Located between Beverston and Tetbury in South Gloucestershire and taking its name from the farm which provided most of the land, RAF Babdown Farm Airfield was opened in 1940.  It was first used for night flying and, by 1942, was redeveloped to a full standard three runways with a number of typical airfield buildings around the runways.  The airfield closed down after 1947/8 and was turned over to the National Service Hostels Corporation (NSHC)

With the end of WW2 Polish ex-servicemen who could not go back to their country found sanctuary in the UK, they were accommodated in working men's hostels like the (NSHC) or in empty ex-army camps and found work in coal mines and heavy engineering. With the proximity of a large heavy engineering firm R.A. Listers in Dursly and a shortage of man power the empty buildings on RAF Babdown Farm Airfield were utilised for that purpose. Although  there were some families with children living in the camp it was predominantly occupied by single working men and women.  
Józef Sukiennik was one of the demobilised Polish soldiers, he arrived in Babdown in February 1948  from a military camp on Salisbury Plain Wiltshire to his first job at  R.A. Listers. The work was hard and dusty and he hated working night shifts.  Luckily  the camp's facilities were good.  There was a church, a hall with a parquet floor where dances were held, a stage for theatre performances and a community room for indoor activities such as table tennis, snooker etc. There was a gymnasium and, to Józef delight, a squash court which he used regularly.  The huts were warm and comfortable adequately  furnished and the showers and toilet blocks were good. All single men and women had their rooms cleaned and bedding changed and laundered for them. This service, plus their food was provided for £1-60s a week. Food was cooked on a communal bases and served in a canteen.

There were a number of organisations, committees and social groups  that were formed in the camp.


One such organisation was SPK ( Polish ex-combatants association) another group, called "Bratnia Pomoc" (Brotherly Help), had 600 subscribers each paying one shilling a week into a fund that paid the wages of a member who was unable to work through illness but did not qualify for sick pay.


When the  camp closed there was still 00 left in the fund and this money was then donated to the Polish Marian Brothers in Hereford.




Life in the camp

Janina and Marian Drzewiecki with their sons Andrzej and Władek with friend Roman Skwara

Families were accommodated in a different part of the camp and although they shared the same camps facilities as single men,  most families catered for themselves. Children attended local English schools in the area and a Saturday Polish school was set up in the camp, teaching Polish language, history and culture. A lot of social and culture activities were centred around the church, with Sunday Masses and other religious celebrations.

Fr. Stanisław Śmieja Celebrating Corpus Christi



Maria Lenkiewicz

Girls in National Dress

Józfa Wasiewicz
Maria Wieliczko
Irena Urban


St.Nicholas Day 1949

Tadeucz Chiel
Ludwig Wiśniewski
Roman Skwara
Leon Szokało
Tadeusz Walędziuk
Little boy
Young  Kozłowski
Feliks Borowski

St. Nicholas Day Early 1950s


One of many traditions loved by all children was St.Nicholas Day on the of 6th December when children receive small gifts from the famous Bishop.


Some of the names- Stasia Depko, Dolek Olejnik, Piotr Buchtjar, Olek Lango,

Emilia Pietranik, Regina Depko, Wladekm and Andrzej Drzewiecki

Genia  Pietranik and Teresa Pawlica


Józef Sukiennik and Mr. Gronowski formed the Polish folk dance group which  performed in other camps in the area, participated at the International Eisteddford in Wales and featured on the Pathe News at the Cinemas.  The dance group also  took part in street carnivals in Tetbury.


Street carnival in Tetbury.


The national costume worn by the men comes from the mountainous Zakopane region of Poland.  The trousers are traditionally hand embroidered by the men themselves with a traditional "parzenica" motifs, each one personalised by the embroiderer. The felt hat was decorated with a colourful band and a large eagle's feather. It is said that Wicek, the man in the bear outfit on the photo, walked 40 miles from Babdown camp to Bristol zoo to obtain the eagle feathers for their hats.  The zoo keepers were most impressed.


Józef Sukiennik and Elżbieta Bujas

traditional "parzenica" motifs


 Józef also played an active role in the camp's amateur dramatic group performing at many of the other camps in the area.


Godlweski, Gronowski, Orlicz, Tadeusz Walędziuk, Jadwiga Bujas, Józef Sukiennik, Marian Drzewiecki, Roman Skwara, Zbigniew Wiśniewski, Irena Urban, Maria Lynkiewicz. The children Emilia Pietranik, Rysiu Bujas, Regina Depko, Dolek Olejnik, Jasia Rendzikowska and Olek Lango

Józef Sukiennik, Eddie Buhtoar, Roman Skwara, Hawryluk, Gronowski, Wicek


Sport was very popular in the camp, specially a good game of football.  The camp's team "Polonia Badown", formed in 1948/9, become very successful playing against local English teams and wining many trophies and  they soon advanced in the local league. In the summer months  "Polonia Badown" played  Polish teams from various camps though out the UK with the finals being played each year in Cannock Chase.


Stanisław Gurgul,  Ludwik Wiśniewski, Lutek Jarodzewicz, Boleslaw Gurgul, Józef Sukiennik, Feliks Dziadulewicz,

Polonia Babdown football team on the way to Cannock



Ludwik Wiśniewski

Stanisław Gurgul



Lutek Jaroszewicz

Paweł Wasiewicz







The team celebrating after winning the cup.




Life in a typical Polish DP Camp Northwick Park

in Gloucestershire

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