Youth of the camp


After demobilisation most of the Polish army stayed in the west. So naturally one of the first organisations that sprung up in all Polish D.P. camps was S.P.K. (Polish Ex-Combatant's Association) and to this day it is still very active in most Polish clubs through out the UK.


Young people in the camp were also very busy, we had a scout and guide group, a very enthusiastic football team that played against local English teams from nearby villages, dance groups, and a dance band who called themselves "RYCERZE". My father was a music teacher and gave piano lessons to many of the camp's children. He also helped the band to get started. They  became quite well known playing  not only for the local gigs in the camp but also for entertaining in Polish clubs throughout the midlands.  After the closure of the camp most of the band members settled in nearby towns and villages and for many years they continued playing at Polish venues.


L-R Jurek & Zbyszek Jałowiecki, Rysiek Sozański, Jurek Zdanko, Tadek Strach, Antek Starsiak, Janek Syroka. Seated is musical director Mr. W.K. Hartman. 1974

Rysiek Sozański, Jurek Jałowiecki, Tadek Strach, Jurek Zdanko and Tadek Gostomski in front of the "Ewidencija" the camps centre. 1966


Rycerze and the dance group in Ilford Park (1967).


The girls' dance group in colourful national costumes often joined the "Rycerze" band at various celebrations sometimes travelling as far as Devon to entertain elderly Polish residents in Ilford Park Camp. The old camp buildings are no longer in use and residents are housed in a new purpose built home and hospice.


Standing L-R Jurek Zdanko, Mrs A Hartman, my mother,  Wanda Oko, Ks. Kanonik A. Głażewski, Janka Strach, Rysio Sozanski, Mr Gardner (camp warden), Jurek Jałowiecki, Krysia Sozanska, Teresa Bojarska, Tadek Gostomski, Mr W Hartman, my father.

Kneeling L-R Danka Fiedosiuk, Irka Danyluk, Marzennka Żuryń, Kasia Juny, Grażyna Borkowska, Ala Bembenek. (1967)

The Rycerze give an open air concert at the Ilford park Polish camp in Devon.





Standing L-R: Z Piortowski, R Bush, M Ostrynski, B Martynowicz, M Bystrzanowski, J Borowski. Kneeling L-R, R Pajdzik, J Bojarski, R Tychmanowicz, J Zdanko, Z Chydzik.


Standing L-R:  Jurek Zdanko, Krzysztof Olczak, Jurek Piotrowski, Antoś Starsiak, Jurek Jałowiecki, Zbyszek Chydzik.  Kneeling L-R:  Rysiek Gródzinski,  Janek Syroka,  Bobek Martynowicz, Jurek Bojarski, Tadek Gostomski.


There was a large open grassed area in on part of the camp. I'm sure it was bigger then a football pitch. This open space was used extensively by all the young people for all sorts of games and sports. We played a game called "Kiczka" I seem to remember it was played with sticks there we also had a game called "Dwa  Ognie" and the boys played football. Often  matches were played against local  English teams from the villages around. The field was also used for flying kites and was one of the many favoured places for meeting up with friends.



Girls choir outside the chapel (1959).

Standing L-R Hania Wartanowicz, Marysia Kuriata, Mira Bembenek, Zosia Kuriata, Teresa Bojarska, Fr. Edward Rytko, Zosia Hartman, Zosia Kania, Bozena Wolbin, Helka Gibas. Sitting L-R Krysia Starosielec, Zosia Śliwinska, Janka Strach.

Zosia Hartman, chapel organist, from 1958 to1963

Jasia Białosiewicz took over from Zosia when she left the camp




In the late 1950's and early 60's some of us were lucky enough to own a bike. This mode of transport enabled us to venture out further afield from the camp to meet our English friend in local villages of Blockley, Draycott and Broad Campden and visit the open air swimming baths in Chipping Campden. There was always somebody in the camp who could mend a broken bike and even build one from surplus bits and pieces.


Zosia Hartman in the park.  My most prized possession was my bike 1954

Edmund Balawajder on his bike with unknown, Stachu Bytnar and Kazik Kluk. 1953

Zosia Zdanko on her trike.  Note the vegetable patch by the nissen hut.


Outside the barrack opposite the Chapel  Zbyszek Piotrowski, Waldek Kosteczko  and Rysio Tychmanowicz. 1962.

Rysiek Sozański, Zbyszek Chydzik, Janek Syroka,  posing with their bikes in the park. 1964

Janek Syroka and Jurek Borowski by the park entrance on the road by the orchard leading to the back of the camp. 1954




The camp to us, was like living in a village were every one knew every one. We were taught to be polite to others and of course if we misbehaved out parents soon knew about it. We had several areas in the camp where we used to gather. The playing field, the park, the lake and the centre of the camp were the administration barracks were and the "ewidencija", the barrack that was always open, it had benches you could sit on and not too many people living around it. Like all children and teenagers we horsed around, we liked to pose, specially when there was a camera about. We sometimes got into trouble for scrumping apples from the orchard, riding our bikes in unsuitable places or just being too noisy. Never the less we grew up  becoming upstanding British citizens yet never forgetting out Polish roots.


A great garden ornament for posing on:


Adam Muzgowiec,

Jurek Zdanko and Rysiek Busz.

Zosia Hartman and Bronek "Kajtek"Duduk. 1961

Unknown, Irka Bachryj, Danka Fiedosiuk, Ala Bembenek,and Wanda Oko


The red telephone box  in the centre of the camp, was good for horsing about on, excellent for posing, never vandalised and for 4 old pence you could talk all day. 


Baśka Arbaszewska

Hanka Martynowicz on stilts.

The bars on the windows on some barracks, left over from the war,  became "look at me" climbing frames. I think I recognise the daring climbers but will keep them anonymous.


Baśka Arbaszewska and Zosia Hartman in the centre of the camp with the  "ewidencja" and telephone box in the background. 1957

The Park had several entrances, one had a keepers lodge and the others had tall stone pillers which attracted young daring individuals. Displayed here by Lutek Oko.

L-R Józio Gembarski, Mirek Bystrzanowski, Gienio Zdanko, Rysio Tychmanowicz, Jurek Zdanko, Jurek Bojarski, Rysio Busz, Piotrek Radczyk, Michael Robb, Olek Radczyk.




Most of our teenage gigs were held in the "Świetlica" Youth club but we also had access to the main hall. The band played for us sometimes but mostly we  danced  to records. I particularly remember those teenage years when lasting relationships were formed, many of us are still together. We have managed to keep in touch and know the fate of most through word of mouth.


Jurek Anton and Zosia Hartman

Danka Borowska and Władek Lichtar.

Zosia Kania  and Hela Gibas

Zosia Kania, Tadek Strach, Hela Gibas, Rysiek and Baska Arbaszwska.  Note the iron stove on the right that kept us warm in the winter.


Zbyszek Bystrzanowski, Jurek Danyluk, Jurek Borowski, Zbyszek Pajdzik, Tadek Strach.

Władek Wiecheć, Regina Fiedosiuk and Antek Lichtar siting in  front of  the orchestra pit and  stage.

Hanka Martynowicz, Hank Barber, Baska Arbaszewska, Hela Gibas.




Northwick Park