FOXLEY CAMP Herefordshire

 

In rural Herefordshire on the outskirts of  the village of Mansel Lacy some seven miles from Hereford in the grounds of Foxley Manor, now demolished, was the location of a WW2  US/Canadian military camp. From 1944 to 1945 two American general hospitals, 123rd,and 156th were based there  receiving and treating  casualties from the European Theatre of Operations. After the war when the Americans and Canadians moved out the buildings were occupied by the Polish Resettlement Corps and their families.

 

Henry Matty lived in Foxley camp and these are his  memories and photos.

 

Henry's parents Maria and Edward Matysiak lived in what is now Belarus with their seven children. When war broke out the family, with thousands of other Poles, were deported by the Russians to the depths of Siberia, where within the first few months sadly all the children died from cold and malnutrition. In 1941 came a brief spell of amnesty during which a Polish army, under the command of General Władysław Anders, was formed  from prisoners of war captured during the September campaign and Poles deported to the Soviet Union.  Henry's father and mother joined the army which, in 1942, sailed across the Caspian sea to Persia to fight under British command.  From Persia Edward travelled with General Anders' Second Corps to fight alongside the British in the Middle East, North Africa and Italy.  Maria his wife, with thousands of women, children and the elderly, was sent to a Displaced Persons camp in India (Valivade) were Henry was born.

 

Polish Resettlement Corps (PRC) in Shobden camp Leominster 1947

After the war Maria and Henry sailed to the UK on the TSS Empire Brent from Bombay arriving in Liverpool on the 29th of November 1947 to join his father who was already in England.

Henry recalls that before they settled in Foxley they moved around a number of camps as his father had the task of organizing final military payments before demobilisation.

 

Arriving at Foxley in a 3 ton lorry Henry was told that there was a gypsy girl at the gatehouse that insisted on kissing everyone entering the camp so, as an impressionable little boy, he hid under all the furniture in the back of the lorry.

 
 

Edward and Maria Matysiak with son Henry

Henry and his father.

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The camp was well organized with a cinema, scouts, a gym and of course the church and, as in all Polish camps of the day, religious and cultural customs were observed and practised. There was also a school in the camp teaching  Polish and English subjects. The camp  closed in 1958  and was demolished

 
 

CORPUS CHRISTI IN THE 50s

The church dedicated to Our Lady of Ostra Brama.

 

Corpus Christi Procession winding its way around the barracks in the 50s. Henry and his father Edward can be seen in both photos.

 
 

A GROUP PHOTO OF SOME OF THE RESIDENTS OF THE CAMP

 

Foxley camp SPK  ex-service men's association

Back row left Edward Matysiak Front 3rd from the right Michał Łotecki.  Please let me know if you can name any of the other people in the photo.

 

Henry said "Life was great in  Foxley".  He made friends with the wife of Major Davenport who was the owner of the land and spent many afternoons at their house having tea and biscuits. His father and mother organized polish labour to help out the local tenant farmer, which helped out with food during rationing. The friendship with the farmer continued after Foxley camp closed down and he still occasionally meets the farmer's two sons with whom he grew up.  Overall the local people, the land owners, game keepers, farmers, schools and local post office were extremely  good to us.

 

POLISH SCOUT CAMP IN LILFORD PARK 1960

Please let me know if you or anyone you know are on the photo.

The boys are ;-Piotrek Radczyk, Heniek Bojarski, Jurek Anton, Maciej Pstrokoński, Antek Lichtar, Wladek Wiecheć. Can not remember any of the girls.
 

Henry  went to Lilford  Park scout camp with the scouts from Hereford and made many friends among the scouts from Swindon, Northwick Park, Nottingham and London. He used to come quite often to Northwick Park as he was very fortunate that his parents bought him a car. Soon after Henry joined the army and started travelling the world.  Later he worked as an expedition leader for Mini Trek expeditions and travelled all over Africa, Europe and to Nepal and India and then Australia and the Far East.  He lived in America for three years and still hasn't stopped travelling. He just loves travelling and  tells his children that this is the best education they could possible have..

 
 

Foxley Manor photos donated by Janina Jasionka

Janina with friends with Foxley Manor in the background.

Janina and  Józia Cielas on the steps of Foxley Manor
 

Janina and friends in the grounds of Foxley Manor with the camp in the background

Janina  Jasionka

Janina Jasionka, Józia Cielas with the camp in the background

 

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