HODGEMOOR POLISH CAMP Buckinghamshire

 

As you walk through Hodgemoor Wood,   just off the A355 Amersham to Beaconsfield  road, you would be forgiven  for  thinking that this lovely wooded area has not changed in centuries. Then suddenly you come across a monument standing in a clearing not far from the car park, you read the inscription only to find that less then 60 years ago this area looked totally different. It is now hard to imagine that this spot was once full of temporary buildings, barracks and nissen huts and  home to hundreds of Polish servicemen and their families.  Once you look around you can find evidence of broken concerete slabs and brickwork buried beneath the vegetation and fallen leaves.  Hodgemoor was one of many camps that were scattered throughout the UK after WW2 and supported a bustling and vibrant community of men, women and children.  The camp became like a Polish village with a church and resident priest Fr. Józef Madeja, an infant school, shop and post office and an entertainment hall  used for dances, film shows, meetings and national day celebrations. When the camp eventually closed in 1962 the Polish inhabitants moved out as far afield as the States and Canada, others settled locally, but they all have memories of the camp and stories of how they came to be there.

 

.AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR POLISH SOLDIERS OF THE CARPATHIAN DIVISION ARRIVED HERE FROM ITALY AND WITH THEIR FAMILIES LIVED IN THE CAMP ON THIS SITE UNTIL 1962 POLAND WAS NOT FREE FOR THEM TO RETURN. THERE ARE STILL MANY POLISH FAMILIES IN THE AREA.

 

INFORMATION AND PHOTOS SENT IN BY  BOŻENA KOZUBSKA

 

FROM the MEMOIRS of ZOFIA KOZUBSKA – MY MOTHER

 

Poland 1940. Rumours of dispossession had been circulating for some time, yet when the NKVD came storming into our home on February 10th 1940 at 5:15am, it was an unmitigated shock. We were yanked out of our home and into unforgiving, freezing temperatures. Holding me as a five-month old baby, my Parents were placed on sleighs together with our hastily packed baggage and driven to the railway station in Sarny – a small town on the border of the Ukraine. There, cattle wagons awaited us – and packed into them like sardines, we spent the next FIVE WEEKS zigzagging northeast into the depths of Siberia. We alighted in posiolek Darovatka, a labour camp, where we spent two years as slave labourers, fighting each day for survival, staving off starvation.

 

After Poland’s Enemy no. 1 attacked Poland’s Enemy no. 2, (and not necessarily in that order), we were released under “amnesty”. Once again cattle wagons took us across the USSR, and in Gusara my Father joined the Polish Army under Gen. Anders who fought the Germans with the Allied Command rather than alongside those who not only imprisoned us but enslaved Poland. We were separated then from my Father who went on to fight the battles of Monte Cassino, Ancona, and Bologna among others while we, now provisioned by the Polish Army, continued on our odyssey without him. In Kermine, my Mother in her capacity as a teacher, was charged with the responsibility of transporting orphans and we made our way through Iran, Pakistan, and India finally settling in South Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) first in Rusape and later in Gatooma. In the meantime, my Father, Jerzy Kozubski, having lost track of us, applied to the Red Cross and after several months, located us in Africa.

 

Bożena Kozubska age 8

 

Zofia Kozubska with her class. in Rusapi Africa I am the little girl in the middle with may mom

My First Holy Communion  in Garooma Africa. with Fr. Siemaszko

 

In 1948, my Mother and I sailed to England on board the Carnarvon Castle, arriving weeks later in Southampton. We were taken to a transit camp, it could have been Daglingworth in Gloucestershire, but I am not sure. There we were reunited with my Father after six long years of separation. We left together for Hodgemoor Resettlement Camp where he was stationed.

 

"My darling Jureczku, we've been aboard a full day. We are surrounded by comfort and are enjoying it immensely, Somewhere in the first days of May we will be in place (will arrive in England as expected Southampton) My finger is healing but I have lost feeling in it and cannot use it.

 

Love and kisses Zośka  

 

This is our ship.

 

Dated 13th April 1948

 

I don’t remember much of the Camp because no sooner did we arrive there, than my Parents placed me in Holy Cross Convent prep school in Gerrards Cross so that I could become fluent in English and get the best education. Four years later, we emigrated to the United States where I now, after years of strife and vagabond existence, reside happily with my husband of 50 years, and with my Children and Grandchildren.

 

Bożena with her mother and Father in Hodgemoor camp, a happy familey reunited

Bożena in Hodgemoor camp. 

Judging by the buildings, conditions in the camp were basic, but it was home.

 

Polish pride was all ways expressed in children wearing their national costumes, learning Polish songs and dances and taking part in national events.

 

Bożena is in all three photos if you can name other people please let me know.

 

School Photo.

 

Back row:- In the middle is Fr. Józef Madeja. with Tadzio Pilecki to the right and Kazik Kowalski on the left.

 

Second row sitting:- Bożena Kozubska

 
 Thank you to Bożena for her memories and photos.
 
 
If you have photos and memories of Hodgemoor and would like to share them please contact me on:-  northwickparkpolisdpcamp@yahoo.co.uk
 
 
  Page  1  Currant   Photos and memories from Bożena Kozubska
  Page  2  Hodgemoor 2  Photos and memories from Mrs.Mleczko
  Page  3  Hodgemoor 3  Photos and memories from Krystyna Freiburger nee Piotrowska
   
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