KEEVIL POLISH CAMP in Wiltshire.

 

RAF Keevil  a former World War II airfield sandwiched between the pretty villages of Steeple Aston and Keevil and about 4 miles east of Trowbridge  in Wiltshire. Like most WW 2 airfields it was built on requisitioned land  in 1941 under emergency powers with the intention of returning the land to its owners when hostilities ceased. The airfield had 3 runways and their associated buildings. There were several sites of typical wartime design providing basic accommodation, catering facilities, offices and workshops.

 

After the war some of the accommodation sites were acquired by the National Assistance Board for housing Polish Displaced Persons and the camp evolved much the same as all the other Polish camps that were scattered throughout the UK in the 1950s and 1960s eventually closing some time in the early 1960s. Many of the inhabitants moved to near by Trowbridge establishing a new Polish community.

 
 

The Church

The priest

A visitation to the camp by Infuat Stanisław Michalski,

1951 In front of the church, Zosia Głowacka, Marysia Świderska, Nadia Bogdaniec, Fela Przyboś.  Many of the girls from the camp attended    Stowell Park School

Fr. Józef Czarniecki,

Some of the people, Ludwika Świderska, Kazik Brzezicki, Józef Murjas, Antoni, Józef and Marysia Bogdaniec.

 

Some of the barrack used as living accommodation in the last photo you can just make out some nissen huts.

Nadia Bogdaniec

Marysia Bogdaniec outside her  hut.

Marysia Bogdaniec  by one of the barracks

Marysia Świderska, Nadia Bogdaniec, and Janka Obłój

Thank you to Maria Polkowska nee Bogdaniec for the above  photos from Keevil.

 
 
 
 

Pelagia Sokolowska  & Wincenty Kapica

Kapica Family Story 

 

Contributed by Wanda A Kapica Silarska     Andrzej J Kapica

 

Our parents Pelagia Sokołowska  & Wincenty (Vincent) Kapica were married in Poland on the 26th December 1937.  Their happiness lasted for just under two years when WW2 started and dad went to war. He went through Rumania to join the army in France and then on to Scotland as a member of 1st Polish Armoured Division (Pierwsza Dywizja Pancerna). He left his young bride, just a few months pregnant, to go and fight for the freedom of Poland.

 

My brother Andrzej was born in March 1940, during the German occupation, having lots of aunties to fuss over him, as most men were at war.

 

The war ended in 1945 and Dad is now stationed in Germany from were he goes to Poland to find his wife and son. He finds Pela and Andrzej at his parent’s home in Myszkow and they could hardly believe that he was alive and well - they are reunited.  Then after two attempts he managed to smuggle them out of Poland to Germany.

I was born on April 1947 in Loningen Germany. He then made a vow that once their life is settled he will take the family on a pilgrimage to Lourdes.

 
 

Haydon Park and Tilshead.

 

In September 1947 Mum, Andrzej and I sail from Hamburg to Glasgow, 5 days at sea. We are initially accommodated in Haydon Park (17th September 1947 to 16th March 1948) and when Dad arrived months later we move to Tilshead. That was the first time that we were together as a family in England.

 

Andrzej on the right sailing from Hamburg to Glasgow.

Mum Pelagia, Dad Wincenty my brother Andrzej and me (Wanda)

Newly arrived at Tilshead

 
 

Keevil-Steeple Ashton

 

In 1948 we moved to Keevil near Trowbridge and life returns to normal. We have a vegetable patch as well as a few chickens to supplement our diet when most food is rationed. Dad travels to Melksham to work in the Spencer Steel factory. The camp, consisting of half a dozen sites, is like a little Poland with our own priest Rev Czarniecki, school and doctor all in the camp.

 
 

My class at Keevil camp.

Some of the names I can remember. Juerk and Bolek Ryzop, Tadek Szafran, Józio and Marysia Czerniachowicz ,  Jurek Nierzankowski, Basia Dąbkowska, Jadzia  Grońska and me.

 
 

My First Communion with class matesJadzia Grońska

A group of friends including my brother, Andrzej who is in the back on the right. Jacek Białobrzeski, Jurek Ryzop, Joasia Białobrzeska, Basia Dąbkowska, Bolek Ryzop & me.

Andrzej and me outside Hut 393 Site 9

 
 

3rd May Constitution celebration

School trip to Cheddar Gorge

 
 

The authorities in all NAB camps laid on adult education classes not only in learning the language but also in practical skills. Dressmaking and sewing classes were very popular.

Sewing class members run by Mrs Mariampolska, her daughter Karolina subsequently married  Mr. Ryszard  Kaczorowski who became the “Ostatni Prezydent  II Rzeczpospolitej” (Last President in Exile of the 2nd Polish Republic).  Other people are people are Pelagia Kapica holding her daughter  Wanda, Celina Sieradzka, Krystyna Lipinska, Kazia Rabczak, Janka Czerniecka, Marysia Jankowska, Mr. Horyński, Czesia Dendura, Misia Gnyp and Irena Brzezicka.

 
 

Lourdes outside the Basilica; Mum, Dad and Wanda

By the Grotto; Mum, me and Wanda

Swindon

 

1958 – Most of the Polish resettlement camps were closing down and we went to Swindon to run our own delicatessen shop. Most of the other people from the camp were settled in Trowbridge.

 

Running the shop was hard work but very satisfying, Mum ran the shop while Dad operated a mobile shop supplying all of Swindon and going as far as Trowbridge and Melksham.

 
Years later his dream comes true and we all travel by car from England on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France
 

1968 – Dad died suddenly of a heart attack and Mum and I continue in the shop for another 10 years. Mum then retired but still continued to be in charge of the kitchen/restaurant at the Polish Community Centre for many years. She is now 93 years old and is living in Ilford Park Polish Home in Devon and where she is very well looked after.

 
 
 
Thank you to Wanda and Adam for their story and photos. If you lived in Keevil and have photos and memories of life in the camp please get in touch.
 
 

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