HUSBAND BOSWORTH CAMP 1948-1956

 

Husbands Bosworth in Leicestershire was one of many aerodromes built in WW2 that after the war became Polish displaced persons camps.  These  D.P. Camps were all run by the National Assistance Board and had English administrators. In its hay day Husbands Bosworth housed as many as 500 people, Polish ex soldiers, civilians, mothers and children. Many came to England from camps in Africa, India and other countries  making their home in  the disused nissen huts. People settled in to rebuild their lives as well as they could under the circumstances. Being devout Catholics and driven by their faith one of the first priorities, with their priest Fr. Franciszek Dziduszko at the helm, was to turn one of the brick barracks into a place of worship.

 

Corpus Christy procession in the 50's winding its way around the camp, you can see the metal nissen huts in the background.

 

Edek Merkis with his memories

Mr. Edek Merkis now in his 70s  came to Husbands Bosworth camp as a young man from Africa in 1948. His recollections of the camp are still quite vivid. The camp was very well organised,  there was a church with a Polish priest, a small recreation room for various occasions and a large hall which was used for dances and theatre. I met my future wife, Jadwiga Rafał in the camp. There were various organisations like the sewing classes, amateur dramatics and a Polish folk dance group. We had a surgery with a Polish doctor and a nursery for the younger children. For the first two years, meals were prepared and served in the mess hall three times a day. Later, facilities were provided so that families catered for themselves. Living conditions were rather primitive. People lived in huts made from corrugated metal sheets, without any insulation, there was a small round coke burning stove in the huts but not enough to heat the metal, so we froze in the winter and fried in the summer. People who had work in the factories in near by towns had transport provided by the employers. In 1956 the camp was finally liquidated and people were re-housed by the council in near by towns like Market Harborough, Northampton, Rugby, Leicester and Melton Mowbray. Nothing remains of the camp now, ONLY MEMORIES.

Edzio Merkis and Jadwiga Rafał on their wedding day. They were married on the 18/6/1955 in Husbands Bosworth church
 

Children's first communion with their parents and priest Fr. Franciszek Dziduszko.

Young people vowing their solidarity .(Sodalicja Marianska)

 

A typical reception with young people and visiting senior clergy

Back row.  Czesław Jana, Basia Bock, Hubert Bock, Jadzia Rafał, Boguś Rdzanek, Mila Kmiec,   Sitting.  Stefa Poważka, Ks.Stanisław Skudrzyk, Ks. Franciszek Dziduszko, Ela Kubis

 

Camp's amateur dramatic group

The camp had a thriving amateur dramatic group with their director Zbigniew  Szolc. They were young and enthusiastic, performing many plays for the camp's residents. The group also took part in all national celebrations; 3rd. of May (constitution day), 11th. November national independence day,  reciting poetry and singing patriotic songs. They entertained children in the camp on St. Nicholas day dressing up as traditional characters, angels, imps, goblins, devils and of course one person was St. Nicholas giving out small gifts to the children. All in all the life in the camp reflected all aspects of Polish culture and traditions.

Sitting: Zygmunt Miarkowski,  Marysia Leszczełowska, Janusz Rafał, Standing: Mr. Henryk Kozłowski (Education Officer) Mila Kmieć, Kazik Miarkowski, Jadwiga Rafał, Stefan Guryn. Edek Merkis, Gienia Świstak, Stanisław Brodalko and Władek Rataj.

 

   
 

Dressed in uniform are Kazik Lecznat, Janusz Rafał, others are Jadzia Rafał, Marysia Sarniak, Stanisław Józefczyk, Edek Merkis, Zygmund Miarkowski and Eugeniucz Kania.

A  play "Jestem Zabójcą" T.Okuniewski, Jadwiga Rafał, Edek Merkis, Stanisław Brodalko, Marysia Leszczełowska and Kazik Mirkowsk.  It is worth mentioning that Marysia Leszczeołowska's daughter Ania Krupska is the co-founder, dance teacher and choreographer of the Polish dance troupe 'Polesie' in Leicester.

 

Sitting Z. Miarkowski, S. Poważka, E. Kubiś, M. Leszczełowska, J. Rafał, D. Okuniewska, K. Cieślak, Zbigniew Szolc - director of the camp theatre.

Stefa Poważka, Danuta Okuniewska,  Jadzia Rafał, Janusz Rafał, Edzio Merkis, Zbigniew Szolc

 

Some of the ladies in the camp formed a sewing circle. Learning how to make their own clothes.

 Jadzia Rafał, Ela Kubis and Mila Kmieć with Fr. Dziduszko and his pride and joy, a baby Austin.

 

Jadzia Rafał, Edzio Merkis, Ela Kubis, Mila Kmieć

Jadzia Rafał and Edzio Merkis with corrugated iron nissen huts in the background

 

 Irena Pluszyńska remembers her time in the camp.

 

I came to to England with my mother in 1948 from Africa. My father was in the army and already in England. We sailed from D.P. camps in Africa to Southampton and were sent to Daglingworth, a transit camp in Gloucestershire. From there we were sent to Husbands Bosworth camp in Leicestershire. The camp was slowly filling up with mothers, children and the elderly. The administration in the camp was English but helped by Polish solders whose job at that time was to unite families, torn apart by the war, with their fathers, husbands and sons who were in the army and already on British soil. That was where we were reunited with my father and  where I met the man that later became my husband Andrzej Gundelach. Conditions in the camp were somewhat primitive, metal nissen huts with a cast iron stove in the middle to keep us warm, but after years of being pushed from pillar to post half way around the world  nobody complained. We got ourselves organised as best we could. There was a communal mess were we had our meals, one of the barracks became a church for our spiritual needs, a kindergarten run by Mrs. Lucyna Derkacz, a qualified nursery nurse from Poland, and recreation hall were we had weekly dances. To start with  we were given 2 shillings and 6 pence (2/6d) per week with which we bought fruit from the local farmer and some personal hygiene items. We supplemented this income by potato picking at the local farm. Arriving from hot Africa we had no warm clothes, so with mine and my mother's first earnings I bought a warm winter coat. Later that year the young and able were offered work in local industry in Leicester, Coventry and Market Harborough so we had to live away from our parents in hostels provided for us in the various towns. The older generation, my mother included, and the very young stayed and so the camp became a typical polish "village" in the middle of Leicestershire. Today there is no sign of the camp and the airfield is a glider training centre.

 

Sunday walks after church were very popular 1948

 Irena Gundelach by her hut with her most prized possession, a bike 1948.

 Czesiek Siwek, Wanda Leszczełowska Irena Gundelach

 

If you lived in the Camp and would like to share your memories and photos  please contact me.

 
  Page 1 Current  Edek Merkis and Irena Gundelach Memeories.td>  
  Page 2 Lydia  Gryzowska Memories  of Ludford Magna and Husbands Bosworth camps  
  Page 3 Kazia Malinska-Myers memories    
 

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