Homes for People

Resettlement 1945-60

3 children

From 1946 to 1960 this site was settled by local people and their families. Many of these young people were married with young children and in impoverished post-war Britain, with a desperate housing shortage, were living in poor housing or cheap rented rooms. Among these were many Polish Ex-Servicemen and their families who had been “displaced” from their homes in Europe by the war. The ordeal of these families began with Deportation from Poland to Siberia in 1940 after the German and Russian occupation of Poland.

There were many Polish people living in the Wyre Forest area after the war, their story is an interesting one. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939 the East of Poland was seized by the USSR as part of a pre-war pact with Germany. The Polish people were subjected to a mass deportation from their homes including babies and the aged, and were taken by train to Siberia where they had to fend for themselves in forest clearings. Effectively they had to cut timber to service the Russian war effort to sustain themselves. First they lived in covered holes in the ground and a story is recounted of a polish architect given by the Russians a pencil, ruler and a sheet of paper to make a design for wooden huts which they could build to establish camps. He had to return the pencil and ruler. Many young people of school age but below military age were in these camps, they later were part of the Polish armed services in Britain.

Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941. By Spring 1942 Winston Churchill had negotiated an amnesty with Josef Stalin the Russian leader to take the exiled Poles out of Russia.  Many, but not all, of the Poles were released from the camps. Men and their families made their way across the country, walking, by  truck or if lucky by train to join the Polish army in the South of Russia near the Caspian Sea. A Polish  army was forming under communist direction to fight the Germans. The senior officer General  Anders enabled many to be evacuated across the Caspian Sea to Iran. From Iran many of the women and older Polish People were sent to East Africa and India, they were reunited in Britain in 1948. The young people of military age were retrained in the Middle East and recruited into the military. Many polish Airman had already escaped to Britain and joined  RAF squadrons.

Polish people served with great distinction in all branches of the military. There were frontline units in the Army and RAF that were exclusively Polish and Polish manned warships. Their fighting record was exemplary, probably the most famous being RAF Fighter squadron 303, mainly Polish manned, credited with the most enemy aircraft shot down by any Squadron.

photo-2At the end of the war the political situation with the Soviet Russian Occupation of Poland sadly meant

that the polish units were denied the opportunity to march in the 1945 victory parade. Many young Polish servicemen and women elected to remain in Britain and to take citizenship.

After the end of WW2 the site was kept under the care and maintenance of the Pioneer Corps of the British Army pending the possible return of the US army should hostilities break out again in Europe.

By 1950 and after the resolution of the Berlin Airlift this was looking unlikely and the camp was abandoned.

By 1950 many of these young people were married with young children and in impoverished post-war Britain with a desperate housing shortage were living in poor housing or cheap rented rooms. Rumour suggests that the departing commanding officer of the Pioneer corps who was in charge of the camp knew some of the Polish ex-servicemen in the photo-1local towns from their wartime service. He advised them that the camp was empty but functioning. The young Polish and other displaced families, British as well as other eastern Europeans  quickly moved onto the site. They turned the huts into homes with gardens opened a shop, school, club and notably a church.  Stourport Town Council purchased the site from Kidderminster and regularized the situation of the site instituting rent,rates, postal addresses and a resident policeman.

The site remained as a housing estate until the late 1950’s when post war council house building expanded. Many of the people who lived on this site had fought with great dedication in the war and settled to become long serving citizens in this area.

To download a PDF of Camp No.1 Map click here or for Camp No.2 Map click here

Do you want to know more? Can you add more memories of the site? Simply e-mail us with your memories and photo’s and we will add them to the website.