HILTINGBURY

 

About eight miles north of  Southampton  in Chandlers Ford were two large WW2 military camps used by the Americans and Canadians in preparation for the D-Day landings.  Later they housed German and Italian  prisoners of war.

After the war one of the now empty camps was occupied by the  Polish Resettlement Corps whose soldiers were returning form the battlefields of Italy. Later they were joined by their families who had spent the war in Displaced Persons (DP) camps scattered throughout Europe, India and Africa. The camp was known as Hiltingbury Polish Dependant's Hostel and, in 1946,  it was  the  first port of call for Polish civilians, mainly women and children, arriving in Southampton docks from Italy before being dispersed to other camps.

By 1947 the camp, which by now was administered by the National Assistance Board with an English warden at it's head was already  housing  over 800 displaced Polish people from all walks of life; teachers,  doctors, lawyers, engineers to farmers and farm workers. This diversity of people, who under normal circumstances would have had little contact with each other, now found themselves in the same boat and had to adapt to a new way of life.

 
Despite the difficult circumstances Polish people, with their deeply rooted faith and resourcefulness,  soon established a close knit community. One of the large Nissen huts was converted into a church. The first priest, Fr. Tadeusz Urbański, arrived in the camp with the army in 1945, in 1951 Fr. Antoni Jankowski took over the role of looking after the spiritual needs of the people, with regular Sunday Masses and services. He also taught religious knowledge in the camp school, preparing children for their first Holy Communion.
 

There was also a sick bay staffed by Polish doctors and nurses, a Polish infants school and nursery.  Life in the camp did not differ in any significant way from that in any of the other Polish camps that were scattered throughout the UK in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.

 

ZIGGY JANOWICZ lived with his parents Katarzyna and Bronisław, sister Helena and younger brother Jurek in Hiltingbury Polish Dependant's Hostel for a number of years. These are just a few photos he has of life in the camp .

 

Bronisław Janowicz  with some of his comrades in Italy.

Bronisław Janowicz

Mr.and Mrs. Janowicz with their daughter Helena

 

First Holy Communion 1953 The priest was Fr. Antoni Jankowski

 

Helena Janowicz first communion 1953.

The Janowicz family with new addition Jerzy

 

CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION

 
 
 

The Janowicz family and friends in their Nissen hut celebrating a christening.

 

The Janowicz family

Some of Ziggi's friends

The Janowicz family and friends

 
 

The camp closed in 1956 and  Southampton Council arranged for the remaining residents to be accommodated in council houses in the area. 

 
If you lived in the camp and would like to contribute your memories and photos please email  zosia
 

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