WHEATON ASTON CAMP Staffordshire 1947-1965

also known as Little Onn

 
To the north of Wheaton Aston village in Staffordshire between Marston and Little Onn along the Shropshire Union Canals is a disused WW2 airfield built  in 1941 as "Service Training School No. 21"  for foreign  pilots, mainly Americans.
 
After the war the camp  was abandoned and in 1947 some of the accommodation was used  a " transit depot" for the Polish Resettlement Corps. A large number of Polish people passed through  Wheaton Aston on their way to the USA, Canada and other parts of the world but many stayed and made their homes in the prefab huts which were situated on 4 sites to the west of the airfield. In 1948 the National Assistance Board (NAB) took over running of the camp.
 
Wheaton Aston was, to all intents and purposes, like all the other Polish Camps run by the NAB  that were scatters throughout the U.K. It had very basic facilities like communal ablution blocks and central catering for the inhabitants. Dances, film shows and plays were held in the camp's communal hall and the church always played a large part in Polish community life. In Wheaton Aston a hut situated on the communal site was converted into a chapel where the resident priest, Fr. M Bossowski, held regular services and Sunday masses. He also prepared children for their first Communion  and looked after the spiritual needs of his flock.
 

In this photograph the church looks large but in fact it was about 10 x 4metres. The building still stands, although now deconsecrated and used to store silage for cattle.

 

Fr. Mieczysław Bossowski was born in Poland in 1915, and ordained on the 10th September 1939 in Przemyśl. For the first year of his priesthood  he helped out in his home parish of Haczˇw. There he joined the underground,  escaped arrest by the Gestapo by moving to a different parish where  he continued his ministry under an assumed name while still working actively in the Polish Underground Army (AK). He was arrested in 1945 by the Soviet NKVD  but with the help of Friends, managed to escape and made his way through Slovakia and Hungary to Italy, where in May 1946, he became a Chaplin in the Polish 2nd Corps. He came to the UK with the 2nd Corps and ministered to the Polish community.

He was sentenced to death, in absentia, by the Communist Goverment so could not return to Poland until the fall of Communism. He managed to spend a few days in Poland just before his death in 1994.

Fr. Mieczysław Bossowski

 
In 1950/51 Staffordshire local authority took an interest in the camp and wanted to use part of it to re-house some of their own people. Negotiations took place between The Ministry of Labour, NAB and local council to convert the huts into 2 and 3 bedroom accommodation with internal sanitation. It was agreed that out of the 125 converted units about 20 will be used to house British people.
 
The conversions took some time to be completed and, in the mean time, the NAB worked hard to find jobs for the people in the camp but the major local industries would not take Poles so as not to alienate an initially critical and at times hostile public.  In time, the Polish work force turned out to be hard working and conscientious and a great asset to the local coal mining  and pottery industry.
 
NAB control of  what was formerly the Wheaton Aston Polish Resettlement Camp terminated on the 7th May 1954  and it became known as Little Onn, a British-Polish housing estate of converted huts managed  by the local authority. This was one of a handful of camps were Polish and English People lived side by side.
 

Wheaton Aston in winter and summer

 

A view of some of the prefab huts

Mrs. Baniowska working in the garden by her hut.

 

Marian Nowakowski, with his mother Antonina and sister Genowefa, sailed to England on the Dundalk Bay from Mombassa to Hull arriving on the 2nd September1950. They were given accommodation in Wheaton Aston camp and lived there for many years. Marian is in all the photos taking an active part in the life of the camp. Today Marian is still  very active in the White Eagle Polish Club in Stafford. Marian colleted many of the photos on this page.

 

First communion 1951

Krzysiek Kolmer, Irena Szymańska, Zygmund Kryśnuk Marian Nowakowski, Andrzej Śliwa

 

First communion from various years with Fr. Mieczysław  Bossowski officiating.

Can you name any one?

Can you name any one?

 

CORPUS CHRISTI AND OTHER RELIGIOUS PROCESSIONS

 

 

 

 

  Can you name any one?
 

Can you name any one?

Procession, leadind girl Stasia Parciankowska, leading boy Zygmunt Krysiuk

 

CULTURE AND TRADITIONS

 

Children from the camp, some in national dress. Can you name any one?

Bożena Kolmer, Krzysiu Kolmer, Marian Nowakowski, Andrzej Śliwa, Zygmund Krzysiuk, Paweł Waniuk, Wanda Śitek, Irena Szymańska - 1953

 

Celebration of Poland's 3rd. of May Constitution

The first democratic constitution in Europe

 Enjoying a party. Left: Staszek Baniowski, Marian Nowakowski, L.Luszowicz.
 Pawel Waniuk, and Zdziszek Guryn.

 
Every camp had their own football team and football matches between Polish camps were important in maintaining contact with  people from  other camps. General Anders recognised this fact and instigated an annual football competition, with the finals taking place in Cannock and the General himself would present the Gen. Anders Cup.  Sadly Wheaton Aston football team "Switezanka" never reached the finals.
 

Football team Switezianka.

Switezianka 1963

   

Back Row  S. Budryk, Pawel Guryn,  B. Wojtulewicz,  W. Wojtulewicz, Bolesław Gurgul ,

B. Studziński,

Font Row:-  Unknown, Stanisław  Baniowski, Jan Skurkiewicz , T .Wojtulewicz, unknown.

Back Row:-  Andrzej Sliwa,  Pawel  Guryn,  Krzysztof Kolmer, B. Wojtulewicz, B. Petrie, unknown
Front Row. J. Lodz,  Piotr Guryń,  Marian Nowakowski, T. Durkin, unknown.

 
The camp  closed in 1965 and families  that were still in the camp were given council houses in Gnosall and  Stafford. Today what is left of the camp is now used by farmers for storage and the rest of the land has been returned to agriculture.
 

What is left of the camp today - photographs sent in by  Zbyszek Hryciuk.

If you have any memories or photos of Wheaton Aston camp or you can name any oneplease send them to me and I will post them on this page.

Zosia@northwickparkpolishdpcamp.co.uk

 

 
 
  Page 1  Current
  Page 2  Jurek (George) Pająk  memories and photos.  
  Page 3  List of residents and employment 1953
 

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