Alfred (Fredzio) Ostaszewski arrived in England:1946

 

BACKGROUND: I was 13 when my family and I were deported to Siberia, where we stayed for 2 years and 4 months.  My two brothers, Kazimierz and Eugeniusz, both of whom were in the Polish Army, were taken prisoner by the Soviets and were in prisoner of war camps until the German invasion in 1941 when they were released to join the Polish Army being formed in Russia by gen. Anders.  My brothers came and collected us, as army families, in August 1942.  After travelling with the army through Iraq and Palestine I ended up in the Polish Air Force School in Heliopolis, near Cairo in Egypt, and my mother went to one of the Polish DP camps that were set up in Africa and India.  I was 16 by that time and became an apprentice fitter.  The school was initially run by the Poles, and then in 1943 the British took over, and all the boys there then became members of the RAF/PAF (Royal Air Force/Polish Air Force).  I qualified as an aeroplane fitter in 1946, but because the war was over we flew to the UK arriving in Glasgow.

 

Fredzio in an aeroplane in Heliopolis.

Fredzio in uniform with friends visiting  Fairford Camp 1947

 

From Glasgow we travelled by train to Cammeringham Airfield, near Lincoln, where we stayed for a few weeks whilst the British authorities were trying to decide what to do with us all.  I was posted to Newmarket Airfield, 54MU (Maintenance Unit).  The work was mainly on aeroplanes that needed general maintenance to be carried out.  I was demobilised from the RAF/PAF in Newmarket in 1947, and moved to Newark to work on a building site.  I worked there for just a few weeks, as my brother Eugeniusz, who lived in Babdown Farm Airfield, near Tetbury, suggested that I move in with him, to be closer to our family.  During my 3 years and 7 months in Babdown Farm,  I worked for Listers, first in Dursley then from 1951 in Wroughton.  For the whole of that period I lived in Fairford Camp, where I joined my mother who was already living there.

 

Housing: My mother lived in a brick built hut, which housed two families.  We had one room to ourselves, with two dividing curtains, which in effect sectioned off the one room into three.  We had one section each with a single bed and the third section was the kitchenette/living room.  Washing and toilet facilities were housed in a totally separate building.  We lived in Fairford for 6 years.  In 1957, when it was announced that the camp was going to be closed, I moved with my mother to Swindon, where I bought the house in which I am still living. 

 

  Outside the Catholic Church in Faiford.

The bride Marysia Król and groom Antoni  Smolarek  on the left are Oleńka Król (now Tęcza) and Jadzia Belsko the three half hidden  faces behind the groom are Andzej Król,  Janek Król and Helena Król (now Arciszewska) behined the women in the white dress is Natalia Król (Karaczun)

Polish Dancing group in Fairford. Some of the identified peopl are Mila Miszkowska, Helena Król Andzej Król, Natala Król.

 

Religion: The other aspect of life in Fairford was our faith, which was and is so strong with the Poles, and which was very important to us during the War.  I remember Fr. Leonard Czapski, our parish priest in the camp.  Everybody attended Holy Mass on a Sunday, and we took part in all the religious festivities and all the different services and processions every year

 
Schooling: There was a school in Fairford but I know little of it because I was already working.
 

Social Life:The social life in the camp was never ending.  We had dances and social evenings every Saturday night.  There was always something going on with lots of dancing, shows, and entertainment, if not by the various groups that had been established in the camp, then by visiting groups from other Polish camps.  Because there were so many young people there were lots of weddings at the local RC church in Fairford, but all the receptions were held in the camp itself.  Film shows were held, usually twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday.  The films were mainly English but we did see a few very old Polish films, most of the films were in black and white.  We used to have theatre groups visiting from London, with various shows, plays and amateur dramatics.  I myself belonged to a folk dance group of about 40 members. We performed all the different Polish national dances, eg the Kujawiak, Krakowiak, Śląsk, just to name a few.  At Christmas time there was always a Nativity Play (Jasełka) and, I remember, there was one show that we put on called the Silesian Wedding (Śląskie Wesele), in which I played the groom.  We often travelled to Daglingworth, Swindon and other Polish camps near Fairford to perform our shows and dances.  My memories of life in the camp are ones of a wonderful social life with everyone being happy to participate.

 

 
 
Page 1   Fairford camp
 

Page 2   General Anders visits the camp

 
 

Page 3   Article contributed by Alicja Świątek Christofides

 
  Page 4   Current Page  
  Page 5   Fairford cemetery.  
  Page 6  Commemorative Plaque.
     
 

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