HODGEMOOR CAMP REUNION 2017

 

On Saturday 27th May 2017 former residents of Hodgemoor Resettlement Camp near Amersham, Buckinghamshire met for a first ever reunion. It was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the camp's opening in 1947. Its organisers Renia Sobolewska, Klara Wallace O'Flaherty nee Gasparowicz,  Krystyna Freiburg nee Piotrowska, Andrzej (Andy) Piotrowski and Henryk Wizgier were understandably a bit nervous as there was no way of knowing how many would turn up. Naturally many former older residents had passed on while the generation which had lived there as children had now grown into late middle and even old age. Some of those had also passed away while others were scattered all over Britain and even abroad. In the event about 50 people came to the General Bor-Komorowski Club in Amersham which had been built by former Hodgemoor residents and was opened in 1974. Some people had not seen each other for decades, some not since they lived in the camp which was closed in 1962. Acting as speaker, Krystyna Freiburger welcomed everyone to this historic reunion and expressed her own pleasure at being there having travelled over from Ontario, Canada, with her brother Andrzej. The audience were also addressed by Adam Komorowski, son of the legendary Warsaw Uprising hero whose name the club carries. With many old photographs and other memorabilia on display the Hodgemoor reunion was declared an unqualified success. Unfortunately due to a mix up over available dates a few people came to the reunion a day late on the Sunday. However it is hoped to hold another one within a few years.

Henry Wizgier

 

Krystyna Piotrowska Freiburger and her brother Andrzej traveled from Canada to meet up with some of the ex-residents of Hodgmoor,

 

Krystyna Piotrowska Freiburger welcoming the ex-residents

Some of the ex-residents

 

Krystyna was then invited to give a welcoming speech.

 
It is my great honour and delight to welcome all of you here today. For those of you who don’t know me my name is Krystyna Piotrowska Freiburger. My parents were Janina and Franciszek Piotrowski. I was born in Penn Street but lived my happy childhood in Hodgemoor. My brother Andrzej was born in Hodgemoor and the two of us came all the way from Canada to be here with you.
 
This day has been brewing in my heart for many, many years. Renia Sobolewska visits me and my family a couple of times a year in Canada. Of course always at some point in our conversations we start to talk about Hodgemoor or about someone who lived there. For years I have bugged Renia to organize a reunion because I was too far away to do it…..Get Klara Gasparowicz, get Henio Wizgier to help you and THEY DID…..here we are !!!
It is an opportunity to reflect upon the impact the Second World War and life in Hodgemoor Obóz had on our lives. By May 1945 some 250,000 Polish Armed Forces serving under British Command  chose to remain in Britain and were joined by their Families and dependents from wherever the fortunes of war had left them. By far the largest number were those who, having escaped Siberia with the Polish Army in 1942, had spent the war in Displaced Persons' camps set up by the British in India and East Africa. The only way such numbers could be accommodated was by placing them in camps vacated by the American, Canadian and British soldiers. There were many such camps in the UK. Hodgemoor was just one of approximately 200.
 
Poles understand the value of organized community life and they do so quickly wherever they find themselves …. Right away in Hodgemoor, they established a community with a spiritual and cultural life: A Chapel, Circle of Altar Servers, Church Choir, Saturday Polish School, Dance Team, Theatre Group, Sports Club, Cubs, Boy and Girl Scouts, Entertainment Hall.
 
 
Polish life was in full bloom. The English called Hodgemoor “Little Poland” Many names come to mind when we think about our life here; Ks Proboszcz Jozef Madeja…..who was so protective of his parishioners, who stressed the importance of celebrating Polish Church and National holidays

Basia Bęben  and  Krysia Piotrowska

 

 Andrzej Piotrowski and Janusz Piotrowski

 not related but linked by Hodgemoor

Pan Maciejewski, Pani Potocka ….teachers at the Polish School. The school received many awards for its teaching of the Polish language.
Pani Kazia Gasparowicz….superb leader of our Zuchy where we learned independence and leadership
Pan Janusz Piotrowski….leader and teacher of the dance group, Pan Fuks…..our camp photographer
Pan Zych…brought our kiełbasa and other Polish goodies, Pan Makowski…..drove us in his little bus to school in Chalfont St Giles
 
We learned many things from these leaders, from our parents and grandparents war experiences…..Firstly we learned that Poles…soldiers and civilians are first class warriors We learned a lot about survival: Not to throw bread in the garbage. To appreciate what we have and not be wasteful.
 
