HAYDON PARK CAMP DORSET

 

Haydon Park Camp near Sherborn in Dorset was  built in 1943  by the Americans as Field Hospital 228 consisting mainly of nissen huts. After the war, like many other then abandoned camps, it  was handed over by the MOD to the National Assistance Board for housing Displaced People, mostly  families and relatives of Polish soldiers returning from Europe to be resettled by the Polish Resettlement Corps. The NAB purchased surplus NAAFI. furniture that was on site to furnish the empty huts with the basics; chairs, tables, cupboards, beds and bedding. The huts were divided in half  with a door and windows at each end and housed two families in each hut. Conditions were very basic  there was no running water in the huts and people had to use communal washing and toilet facilities, but for the first time since 1939 people found safety and some stability in their lives. The camp closed in 1955/56.

 
 
 

BACKGROUND TO MY PARENTS CIRCUMSTANCES.

A brief  account sent in by Daughter Teresa Stolarczyk-Marshall

 

In 1939 Germany invaded Poland displacing  thousands of people and tearing  families apart. My father Józef Stolarczyk was 14 years old when he was taken from his family home in Tarnowskie Góry for forced  labour on a farm in Germany.  He worked there for three years before escaping with a French fellow worker to France.  After the allied invasion in Normandy he heard that a Polish unit (Gen. Maczek's 1st Armoured Division) was fighting alongside the allies and decided to join. He was sent to Scotland for some army training and then fought in the 1st Armoured Division in Germany and at the end of the war was guarding a displaced persons camp.

 

My mother Juliana Łabińska age 13 was also taken to Germany to work on a farm as forced labour. When the war ended she was alone and homeless. She was told that her village Czuczmany Zabłotne near Lwów was destroyed and her family had perished. That is how she found herself in the same Displaced Persons camp that my father was guarding. They  married and I was born in 1946. They were now faced with a dilemma, go back to Poland which was now under communist rule or start a new life in England. My father had some contact with his family in Poland but my mother had no one so they came to England although all their lives they regarded Poland as "home".

 

HAYDON PARK CAMP

 

We came over to England in August 1947 and were taken straight to Haydon Park Camp.  Other than my cot, pram and some clothes, we had nothing. We were housed in a nissen hut, the huts were divided in the middle with two families living in a hut. They were furnished with basic army surplus furniture eg. beds, chairs, table and some bedding. Accommodation was cramped  and the heating was minimal, a little cast iron coke burning stove, so of course we were cold. Cooking facilities in the huts were sufficient for breakfast and snacks but there was a communal canteen which provided two meals a day. On arrival we were given a small amount of money but everyone was expected to find work. Finding work was difficult. My father was initially employed as a kitchen porter in the camp. The pay was very poor but as he knew some English  which he learnt in the army he soon  found work in a tanning factory. This was very hard work and he had constant problems with  the effect of chemicals on his hands. My mother on the  other hand spoke no English at all but she found work in Yeovil in a glove factory where she worked with some other Polish ladies from the camp.

 

My mother and me outside our  Nissen hut home

My mother, me and friends in the camp

 

Teresa and friend outside her Nissen hut

Photos of me (Teresa) taken in the camp

 

The camp soon became a small Polish village, one of the huts was converted into a church and we had a Polish priest on site. There was a nursery where I was placed while my parents worked, a small school for children and a college, "Josef Conrad School," for teenagers and young adults who needed to learn English before they could start work.  People in the camp became friends forming a strong community, they were all in the same circumstances, in a strange country  where they could not speak the language and did not know what had happened to their relatives in Poland. So they rallied round helping one another to find work in the surrounding area and sharing child care. People were very patriotic, observing their traditions and bringing their children up in a Polish spirit. Both my parents were sad that they could not go back to their families. The war did not bring freedom to Poland. To show his patriotism and solidarity my father placed a plaque with a Polish eagle on the door of our Nissen hut. Haydon Park become Little Poland.

 

Teresa Stolarczyk Christmas 1948.  The hand embroidery storks enhance Teresa's corner of the Nissen Hut.

 

Juliana Stolarczyk and daughter Teresa out side their Nissen Hut.

Polish eagle on our  door.

In 1950 my father went to the north of England looking for work and found work in Bradford in a woollen mill and some temporary accommodation, so he returned to Haydon Park for me and my mother.

 

We lived in rented rooms and had to keep moving around as most places did not like foreigners or families with children. Both my parents worked very hard and eventually saved enough money to buy a house in Bradford.

 
They had two further children, I have two brothers, both born in Bradford The Polish community in Bradford was growing, there was a church and Polish priest, two social clubs, a school and shops that sold Polish food.
 

We also had Polish football teams (my father was a manager) and dance groups. Our family was very active in maintaining our Polish culture.  Many of the friends my parents made in Haydon Park stayed with them all their lives and I am still in contact with some of them.

 

Juliana Stolarczyk in Haydon camp

Teresa Stolarczyk

Juliana Stolarczyk  with Teresa and a friend.

 

Teresa in Haydon Park, you can just see the covered walk way in the back.

 

At the end of 2004, sadly, our parents died within three weeks of each other and are buried in the Polish part of a Bradford cemetery. Father had some contact with his family in Poland but mother searched all her life for her family and sadly did not find them. After the death of our parents my brothers and I felt that we needed some closure to our parents lives in exile and their past.

We trawled the internet for pre-war maps and eventually turned up some 1890's Polish ones which showed where our mother's village should have been. We went to the Ukraine in 2005 and with the  help of a guide we found not only the actual village but, in a nearby village, we found my mother's brother who was able  to take us back   to my mother's village and show us my mother's house and her mother's grave!! This was much more than we could ever have hoped for. Returning to the Ukraine in 2006, to discover more family, we also found my mother's birth certificate.  If only my mother had known of her brothers existence....... But we have a happy ending as we now have an uncle and relatives we never new of.

 

We also have made contact with the daughter of the German farmer where my mother spent her war years working.  She remembered my mother well.  It was a nice experience to meet her too.

 

If you lived in Haydon Park and would like to share your story and photos please contact me.

 

 
  Page  1  Current Teresa Stolarczyk-Marshall
  Page  2  Haydon Park  Elżbieta Narewska-Servas
  Page  3  Haydon Park  Leszek Zelazowski
   

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