Nałęczw region and both my sister Hania and I were born in Warsaw. However, we grew up on a state owned farm near Mińsk Mazowiecki where my father Michał  was employed as an Agronomist.

 

My aunt Maria with me and Hania in Mienia Poland 1937

At the outbreak of World War 2, like all men of military age, he was called up to serve in the army.  The Military Police unit in which he served was overwhelmed by the German blitzkrieg and he was taken prisoner.

 

Without father to support us, we returned to Warsaw to stay with an uncle and auntWhen the Warsaw rising became imminent our mother took us to Częstochowa, where my father's sister lived. We didn't know this at the time, but her husband and two teenaged sons were in the underground army and the house was under surveillance by the Germans.  Soon the entire household was arrested and deported to labour camps in Germany.  Once in Germany we tried to discover where our dad was and it turned out that he was working in an ammunition factory not far from our camp.  The allied campaign was forcing the Germans to relocate their industry and the work force further from the front so both our labour camp and the ammunition factory in which dad was working were relocated to Austria.

 

We met up with our Dad in Austria and were together when the war ended in May 1945.  Initially we were looked after by the British army but within a few weeks Gen. Anders' 2nd. Corps provided transport to evacuate us to the Polish camp in Trani, not far from the port town of Ancona in  Italy.

 

The camp in Trani, situated on the beautiful Adriatic coast, was set up by the Polish 2nd. Corps to care for Polish Displaced Persons evacuated from Austria and Germany.  After the hardships, fear, brutality and constant danger that we endured during the five years of war, Trani was like a different world. Many of us saw the sea for the first time and learned to swim in the warm waters of the Adriatic. The camp had a fully equipped hospital which cared not only for Polish soldiers but for all those living in the camp.

 
Whilst in the camp I was taken ill and remember seeing Gen. Anders when he came to visit the children in Trani hospital. We had been in Italy for about a year when we were told that we are going to England.
 

Basia Auer in Trani.1946

My father and I are on the right Hania on the left and my mother second from the left, with friends in Trani. 1946

 

On the 24th of September 1946 my mother, sister Hania and I with about 800 other D.Ps. left Trani camp and travelled by train to Naples. The next day we boarded the Hospital ship "Andes" and left Italy the same day. The ship was well equipped and the captain and crew looked after us very well, the weather was fine except for one day. We arrived in Southampton at 8 a.m. on the 30th. of September where we were organised into groups and dispatched to our allocated camps. Our group of about 270 women and children travelled by train to a camp near Leominster, after a short stay we moved to Doddington camp.

 

Our father, who worked in administration in Trani, joined us some time later.

 

Winter 1947/8

Basia and Hania having a snowball fight 1950

 

We arrived in  Doddington some time in November 1946 and my abiding memory is of the long and severe winter of 1946/7 which, after the warmth of Italy, was a bit of a shock but never the less great fun for us children. I believe it was the snowiest winter of the 20th Century and is widely believed to be the snowiest winter since 1813/14. The winter struck at a time when the country was recovering from the aftermath of World War II and many essential items were rationed.

 
Photo is of our mother, father, my sister Hania and me in Doddington 
 
As the army camp had not yet been converted to family living, there were no cooking facilities and our meals were prepared and served communally.

When our father arrived from Italy, we moved to better accommodation within the camp, had our ration book returned and started fending for ourselves.

 

Our barrack was the last on the road leading to the residence of Sir Evelyn Delves Broughton, on who's   estate the camp was built. Frequently he  would stop for a chat, of course at that time we did not know his family's tragic history, which was revealed much later in the film "White Mischief".

 

Life in the camp was hard, specially for the older generation.  Not knowing the language was a big set back and finding suitable work was not easy. Our parents were quite lucky, mother worked in the camp crche, looking after small children whose mothers worked in the Potteries and father initially worked at the camp stores and later at Crewe Works which was the main employer in the area. Evening language classes were provided by the camps authorities.

 

There was a Polish Infant and Junior school in the camp which my sister and I attended for about a year, but there was no Polish Secondary School in the camp so when I became twelve I went to an English school in Wybunbury, a village a few miles away from the camp.

 

For the first few months I struggled with my English. At the age of 15 I left school but continued my education in a secretarial school in Crewe, and later got a job as a shorthand typist.

 

On the right - Tending the school allotment

Below - Children from the Polish school.  I am standing second from the right.

 

As teenagers, life in the camp was good.  I had a lot of friends and there was always something going on. I was in the Polish girl guides, in the dance group and in the choir. The summers were the best when the boys who were away in  Diddington Park   school came home for the holidays.

 

Basia Łęcka and Basia Auer by the tower.

Basia and sister Hania in their girl guide uniforms.

Playing volleyball with some Diddington boys

 

A celebration of the Polish day of Independence with General Anders - 19/11/1950

I met Gen. Anders for the first time in 1945 while in Hospital in Trani. I met him again in 1950 when he made one of his historic visits to Doddington.

 

Above;-Kazia Michniewicz and Basia Auer

Below:- Basia Auer, Klara Grycewicz, Urszula Łyszczucka, Leonia?

He came with Poland's President in Exile August Zaleski, Senior Prelate Bronisław Michalski and Prince Eugeniusz Lubomirski A.D.C. to President Zaleski.

 

The distinguished guests arrived at 11a.m. and were greeted by the Educational Organiser, Mr. Czapliński, in the name of all Poles who had assembled.  They came not only from Doddington but also from the Manchester area,  the Polish camp at Delamere Park  in  Cheshire and as far afield as Wheaton Aston camp in Staffordshire. He greeted the party with the symbolic welcome of bread and salt and addressed the President expressing the hope that all Poles will soon be united  in a free Poland.

 

A mass was celebrated by Prelete Michalski and Fr. Tadeusz Urbański, priest at Doddington camp. There followed a visit to the small Polish school, where the General was greeted by girls in National dress and boys in army uniform displaying  badges of the 27th. Polish regiment. Lunch was followed by a concert and speeches. Gen. Anders spoke for some 30 minutes praising the work of parents and teachers in instilling Polish culture and spirit into the next generation and expressing his firm belief that this generation will live to see an independent Poland. It was a very memorable occasion.

General Władysław Anders giving his address.

I was standing in the wings listening to the General's speech when one of my friends pushed me out onto the stage.

 
In 1954 my family Left Doddington and we moved to London, where I met my future husband Feliks Dziadulewicz , who left  Babdown   camp the same year. We married in 1960, have two children and one granddaughter, born in Bath in 1997.  We moved to Bath in 2002 to be close to our children.  Feliks died in 2010 but I am left with happy memories of our 50 years together.
 
  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 Zosia Grycewicz Remembers
  Page 8 Current My Journey to Doddington Barbara Auer
 

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