It may come as no small surprise that following The Royal British Legion the largest army veterans' organisation in the UK is the Polish Ex-Combatants Association, "SPK". Formed in 1946 it celebrated it's 60th anniversary in 2006 and,  despite the natural erosion of its members as the years pass, it is still the most formidable of the organisations of the Polish community in the UK. SPK activities are numerous including cultural, social and charitable. Over the years the emphasis has changed from running or supporting; Polish schools, theatres, folklore dancing groups,  choirs, sports clubs and many other youth organizations including Polish scouts, to practical help for war invalids, the sick, and the old people, also looking after Polish monuments and commemorations of those who  are no longer with us. The Polish Ex-Combatants Association in Great Britain has 69 Branches and also runs activities from 17 clubs throughout the country. The World Federation under the same name is active in 20 countries of the world with 15,000 members.



The year 2007 was decreed by the Polish Parliament as


General W. Anders , Leader of Poles in exile paid a visit to Northwick Park camp in 1952.


The Polish Ex-Combatants Association Branch No.340  in Cheltenham, with their chairman Mr.Czesław Maryszczak, who is also the chairman of SPK Great Britain and the World Federation, organized the renovation of the old grotto which was build in the early 50s opposite the then camp's chapel and  placing  a  plaque and obelisk commemorating all the Polish DP camps that were situated in Gloucestershire. As a teenager, in the early 50s, Mr. Maryszczak was a resident of Northwick Park Camp.


Of the 8 Camps, that were scattered throughout Gloucestershire; Fairford and  Daglingworth,  near Cirencester, Stowel Park near Northleach, Babdon near Tetbury, Staveton and Underwood near Cheltenham, Springhill and Northwick near Blockley, only Springhill has some buildings still standing and Northwick survived almost intact. Nothing remains of the other camps except for a few memories.


Czesław Maryszczak chairman of SPK Great Britain and the World Federation.

H.E. Ambassador of the Republic of Poland Barbara Tuge-Erecińska with Czesław Maryszczak.

Cllr. Mavis Lady Dunrossil with Czesław Maryszczak


 Cllr. Mavis Lady Dunrossil  and H.E. Mrs. Barbara Tuge-Erecińska

H.E. Mrs. Barbara Tuge-Erecińska

H.E. Mrs. Barbara Tuge-Erecińska,  Cllr. Mavis Lady Dunrossil  and Czesław Marycszczak



Children in national dress presented flowers to the Ladies.




Over 300 ex-residents of  Gloucestershire camps gathered around the grotto.



On the 20th of October 2007, on a beautiful Saturday, Northwick Camp came alive as over 300 ex camp residents congregated to witness an emotional unveiling of the plaque commemorating the 8 camps in Gloucestershire that housed Polish displaced people after WW2. There were many representatives from the  camps named on the plaque but most of the people attending the ceremony were ex-residents of Northwick camp.


After the speeches and singing of both national anthems, came  emotional recognition, reunions and hugs.. Many have not seen each other for over 40 years. For a brief moment the camp resonated  with Polish speech, laughter and joy, awakening many memories and  ghosts that  lingered in the barracks and nissen huts in the camp.


There is a charming café on site run by Ian and Sandra, which opened its door to the crowds for refreshments. There was a  display of old photos, depicting  camps life in the 50s and 60s. and a limited edition booklet showing the history, in words and photos, was also on sale. It was a great day and will be remembered by all who attended.


There is a public footpath passing the grotto used by many ramblers. With the plaque now in place they will wonder no more about this strange little building and the short history of Polish Displace People that once lived in the barracks and Nissen huts. Their memory  will live on.


Janka Jałowiecka ( Strach) embracing Zbyszwk Anton with Teresa Mulligan (Bojarska) looking on.

Bożena Brophy (Wolbin ) and Ula Turowicz  (Szwabiak)

Janka Jałowiecka ( Strach) and Jadźka Glauds ( Patras)


Helka Crane (Gibas) Jadźka Glauds ( Patras) Regina Danyluk (Fiedosiuk)

Bożena Brophy (Wolbin ) and Regina Danyluk (Fiedosiuk)

Irka Strach (Bachryj) and Tadek Strach greeting old friends.


Marian Zubek, Jasia Krabbe(Białosiewicz), Krysia Corr ( Sosańska)

Teresaa Jałowiecka (Strach) Regina Danyluk (Fiedosiuk) Inka Macdonald (Tunikowska) Basia Sawyer (Bedryjowska)

Dashwood Balchatchet Basia Sawyer (Bedryjowska),  Władek Lichtar.


Jasia Krabbe (Białosiewicz),  Marysia and Jasia Gibas, Zdzichu Anton.

Mietek and Jadwiga Król (Oko) and Gienek Zdanko.

Mira Bożemska, Inka Macdonald (Tunikowska) Zosia Biegus(Hartman), Wiesia Saternus.


Krysia Lichtar (Genko),  Jadźka Glauds ( Patras), Bożena Brophy (Wolbin ),  Inka McDonald (Tunikowska), Mira Bożemska

Helka Crane (Gibas), Jadźka Glauds ( Patras), Regina Danyluk (Fiedosiuk)

Janek Piotrowski, Mirek Ostryński, Tadek Gostomski,  and  Zbyszek Piotrowski


? ? Ula Turowicz (Swabiak), Hanka Śpiewakowska (Martynowicz)

This used to be a blank wall of the communal kitchen, Now with 3 picture windows looking out on to a garden it is transformed in to a cosy café.

One of the display boards inside the Café

Helka Crane (Gibas),  Jurek Bojarski, Teresa Mulligan (Bojarska)  Jadźka Glauds ( Patras), Marysia Gibas, Krysia Lichtar (Genko), 

Teresa Mulligan (Bojarska) Marysia Gibas, Jadźka Glauds

 ( Patras), Helka Crane (Gibas),  Jasia Micallef (Gibas) Rosmary Robb. Jurek Bojarski

Jadźka Glauds ( Patras), Rosmary Robb. Jurek Bojarski

Teresa Mulligan (Bojarska) Jasia Micallef (Gibas)

Marysia Gibas,  Helka Crane (Gibas), 



Chairman Czesław Maryszczak, Kazik Izmjłowicz relaxing after the ceremony

Cllr. Mavis Lady Dunrossil with past residents.


Zbyszek Franczuk Adela Rottner Teresa Franczuk

Hanka Śpiewakowska  (Martynowicz),  Dziunek Kiczma,  Regina  Danyluk (Fiedosiuk)

Zosia Biegus signing copies of the commemorative book "History of Northwick Park Polish D.P. Canp." which she produced specially for the occasion


After the ceremony a few  moments of reflection.

Photographs by "The_ Rascals@talktalk.net"

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Life in a typical Polish DP Camp Northwick Park

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