That something can be made of nothing. To work hard and with integrity. To be prepared; anything could happen anytime. To enjoy the present, because death could be around the corner and that there is a power in faith that transcends human limitations !!!
 
It is hard to believe but we had a secure and happy childhood here in this beautiful woodland.
When we moved to Canada I missed Hodgemoor and my friends. I always played School and as a teacher made a list of students. I still have that list and I would like to read them to you. I’m sure you will recognize some names …maybe your own. April 10, 1959
 
Andrzej Piotrowski Krystyna Tramp Boguś Różyczka Rysiek Tramp Marysia Hnatko
Danusia Hnatko Renia Sobolewska Irka Ejbin Julek Ejbin Krysia Ejbin
Urszula Brzezinska Elzbieta Brzezińska Franek Malinowski Kazik Kiciński Aneczka Pilecka
Leszek Sztanduchier Irena Sztanduchier Boguś Wiśniewski Krysia Pacholok Danusia Bernacka
Irena Samborska Tadeusz Samborski Irena Szwetko Zosia Pogoda Janek Górski
Piotruś Górski Krysia Bernacka Kazik Stępjen Leszek Gąsieroski Zbyszek Gąsieroski
Andrzej Potocki Andrzej Stachowiak Ania Stachowiak Teresa Serwatko Basia Serwatko
Basia Bęben Heniu Wizgier Elżunia Zych Klara Gasparowicz Czarek Stroński
Jagusia Tramp Józek Czerniak Irka Czerniak Ania Lyskaniuk Rysiek Kołodyński
Rysiek Michalak        
 

 
It is our connection to Polish blood and spirit that has made us who we are. Today we thank those who fought to keep this spirit alive, those who share it with us now and those who will carry it into the future.
 
I would like to invite Pan Adam Komorowski to light the First candle in honour of Polish soldiers and civilians who lived through the war, established and lived in Hodgemoor and are no longer with us.
 
We invite Pan Janusz Piotrowski  (a survivor) to light the Second candle in honour of the soldiers and civilians who survived the war and are with us today. We ask all survivors to stand/step forward.
 

First and second generation  Janusz Piotrowski, and Krysia Piotrowska

Krysia Piotrowska, Leszek Szteinduchert, Krysia Papowszek, Irena Szteinduchert,

Jurek Latawiec with wife Krysia Tramp and Andrzej Piotrowski

Basia Bęben Krysia Piotrowska 

and Ewa Bęben

 
We invite Klara  Gasparowicz Wallace (second generation) to light the third candle in honour of the second generation of survivors, most born in lands other than Poland, who have carried grief and love, questions and pride in the name of what happened to their parents and who as middle age and seniors now have an appreciation of who they are because of it.
 
We invite Ewa Maciejewska Marzec to light the fourth candle in honour of the third generation, the techno wizards full of energy and optimism, who may notknow the full strength of the blood and spirit they inherited but who are our pride and joy, our reward and blessing. As you move to the future, may you do so with the strength, faith and endurance of first class warriors.
 

Ignac Jankiewicz and  Marysia Inglot

Looking and reminiscing

Henio Wizgier and Andrzej Piotrowski

 
  Page 1  Hodgemoor camp  Photos and memories from Bożena Kozubska
  Page 2  Hodgemoor camp Photos and memories from Mrs.Mleczko
  Page 3  Hodgemoor camp  Photos and memories from Krystyna Frieburg nee Piotrowsa
  Page  4  Current  Reunion 2017
   
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